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Across the Universe

Summer Term 2023

The view into space is as old as mankind. What has changed are the techniques, interests and questions associated with this view. The global ecological, social and pandemic crises with which we are currently confronted sharpen our awareness of the whole and lend a new urgency to the question of our relationship towards the universe. Current glances into space are motivated in many different ways; they are driven by scientific exploration and political supremacy, serve economic interests and are an expression of cultural fears, but also visions of the world as a post-apocalyptic living space. What they have in common is their reflexive construction. This applies to »the starry sky above us« (Kant) as a fundamental metaphor of modern philosophy as well as to the close link between ecological thinking since the 1960s and the iconic image of the »blue planet« from an astronaut’s perspective.

What we know about planets and their orbits, about space travel, satellites and black holes, we owe to scientific, technical and above all aesthetic ventures into a space that is spatially and epistemically difficult to access. Without the TV series ›Star Trek‹, which began in the 1960s, Stanley Kubrick’s film ›2001: A Space Odyssey‹ [1968] or the TV broadcast of the moon landing in 1969, outer space would probably only be half as accessible in the public consciousness.

The Mosse Lectures would like to examine the mediatedness and popularisation of cosmological knowledge and ask about the media and technologies with which the universe is aesthetically, cognitively and affectively »colonised« beyond astrophysics. To what extent can fictional approaches help us imagine the often unimaginable dimensions of the universe? On which media, linguistic and aesthetic strategies of mediation is astrophysical research itself based (historically and currently)? Can artistic approaches to the universe reflect its fundamental mediated nature, but also the need to mediate cosmological knowledge in a special way? To whom does this knowledge actually belong, and how can the relationship between scientific research and public participation in the matter of cosmology be spelled out?

Please note that the lectures are located in the “Hörsaal” of Tieranatomisches Theater  during this summer term, Philippstraße 13 (Campus Nord, House 3) 10115 Berlin.



The MOSSE-LECTURES at the Humboldt University in Berlin are a cooperation of: