“Flows (Un)Bound”

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In artistic and scientific practices materials with fluid properties abound. Within the context of art production, for instance, liquid paints, photographic chemicals, or molten metals are commonly used; moreover, works of art such as objects or installations occasionally display fluid materials in action. In scientific laboratories too fluid substances play an important part within diverse experimental contexts. Whether as auxiliary means in apparatuses and devices or as the actual object of analysis: research can hardly be imagined without suspensions, gels, gases, solutions and the like. Lab and studio, experiment and exhibition, scientific as well as artistic explorations (and their many intersections) are not only equipped with concrete or technical things such as instruments, tools, solid materials or objects, but also with all kinds of liquid things that resist total fixation and reification.

The working and involvement with soft, fluctuating or ephemeral materials poses specific challenges. This applies to both practice and theory: In artistic and scientific practice specialised know-how and strategies are necessary to do justice to the mutability, instability, formlessness and processuality characteristic of fluid materials. The same counts for their theorisation in the context of contemporary debates on materiality. The dealing with and the thinking about materials in flux are the main topics of the lecture event “Flows (Un)bound”. At the centre of attention are the aesthetic and scientific potentials inherent to fluid substances and issues of their recalcitrance and productivity. Furthermore, it shall be discussed to what extent the characteristics of fluids may encourage different forms of imagination and alternative epistemologies.



Hans-Jörg Rheinberger




The lecture reflects about the scientific research process as well as the experimental systems and epistemic things that are central to this process. Epistemic things are fluid in a metaphorical sense: they constantly elude their final fixation. In the life sciences intersections between »hard« techniques and »soft« objects play a pivotal role. The elusiveness of epistemic things and the contact of »hard« and »soft« in scientific processes will be discussed an explained by examples.Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, born in 1946, is a molecular biologist and a historian of science. Since 1997, he is the director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He is a member of both the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and Humanities and the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina. He is the author of influential books such as Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube (1997), An Epistemology of the Concrete: Twentieth-century Histories of Life (2010), or A Cultural History of Heredity (together with Staffan Müller-Wille; 2012).

Friedrich Weltzien




The lecture plunges into the visual arts of the last 100 years, and addresses the diverse interactions between philosophical concepts of the fluid and artistic practices. Form-dissolving processes such as liquefaction possess a metaphorological potential. In the lecture these destabilizing processes shall be brought together with productive and form-bestowing phenomena such as wave interference, cohesion, and diffusion. Starting with Stéphane Leduc’s »Jardins Chimique« in the early 20th century and closing with Herwig Weiser’s polymedia works from the early 21st century, the lecture discusses aspects in aesthetics and art that are closely connected to the notion of liveliness. Friedrich Weltzien, born in 1967, is an art historian and cultural scientist. Since 2013, he holds the Chair for Creativity and Perceptual Psychology at the University of Applied Sciences and Art Hannover. Prior to this he worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam. He is the author and editor of several essays and books on artistic practice and autopoiesis such as Von selbst. Autopoietische Verfahren in der Ästhetik des 19. Jahrhunderts (2006), or Fleck. Das Bild der Selbsttätigkeit (2011).

E. Domnitch / D. Gelfand








The lecture gives insights into the work of the Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand who strikingly fuse artistic practice and scientific experiment. The artist duo began their pursuit with a dismissal of fixative and recording media in favour of dynamically transforming liquids, gases, and force fields propagating through these fluid environs. They will talk about how this orientation toward the fluid lead to imploding sonoluminescent bubbles, acoustically levitated droplet lattices, and prismatic condensation trails of subatomic charges. Using examples from their own oeuvre, they demonstrate to what extent their work takes place at the slippery frontier where quantum behaviour arises on macroscopic scales.Dmitry Gelfand and Evelina Domnitch create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical
practices. The artist duo lives in Amsterdam.

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