With the friendly support
of the DFG (German Research Council)

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG

We are all Astronauts

Speakers and Abstracts

Redemptive Space: Duty, Death, and the Astronaut-Soldier, 1949–1969

OPENING LECTURE | Thursday, 22. October 2015 | 6.00 pm

Of all the images of American space travelers present in popular culture of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, few were more persistent than that of the cosmic explorer as soldier. Looking as if they had only just recently returned from the skies over Germany, the space pilots of postwar science fiction were immediately recognizable to audiences as military veterans for whom duty and death were inextricably linked. In the popular imagination, men who had suppressed their fear and accepted risk for their country—men who had taken life and gladly offered up their own—seemed perfectly suited to the work of conquering the heavens. While the American public during the late 1950s and early 1960s continued to view space travelers (including the first astronauts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) as soldiers, though, astronauts hoped that the space environment would be—and, indeed, found it to be—something entirely different. Instead of viewing space as the next battleground, spacemen increasingly began to see it as a place of redemption: a realm with borders and armies, where they could make peace with themselves and live free of others’ expectations.

Matthew H. Hersch

Matthew H. Hersch is an Assistant Professor in the History of Science at Harvard University, where he specializes in the history of spaceflight and in 20th-century American technology and its relationship to popular culture. He received his S.B. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his J.D. from New York University School of Law. In 2003, he began a William Penn Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his A.M. and Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science. While a doctoral candidate, he held the Guggenheim Fellowship of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, and the HSS-NASA Fellowship in the History of Space Science. After receiving his doctorate, Matthew also served as the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Aerospace History of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. In 2011, he returned to Penn, eventually holding dual appointments as a Lecturer in Science, Technology and Society in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, and as a Lecturer in Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Matthew is the author of “Inventing the American Astronaut” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Through the Eyes of the Astronaut: Mediator of the Human Imagination

Friday, 23. October 2015 | 9.45 am

Photographic images produced by and of astronauts, particularly from the NASA space program of the 1960s onwards, have mediated and constructed our perception of a place we have never encountered with our own eyes: the physical space commonly referred to as “outer space”. By entering the internal space of human imagination, these images take us beyond the realm of our known phenomenal world, expanding our knowledge of space quite literally frame by frame. Furthermore, images made by astronauts allow a vicarious experience of what it is like to be an astronaut, enabling the viewer to take part in a narrative that would otherwise remain unknown and unseen. However, the rhetoric surrounding the NASA astronaut produces expectations and preconceptions in the viewer, a rhetoric that is perpetuated through popular culture but which may or may not reflect the “truth” of the astronaut or the reality of space as they encounter it.

Colleen Boyle

Colleen Boyle studied Fine Art, majoring in printmaking, at Monash University, Melbourne, in the early 1990s. It was here that she first began to look more closely at the photographic imagery produced by the fields of astronomy and space exploration. This interest led to the completion of a Masters of Art History and Theory at the University of Melbourne in 2000 where her thesis examined photography produced by NASA’s manned and unmanned exploratory missions. In 1999, Colleen began an 11-year career at Museum Victoria, her first role being as Image Researcher for the inaugural productions at the Scienceworks Planetarium. She moved on to work as the Museum’s Senior Education and Public Programs Officer but continued her planetarium work on a freelance basis with the Sky-Skan production company until 2002. In 2010, Colleen left Museum Victoria in order to return to her studies and undertake a Ph.D., which she obtained at RMIT University in 2015. Her project and thesis examined links between photography, imagination, and the unseen, with a particular focus on images produced by space exploration. Colleen is a practicing artist and also teaches in the Art History and Theory programs of the School of Art at RMIT University and the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Recent publications include the paper “You Saw the Whole of the Moon” for Leonardo (2013) and the book chapter “Eyes of the Machine” in On the Verge of Photography (ARTicle Press, 2013).

All We Mad Starmen: The Astronaut as a Psychopath

Friday, 23. October 2015 | 11.00 am

In his short story "Zodiac 2000" (1978), published when the routine of the Space Shuttle flight had replaced the excitement of the Apollo mission, J.G. Ballard proposes new star signs to his readers: the Psychopath, the Cruise Missile, the Vibrator, ending this innovative and subversive zodiac with the Sign of the Astronaut. Each sign oversees one of the short sections of the story, and the ending, in which it is revealed that the protagonist is deranged, is placed under the protection of the Astronaut. This must not have come as a surprise, as New Wave writers had already proposed the image of the astronaut as a psychopath. Unlike Kubrick, who proposed the astronaut as a sane man who struggles against a maddened technology (embodied in the Hal 9000 computer) and manages to transcend the limits of humankind in the mystical ending of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), Ballard had already expressed his mistrust about the short-lived Space Age through the stories featuring dead or demented astronauts, from "The Cage of Sand" (1962) to "The Man Who Walked on the Moon" (1985); but he was not alone. A much less famous novel by Barry Malzberg, “Beyond Apollo” (1972), has Harry M. Evans, the only survivor of a mission to Venus who repeatedly – and rather hysterically – keeps writing different versions of his journey, giving different reasons for the death of his partner, and different descriptions of the planet. Is the astronaut hiding something or is he simply insane? Basically, by repeatedly telling different stories, Evans calls in doubt the possibility of narrating, but more than anything else, he forbids readers to envision, that is to see, what Venus is like. Like in Ballard, the journey to outer space turns into a disquieting trip into the abysses of inner space.

Umberto Rossi

Umberto Rossi studied American and English Literature at the Sapienza University of Rome and earned his Ph.D.-degree in Comparative Literature at the Università Roma Tre in 1995. He is a freelance scholar and literary journalist. He has published an introduction to war literature, Il secolo di fuoco, in 2008, and a monograph on Philip K. Dick's fiction, The Twisted Worlds of Philip K. Dick. (Mc Farland 2011). He has edited the July 2015 special issue of “Science Fiction Studies on Italian Science Fiction” with Arielle Saiber and Salvatore Proietti, and a collective book on Thomas Pynchon's “V., Dream Tonight of Peacock Tails” (Cambridge Scholars, 2015). He has translated novels and story collections by Thomas M. Disch, Joe R. Lansdale, Harlan Ellison and Philip K. Dick. He is a member of the SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association).

Hero of Progress, Environmentalist and Advertising Character: The Image of the Space Traveler in the Mirror of Society, Architecture and Product Marketing

The talk will be held in German as
"Held des Fortschritts, Naturschützer und Werbefigur. Das Bild des Weltraumfahrers in der Kultur im Spiegel von Gesellschaft, Architektur und Produktmarketing".

Friday, 23. October 2015 | 12.30 pm

The first human flight into space in 1961 changed the world since the in the Renaissance, since the 14th century, ongoing opening of the terrestrial space was thus broken and provoked a change of perspective. In the form of the space traveller, a new type of explorer, humankind did step out of its terrestrial home into the dark uncertainty of space and discovered here beyond all horizons his home planet in all its entire fascination and natural beauty, but also the extent of its destruction. Space flight which begins as a political competition, in which the soviet cosmonaut rises to the position of a technical hero, a guiding figure of international understanding and a hero of political progress and which at the same time changes the consciousness and the events on Earth. The belief in progress inspires creative fantasies which culturally immortalize themselves in the socialist world in an omnipresent art with the space traveller as icon. Socialist leading figure, global messenger for the protection of Earth, advertising medium und film hero: the space traveller fulfills the biggest dream of humankind – he is therefore as a visionary a dream character.

Ansgar Oswald

Ansgar Oswald, M.A., studied after a formation as technical drawer, finished in 1982, from 1985 to 1992 history, theology and German literature at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. In this time he also worked up to 1993 in the collaborative research centre 226, funded by the German Research Council (DFG), a project which dealt with the full range of socio-historical and cultural aspects of the expansion and the communication of education from the 14th to the 16th century. From 1994 on he worked in Berlin as a journalist for various regional as well as national newspapers and magazine and for institutions such as the senate administration for city development in Berlin. After that he changed in 2004 into the PR work. Since then, he runs his own office “oswald pr. Agentur für Text + Kommunikation“ and works in the fields of city development, traffic, the protection of nature and tourism with sustainable projects. The activity ranges from the development of own ideas over concepts up to coordination and the typical work of communication which, via the stories of the people behind them, anchors projects, products and brands into the perception of the general public.

The Character of the Cosmonaut in Soviet Popular Culture

Friday, 23. October 2015 | 3.00 pm

The Soviet cult of the Cosmos differed from western fascination with space travel during the 1960s in its all-encompassing impact, its intensity, in the penetration of all institutions, especially for education and leisure, and of youth organizations. Ever since the enormous success with Sputnik, Cosmos-related themes were omnipresent in Soviet everyday life, on school murals as well as in new brands such as Laika cigarettes. The accomplishment of Gagarin, the “red Columbus”, pushed the cult of the Soviet Hero to new dimensions. The paper will examine first the genealogy of the figure of the conqueror of the heaven, secondly it will shed some light on the construction of salvific narratives surrounding the figure of the first cosmonauts, a man and a woman, and finally it will inquire after analogies to the first man on the moon.

Monica Rüthers

Monica Rüthers studied History and German Literature and Linguistics and at the University of Basel where she also earned her Ph.D.-degree in 1995. After working as a research and teaching associate at the Basel History Department and on a research grant from the Swiss National Fund, she finished her second book and Habilitation in 2006. From 2006 to 2008 she was associate Professor at the University of Fribourg, 2008-2009 she taught as a guest Professor at the University of Constance and in 2009 obtained the Professorship for East European History at the University of Hamburg. Her fields of interest are East European Jews, Soviet / socialist cities, childhood, Soviet visual culture and the history of technology. She was co-editor of “Soviet Space Culture. Cosmic enthusiasm in socialist societies”, (London 2011). Her last book dealt with Jewish spaces and Gipsy spaces in the cultural topographies of Europe. She published several books and articles on Moscow as an imperial and a global city where she investigated public and private as well as heterotopic and “global” Moscow spaces. Her current research interests combine Soviet visual culture with socialist spaces and consumer culture, especially retro-trends in post-Soviet packaging.

Remembering the Future: Astronaut Memories and the “Retroification” of Science Fiction in (Surf) Rock Music

Friday, 23. October 2015 | 4.15 pm

The contribution examines representations of astronauts and space traveling in contemporary popular music, particularly focusing on US-American surf punk/rock. By way of analyzing a selection of examples, it particularly sets out to illustrate that, in these genres, the figure of the astronaut is not seldom featured as the embodiment of a distinctly pre-digital era of technological advancement and exploration through a “nostalgified” soundscape and the “retroification” of the visual inventory of mid-20th century science fiction. Thus taking into account the songs’ lyrical and musical dimensions as well as the paratexts of their production and reception, the contribution argues that these memories of past futures potentially serve to sustain a notion of the “authentic analogue” central to punk/rock’s self-conception as a popular musical genre.

Martin Butler

Martin Butler is Junior Professor of American literature and culture at the University of Oldenburg since 2010. His main areas of research include the study of popular culture, particularly focusing on the history of political music, forms and figures of cultural mobility as well as cultures of participation. He studied English and Social Sciences at the University of Duisburg-Essen, where he also completed his PhD with a study on the American folksinger Woody Guthrie in 2007. From 2007 to 2010, he worked as a research assistant at the Department of Anglophone Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Among his publications are “Voices of the Down and Out: The Dust Bowl Migration and the Great Depression in the Songs of Woody Guthrie”(2007) and the co-edited volumes “Hybrid Americas: Contacts, Contrasts, and Confluences in New World Literatures and Cultures” (2008), as well as a co-edited special issue of “Popular Music and Society” on musical autobiographies (2015).

“Off structure!“ A Metaphorology of Astro-Nautic Accidents – the Example of the Space Movie “Gravity“

Friday, 23. October 2015 | 5.45 pm

Russian spy satellite, Hubble telescope or ISS – in the variously awarded space drama „Gravity“ (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013) everything technical that has been launched in the past 60 years into space plummets back to Earth and vaporizes. With this depiction of failure on a cosmic scale, “Gravity“ marks the climax as well as the turning point in the field of the current space film. In the middle of the astronautic accident, a young woman, being in space for the first time and having to cope with a terrestrial blow of fate, struggles back into life. The symbolism of a rebirth, used by the director, has been widely discussed. Less noticed was instead how Cuarón visualizes the linguistic metaphoric of the disorientation which follows the technical as well as individual catastrophe. In my presentation which will be taking recourse to film- as well cultural science, I will show how the contentual and the formal level do work together in “Gravity” in order to outline the portrait of a female astronaut who holds her ground against a cosmic contingency that is experienced as overpowering. With reference to Hans Blumenbergs text “Schiffbruch mit Zuschauer“ (“Shipwreck with Spectator“), the possibility arises to read “Gravity“ as a paramount example of a “Daseinsmetapher“ (Blumenberg), a “metaphor of existence“ which has been transferred from its original nautical sphere into an astronautic one.

Jörg Hartmann

Jörg Hartmann is a Phd candidate at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), where he received his Master’s degree in German Literature/Media Studies. In his dissertation project “Spaceship with Spectator” he further pursues Hans Blumenberg’s philosophy to illustrate how Science Fiction films from “Voyage dans la Lune” (Georges Méliès, F 1902) to “Interstellar” (Christopher Nolan USA 2014) can be seen as “re-occupation” of one of mankind’s oldest spatial metaphors, life as a sea fare voyage. Jörg’s research interests include history of ideas as well as film studies, philosophy, and Science Fiction. He is an active member of two scientific groups in which he discusses his findings: “Formatting of Social Space” (KIT) and “Concepts of Space 1600/1900” (Forum Scientiarum, University of Tuebingen). Before he went to Yale as Visiting Assistant (February – July 2012) he taught graduate courses at the KIT on Theories of Media Culture, Space- and Time Travel in Science Fiction Films, and on Figurative Speech. Two years ago he started to teach “Creative Writing” at the KIT. He has published on early Science Fiction films (“Voyage dans lune”, “Weltraumschiff I startet”) and in his most recent publication he compares Johannes Kepler’s “Somnium” (1634) with Georges Méliès’ “The Astronomer’s Dream” (1898).

The Dead Astronaut. The Subgenre of Critical Space Flight Stories in the Science Fiction of the 1960s and 1970s

Saturday, 24. October 2015 | 9.00 am

Space flight has traditionally been associated with the Science Fiction genre in literature, film and other media as an expression of techno-optimism and a belief in a future dominated by science and technology. It is little known outside of the Science Fiction field that by the late 1960s a new subgenre emerged that, closely associated with a general renewal movement within the genre, attacked the myths of space flight and the public image of the astronaut, especially in American mainstream media. In a number of psychologically intense stories and novels space flight is depicted as a presumptuous enterprise of a megalomaniac humanity, astronauts appear as victims of isolation and overextension and the meaning of space flight for the science fiction genre is thoroughly reversed. J.G. Ballard (1930-2009) and Barry N. Malzberg (*1939) are generally regarded as the major representatives of this development.

Michael Iwoleit

Michael K. Iwoleit was born in Düsseldorf in 1962 and now lives in Wuppertal. He took his A-levels and completed an education as biological technical assistant in 1982. Afterwards he studied philosophy, sociology and German philology for several semesters and worked as a technical assistant at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf. Since 1989 he is freelance writer, translator, critic, and editor mostly in the field of science fiction and phantastica. Starting in the mid-nineties, he also worked as a copywriter and translator for advertising and IT industry. In the field of Science Fiction field he is best known for his novellas which have won the “Deutsche Science Fiction Preis” four times and the “Kurd Laßwitz” Preis twice. He published four novels, numerous essays and about 30 stories in anthologies and magazines, several of which have been translated into English, Italian, Croatian, Polish and Spanish. He is co-founder of the German science fiction magazine “Nova” and co-founder and editor of the international science fiction magazine “InterNova”.

"Let's discover Space!" Tintin and Other Characters of French-Belgian Comics as Astronauts

Saturday, 24. October 2015 | 10.15 am

The most famous space traveller of French-Belgian comics is without a doubt Tintin: In the albums “Objectif lune” (1953) and “On a marché sur la lune” (1954), the young Belgian reporter walks on the Moon fifteen years before the American Neil Armstrong. But he was not the only one who attempted to become an astronaut: Gaston Lagaffe, Spirou & Fantasio and even the Smurfs did dream of being astronauts. The setting of Tintin’s adventures is the conflict between the fictitious countries of “Syldavie” and “Bordurie”, a reference to the Cold War where the conquest of space was one of the most symbolic issues of the rivalry between the USA and the USSR. In the paper the perception of outer space will be analysed through the character of the astronaut as depicted in “Tintin” and also, in comparison, in a few other French-Belgian comics (such as e.g. the “Smurfs”). Moreover, the discovery of space will be read as a fable about human achievements and failures in general as well as a capability-test for the astronaut in particular. Finally, some facets of the relationship between the way outer space is used as a setting for dreams in the story and the way outer space itself is imagined and dreamed via these comics will be tackled – the latter meaning here also the way the author and/or the society he or she is aiming at as an audience conceived and imagined outer space.

Marc Blancher

Marc Blancher, PhD, was born in 1981 in Vichy (France). He has been living and teaching in Germany since 2006. Since 2009 he is teaching French language and Cultural Studies as fulltime lecturer at the Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany. He has written four master theses (German, Comparative Literature, French as a Foreign Language and Medieval History), including two on crime literature. His doctoral thesis, done as a bi-national “cotutelle du thèse” at the universities of Regensburg and Clermont-Ferrand II, deals with French, German and European crime literature. In addition to his research on French comics, crime literature, intercultural studies and humour, he has done extensive work in publishing and in the media as an author of French crime novels, screenplays and short novels. His short novels have received many prizes.

Artistic Performance in 0 Gravity

Saturday, 24. October 2015 | 11:45 am

Human beings traveling in space or working on space stations will need to occupy their minds and bodies and perhaps generate income when not attending to the operation of the vehicle. It is likely that both women and men will look toward the creative arts, and more specifically performance arts with which they can exploit the advantages of living in zero, or near zero gravity. Most American women, as well as astronauts and cosmonauts from other countries, seem to have studied some kind of dance as children. Many continued to dance, and among those women I spoke to and asked about their interests, several explained that, when they had time, especially the Shuttle Commanders and those who worked on the International Space Station, they had time to spend on personal interests, and several practiced dance. Dance, the universal art of moving in a musical manner as the artist stretches muscles as she tests the environment, expressing joy or sadness. It may indeed be the way that human beings best adapt their bodies and imagination to weightlessness.

Bettyann Kevles

Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Vassar College and a Master’s Degree in Public Law and Government from Columbia University. In 1965 she moved to Pasadena, California where she contributed a science column and reviewed books for the “Los Angeles Times”. She taught intermittently at Pasadena Community College and at the Art Center College of Design. She joined the Planetary Society, was a frequent visitor to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and contributed to the Society’s “Planetary Report”. Her books include “Naked to the Bone, Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century”, 1997 and “Almost Heaven: The Story of Women in Space”, 2006. At the Millennium she left California to occupy the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, from where in 2001 she moved to New Haven, Connecticut to join the Department of History at Yale University.

”But as to whether or not he has feelings is something I don’t think anyone can truthfully answer“. The Image of the Astronaut in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Saturday, 24. October 2015 | 2.00 pm

”But as to whether or not he has feelings is something I don’t think anyone can truthfully answer“, says Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea), astronaut onboard the Discovery spaceship aiming at Jupiter in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (UK/USA 1968). His answer, of course, is not meant as a self-description of the mission’s astronauts but rather addressing the ship’s supercomputer HAL 9000, who appears to be programmed with feelings. The answer though will guide our reading of the image of the astronaut in the film that questions the borders between the human and the machine, where the trained scientists who appear to react more like a technical apparatus while the machine-in-control reacts quite lively and humanely singing and being offended. Besides a reading of the astronauts in opposition to HAL, especially in regard of style and gender, the talk will discuss the diversified artistic resonance of the iconic astronaut figure in the afterlife of Kubrick’s classic in other artworks.

Nils Daniel Peiler

Nils Daniel Peiler, born 1988 in Saarbrücken. Bachelor of Arts in German Language and Literature by Saarland University Saarbrücken. International Master of Arts in Audiovisual and Cinema Studies by Goethe-University Frankfurt on Main, Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris and Amsterdam University. Post-graduate student at the Institute for European Art History at the University Heidelberg; doctoral research project on the artistic resonance of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Scholarship of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. Student assistant of several projects such as the buildup of an art history image database, the project “‘Elective Affinities’?! Studien zu filmischen Adaptionen von Romanen und Erzählungen mit Kunstbezug” (funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). Coordination of the interdisciplinary public lecture series “Genialer Schrott” on industrial culture. Research subjects include topics such as filmic reception, filmic paratexts and film dubbing. Assistant lecturer at the University Heidelberg, Goethe-University Frankfurt on Main and Saarland University Saarbrücken. Seminars, talks and curatorial projects dealing especially with film history. Journalistic and scientific publications on art, film and media as a freelance contributor for several broadcasting stations, print and online media such as the time-honored German movie magazine “Filmdienst”.

Story – I am a Space Person

FILM | Saturday, 24. October 2015 | 4.15 pm

"Never before has an astronaut spoken up - about the faults and tragedies of his life, about the achievements and experiences of man in space: Story Musgrave invites us on an emotional journey around a human being exiled between Earth and weightlessness. Astronaut of six space flights, poet, surgeon, chemist, computer specialist and father of six children. Did this ultimately uprooted man find his place here on Earth? He is a metaphor for search and evolution, for love and loneliness." Written by Dana Ranga (Source: imdb.com)

Germany, 2003
Director: Dana Ranga
Cast: Story Musgrave




Astronaut and Avatar. The Outer Space as a Space of Experimentation in the Computer Game

Sunday, 25. October 2015 | 10.00 am

The paper will deal with the representation and the performances of the astronaut in computer games. The specific starting point will be hereby the figure of the avatar, which is singled out by its hinge-like function, mediating between the Inner and the Outer, the world of the game and the world of the player, the self and the technology. Taking examples such as “The Swapper“ (Facepalm Games, 2013), the paper will ask after the ontological and esthetical analogies between avatar and astronaut.

Thomas Hensel

Thomas Hensel studied philosophy, art history, archaeology and management in Hamburg, Munich and Vallendar. Baccalaureate and M.A. in philosophy, PhD in art history. Fellow of the Hansische Universitätsstiftung and the German Reserach Council (DFG), Holder of the Aby M. Warburg-Advancement Award of the senate of the Freie Hansestadt Hamburg in 2012. 1999 scientific fellow at the University of Hamburg at the Art Historical Seminar as scientific coordinator of the post graduate programme „Political Iconography“; 2000 – 2005 scientific fellow at the Kunsthochschule für Medien Cologne, Department for Art- and Media Science, department „Theory and Archaeology of the Media in the Context of Art”. 2005 – 2006 scientific fellow at the University Potsdam, Institute for Arts and Media; 2007 – 2013 “Studienrat” at the University of Siegen, Philosophical Faculty, Seminar for Media Science. At the same time: 2012-2013 visiting professor at the Institute for Art History at the Saarland University. Since 2013 Professor for Art- and Design-Theory at the Faculty for Design of the Academy Pforzheim. Since 2011 member of the Faculty of the Certified Program “Visual Competencies” of the Donau-University Krems. Research focus on Game Studies (especially the imagery of the computer game), history of media, knowledge and science of art science (especially Aby Warburg), Old German painting and drawing (especially Albrecht Dürer and the Danube School).

“Climb the Penrose stairs to merge with the infinite”. The Astronaut as the Posthumanistic Reverse of Itself

Sunday, 25. October 2015 | 11.15 am

This talk will focus on three astronauts from three different science fiction films: David Bowman in "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), Sam Bell in "Moon" (2009) and Cooper in „Interstellar“ (2014) can be categorized by the three orders of Baudrillard’s “simulacra” (1976). They become posthumanistic entities while arriving at epistemic events in singular embarrassing settings: In the “hotel room” Bowman sees older versions of himself and finally transforms into the “starchild”. Bell finds copies of himself and realises that he is one of them. Cooper floats into the five dimensional tesseract, where he communicates with his daughter and his younger self and thus becomes a transitory infinite being beyond space and time.
While Bowman and Cooper overcome the need of technological prostheses, Bell is a prosthesis. These antiheroes also are the reverse of the nostalgic induced image of astronauts we have internalised since the space age. They unintendedly climb the Penrose stairs to merge with the infinite.

Marc Bonner

Marc Bonner graduated in art history, history of the modern age and information science from Saarland University. He finished his Ph.D. thesis in 2013 on the topic of „Architecture of Distant Worlds – Santiago Calatrava’s Sculptural Understanding of Architecture and the Graphic Quality of his Buildings and Interdependency with Advertising, Film, Music, Computer Games and Fashion“ (Berlin 2014). From 2009 to 2013 he was lecturer at Saarland University at the Institute for Art History and at a special BA division with the focus on European Studies. Since April 2013 he holds a position as lecturer for Media Studies at the University of Cologne at the Department of Media Culture and Theatre. He continues holding workshops and doing presentations in Europe and the US.
His research and publications are focusing on Architecture of the 19th, 20th and 21st century as well as the spatiotemporal depiction and use of architecture and urban landscapes in computer games and films. Thus he merges the issue of intermedia correlations between architecture, film and computer games. His other research fields are attributed to his main focus and cover cinematic and game intrinsic space from a philosophical perspective as well as science fiction films.

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