1st Meeting “Aesthetics and Epistemologies of the Fluid”

Institute of Art History, Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen
March 22–24, 2019

In the first meeting, the general perspective and goals of the research network are discussed, concentrating on the examination of aesthetic and epistemic potentials of fluids and material processes. We critically review theoretical and art historical approaches to fluid phenomena, address fluidity as a figure of thought, and reflect upon the problematic relation between fluidity and gender. Moreover, we ask whether there exists some kind of fluid aesthetics and how the latter comes to the fore in artistic practices.

In addition to questions of production, materials, and reception aesthetics, we also consider the possibility to develop an epistemology of the fluid, which may complement the predominant epistemology of the concrete (Rheinberger). In this regard, our focus is twofold: First, we investigate what knowledge about the world of materials may emerge from artistic and scientific explorations into fluids and ephemeral material processes. Second, we look at the methodological challenges that the specific behaviour and appearance of processual materials pose to art historical and cultural analysis.


Reading material

Fluidity as a Figure of Thought

Bauman, Zygmunt: “Foreword. On Being Light and Liquid”, in: Bauman, Zygmunt: Liquid Modernity, Cambridge: Polity, 2000, pp. 1–15.

Hunter, Matthew C.: “Curve, Line, Circle, Slash, Cross: A Diagram of Liquid Intelligence”, in: Grey Room, Nr. 69, Autumn 2017, pp. 6–23.

Law, John: “Objects and Spaces”, in: Theory, Culture & Society, 2002, pp. 91–105.

Serres, Michel: “Vorwort”, in: Serres, Michel: Hermes IV. Verteilung, Berlin: Merve, 1993, pp. 7–13.

Serres, Michel: “Festes, Flüssiges, Flammen”, in: Serres, Michel: Hermes V. Die Nordwest-Passage, Berlin: Merve, 1994, pp. 49–69, 78–84.

Fluidity and Gender

Butler, Judith: “Formless Femininity”, in: Butler, Judith: Bodies That Matter. On the Discursive Limits of Sex, New York: Routledge, 1993, pp. 53–55.

Hamann, Richard: “Die Kategorie der Stofflichkeit in der Bildenden Kunst”, in: Neue Beiträge deutscher Forschung. Wilhelm Worringer zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Erich Fidder, Königsberg: Kanter, 1943, pp. 143–150.

Irigaray, Luce: “Die Mechanik des Fluiden”, in: Irigaray, Luce: Das Geschlecht, das nicht eins ist, Berlin: Merve, 1979, pp. 110–124.

Sartre, Jean Paul: “Über die Qualität als seinsenthüllend” (1943), in: Materialästhetik. Quellentexte zu Kunst, Design und Architektur, ed. Dietmar Rübel, Monika Wagner and Vera Wolff, Berlin: Reimer, 2005, pp. 254–257.

Stephens, Elizabeth: “Feminism and New Materialism: The Matter of Fluidity”, in: Inter Alia. A Journal of Queer Studies, No. 9, 2014, pp. 186–202.