Friedrich Weltzien

"Pressure. On the fine art of floating"

Friday, December 15 // 10.15h // JGU Fakultätssaal Philosophicum


In physics the phenomenon of sublimation is closely related to questions of pressure. The ability of matter to diffuse or vaporize into space depends on the forces of gravity and the resulting atmospheric pressure within the surrounding. During postwar period a lot of artists made use of pneumatic pressure with the help of balloons and other inflatables like soap bubbles or foam. Looking back on those discourses from a today’s point of view (especially with theories of new materialism in mind) makes obvious that the concepts of dematerialization as well as of entropy only reveal half of the picture.

In my talk I shall follow the collaborative practices of artists groups in Europe and Japan (most of all ZERO, NUL and Gutai) focusing on pneumatic constructions, aerostatic sculpture or sky art. In doing so a tense notion of materiality, or concreteness, or haecceity, or Sosein in a Heideggerian sense, demands one's attention. Challenging the ephemeral does not necessarily mean to give up concepts of form or complexity. Just on the contrary the process of sublimation carries not so much connotations of dissolution, disintegration or loss but of relation, interaction and dynamics. My hypothesis is: these art practices are not so much concerned with questions of anti-form (Morris) or l’informe (Bataille, Bois/Krauss). In terms of sublimation there is not so much a Freudian association but a more alchemistic context of meaning: flying, floating, upward movement. The socio-political effect of freedom and emancipation in this horizon of meaning is also eminent.

Dr. Friedrich Weltzien is art historian and researcher in the field of cultural studies. Since 2013 he is Professor for creativity and psychology of perception at the University for Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover, Department for Design and Media. Before that he was visiting professor for cultural history at the weissensee Kunsthochschule Berlin, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Art History at the University of Potsdam, researcher at the special research unit “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Genres” at the Free University Berlin. His research focuses on the theory of art and design from 18th century to the present, especially concerning the relations between the histories of art, media and science. He is specialized in aesthetic theories of the blot and entangled with animality and aesthetics, mediatheory of fashion, comictheory and the history of experimental graphical techniques.