Wolfgang Pircher

April - September 2011
Wolfgang Pircher, born 1946, has been Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Vienna since 1997. He studied Economics and Philosophy at the University of Vienna, received his PhD in Philosophy in 1983, and became an assistant at the Institute in 1984. Between 1993 and 1998, he participated in the research project “Von der Politischen zur reinen Ökonomie” at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. He has been visiting professor at the Vienna University of Technology and visiting researcher at the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung in Berlin in 2002 and 2004, as well as at the Graduiertenkolleg Mediale Historiographien in Weimar in 2008. He has also worked as curator, participating in the exhibitions “Wunderblock” during the Wiener Festwochen 1989 and “Sozialmaschine Geld” (1999/2000) at the Center for Contemporary Art in Linz. Pircher belongs to the research network “Knowledge in the Making. Drawing and writing as research techniques”, an Inter-Institutional Research Initiative of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence.

Fields of research

The history and philosophy of technology (with special attention to the genealogy of the engineer); the history and philosophy of economics (including the history of money and its use).

IKKM Research Project

The Space of Money

Insofar money is a thing which is able to circulate the question would arise in what space is it moving. A few years ago geographers discovered that “money does not just have a geography; money is itself a geography” (Leyshon/Thrift). This means that space is important for money. There exist an interplay between money, space and place. Each monetary form has not only its own geography, but creates a specific space too, which is a spatial inscribing in the global space. Therefore money creates exclusions, very similar as media techniques do and so it is not surprising that they are often combined. Financial flows are necessarily accompanied by the circulation of financial documents. Bills of exchange can serve as a good example of an early communication system, which connected banks and merchants in distant towns via postal traffic. Bills of exchange were not only a mode of payment but also a form of credit. This creates a specific configuration of time and space. Technical innovations like the electric telegraph were therefore extraordinarily important: it was fundamental to the creation of an integrated international money market. Virtual money or money of account flows instantaneous through the channels of the contemporary electronically mediated telecommunications, which represents a compressed electronic geography. This structured space of virtual money is a book to book communication, instead of a face to face one. Book means also electronic recording. It is more or less a bookkeeping system, in which the virtual money circulates. A bookkeeping system that is no longer a private or a national but a worldwide one. This led to the assumption that the so called global market is divided in interconnected spaces of specific economic activities. It is a task of this project to give an idea how the financial flows connect this different areas and what role the used media technology plays in it. I will stress some historical examples to show how strictly technological and administrative conditions and developments are connected in this case. From the very beginning of human civilization money (in a broad sense) was an element of culture technologies like accounting and writing that creates a specific frame of actions. This frame covers sometimes localities, sometimes areas.