Andrew Toland is a recent graduate of the Master of Architecture degree from UTS.

While searching for images of Beirut’s skyline on the internet, I came across three images posted to someone’s Flickr account. I wanted to find out who took them. What was the exact location in Beirut from which they were taken? Exactly what time of the day were they taken? What could be unearthed about the person who took them? Just how far beyond the images could you go?

Step 1 WHAT YOU WILL NEED: One computer, connected to the internet. That is all.

Step 2 Search for “Beirut skyline” on Flickr (Fig. 1). Select a striking image from the results. Follow the link.

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Adam Jasper is a Lecturer at UTS currently teaching in the School of Architecture and School of Design.

Our Aesthetic Categories: An Interview with Sianne Ngai

Aesthetics as a philosophical discipline was an invention of the Enlightenment, and appropriately enough, most of the historical discussion has focused on the beautiful and the sublime. However, as J. L. Austin noted in “A Plea for Excuses,” the classic problems are not always the best site for fieldwork in aesthetics: “If only we could forget for a while about the beautiful and get down instead to the dainty and the dumpy.”

Sianne Ngai, a professor in the English department at Stanford University, has dedicated years of research to such marginal categories within aesthetics. She is the author of a book on minor affects called Ugly Feelings (Harvard University Press, 2005) and several heavily photocopied papers on aesthetics, including “The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde” (2005) and “Merely Interesting” (2008). Her forthcoming book expands her investigation of apparently trivial but culturally ubiquitous aesthetic categories to include the zany. Adam Jasper interviewed Ngai by email.

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Founded as a non-profit in 2000, Cabinet is an award-winning quarterly magazine of art and culture based in New York that confounds expectations of what is typically meant by the words “art,” “culture,” and sometimes even “magazine.” Its hybrid sensibility merges the popular appeal of an arts periodical, the visually engaging style of a design magazine, and the in-depth exploration of a scholarly journal to create a sourcebook of ideas for an eclectic international audience of readers, from artists and designers to scientists, philosophers, and historians. Using essays, interviews, and artist projects to present a wide range of topics in language accessible to the non-specialist, Cabinet is designed to encourage a new culture of curiosity, one that forms the basis both for an ethical engagement with the world as it is and for imagining how it might be otherwise. In an age of increasing specialization, Cabinet looks to previous traditions of the well-rounded thinker to forge a new type of magazine designed for the intellectually curious reader of the future.