Main characteristics of past and present research
During my studies in art history, archaeology and sociology in Freiburg i. Br., London and Hamburg (1991-1998), my research interests focused on Renaissances studies and the reception of Antiquity in our visual culture. The emphasis on art history as iconography in Hamburg led me toward the end of my studies to an early work of Correggio, the Camera di San Paolo in Parma. My M.A. thesis addressed the iconological program of the art work, but I also addressed the history of previous scholarly writing as well as the historicity of the methodological approaches and assumptions regarding the Camera di San Paolo. After my studies in London and Hamburg and I received an MA in Art History from the University of Hamburg and received my PhD from the Humboldt-University in Berlin in spring 2004. From 1998 to 2003, I was active as research fellow at the Art History Department at the Humboldt University in Berlin, in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Horst Bredekamp and taught courses in new media art as well as courses about the interplay between art and science. The focus on image science (Bildwissenschaft) at Humboldt-University brought me into a new field of research. The complex relationship between art and science and their often overlooked common history became the major subject of my interest; my dissertation, "Kunst aus dem Labor. Zum Verhältnis von Kunst und Wissenschaft im Zeitalter der Technoscience", specifically focused on the relationship between art and the modern life sciences.
The main focus of my present research is image production in art and science. I believe that we must move beyond the often postulated dichotomy of the objective sciences and the subjective arts; the overwhelming abundance of contemporary art production establishes its role today as a legitimate form of knowledge production in its own right. The engagement of art with science ranges from the artist's iconological handling of scientific imaging to research projects executed as artistic endeavors by artists working in the laboratory. Art today not only serves to comment on science, it also represents its own form of research and knowledge production - though one belonging to a radically different epistemological tradition.
As a member of the interdisciplinary research group "The World as Image" (spokesman: Prof. Dr. Christoph Markschies) and research fellow at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin I am also interested in image science from a broader perspective. The "World as Image" ranges from the cosmological models of the Ancient World to the newest computer generated visualizations of the life sciences. It encompasses a broad spectrum of visual media, including manuscript illumination and computer visualization, informational graphics, cartography and diagrams. With the so-called "iconic turn" these media have decidedly become the central focus of scientific research. The interdisciplinary research group has as its goals - from both a historical as well as a systematic perspective - the study and investigation of visual representations of world concepts and the analysis of scientific visualizations and models, whose visual descriptiveness is essential for the acquisition of scientific knowledge.
Future research interests
My previous work dealt with the diverse responses of contemporary artists coming to terms with the most recent scientific and techno-logical developments; in my future research project, under the title "Von der Logik des Lebens zur Logik der Bilder", I will likewise look at contemporary science, where the search for truth and beauty and the production of compelling images suggests an almost artistic endeavor. Even with the amazing insights these new worlds of scientific imaging offer us today, such images must, of course, be understood as historical snapshots, bearing within them their own historicity. Although science today is capable of providing us with ever more detailed pictures of the inner workings of our bodies and our living world, the influence of these images upon our understanding of the "nature of man" remains an issue of critical discourse, in which art history and the emerging field of "image sciences" can play a important and crucial role.
Main characteristics of past and present teaching
My approach to education, most recently in classes taught in the art history department and at the Hermann von Helmholtz Centre of Cultural Technique at Humboldt University and before that at Danube University, Krems, is best described as a strong belief in the unity of research and teaching and the conviction that the acquisition of knowledge is a fragile process that occurs within the context of a social community, a process which can be strengthened by the use of new media (image-databases and telecommunication tools) in the classroom.
In addition to the courses I presented on new media art and the relationship between art and science in the past and present, I also enjoyed teaching introductory courses, including the "history of art history", introduction to gender studies, and an art history methodology survey course. In addition to traditional classroom teaching, in the art history department at Humboldt-University I set up several projects to bring new technologies into the classroom, like PROMETHEUS and system_kgs and a so-called "Web-Team", where students can work together or individually in a well-equipped space (with computers, printer, scanner, and high-speed Internet access). For my commitment in teaching with digital media I received the Excellence Teaching Award from Humboldt-University in 2002. A further objective of mine is assisting individual students in their efforts to acquire educational and research funding and grants (such as the Studien-Stiftung des Deutschen Volkes or travel grants made possible through the help of Erasmus) and finding internship positions in professional art institutions and galleries.
Concept of transdisciplinarity
The intellectual atmosphere I experienced at Humboldt University (both in the art history department and at the Hermann von Helmholtz Centre for Cultural Technique) shaped the main aspects of my present concept of transdisciplinarity: because of the complex effects of the "iconic turn" we are confronted with today, transdisciplinary approaches need to be considered, but we also need to be aware that transdisciplinary pathways in science will only be successful with the use of precise methodological tools that are well-founded in one's own discipline.
Transdisciplinarity is not a theoretical approach, but a guiding principle of research today, which strives to eliminate too narrowly defined, discipline-oriented divisions of research, divisions which in some cases still exist simply out of institutional habit. Many questions and problem sets can no longer adequately be addressed within structural constraints that have their origins in the 19th-century. They require new principles of research and science. A preparedness and openness to cooperative work with other disciplines can also be beneficial to the individual disciplines.