Digital Meeting Oxford - UdK Berlin

“For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.” Paul Valéry, La conquête de l'ubiquité, 1928

 Quelle: Prof. Norbert Palz

Spaces, Bridges, Encounters

An Encounter between the Arts, Humanities and Sciences

The encounter between researchers and artists from the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK Berlin) and the University of Oxford is intended to open-up new fields of engagement between the arts, humanities and sciences. We anticipate that this new exchange of methodologies, modes of representation, language and other qualities will lead to innovative contributions in the arts and sciences alike. The embracing of a more differentiated worldview – one that purposely goes beyond preconceived disciplinary borders and integrates speculative, subjective and positivistic approaches to problem-solving and creation ­– corresponds well with the challenges the world is facing today, challenges that are complex and far-reaching in their impact.

National restrictions of travel and physical contact in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic affected the planned encounter between researchers, artists and designers of the University of Oxford and the UdK Berlin scheduled for April 2020. In response we offer now a digital platform for experiences and personal exchanges to be followed by a physical event on UdK’s Berlin campus in October.

This shift to a digitally mediated mode of communication requires also a critical assessment of the impact that any given media technology has on the execution of its dependent activities. On a technological side it is our desire to develop a balanced interaction between content and media, which can support, inform and structure each part positively and grant new experimental spaces of shared exploration between the members of both universities. These mediated encounters are intended to provide a novel emphatic perspective on how we can work, think and communicate together from now on and in which digital modes of communication are crucial. 

The UdK Berlin has been developing a digital collaboration platform suited for creative work: A group of teachers and students – from the design departments Communication in Social and Economic Contexts and Art & Media study courses as well as the Einstein Centre for Digital Futures – has started to set-up a more individualized communication platform that relies on open-source code components, grants adaptable infrastructural benefits and better personal data protection. Prof. Dr. Dr. Hromada and Prof. Gasteier are leading the team effort at UdK Berlin’s Media House. The new platform is already operating in experimental mode this summer semester.

The project infrastructure offers project spaces that can be furnished with individual media material and made open for communication between members of the two institutions and beyond. Colleagues from Oxford and the UdK Berlin will be able to meet and furnish their individual digital spaces within a larger cluster of projects. 

Following an inaugural meeting on May 15th, colleagues have been able to supply individual content, some of which was reviewed at a “Bergfest” on June 5th. The Media House architecture allows the establishment of connections between individual spaces, inviting connection between one project room to another. These digital meetings are a valuable precursor to the physical encounters that are planned in the autumn.

Encounter “Digital Sandpits”

Friday, June 26th, 10 am – 12 pm (Oxford) / 11 am – 1 pm (Berlin)

We invite you to a joint visit of the Mediahouse platform. Limited participation by guests is possible. For registration please contact Laura Haas at l.haas_ by June 24th.


Chair: Prof. Ariane Jeßulat (UdK Berlin) and Carl Schoenfeld (Oxford)

●    Welcome Remarks

Prof. Norbert Palz (President, UdK Berlin) and
Prof. Alastair Buchan (Director, Oxford in Berlin)

●    Conversations on Walter Benjamin
Prof. Carolin Duttlinger (University of Oxford)

Having studied as an undergraduate at the Universities of Freiburg (Germany) and for her Mphil and PhD at Cambridge, Carolin Duttlinger joined Wadham College in 2003. As Associate Professor and tutor in German, she teaches papers on German literature, film and culture from the eighteenth century to the present, as well as translation. Her personal research interests are in twentieth-century and contemporary German literature, thought and culture, with particular emphasis on the relationship between literature, visual culture and the history of perception. A particular focus of Carolin’s research is the writer Franz Kafka. She is co-director of the Oxford Kafka Research Centre, which hosts conferences, workshops and visiting speakers and works closely with the Bodleian Library, where the majority of Kafka’s manuscripts are kept. She has also been part of an on-going collaboration between the Oxford Sub-Faculty of German and the German Department at Princeton University, which has focused, among other things, on the philosopher Walter Benjamin. In 2008, Carolin was awarded the Zvi Meitar/Vice-Chancellor Oxford University Research Prize in the Humanities. Her current research project explores the precarious relationship between attention and distraction in twentieth-century literature, thought and culture. Currently she is an External Senior Fellows at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. Within the Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership she is working with Daniel Weidner on Walter Benjamin´s Journalistic Networks.

Prof. Daniel Weidner
(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung)
Trained in German and comparative literature Daniel Weidner received his PhD in 2000 and his Habilitation (second thesis) in 2009 at the Freie Universität Berlin. Since 2014, he has been teaching as Professor for the Study of Culture and Religion at the Institute for Cultural History and Theory of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Daniel Weidner has been Visiting Professor in Gießen, Basel, Stanford, Chicago, and Yale. His main areas of research are the interrelation of religion and literature, theories of secularization, the history of philology and literary theory, and German-Jewish literature. Furthermore he is head of the programme area “World Literature” and, together with Carolin Duttlinger, leading the project “Walter Benjamin’s Journalistic Networks” at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL) in Berlin. Daniel Weidner He has published two monographs: an intellectual biography on Gershom Scholem, and a study on the interrelation of the Bible and literature in the 18th and early 19th centuries. He is also co-editor of the journals “Weimarer Beiträge” (with a focus on contemporary literature, media, and aesthetics), and “Naharaim” (focus on German Jewish intellectual history).

Prof. Alexander Garcia Düttmann
(UdK Berlin)
Alexander García Düttmann studied philosophy with Alfred Schmidt in Frankfurt and with Jacques Derrida in Paris. After spending two years at Stanford as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, he moved to London and taught at the University of Essex. Before taking on a position at UdK Berlin in 2013, he taught at Goldsmiths for ten years and was a visiting professor at New York University and the Royal College of Art. His most recent book publications include “What Does Art Know? For an Aesthetics of Resistance” (2015), “What is Contemporary Art? On Political Ideology” (2017) and “Love Machine. The Origin of the Work of Art” (2018). All three books were published by Konstanz University Press. He has just completed a new manuscript entitled “In Praise of Youth”. He is also the editor of a lecture course by Jacques Derrida that was published posthumously in France (“Theory and Practice”, Paris 2017), has written a book about San Francisco (“Naïve Art. An Essay on Happiness”, 2012) and appears as an actor in Albert Serra’s new film, “Liberté” (2019).

●    Digital Sandpits
Project Teams and guests walk through the Sandpits: showing what has been achieved, offering exchanges, pointing towards outcomes and artefacts.
This might further shape any research projects beyond.

●    Project Showcases
Oxford/Berlin Climate Crisis Conversations: “Animal Eyes on the Planet”
Prof. Nina Fischer (UdK Berlin), Prof. Nayanika Mathur (Oxford),
Prof. Amanda Power (Oxford), Prof. Timothee Ingen-Housz (UdK Berlin)

Oxford X-Reality Hub: “Exploring Ancient Rome through Immersive Technologies”
Dr. Mattia Montanari, Angela Jacob Bermudo (Oxford)

WillPlay: “Messaging with Shakespeare. Chat. Play. Learn.”
Prof. Abigail Williams (Oxford)

Prof. Alberto de Campo, Prof. Ariane Jeßulat, Tom Rojo Poller, Prof. Kirsten Reese, Fritz Schlüter (UdK Berlin)

●    Outlook
Prof. Norbert Palz


Outlook: Tuesday/Wednesday, October 27th/28th, Berlin

A face to face meeting will take place at the end of October 2020 in Berlin. UdK Berlin will provide a flexible framework for individual presentations, workshops, installations, performances and social exchange between interested artists, designers, scholars and students. A special focus will be placed on the experience of distinct conditions of artistic working environments and spatial outsets that impact the modes of action and thinking of the respective artists and researchers. It is our goal that this event will be followed by other encounters and joint projects among the two institutions, thereby setting out an interwoven knowledge connection and staff exchange between Great Britain and Berlin in the dawn of the Brexit.

Contact University of Oxford

Project Co-ordinator
Carl Schoenfeld carl.schoenfeld_

Senior Policy Advisor
Alasdair MacDonald alasdair.macdonald_

TORCH liaison
Prof. Philip Bullock philip.bullock_

Contact Berlin University of the Arts

Prof. Norbert Palz praesident_

Project Co-ordinator
Julia Warmers p-s_

Digital Platform at Media House
Prof. Klaus Gasteier kg_
Prof. Daniel Hromada d.hromada_