• Amelie Buchinger

Additional Information

The dissertation project examines the role digital cultures and technologies play in current processes of (de)carbonization. It investigates cryptocarbon platforms as media assemblages of digital (de)carbonization that (re)mediate carbon as a central medium of climate change. To do so, it traces the political media ecologies of recent initiatives that deploy AI and blockchain technologies in the field of carbon sequestration and storage. It tentatively refers to these projects as cryptocarbon, following a term proposed by the geographer Peter Howson. [1]
My research aims at providing a media cultural analysis of cryptocarbon on three levels: First, it analyzes cryptocarbon platforms as part of a larger set of media assemblages that not only incentivize carbon removal practices but rather redefine the socio-cultural dimension of carbon as a key mediating metric of climate change and its mitigation. Secondly, it investigates possible techno-political implications of cryptocarbon as a potential novel regime of remote algorithmic carbon governance. Finally, in situating the dissertation’s research within the geophysical climate realities of accumulating atmospheric C02, it aims at questioning the potential of appropriating these technologies for critical practices of decarbonization and techno-ecologies of reparation.
In doing so, this dissertation project not only aims to provide a much needed but nuanced critique of cryptocarbon and digital (de)carbonization as a speculative proposition. Furthermore, the project takes such a critical analysis as its starting point to question the possibilities, forms, and limits of critical practices under current technological, economic, and ecological conditions and their concomitant implications on human and more-than-human life worlds in a warming world of rising atmospheric CO2 levels. It proposes to rethink decarbonization beyond techno-utopian solutionism or environmental romanticism as a critical practice of envisioning and constituting a plurality of possible post-carbon futures.

[1] Howson, Peter, Sarah Oakes, Zachary Baynham-Herd, and Jon Swords. “Cryptocarbon: The Promises and Pitfalls of Forest Protection on a Blockchain.” Geoforum, no. 100 (2019): 1–9.

 

 

  • Katerina Genidogan

      Details

      My project explores how temporal and structural norms like causality, sequence, forward-moving agency, and operative logics like deterrence and preemption, generate governance through acts of silencing the past, erasing the present and speculating about the future. Following a method of archaeology, and a transhistorical perspective, I analyse how and with what ramifications, time entered science in the Victorian era, taking into consideration the shift in focus in the late 18th and 19th centuries from quantity and timeless laws to change, growth, evolution, a change that occurred almost simultaneously in physics (thermodynamics), biology (evolution), and astronomy (evolution of the solar system). In this context that was decisive for modernity, I aim to look at the relationship between evolution and linear, asymmetrical time through the work of Victorian social evolutionists, and showcase how their main belief that all societies proceed teleologically from savagery to barbarism to civilisation in a universally same process of unfolding, reconfigured race in the 19th century. My purpose here is to eventually suggest an epistemological shift in our understanding of race, whereby race is a product of processes of spatialization [through the connection of place (continent) of ‘origin’, bodies, and forms of consciousness] and temporalization (the positioning of this triptych in unilinear, universal time). Understanding, therefore, the ramifications of the radical naturalization of Time (e.g. dehistoricization of time) that was central to the most scientific achievements of the 19th century, is crucial in order to look at the “civilising mission” and, later, “development” projects as material entanglements of political and scientific practices that operate through the promise and the deferral, of coevalness that was initially denied. In this context and taking into consideration how the West has institutionalised and disseminated its own images of progress and future, I analyse the politics of synchronization in the “development”/upward progression era, looking at the Point Four Program, modernization theory and practice, and the politics of adaptation in the survival/downward progression era looking at projects such as the Adaptation and Resilience Action Plan by World Bank, and various strategies that call for the mainstreaming of disaster risk management into poverty reduction and development.

