Installation / Lecture & Talk

To Friedrich Kittler

Joulia Strauss

Shadows and Soul Journeys
With the thesis “Media determine our situation”, Friedrich Kittler set off a debate in the humanities in the 1980s regarding the (power) relationships between human beings and medium. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his death, the artist and former student of Kittler, Joulia Strauss, commemorates the significance of his media theory with her two-part programme of works and discourse.

A round, seated hall that reminds one of the interior of a spaceship. The tables in the centre are decorated with green plants. In the back oft he left half of the image, there is a white sculpture.

Joulia Strauss: An Friedrich Kittler. Seelenreisen. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down

© Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

Joulia Strauss’ two-part contribution to “The Sun Machine Is Coming Down” models the presence of Kittler’s world of ideas and makes a continuation and updating of his theses possible in a transitional area consisting of art and discourse. Ten years after his death, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a time of physical isolation and virtual connection in which media regulates to an unprecedented extent our access to each other and to areas of information, and is thus driving social change. The wire portrait of Friedrich Kittler suspended in the entrance area revolves cyclically above the model of the ICC. Its physiognomy is based on a 3D scan of the literary and media scholar. The shadow it casts over the model of the venue thus combines the memory of his world of ideas with the specific location where it is being commemorated.

By analysing the history of human thought as thinking conducted through media, Friedrich Kittler made the medium itself the object of his research. For him, technical systems and their language developed a power that dominates the individual human voice.

How can communication be conceived if it no longer follows the old pattern of transmitter and receiver, but instead is understood as a fabric that now modulates feedback in real time and has created a decentralized form of digital communication? Joulia Strauss and her invited guests explore the “decentralisation of knowledge” that this has achieved in her “séances” in the circular Saal 6: here media of realisation and connection come together in the middle of an installation of plants with a siren sculpture based on Kittler’s death mask specially created for the occasion. In this suggested union of physis and techne, nature and technology, participants, speakers and associates of Kittler continue their conversation about his work and life, which only appeared to end 10 years ago in Berlin’s Charité Hospital.

This installation was created in artistic and scientific collaboration with Marc Müller and Maxim Svyntsitskyy, Arne Janning, Tania Hron and Teresa Minn.

A project organised by the programme series Immersion.