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Energy: Key Concept of the Soviet Avant-Garde

Kliment Red'ko - Dynamit, 1922

Kliment Red'ko - Dynamit, 1922

The DFG research project "Energy: Key Concept of the Soviet Avant-Garde" explores the transfer movements of the concept of energy between the sciences and the arts at a historical point of highly condensed transdiscursive engagement with energy concepts.

The DFG research project investigates the historical transfer of the multifunctional concept of energy between sciences and arts. As a "key concept of the 21st century" (Gronau 2012:7) energy addresses not only political-economic and ecological challenges but also cultural and artistic developments. However, the evolution of the polyfunctionality of the concept of energy remains unclear. This project aims to investigate this gap by exploring the transfer movements of the concept of energy between the sciences and the arts during a period of intense transdisciplinary engagement with energetic concepts and a heightened virulence of energetic questions in the Soviet avant-garde. 

In this milieu, an upheaval in the history of knowledge took place, characterized by a broad popularization of energetic debates, prepared by the sensitization for energetic problems in the thermodynamic 19th century. The project focuses on two central discursive interfaces: the migration of the concept of energy between labor sciences, organizational sciences, and aesthetic theories of body, space, and image, as well as the role of energetic concepts of affect as a hinge between neurophysiology, psychology, and media poetics.

The project systematically examines three hypotheses and questions: 

  • The evolution of energy as a collective symbol of the 20th century and the knowledge about energy that circulates between disciplines. 
  • The reflective media of energetic concepts in the arts of the avant-garde and the poetics and aesthetics of energy that emerged. 
  • The discursive flexibility of the concept of energy in the avant-garde and how poetic, scientific, and popular speech about energy addresses the uncertainties of determination that arise here.