An Atmosphere of Entropy

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This essay emerges from experiences collected by staying
in a city, Budapest, as a visitor. Building on Gernot Böhme’s
theory of atmospheres that insists on feeling and sensing, rather
than decoding, as an approach to the world, I chart how the
cityscape lends itself to an atmospheric reading and how this in
turn gives way to thinking about performance. The particular
atmosphere investigated is one of entropy that is an atmosphere
of decay and deterioration, which I contrast with what I term
‘entropic signs’, which I conceive as an inversion of Roland
Barthes’s notion of the mythical function of signs. Through
documenting an embodied engagement with the sites under
consideration, I propose that rather than producing a feeling of
nihilism or futility, an entropic atmosphere cultivates a sense
for creative becomings. In the final part of the essay I discuss
what an atmosphere of entropy reveals about performance,
suggesting that that an entropic aesthetics allows us to conceive
of performance as an activity that cultivates a sensibility for
how the present gives way to an unpredictable future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlatform: postgraduate e-journal of theatre and performing arts
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • atmosphere
  • entropy
  • performance


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