Liquefactions. Aesthetic and semantic dimensions of a topos
Interdisciplinary conference, Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Ästhetik, Universität der Künste Berlin, November 23 – 25, 2012
From Zygmunt Bauman’s “Liquid Modernity” to Zaha Hadid’s “Total Fluidity”, topoi of Fleeting and Flowing are currently experiencing a surge of interest. In common discourse, however, it is rare to find a clear distinction between the fundamentally different states of the Fleeting-Fluid and the Flowing-Liquid. As if amalgamated, both complexes of meaning figure as a sign of cultural (post)modernism, with technologisation and psychologisation having led to a ‘liquefaction’ of borders, orders and entities of the most varied kind. The conference sets out to discuss the aesthetic and semantic implications of this transformational potential (understood both metaphorically and materially), to sound the possibilities of a conceptual differentiation, and to assess the use, relevance and reliability of the notion of liquefaction for the aesthetic consideration of art and culture in a historical and current perspective.
The idea of Liquefaction has played an important part since Romanticism, yet it had both positive and negative connotations. Likewise around 1900, the notion of a modern „Heraclitism“ stood for a „liquefied“ being, which „dissolves in perennial progress, in constant growth“ (Eisler 1904). At the same time, with the decadent decades coming to their end, the ‚deliquescence’ und instability of aesthetic and ethical norms were deplored. New technologies enhanced ‘fluid’ modes of perception, while in literature, too, the „liquefaction of language“ tried to cope with the „swelling profusion of images“ (Schneider 2006). In the course of the 20th century, form itself starts to flow, and matter becomes liquid. A great deal of art works since the 1940s/1950s is dealing with the material and metaphoric dimensions of liquefaction, unfolding a multitude of associations and interpretations – from a psychological and physical understanding via economic and ecological processes to the overall issue of aesthetic experience, with the potentially shifting, volatile Fluid/Liquid, marking the very limits of aesthetics.
The conference sets out to focus on discourse-historical, form-theoretical and production-aesthetic aspects of the fluid and the flowing in the context of modern and contemporary art and theory. We explicitly welcome contributions that consider the notion of liquefaction metaphorically or materially, from the perspective of an expanded field of cultural production (literature, film, music), or that of the natural or social sciences (physics, chemistry, anthropology, sociology). 35-40 minutes have been scheduled for each presentation.
Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:
I. Liquefaction of thought, liquefaction of language
II. Images of the Fluid and the Liquid in visual art
III. Aesthetics and semantics of materials
IV. Fluidity in theories of visual perception
V. States of aggregation as cultural topoi
Interested academics are invited to submit papers (1 page max.) in German or English with a short CV by April 10, 2012 to: email@example.com.
Notifications will be sent out by end of April 2012. Subject to successful third party funding, travel and accommodation expenses will be refunded.
Dr. Kassandra Nakas
Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Ästhetik
Fak. Bildende Kunst
Universität der Künste
D – 10623 Berlin
ph +49–(0)30–3185 2878
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