Michael Schwab

Editor-in-Chief, Journal for Artistic Research (JAR)
Germany, United Kingdom (residence) °1966
affiliation: Helsinki University of the Arts; Zurich University of the Arts; Orpheus Institute, Ghent; University of Applied Arts, Vienna

Michael Schwab is an artist and artistic researcher who interrogates post-conceptual uses of technology in a variety of media including photography, drawing, printmaking and installation art. He holds a PhD in photography from the Royal College of Art, London, that focuses on post-conceptual post-photography and artistic research methodology. He is visting professor of artistic research at the Helsinki University of the Arts as well as research fellow at the Zurich University of the Arts, the Orpheus Institute, Ghent, where is a senior researcher in the research project MusicExperiment21, and the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, where he jointly leads Transpositions. Artistic Data Exploration. He is co-initiator and inaugural Editor-in-Chief of JAR, the Journal for Artistic Research.


Michael Schwab untersucht die post-konzeptionelle Verwendung von Technologie in einer Reihe von Medien. Sein PhD, den er am Royal College of Art in London erworben hat, beschäftigt sich mit post-konzeptioneller Post-Fotografie und Methodologien künstlerischer Forschung. Er ist Gastprofessor für künstlerische Forschung an der University of Arts, Helsinki, sowie Research Fellow an der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, am Orpheus Institut in Gent, wo er im Forschungsprojekt MusicExperiment21 tätig ist, und an der Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, wo er das Forschungsprojekt Transpositions. Artistic Data Exploration mit leitet. Er ist einer der Initiatoren und Herausgeber von JAR, das Journal for Artistic Research.

website: http://www.seriate.net


Upcoming Events

  • Transpositions. From science to art (and back) (04/10/2017)
    Event: Conference, artist(s)/author(s): Gerhard Eckel, Michael Schwab, David Pirrò
    Stockholm, October 4 to 6, 2017 The final research event of the project Transpositions: Artistic Data Exploration. Science and art are usually held distinct due to the different kinds of processes they employ and the character of the conclusions that they draw. However, what if artists were to extend scientific methodologies while radicalising their stance in post-conceptual art under the heading ‘artistic research’? How can scientific data be pushed to the limits of representation? We think that science and art will still follow their own respective trajectories, yet they will start to ‘talk’ to each other in unexpected ways once their practices are enmeshed. After working with scientists and their data from fields as separate as computational neuroscience, quantum mechanics, cosmology, and molecular biology, and after preparing our artistic responses, we want to find out the character of our scientific-artistic conversations and how we can push the work even further. Transpositions are artistic forms created from scientific data that respect the epistemic potential of their material under aesthetic conditions. Extending representational registers, transpositions propose a new aesthetic-epistemic logic of material difference rather than formal identity. Placing the focus on transpositional operators – their inner workings and as strict logic – suggests inconsistencies are not detrimental to knowledge but necessary stages in a game of heightened complexity. The research event Transpositions: From science to art (and back) aims to provide an overview. It brings concepts, data, artworks, and people together for a three-day set of events spread across Stockholm. It offers numerous opportunities to engage with transpositions in exhibitions, installations, performances, presentations, and discussions. Keynote lecture by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. With contributions by: Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Leif Dahlberg, Luc Derycke, Gerhard Eckel, Sabine Höhler, Victor Jaschke, Ioana Jucan, Tina O'Connell, Daniel Peltz, David Pirrò, Hanns Holger Rutz, Pelin Sahlén, Michael Schwab, Phoebe Stubbs, Nina Stuhldreher, Neal White and many more. In cooperation with the Royal College of Music, the Royal Institute of Art, the Royal Institute of Technology, Färgfabriken, and Audiorama. Funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (PEEK, AR 257)

Bureau for Artistic Data Exploration (b-a-d-e)

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research expositions

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  • 100 Proto-Objects Source Material (01/01/2009)
    Art object: Visualisation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • 100 Proto-Objects (top view) (01/01/2015)
    Art object: Construction, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • 3D OBJECTS (26/06/2015)
    Art object: Visualisation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • Brain (01/01/2010)
    Art object: Art object, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Rusted, cast-iron sculpture of all 100 proto-objects in their respective place making up a model of a proto-brain.
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Selected publications

  • First, the second: Walter Benjamin's theory of reflection and the question of artistic research (01/01/2008)
    Publication: Article, Journal of Visual Art Practice, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Analysing Walter Benjamin's 1919 dissertation ‘The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism’, this paper questions definitions of artistic research that require textual support. In an attempt to investigate alternative definitions of artistic research, the paper follows Benjamin's theory and places reflection, critique's underlying concept, within artistic practice. A number of secondary texts are used, most importantly Winfried Menninghaus’ book Unendliche Verdopplung, in order to focus on the formal character of Benjamin's argument and to avoid repetition of metaphysical assumptions embedded in Romantic philosophy. A formal and systematic approach promises that a coherent argument can be made towards an alternative definition of artistic research that does not require a discussion of Romanticism's shortcomings. As a result, a definition of an essentially reflective artistic practice is sketched out that operates beyond the practice/theory divide and for which concepts such as ‘beauty’ or ‘intuition’ are irrelevant.
  • The Power of Deconstruction in Artistic Research (01/01/2009)
    Publication: Article, Working Papers in Art and Design, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • First, the second: the supplemental function of research in art (01/01/2009)
    Publication: Article, Zurich University of the Arts/Scheidegger & Spiess, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • The Research Catalogue as Model for Dissertations and Theses in Art and Design (01/01/2012)
    Publication: Article, Sage, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    The Artistic Research Catalogue (ARC) is a project funded by the Dutch government (2010–2012) that develops a publication framework for artistic research. This framework is tested in a prototype software used by the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR). JAR is a novel, international, online, Open Access and peer-reviewed journal for the identification, publication and dissemination of artistic research and its methodologies. The development of ARC and JAR is a response to a problem perceived by many researchers in art and design: traditional, academic modes of writing cater little for the needs of artistic researchers who are striving for a greater integration of making and writing. The present chapter introduces epistemological problems of artistic research, which it relates to recent developments in the history and theory of science, before attempting a definition of what academic writing may be for art and design practitioners. Explaining a number of key concepts from ARC (exposition, weave, aspect, tool and work) the chapter describes software requirements for the publication of artistic research that combine features from academic repositories, museum catalogues, online publishing and e-research. Finally, the chapter suggests that ARC is transdisciplinary in nature due to the fact that all modes of writing can be represented.
  • Exposition Writing (01/01/2012)
    Publication: Article, Swedish Research Council, Stockholm, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • Introduction (01/01/2013)
    Publication: Article, Koenig Books, London, artist(s)/author(s): Florian Dombois, Claudia Mareis, Michael Schwab
    Artistic practices are manifold and highly diverse. In recent years, a claim towards research has become meaningful to many practitioners of art. Intellectual Birdhouse gives room to a number of acteurs to unfold their attitudes towards this claim. In this book, ‘artistic research’ is assumed as being independent of ‘discipline’, with the potential to occur in all contexts once epistemological expectations have shifted. This approach foregrounds questions concerning the type of models, terms and concepts that elucidate the processes and outcomes of epistemic-artistic practices while recalling theoretical debates steeped in tradition. Artistic research often involves productive and refl ective work on and with material, and is frequently paired with testing of forms of representation other than texts that engage in open negotiations with knowledge. For this reason, artistic research may take an unexpected or even controversial course. As a consequence, most of the chapters discuss how borders need to be negotiated as part of the research process. This includes questions bearing on art and science, art and politics, art and history as well as art and philosophy. Many of the authors see themselves as artists, but one of the chief claims of this book is that a position is possible beyond the ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ labels. The chapters address this position and the difficulties negotiating it in the context of existing discourses and intellectual frameworks.
  • Between a rock and a hard place (01/01/2012)
    Publication: Article, Koenig Books, London, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • Paris (01/01/2013)
    Publication: Book, Copy Press, London, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Micheal Schwab is curious about trees in Paris. The most unnatural thing about a tree in a city is the place where it is planted. A tree in a city does not grow; it is planted. Paris lets you explore trees in Paris while it breaches narrow definitions of photography. ‘So you think you know Paris, but if you take Michael Schwab as your guide you will find yourself in a truly inventive space between photography and drawing. You will be delightfully transported to spaces and places of the imagination, with some very particular trees to hold on to for reality. This is indeed Paris from another perspective.’ Vanessa Jackson
  • Introduction (01/01/2014)
    Publication: Article, Leiden University Press, Leiden, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab, Henk Borgdorff
    The Exposition of Artistic Research: Publishing Art in Academia introduces the pioneering concept of ‘expositions’ in the context of art and design research, where practice needs to be exposed as research to enter academic discourse. It brings together reflective and methodological approaches to exposition writing from a variety of artistic disciplines including fine art, music and design, which it links to questions of publication and the use of technology. The book proposes a novel relationship to knowledge, where the form in which this knowledge emerges and the mode in which it is communicated makes a difference to what is known.
  • Expositions in the Research Catalogue (01/01/2014)
    Publication: Article, Leiden University Press, Leiden, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    This chapter discusses how the technology of the Research Catalogue engages with the notion of 'exposition'. In particular, it looks at the repository, where a distinction is made between works and simple media, as well as 'the page' that is literally only created as it is populated with data. A final section looks at both sharing and publishing workflows, which represent elements in the way the Research Catalogue engages with social media.
  • "Das Experiment geht weiter..." (31/01/2014)
    Publication: Article, APA-Science, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    This 'guest commentary' suggests that the introduction of artistic research poses a challenge to academia, while it is not clear how this challenge will eventually be settled. However, a few basic insights are being discussed, such as (1) the fact that debates whether art was already research or not were leading nowhere (2) a focus on the third cycle of discussions around research is limiting (3) the application of standards from the sciences or the humanities has proven unhelpful. On the positive side, the text argues that (1) artistic research breaches the gap between fundamental and applied research (2) it requires rich-media forms of documentation and communication and (3) it opens new professional fields for artists.
  • Introduction (01/01/2013)
    Publication: Article, Orpheus Institute/Leuven University Press, Gent/Leuven, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • The Exposition of Practice as Research as Experimental System (01/01/2014)
    Publication: Article, Orpheus Institute/Leuven University Press, Gent/Leuven, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    This chapter links my work on 'Experimental Systems' in the context of artistic research to my concern with 'expositionality' as developed in and around the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR). Relying on a Derridean notion of 'writing', the chapter suggests that expositionality is relevant to experimentation and vice versa allowing for a form of remote material meaning.
  • Artistic Research and Experimental Systems: The Rheinberger Questionnaire and Study-Day - A Report (01/01/2014)
    Publication: Article, Orpheus Institute/Leuven University Press, Gent/Leuven, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    The chapter describes the application of some of Rheinberger's theory of 'experimental system' to a group of artistic researchers in music at the Orpheus Research Centre in Music in Gent, Belgium. It suggests that some notions, such as epistemic thing, may be quite transferable, while others, such as technical object, are more problematic. The chapter gives an insight into how one may appropriate concepts from other disciplines for an investigation into what artistic researchers do.
  • Dessiner le trans-corps (01/01/2015)
    Publication: Article, La Part de l'Oeil, Brussels, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    This text introduces and contextualises my use of 'figure' and 'second-order artefact' in order to explain the visual operations at play in much of my research. Following both Merleau-Ponty and Lyotard, it argues that notions of 'Gestalt' need to be complicated and that what we consider to be a 'body' needs to be challenged. With reference to Didi-Huberman and Ranciere, an alternative way is sought that can explain how a shape may think. The English translation is available online on the Research Catalogue following the link below.
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  • Imagined Meetings (01/01/2015)
    Publication: Paper, Royal College of Art, London, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • Research Catalogue (01/01/2015)
    Publication: Article, Diaphanes, Zurich, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    This chapter offers a very short introduction to the Research Catalogue online publishing and research management framework used, amongst others, by the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR).
  • Experiment! Towards an artistic epistemology (11/06/2015)
    Publication: Publication, Journal of Visual Art Practice, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    On the basis of a notion of experimentation derived from Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s concept of ‘experimental system’, which he developed in the context of twentieth-century experimental science, this paper sketches a possible route into a genuine artistic epistemology. While experimental systems are highly conceptual in nature, they are actually meant to produce material, epistemic excess – epistemic things – that enter the world first as unknowns. Given this initial lack of knowledge, the article argues that it is less helpful to decide whether any concrete epistemic thing is fact or fiction; rather, an artistic epistemology is suggested that focuses on the radical individuality of such a thing and the way in which artistic research practice may need to protect its individuality as a site for particular knowledges. This implies a critique of Rheinberger’s emphasis on historicity in experimental systems, a critique which is explained with reference to two works by Marcel Duchamp: Fountain and Three Standard Stoppages. While the former arguably changed the history of art, the latter is said to have had a much greater effect on Duchamp’s practice and understanding. DOI: 10.1080/14702029.2015.1041719
  • Photo-Objects installation catalogue (09/11/2015)
    Publication: Publication, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
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  • Experimenteller Geist: Epidemische Dinge, Technische Objekte, Infrastrukturen der Forschung (01/03/2016)
    Publication: Article, Lettre International 112, artist(s)/author(s): Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
    Translation into German of my interview with Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. Rheinberger, Hans-Jörg. 2013. ‘Forming and Being Informed. Hans-Jörg Rheinberger in Conversation with Michael Schwab’, in Experimental Systems: Future Knowledge in Artistic Research, ed. by Michael Schwab (Leuven: Leuven University Press), pp. 198–219

Expositionality: Journal for Artistic Research, Research Catalogue

Transpositions [TP]


Past Events

  • Art Criticism & Peer Reviewing (30/04/2015)
    Event: Conference, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    During 'Unconditional L VE', the 2015 Spring Event of the Society for Artistic Research (SAR), I will be a panelist in a session on 'Art Criticism & Peer Reviewing' organised by Alexander Damianisch and Julie Harboe.
  • Making Proto-Objects (26/03/2015)
    Event: Presentation, Kunsthal Aarhus, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    The presentation will explain the concept of ‘proto-objects’ through a few examples from my practice. With this concept in mind and with reference to Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s notion of ‘Experimental System’, the talk will highlight a tension between making and meaning that represents both a challenge to academia and an opportunity for artistic researchers. Link to their blog https://artisticresearchaarhus.wordpress.com
  • 1) Figure and 2) Experimental Systems (04/02/2015)
    Event: Presentation, Camberwell College of Arts, London, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Michael Schwab will given an insight into his post-conceptual practice as artistic researcher. The talk will focus on his understanding of the notion of 'figure', which is more figural than figurative, and how it has informed his current research into 'unknown' states of information. The talk will describe this situation as 'experimental' in an attempt to highlight low-level processes of understanding that are hardly tangible but - perhaps due to this - very exciting. The recording was made by MA Fine Art Digital, Camberwell College.
  • Imagined Meetings (14/01/2015)
    Event: Seminar, Royal College of Art, London, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Assuming that in artistic research we may encounter local and limited knowledges, it is difficult to speculate – in general – what its audience might be and what this audience may, actually, experience. It is not enough to simply believe that a host of negotiations have to be entered into, which will eventually be settled; rather, it may well be that the various identities that appear to meet during these negotiations are not necessarily stable and that, perhaps, something or somebody will have become that thing or body only through such a meeting. If this is the case, where is the knowledge and where is it not? And, what relations are implied? References: All JAR Editorials on: http://www.jar-online.net/ The JAR peer-review form: http://www.jar-online.net/app/webroot/uploads/JAR_Peer-Review_Form_2014.doc Lowry, Sean, and Nancy de Freitas. 2013. ‘The Frontiers of Artistic Research: The challenge of critique, peer review and validation at the outmost limits of location-specificiy’, 2013 Conference Proceedings (presented at the Critique 2013, Adelaide, South Australia), pp. 137–51. Rancière, Jacques. 2009. The Emancipated Spectator (London and New York: Verso), pp. 1-23. Foucault, Michel. 1990. Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984, Lawrence Kritzman (ed.), New Ed edition (New York: Routledge). The notion of probematization in the chapter 'The Concern for Truth', pp. 255-267. Agamben, Giorgio. 1993. The Coming Community, trans. by Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) Lomax, Yve. 2009. Passionate Being: Language, Singularity and Perseverance, First Edition edition (London ; New York : New York: I B Tauris & Co Ltd)
  • Transpositions 1 (08/05/2015)
    Event: Performance, Jacobs University, Bremen, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab, David Pirrò
    Transpositions is a collaborative research project that investigates the possibility of generating new auditory and visual forms based on the analysis and mathematical transformation of scientific data. For this occasion, we will present a four-channel audio and video walk through a data set provided by the Computational Neuroscience and Neurocomputing research group at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, which models large-scale biological neuronal networks in order to investigate memory processes. By remaining true to the data while employing an artistic working method will we seek to create alternative encounters with potentialities inherent in the data that are not yet accounted for. Transpositions is supported by the Austrian Science Fund.
  • Proto-objects. Transpositions of Brain Activity. (08/05/2015)
    Event: Presentation, Jacobs University, Bremen, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    This presentation will introduce the artistic research project ‘Transpositions. Artistic Data Exploration’, a collaboration between Gerhard Eckel, Michael Schwab and David Pirro, which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund. Using recorded data from brain activity in one of its case studies, the project demonstrates how artistic engagement with data can escape the ‘representationalism’ that is often found when data is sonified/visualised adding additional, speculative dimensions to the works that are produced. Using this case study, I aim to demonstrate a ‘gap’ between notions of ‘abstraction’ and ‘the abstract’. In this context, I understand ‘abstraction’ to indicate a representational relationship between source data and target object, where the latter, albeit abstractly, represents qualities of the former. In contrast to this, I understand ‘the abstract’ to denote a thought inscribed in an object that is had in relation to the source data, but which is not already believed to be present in it. ‘The abstract’, thus, exceeds ‘abstraction’ while remaining true to its data. While I hope that a presentation of our work will clearly demonstrate this difference, I will further elaborate on and thus entrench this understanding within a more philosophical horizon. On the one hand, I will relate to notions of ‘figuration’/’the figural’ (Lyotard, Deleuze, Krauss, Didi-Huberman) in order to explain what ‘though’ might mean here – and why it is important to contemporary artists and researchers. On the other hand, using the concept of ‘proto-object’ that I introduced elsewhere as part of an application of ‘experimental systems’ (Rheinberger) to artistic research, I will discuss the precarious status of such abstract objects (‘the abstract’) in so far as they are epistemically under-determined and threatened, in the ‘wrong’ eyes, to be seen, simply, as bad representations.
  • The Research Catalogue and the Journal for Artistic Research: New Modes of Presenting Artistic Research (01/10/2015)
    Event: Festival, Orpheus Research Centre in Music, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab, Paulo de Assis
    Paulo de Assis and Michael Schwab will be discussing how experimentation and expositionality have developed hand-in-hand in MusicExperiment21.
  • Proto-objects (09/11/2015)
    Art object: Installation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    During 'The Dark Precursor. International Conference on Deleuze and Artistic Research 2015,' I will present an installation of four artistic developments of my ongoing work on proto-objects. The collaborators are: Florian Dombois, Einar Einarson, Miguel Figueira and Taslim Martin.
  • Nietzsche 6: The Weight of Music (28/11/2015)
    Event: Performance, artist(s)/author(s): ME21 collective
    Between 1854 and 1874 Friedrich Nietzsche composed a substantial number of musical works, including fragmentary pieces for solo piano, several songs and even a sketched opera. His activity as a composer remains essentially unknown and his music pieces are rarely performed. Moreover, they are usually considered, in the best case, as juvenilia. Indeed, when Nietzsche decided to be first a philologist, then a philosopher, he stopped composing music. However, and beyond aesthetical judgments, his musical compositions disclose a character and a personality quite different from the far better-known Nietzsche-the-philosopher. Nietzsche-the-composer understands himself as a “medium”, an agent dominated by transcendent powers of inspiration and creation submitting him to pre-existing values; whereas Nietzsche-the-philosopher was a destabilising constructor, the inventor of new images of thought, the active operator of a fundamental redefinition of values. For Nietzsche music had the problematic potential of carrying an “oppressive weight”—an expression he openly used to refer to one of his compositions, and, later on, to Wagner’s music in general. A weight he increasingly associated with the idea of “swimming”, to which he proactively opposed the notion of “dancing”. In this performance, the Collective ME21, presents musical works by Nietzsche in dialogue with fragments of his texts, exposing some of the tensions between Nietzsche-the-composer and Nietzsche-the-philosopher.
  • Exposition Writing: Radical Epistemology (29/04/2016)
    Event: Presentation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Expositionality is one of the key concepts of the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR). The term suggests that in the context of artistic research, practice may not only be seen as producing outcomes but also as the creation and communication of its own epistemologies. Thus, what ‘knowledge’ might mean in a specific project can become part of the aesthetico-epistemic labor of research. Understanding artistic research through such ‘radical epistemology’ has two chief implications: (1) the relationship between artistic research and contemporary art can be redefined; in effect, it is through notions of ‘expositionality’ that artistic research can not only become contemporary, but also enter a productive tension with contemporaneity itself. (2) it challenges the major forms on which our contemporary episteme are build, both in art as well as science; it may be that, in particular, an interest in the situatedness and locality of knowledge drives the development of artistic research. My keynote presentation will argue for expositionality as form of writing. It will explain this with reference to previous issues of JAR as well as JAR’s submission policy and peer-review process. In a more speculative and programmatic part, I will try to sketch what is at stake when one is ‘writing up’ one’s research: the staging of a very particular relationship to knowledge, which has the power to challenge and destabilize exiting, dominant epistemological narratives.
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  • A Plea for Experimentation (11/10/2016)
    Event: Presentation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    1. Proto-Objects 2. Transpositions 3. Experimental Systems 4. Expositionality
  • Jenseits von Gut und Böse (26/11/2016)
    Event: Presentation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    The presentation is part of the conference 'Art as a medium of thinking' at the AIL Vienna. Organised by the PEEK-Project “Artist Philosophers. Philosophy as Arts-Based Research”
  • Experimental Systems: Contemporaneity, Untimeliness and Artistic Research (13/12/2016)
    Event: Presentation, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
    Part of Kuva Research Days, 13/12/2016 11:00 Appropriating Hans-Jörg Rheinberber’s work on ‘Experimental Systems,’ the presentation will make links to theories of contemporary art. It will suggest a possible departure of artistic research from contemporary art by deploying Nietzsche’s notion of the ‘untimely’ against the famous claim made by Roland Barthes, who (inspired by Nietzsche, and quoted by Agamben) said that “the contemporary is the untimely.”
  • JAR issue and website launch (28/04/2017)
    Event: Event, artist(s)/author(s): Michael Schwab
  • Futures of the Contemporary (10/05/2017)
    Event: Conference, artist(s)/author(s): Paulo de Assis, Michael Schwab
    Orpheus Institute Academy 2017 (10-12 May) The contemporary points towards incommensurable definitions. Intensely debated in the fields of visual arts, art theory, and philosophy, it describes different practices, relating to disparate conceptual horizons. However, if distinguished from the contemporaneous of a given historical time, the contemporary becomes a selective concept: it promotes or excludes things and practices according to their ability of diagnosing previously unnoticed aspects of the present. In this sense, it gains a critical function, involving particular modes of relating to history and to one’s own time. Following Roland Barthes’ claim, who—inspired by Nietzsche, and quoted by Agamben—said that “the contemporary is the untimely”, the contemporary might suggest artistic practices that run against their own time and epoch, implying specific forms of resistance. Beyond historicising frameworks, the 14th International Orpheus Academy for Music and Theory—Futures of the Contemporary—will explore and discuss new modes of thinking the contemporary in the arts, particularly focussing on music and music performance. Guest Faculty Babette Babich, Fordham University, New York (USA) Chaya Czernowin, Harvard University (USA/Israel) Heiner Goebbels, professor to the Justus Liebig University, Gießen (D) Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig (D) Peter Osborne, Kingston University London (UK)


Exposition: In the prison of permanent change (22/11/2012) by Gerhard Eckel
Michael Schwab 29/11/2012 at 22:41

Answering your question will move the point away from your contribution here. It may be better to discuss what you are actually after in more detail, although I am not sure if I am the best person to do this -


In any case, I thought about the relationship between entropy and redundacy that I discuss in my PhD on p.40ff. The point is that we somehow operate between minimal and maximal redundancy (or disorder, for that matter) and that only because of this, structures are actually possible. My point is less that this may be due to the human etc. but rather that your model does not capture it (and that's why we are in a prison).


From the moment structures are possible, life/thought is possible. I tried to suggest with my previous comment that traditional music (or art) - but perhaps also other forms - may qua structure have introduced the possibility for life/thought. Going all the way to the other extreme as you suggest, closes that possibility again.


Why I am interested in it? - This is where I think I operate both in life and in art.

Exposition: In the prison of permanent change (22/11/2012) by Gerhard Eckel
Michael Schwab 26/11/2012 at 14:14

This is an interesting reply, since I wasn't sure what to expect. In a sense you are right, but you promote this 'minimal' setting i.e. a certain radical formalism that looks at order/entropy.


However, what about a rhythm or a meldoy (i.e. a musical structure or 'content' even)? May one not argue that they offer two types of identity at the same time, in the material and the experience?

Exposition: In the prison of permanent change (22/11/2012) by Gerhard Eckel
Michael Schwab 22/11/2012 at 11:37

Conversely, what music should you play that allows for identity (and freedom)?

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