Prof. Dr. Friedrich Balke

October 2011 - March 2012
Friedrich Balke ist Professor für Geschichte und Theorie künstlicher Welten an der Fakultät Medien der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar und seit 2008 Sprecher des DFG-Graduiertenkollegs "Mediale Historiographien". Nach seinem Studium der Germanistik, Philosophie und Pädagogik promovierte er 1995 an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum und wurde 2007 von der philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Potsdam mit einer Arbeit zur Formen- und Funktionsgeschichte der Souveränität habilitiert. Balke ist Mitherausgeber des "Archivs für Mediengeschichte" sowie der Buchreihe "Masse und Medien", die seit 2000 im transcript-Verlag erscheint. 2007 war er Distinguished Max Kade Visiting Professor am Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures der Columbia University, New York, 2005 Gastprofessor an der Forschungsstelle "Kulturtheorie und Theorie des politischen Imaginären" an der Universität Konstanz. Zwischen 2005 und 2008 war er Leiter des Teilprojekts "Die Disziplinierung des Bildes. Imagination und politische Ordnung" im Rahmen des Sonderforschungsbereichs "Medien und kulturelle Kommunikation" an der Universität zu Köln.

IKKM Research Project

The Poetics and Epistemology of Space and of Partitioning Events

This research project takes as its starting point the observation of a conspicuous state of tension between an epistemology of the image as developed by Gaston Bachelard and the phenomenological reading of images developed by the same author in his poetics of space. The latter has enjoyed considerable popularity in cultural and media studies (under the heading ‘spatial turn’). While the epistemologist views images mainly as obstacles to knowledge in need of being overcome through scientific or scholarly work, the phenomenologist dedicates himself to a conspicuous emphasis on the image and all artistically enhanced imaginary values. In the first case, images that repel or capture the intellect, in the second images that attract and beguile. Whereas the epistemologist admires in the ‘new scientific spirit’ the complete detachment from any kind of naïve physical localisability of objects and in the area of microphysics simply the possibility of statistical individuation and ‘arbitrary spaces’, the poetics of space for its part is obsessed with the notion and the cultural image reservoir of stable spaces and protected places – from the cosmos and the home to the recess and the drawer – and understands stable spatial-temporal localisability to be the very focus of the appeal exerted by images of the ‘happy space’. My project first attempts, proceeding from legal-historical (Justinian’s institutions) and sociological descriptions (Durkheim’s sociology of morality), to describe the original sacred value of the house – as the epitome of the protected or localised space – and the effects of power founded on it in order in this way to provide a foundation for Bachelard’s aesthetic fascination and his focus on images. Second, using Franz Kafka’s poetics of space and its cinematographic transposition (in Orson Welles), I will undertake an analysis of the functional role of rooms, doors, thresholds, hallways, corridors, windows, and streets which provide the topical grid for the stories that are being told and the non-places being depicted by them. Kafka’s writings, so my argument goes, are in search of a specific topic of social space that takes into account the ‘new scientific spirit’ with its delocalising and deterritorialising effects by describing it in social terms or in terms of the accessibility of its organizational power. Kafka’s poetics designs spaces that have lost the unambiguity and certainty of place and mobilize emotions of angst and indifference, but also of extreme rapidity and endless waiting. These rooms detached from all coordinates of space and time are identifiable as a marked contrast to Bachelard’s inventory of the ‘images of the happy space’, in other words, as a space protected from all hostile forces.