Cultures of Energy features Dr. John J. May, HRC Autrey visiting scholar at Rice

Posted by on Oct 28, 2012

Dr. May is assistant professor in the faculty of architecture at the University of Toronto. He  holds a National Endowment for the Humanities visiting professorship at Rice this      semester. Dr. May’s recent and ongoing research engages with energy, design and (urban)  geography. His current project, entitled “Spectral Visions: On the Birth of the Energetic of  Environment,” focuses on the historical relationship between Postwar scientific  instruments and the changing composition of the concept of environment. Examining  imaging as a form of environmental representation, he argues that our understanding of the  environment is fundamentally inseparable from the emergence of imaging. His project aims  to produce a technical and conceptual genealogy of the environmental image, a theory of  representation commensurate with questions and problems being posed around the  concept of environment, which are today reshaping both the humanities and design  practice. In so doing, this research shows how imaging has reorganized and restructured    the entire scientific-bureaucratic apparatus that today takes ‘the environment’ as its object  of concern.

In the past few years, Dr. May has published essays on sustainability and landscapes of energy. His texts “Infastructuralism (…or, the Pathology of the Negative Externality),”  “Against Sustainability,” and “The Becoming-Energetic of Landscape,” among others, can be accessed from his website We are excited to have Dr. May at Rice, where he is teaching a seminar on the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk in the School of Architecture.