CFP Feb 12, 2013

Fluid Materials in Art & Science (Vienna, 27-28 Sep 13)

University of Applied Arts Vienna, Sep 27–28, 2013
Deadline: Apr 30, 2013

Liquid Things

Call for Papers

Flows (Un)bound: Fluid Materials in Artistic and Scientific Practices

Materials, and fluid materials in particular, exert a significant
influence on the formation of those artistic and scientific practices
within which they are employed and explored. They possess a certain
agency that very often thwarts and escapes the original designs and
intended goals of researchers and artists. As a result, they have
great bearing on our modes of thinking and our imagination. Thus,
fluid materials possess the capacity to shape knowledge in a
substantial way. Or do they? And if they actually do, how do they
wield their influence, how do they actively pose problems within
scientific and artistic processes, why should their agency be
problematic at all, and to what extent could they retain a
systematical resistance towards all attempts of control?

In the last decades, the material culture of both “laboratory
life” and studio practice has been increasingly studied. The main
focus being the technical and material conditions of art and science
such as spatial settings, apparatuses, machines, tools, but also the
daily actions and routines, tacit as well as practical knowledge,
manual dexterity, bodily gestures, group interactions, networks etc.
Studies in this research area made quite clear that these material
conditions are not just inevitable circumstances or frameworks within
which scientific and creative processes simply ‘take place’. Instead,
they have shown that the epistemic and artistic outcomes (i.e.
knowledge, concepts, theories, art works) are crucially shaped and
defined by the material conditions and contexts of the processes that
produced them. Such insights are pivotal departure points of the
symposium Flows (Un)bound: Fluid Materials in Artistic and Scientific

However, we pursue a slightly different approach: We encourage to
focus on investigations into materials that possess some sort of fluid
properties and behaviour, and to raise questions about whether and how
these materials play a formative part in the shaping of the methods,
strategies and practices of their scientific or artistic exploration.
Thus, we propose a shift from the technical and material conditions of
production to fluid materials as objects of research in both artistic
and scientific experiments. This perspective may allow insights into
how the dynamic and vibrant performance of these materials mobilised
mental and imaginative processes.

The period under consideration is limited to 1900 until today. We
are particularly interested in the impact dynamic, transitive and
flowing materials have on research practices in art and science. How
do they contribute to the thought processes and what effects do they
have on epistemic or aesthetic insights? Furthermore, we welcome
papers that take a closer look at the (specific) agency of fluid
materials, or critically discuss whether ‘material agency’ exists at
all? Our focus is by no means restricted to notions of “auto-poiesis”
or “self-activity”. Instead, we invite studies which examine some sort
of ‘productive resistance’ that fluid substances and dynamic materials
retain within artistic and scientific practices. Since fluid materials
are (under most circumstances) malleable, easy to deform and yield
pressure, it is obvious that ‘resistance’ in our context is not
synonymous with solidness or rigidness. The ‘productive resistance’ we
are looking for rather points to certain traits and behaviours that
make fluid materials difficult to master in the systems tailored for
their exploration; a kind of pertinacity which causes
‘unanticipatable’ events, reactions, and flows. At stake is something
that escapes intentions or expectations and, thereby, forces artists
and scientists either to regulate and contain fluid materials in
different ways or to accept and embrace the new possibilities and
potentials opened up by these materials. We are equally interested in
papers studying attempts to control and bind material flows within
scientific or artistic settings, and papers discussing practices that
welcome unbound material flows as aesthetically or epistemically
productive. The ‘productive resistance’ may even affect the framework
of common knowledge in so far as it could oppose established modes of
intelligibility and traditional ways of reasoning. If this proves
true, do we, then, need some sort of “epistemology of the fluid” as
companion to an “epistemology of the concrete” (Rheinberger)? Last but
not least, the intricate relations between ‘the fluid’ and ‘the
concrete’, their intermixtures as well as the transition from one
state to another are issues also within the scope of the symposium.

General information about the symposium
The symposium will consist of two distinct, yet closely related parts:
1) a public part with two or three keynote lectures delivered by
internationally renowned historians of science and art;
2) a workshop in which the selected papers of the invited participants
will be discussed. The symposium is conceived as a kind of preparation
or ‘rehearsal’ that shall culminate in an edited volume on the topic
and issues of fluid materials as outlined above. Applicants should be
willing to contribute to the publication in form of an essay about the
subject of their accepted proposal. The PEEK-Project LIQUID THINGS
will take over accommodation costs (entirely) and travelling expenses
(up to a reasonable amount) for all invited participants.

Abstracts (max. 500 words) in English together with a short CV (max.
300 words) should be submitted as an email attachment (PDF) and sent
Deadline: April 30th, 2013. We will advise all proposers of accepted
papers within four weeks of the deadline.

LIQUID THINGS, Art Research on Active and Transitive Materials -
University of Applied Arts Vienna, Art & Science, Vordere
Zollamtsstraße 3, 1030 Vienna, Austria

CFP: Fluid Materials in Art & Science (Vienna, 27-28 Sep 13). In:, Feb 12, 2013 (accessed Jun 20, 2024), <>.