Aesthetic Technologies

Text, Image, Sound, Space (TBLR).
Norwegian Researcher Training School –
Analysis, Interpretation, and the Exchange of Theories and Ideas

The University of Agder, The University of Bergen, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, The University of Stavanger, and The University of Tromsø

Aesthetic Technologies –  
The technological turn in art and literature studies in hindsight

Up until the “technological turn” of the nineties, “aesthetic technologies” had the ring of a provocative catachresis, uniting two concepts from two spheres that were thought of as distinctly different, even antithetical. Today, when most of the hubbub surrounding the once challenging new disciplines of media archaeology, digital humanities, ludology, archive aesthetics, computer culture, and the like, has abated, the time seems ripe for a retrospect and a reassessment. An obvious starting point is that the aesthetic field’s conditions of existence have been completely reshuffled. Regardless the perspective, be it that of the literary critic, the art historian, the film scholar, the musicologist or the architect, one of today’s truism is that aesthetic objects are imbued with technology.

So what does the present hindsight seem tell us about the effects of the advent of the information age and computer technology for the objects of aesthetic studies? Have they been the same for all the arts? Which consequences for the internal relationship between the arts can be identified? How have these changes influenced literature and the arts, not only from the point of view of production but also from that of consumption? And, last but not least, what seems to have been the institutional and political consequences?

One of the central figures in the theoretical and conceptual shift towards today’s technology conscious humanities was the Czech-Brazilian philosopher and writer Vilém Flusser, whose work since the turn of the century has become increasingly recognized. His thinking on aesthetics, art, media, and communicology, is gaining a rapidly growing international audience. One full session will thus be devoted to his work.

This year’s PhD.-course invites Ph.D.-students to examine these theoretical and disciplinary developments from the perspective of their relevance to their own work. This might take the form of a discussion of a text drawn from the reading list, an analysis of a specific work of art, or a general presentation of themes, issues or problems that might be of general relevance to the topic. And, as always, the course is also open for those who would prefer to present and discuss a draft of a chapter from their ongoing work. This invitation goes to PhD.students from all the aesthetic disciplines – literature, art history, musicology, cinema studies, architecture, drama, dance, etc. The seminar will be a collaboration between TBLR, University of Copenhagen, and The University of Zürich, thus bringing together young scholars from many different countries.

The program will consist of plenary lectures (45 minutes + 30 minutes of discussion) and group work. It will begin with a welcoming lecture in the morning of Thursday the 20th and end with a dinner party on the Friday the 22nd.

The following three key note speakers have been invited:

-         Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, media studies, Brown University

Further details of the keynotes and the program will follow.

PhD students from the TBLR member universities are invited to attend. In addition, the course will be open to students from Copenhagen University and the University of Zürich. Upon request, students from other universities might also be allowed to participate. Estimated number of PhD candidates: 20-25 (excluding staff). The students are encouraged to submit papers (max. 15 pages in English), to be discussed in groups (30 minutes each). NB! The papers can be either a critical presentation of texts from the reading list, work analyses that pertain to the overall topic of the course, discussions of theoretical issues, or extracts from the participant’s dissertation, and are not expected to match the course topic. 

The Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New York (Manhattan, East 52nd street). Details will follow.

Credits for participation are 5 points (ECTS) with paper and 2 points without.

Hotel: The TBLR researcher training school will cover board and lodging for the Norwegian participants for the duration of the course up to maximum of 5 hotel nights.
Travel: PhD students are as usual expected to cover their own travel expenses (air fares).

In case you have immediate questions about this, don’t hesitate to contact the organizers, Knut Ove Eliassen ( or your local coordinator in the board of TBLR.

Reading materials will be made available for the participants by Dropbox no later than a month before the seminar. The reading list is to be found at the bottom of the document.

The PhD students will be asked to submit their papers to their allotted group by e-mail.

Deadline for application: March 10th 2015. Please include a title and preferably a short abstract (no more than 300 words), alternatively indicate if you would prefer to present an article from the reading list (will follow).

Deadline for abstract for paper: April 20th 2015.

For questions or further information, please contact Knut Ove Eliassen

Reading list
(might be subject to minor revisions or additions)

Wendy Chun: «Programmed Visions. Software and Memory» (40 s.), MiT Press, 2011
Wolfgang Ernst: «Medienzeitexperiment» (16 s.), ms 2010
Vilhelm Flusser: Towards a Philosophy of Photography (75 s.), London 2000 [1983]
Vilhelm Flusser: The Shape of Things. A Philosophy of Design (75 s.), London 1999
Hal Foster:«An Archival Impulse» (20 s.), in October, fall 2004, no. 110
Alexander Galloway: «A Cybernetic Hypothesis» (25 s.), i differences : A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, vol. 25, no. 1. 2014
N. Kathrine Hayles: How we think (chaps. 1 & 2), Chicago 2012
Adrian Johns: «Bokens tapte magi» (7 s.), 2014
Friedrich A. Kittler: «Innledning til Film, Gramofon, Typewriter» (30 s.), i Mediefilosofi, Oslo 2009
John Durham Peters: «Mass Media» (14 s.), i Critical Terms for Media Studies, Chicago 2010
Bernhard Stiegler: «Memory» (14 s.), i Critical Terms for Media Studies, Chicago 2010