       

      • Till Hahn

          Working title: Marx’s Concept of Form: On the Critical Potential of Economic Categories

          Details

          My doctoral project aims to provide a comprehensive study of the concept of form implied in Marx’s late critique of the economy. Its deduction of the concept in a detailed reading of his later work is guided by the thesis that he conceives of form as social practice. Methodologically, the study is inspired by Althusser’s notion of “symptomal reading,” that is, it seeks to unearth the concept of form, which in Marx’s original text is implicitly necessary but not explicitly defined.
          Philosophically, this project inscribes itself within the ongoing debate about a new concept of materialism; politically, it aims to give a fundamental critique of the transformation processes of capitalism today. Unlike current, “new” materialism, Marx is not concerned with a return to matter within the dualism of matter and form. He is concerned with overcoming this dualism itself. He seeks to show that this very dualism is the result of a material social process within which the concrete products of human labor are presented to the producers themselves as abstract forms. An investigation of the concept of form thus allows for a critique of the “ideologies of materiality,” that is to say, a critique of the social processes that distinguish between material and immaterial, empirical and transcendental. In political terms, then, this project takes up the discussions about the transformation of capitalism in the so-called post-industrial age. In demonstrating the materiality of prima facie immaterial products such as services, data, and the like, my study will thus allow for a qualified critique of contemporary relations of production.

           

          • Rebecca John

              Working title: Memory Work as Resistance? Transnational Archival Critique in Jumana Manna's, Farah Saleh's and Akram Zaatari's Artistic Practices

              Details

              Collecting, archiving, and remembering have been prominent topics in contemporary art since the 1990s. Okwui Enwezor's  exhibition Archive Fever – Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (2008), which referred to Jacques Derrida's eponymously titled text on the archive, can be considered as part of the so-called archival turn, along with the terms "memory boom" (Erll 2017) and "archival impulse" (Forster 2004). In my dissertation project, I will use methods of global art history to take a close look at this turn, which until now has mostly been applied to Europe and North America. In doing so, I will start from the assumption that the spatial references of the artistic works are connected to certain aspects of the "archival impulse" that authors such as Hal Foster did not take into account.
              My dissertation focusses on archival critique in art that addresses the production of cultural identity in the context of crises and (post)war situations in Lebanon and Palestine/Israel, thereby narrating transnational histories of the region. The critical potential of artistic engagement with the archive will be examined through an analysis and regionally specific contextualisation of selected works by Jumana Manna, Akram Zaatari and Farah Saleh. I would like to demonstrate how the archival works produce various alternative narratives, against the background of a failure of local memory politics, national identity constructions, and universalistic history writing: through their method, content and form, the works can be analysed through the lens of oral history, connected histories (Subrahmanyam 1997), positioned knowledge (Hall 1994), and situated knowledge (Haraway 1988).

              • Ulrike Jordan

                  Working title: Artists enter the factory. Artistic working methods in industrial enterprises of the 1960s/70s

                  Details

                  In the 1960s and ‘70s, a number of artists (once again) identified the social institution of the factory as a place of artistic activity. Their approaches to the factory setting could not be more diverse: from interventions conceived as militant investigations to artists who evinced a purely technical interest in the possibilities of industrial production to attempts to bring artistic practice into direct contact with other areas of society by working outside the normal frameworks of artistic display.

                  The shift in the site of artistic work from the studio to the factory is symptomatic of a category of art practices that had become increasingly prominent in this period, whose focus was primarily on performative, processual and context-based methods. However, in this context it was not only discussions about conceptual practices that were important; the shift often resulted from an increased attention to the relationship between art and society, and a critical interrogation of the functions that art performed in relation to its wider social context. In my dissertation I review these factory interventions, critically evaluating the diverse artistic and political approaches artists (and arts organizations) adopted. How did the boundaries between art and society, as well as between artists and workers, become visible? Which (productive) moments of friction—also in relation to differently situated knowledges—arise in the interactions between artists, workers and management? Additionally, to what extent can these interventions also be understood as a critique of the conditions of production and reception of art itself? On the one hand, the practices examined must necessarily be put in relation to contemporary discussions concerning socially engaged art and in part critically delimited; on the other hand, they must be analyzed in terms of the extent to which more recent discussions around neoliberal incorporations of "creativity" within value chains are relevant to these practices, or were even nominally anticipated by them.

                  • Oona Lochner

                      Details

                      When the feminist movement—with its slogan "the personal is political"—reached the arts in the late 60s and 70s, the female body, identity, everyday life and experience became a possible point of departure and frame of reference for artistic work. This tendency was quickly supported by female art critics. However, it was not merely in terms of content that they connected with feminist or female artists’ issues, esthetics and modes of address. Involved in feminist discourses on sexuality, ways of life and authorship, female authors also developed new modes of writing that went beyond the established formats of art criticism. Their texts could include autobiographical, fictional or dialogical elements, they were collaged of existing material, or were read in a performative manner. They often have an emphatic subjective tone that thematizes the author's esthetic, corporeal and affective experience. Many of the female art critics were firmly rooted in feminist art scenes, where they created collaborative projects as well as professional and personal networks as a basis for their work.

                      Like the female artists, the female authors considered their efforts as a critique of the patriarchal conditions in art and society. Starting from three protagonists of the 60s and 70s—Jill Johnston, Lucy Lippard and Arlene Raven—I deal with the question as to which strategies feminist art critics developed in order to mesh esthetic and political agendas in their writings, what effect this had on following generations of female authors and how the dynamics of esthetic and political critique change when they are subject to processes of historicization and institutionalization.

                      My attention will focus on performative aspects and on the apparent contradiction in, on the one hand, an emphatically subjective style of writing, and, on the other, collective working methods that would seem to undermine individual authorship. This twofold strategy works towards the constitution of the subject—the authors reflecting on their position as speakers and on their possibilities of criticism—while also permitting an inquiry, more generally, into the possibilities and conditions of critical subjectivity. The field of tension between subjective voice and collectivity may turn out to be the locus where esthetics encounter the political, such that discussions about art can also become debates about the body, identity and authorship.

                      • Isabel Mehl

                          Working title: The drifter Madame Realism and the function of fiction for art criticism
                          or: an art critic cast in doubt

                          Details

                          US-American writer Lynne Tillman created the fictional art critic in 1986. Her friend, Craig Owens, the art theorist and editor of Art in America at the time, invited her to participate in a written symposium on the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Art prompted the writing of all 17 Madame Realism texts published to date, and the art context formed their initial frame of reception. The texts were published in exhibition catalogues, artist’s books or art magazines. Later they often appeared without visual accompaniment or outside of the art context, for instance, in Tillman’s anthology “The Complete Madame Realism and Other Stories” (2016).
                          Employing a figure in art criticism first addresses the reader’s imagination, unlike a theoretical text that is primarily concerned with comprehension. Madame Realism engenders a world that in the very next moment is exposed as her own creation. Thus, by interposing a figure, the register changes for the reader as well: it is not so much about “understanding” art than about developing a perspective on art – as exemplarily demonstrated by Madame Realism. Madame Realism gives Tillman the opportunity to stage the text by means of selective perception and frees her from the pressure of legitimization through academic, art-historical knowledge.
                          But Madame Realism is by no means an amateur, she offers a comprehensive network of references, from Sigmund Freud, to Virginia Woolf, to Andy Warhol. She cites literature, refers to films, pop culture, social discourses, and contemporary events.
                          Madame Realism drifts in the spaces between – between fiction and non-fiction, criticism and literature, cipher and her dissolution – the only permanent characteristic of hers is a political stance of doubt, a questioning of what we think, see and encounter, and why. Madame Realism does not settle on a poetic argument, not even an art critical one, but examines how starting off from the subjectivity of a fictional critic something like “truth” can be constructed at all, and how it can be read.

                          Saad Mtry

                                • Nelly Y. Pinkrah

                                    Details

                                    Opacity is the focal point of my thesis. It is, to be precise, the point of entry, passage, departure, and re-entry the life work of Édouard Glissant, some of whose concepts, and this is one important segment of the thesis, in my opinion call for a coupling with cybernetic thought.

                                    Opacity will serve to argue that the histories and epistemologies, and therefore materialities, of how we make sense of and understand media (and) technology are closely intertwined with the histories and epistemologies of – hereby echoing Glissant – how we relate to each other and ourselves. This, at first, does not seem to be a radical claim, for media (and) technology are known to become evident where they intermediate, namely mediate two things in order for them to carry out their differentialities. These media, of course, not only tend to remain uncertain, undetermined, and obscure. In fact, they have to be. The histories and epistemologies of relating to each other and Relation (as in how Glissant would use the term) call into the arena the question of (the nature of) understanding and suggest the negotiation of identities. So, this above-mentioned sense making shall for example include such constructs and concepts as race and blackness. 

                                    The argument I want to make is not merely concerning analogical references – say, the prevalence of the master/slave terminology in the language of informatics and engineering until today, or the reading and understanding of the black body as a (pre-)capitalist technology, as capital and/or commodity form. The argument rather links Glissants oeuvre comprised of his poetics and poetic knowledge, his understanding of and play with language, and of revolutionary concepts such as Creolization, Relation and opacity to a cybernetic epistemology, to computational knowledge and realities and to contemporary politics.

                                    • Malte Fabian Rauch

                                        Working title: Decompositions: Aesthetic Negativity in Agamben, Adorno and Bataille

                                        Details

                                        Never established as basic concepts of aesthetics, “negation” and “negativity” seem to lead a life of their own at the thresholds between disciplines. The dissertation inquires into the historicity of these categories and their contemporary relevance, guided by the thesis of a convergence of negativity and critique. Whereas the theoretical discussion about aesthetic negativity remains largely determined by the opposition of affirmation and negation, difference and dialectic, this project seeks to recalibrate the debate by opening a perspective onto different modalities of negativity, which may be addressed as decomposition and deactivation. For, in encountering aesthetic processes of erosion, privation, and loss, the theories under consideration find an articulation of negativity whose criticality is defined precisely by its distance from the dualism of Nietzschean affirmation and dialectical negation. In each case, art becomes the site where a different kind of negativity may manifest itself, where other strata within the notion of negativity become visible, nuances that refuse the established categorization.

                                        For each of the studied authors, the encounter with art thus necessitates a rethinking of negativity, a constellation that also reflects in their signal concepts through an insistence use of the privative prefix. In separate chapters, the dissertation charts the markedly negative vocabularies of the three authors: the concepts of “disintegration” (Zerfall) and “deartification” (Entkunstung) that feature on the periphery of Theodor W. Adorno’s work; Georges Bataille’s theory of “decomposition”; and Giorgio Agamben’s aesthetics of “désœuvrement” and “deactivaiton.” The differences between these approaches are well-known; their affinities are not. For, in their engagement with art, these concepts designate a movement that is passive rather than progressive, deactivating rather than destructive. Negativity, as it reveals itself here, is not a heroic figure of finality but a fragile figure of potentiality in solidarity what is excluded and other, with what remains irreducible to the existing order.

                                         

                                        • Alia Rayyan

                                            Details

                                            The subject of the dissertation concerns the participatory art interventions in the Old Town of Jerusalem by the Palestinian art organization Alhoash—of which the doctoral candidate Alia Rayyan was co-initiator in her former position as director and curator in 2013-2015—and the question to what extent participatory art interventions can be described as methods and forms of dissent able to activate socially relevant protest against the status quo.

                                            The point of departure of the actions are the sociopolitical space and identity problems of Palestinians in Jerusalem as affected by Israel's policy of occupation. To be investigated is to what extent the program of participatory art interventions represent a critical potential to point at problems and foster the creation of counter publics demanding civil rights. The public space of Jerusalem is the stage for the hegemonic power relationships, and so an interesting starting point to see to what extent the assumption that participatory artistic interventions can stimulate a critical social discussion is tenable under these specific conditions.     

                                            East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel in 1967 and, as the result of a "re-union," has become part of the territory of Israel under the name of "Greater Jerusalem"—even though this is contrary to international law. Palestinians who were born and who live in Jerusalem are subject to Israeli law, yet their status is subordinate to that of Israeli citizens. The resulting restrictions determine the everyday lives and mobility of the Palestinians, as well as their relationship to the state. The Palestinians of Jerusalem can be described as a minority within the State of Israel. According to Michael Warner, their continuous marginalization can lead to a "political depression" that can develop into a "blockage of activism and optimism," and end in "frustration, anomy and apathy."1 What role do participatory art interventions play, given this starting point? Can they act as catalyzers in helping to create counter publics and forestall the "blockage of activism and optimism"?

                                            Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics, in: Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol 88, No 4, November 2002, pp 413-425, p 415.

                                            • Nadine Schiel

                                                The Power of Experience in Art, or the Formation of Freedom.
                                                On the experientially aesthetic relevance of aesthetic autonomy for a critical concept of aesthetic formation.

                                                Details

                                                Despite the emphatic maintenance of art as a niche sector of the aesthetic, and as Theodor W. Adorno’s objectivist theory of an experiential art has become increasingly questionable, the aesthetic theories of Christoph Menke and Juliane Rebentisch have succeeded in continuing along the lines of Adorno through both a poststructuralist re-thinking of his work, as well as through determining to what extent the developments in contemporary art are able to accommodate his thinking.

                                                In these theoretical renewals, however, the aesthetic continues to be defended in its negative difference to the political or ethical, and is considered to be a constitutive prerequisite of the critical character of the autonomy of art.  This theoretical actualization is accomplished through the shifting of aesthetic autonomy onto (the structure of) aesthetic experience. It is this shift during the simultaneous actualization of a traditional aesthetics that is taken as a productive theory of aesthetics in this work, which is at the one hand examined in the subject of contemporary art, and which on the other hand should be thought further with regards to its theoretical implications concerning the concept of Formation (as German Bildung), as well as explaining the therein contained critical understanding of its aesthetic formation.

                                                The aim in this Dissertation is to work out the significance of aesthetic autonomy in its systematic relation to experience and critique for the understanding of aesthetic (subject) formation, in order to expand the (necessary) aesthetic dimension of the pedagogical discussion of autonomy.  In other words, it is not only that the theoretical shifts and practical-based ruptures in Adorno’s aesthetic will be traced in their renewals, but the work will also illuminate the critical potential of a negative experienced based aesthetic theory for a contemporary concept of aesthetic formation with regards to the understanding of artistic objects and with particular regards to the unfolding of processual subjectivation in the context of the constellation of autonomy, experience and critique"

                                                • Thorsten Schneider

                                                    Working title: The Ideology–Critique in German–Language Art History around 1968 and its Potential for Contemporary Art Criticism

                                                    Details

                                                    Building on ideology–critique that emerged around 1968, central concepts such as the notion of autonomy, the orientation of the discipline towards a predominantly historical canon, and the overemphasis on academic neutrality and political distance have been the subject of critique in Germany's more recent art history. Ideology–critique’s assumed significance for art history was taken for granted, without further theoretical substantiation (see Belting 1985, Gelshorn/Weddigen 2011, Pfister 2011, Brassat 2003, Marek 2015). Art history has thus played virtually no role in the "ideology–theoretical turn" (Rehmann 2008) that began in the 1960s. Ideology–critique became less influential after 1989 (cf. Boltanski/Chiapello 2003), although there have been attempts to re-actualize it in contemporary art criticism (cf. Hinderer Cruz/Sonderegger 2014). These attempts do not make any reference to the art historical ideology-critique that came into being around 1968 however. It is precisely this discrepancy that I would like to bridge. Doing this calls for a more nuanced account of the various positions, namely, in the context of this research project, the juxtaposition of (1) critical art history, (2) O. K. Werckmeister’s Radical Art History, (3) the socio-historical approach (Held/Schneider) and (4) Peter Gorsens' Reflexionen zur Entästhetisierung (Reflections on De-aesthetisation) (Gorsen 1981). This juxtaposition should illustrate how fundamentally different approaches to research developed in specific contexts, and yet all of them invoked ideology–critique. A clarification of the respective concepts of ideology is therefore necessary, especially considering that the critical self-perception of recent German-language art history is largely centered on them.

                                                    My starting point is the hypothesis that the analytical value of art historical ideology–critique for contemporary art criticism, which is increasingly seeking its theoretical foundation in other fields, has yet to be fully investigated. Around 1968, critical art historians claimed that art should not be limited to being merely a model for reflection (Lukács) in the social superstructure, but that ideology and culture should be understood as relational factors of the field of art (see Held/Schneider 2007). My intention is to take this approach to political research seriously and to rethink its criticality in the light of current debates on the concept of ideology.

                                                    • Judith Sieber

                                                        Working title: The Invention of the Timeline: Quantifying Vision in Eighteenth-century Diagrams

                                                        Details

                                                        My dissertation investigates the emergence of time-based diagrams in the second half of the eighteenth century. Based on arithmetic temporality, that is, on mathematical principles of quantification and computability, these diagrams not only represent time itself, in the form of a directed timeline, but also establish a foundation for a comprehensive visual quantification that can be traced around the invention of visual statistics at the end of the century. This transformation concerns not only the form in which time is represented—moving from tables to timelines—but also introduces a new way of seeing, as vision becomes  a sense with which information is to be captured at a glance.
                                                        Diagrams bring out the way in which non-objective relationships are bound to representation. Domains such as time, life, or debt are introduced as timelines, life-spans, or balances. With the help of accompanying pamphlets, this is accomplished not least of all by arguing the self-evident nature of visual quantification and by drawing analogies with cartography, which was widely established at the time.
                                                        Discussing examples from France, England, and Scotland, my project studies this visual development as it normalizes quantification via arguments for its efficiency, as well as by argumentatively interweaving representation and imagination. This development toward a linear, uniform, and mathematical time is to be questioned as a Western construct of normative order that in presuming identical conditions levels out difference in experiencing underneath the same plane .

                                                         

                                                        • Heiko Stubenrauch
                                                            • Lotte Warnsholdt
                                                                • Nele Wulff

                                                                    Working title: On the Relationship between Feminist Criticism and Immunity in Art since the 1960s: A Study on Exclusion and Appropriation

                                                                    Details:

                                                                    The dissertation project is interested in the concept and the practice of immunization in the context of art and criticism. In pursuing the question of feminist criticism and immunity in art from the late 1960s to the present, the study traces a double movement. On the one hand, it investigates the extent to which feminist criticism has since that time simply been incorporated by existing institutions without any fundamental structural change taking place. On the other hand, it inquires into the immunization strategies by means of which women artists have tried—and continue to try—to avoid such institutional coopting.
                                                                    Since the “figures of the immune” outlined by philosopher Isabell Lorey move in both a political-juridical and a biological-biopolitical dimension, her concept of the immune lends itself to investigating the practices and discourses of appropriation and criticism on several levels. I would like to argue that, against this background especially, it is well worthwhile to look at the relationship between feminist critiques of institutions and the institutions of art. This allows for studying art institutions as immune, that is, as endowed with a privileged power status. The biological implications of the metaphor of the immune serve to associate art institutions and feminist criticism within the field of art with the concept of biopolitics and biopower insofar as governing the female body has been a major theme of feminist criticism generally. In engaging with (feminist) criticism of immunization—which is a temporal process—I am moreover concerned with thinking criticism of the institution from the perspective of its (possible) consequences. Rather than give in to a normative dualization of critique as either failed or successful, contemporary representations of past criticism can be presentified and questioned as to the manner of their integration. In that sense, not the least important of the issues pursued throughout this project is the question concerning the temporality and situatedness of criticism at a time of a “crisis of critique.”

                                                                     

                                                                    • Sebastián Eduardo

                                                                        Details

                                                                        For some years now, theorists of decoloniality have been dealing with aesthetics/aesthesis while analyzing and criticizing modernity. Their texts have become a reference point for oral and written approaches to art, as well as for art practices themselves. Since around 2012 in Guatemala,  artists, mainly of Mayan origin, have been using terms such as the "colonial wound" (Mignolo 2005). They have been otherwise associated with those terms, either willingly or not. For artists, theories become, on the one hand, an access point to a contemporary art sphere beyond national boundaries. On the other hand, by using said terminology, they follow, each one of them in their own way, one of the central tasks of decoloniality, namely to delink from modernity/coloniality. However, since contemporary art cannot be imagined without modernity, this unavoidably results in tension.
                                                                        My dissertation project deals with particular forms, strategies, and media in artistic and sensory practices, as well as in practices of knowledge, speech, and writing about art before and after the „decolonial turn“ in postwar Guatemala, i. e. since 1996. Against the backdrop of (self-)critical, postcolonial art histories and theories of indigeneity, through the analysis of practices and theories of decoloniality and based on a body of knowledge about Mayan identity, (post-)war history, and Guatemalan contemporary art, I intend to practice an art history of delinking.
                                                                        Decolonial delinking is a radical strategy of critique that presupposes a shift of the criticizing subject, and thus a new form of critical subjectivity. At the same time, it calls for re-linking with worldviews, principles, and practices beyond the modern/colonial paradigm. This is also a movement away from critical studies and, more generally, from critique as a term. In order to understand (art-)practices in Guatemala as a different kind of critical praxis and to be able to examine the resulting tensions with a modern, formerly Western concept of critique, this dissociation needs to be taken seriously.

                                                                        Mignolo 2005: Walter D. Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America, Oxford 2005.