Hide and Seek. The Interplay Between Transparency and Opacity

November 23-25, 2007

Institute for Theatre Studies, Free University Berlin
Grunewaldstr. 35, 12165 Berlin

Concept and Organisation: Markus Rautzenberg and Andreas Wolfsteiner


During the final scene of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” two people stand facing each other on opposite shores of a beach. They try to talk to each other but all attempts to do so are drowned out by the rumbling of the ocean. The tragedy of the impossibility of communication is evident in the pantomime of the protagonists.
This disruption of linguistic communication is a recurring motif in “La Dolce Vita”: again and again, Fellini overlaps language with layers of “noise” and thus achieves a special form of presence for language through its very absence.

The momentary indistinguishableness of transparency and opacity gives rise to a third, liminal phenomenon, which cannot be attributed consistently to either sense (semiosis) or sensuality (aesthesis). Media always prove useless or “incomplete” at the very moment when the transparency of medial surfaces is obfuscated and turns into opacity. This is the case when the spoken word is drowned out by noise or when it becomes meaningless due to incomprehension of the language. Yet, the abovementioned examples illustrate that the relationship between transparency and opacity cannot simply be thought of in terms of a dichotomous pair. Instead, the interplay of these two levels gives appearance to something that would otherwise remain hidden. The logic of this dynamic thus follows a pattern not of either-or but of as-well-as.

While rooted in the field of media theory and aesthetics, the symposium takes a distinctly interdisciplinary approach. Ultimately, it also poses the question about the potential of visual metaphors: is it productive heuristically to speak of “transparency and opacity” outside of the visual arts and media or does the much-lamented “oculocentrism” of Western thought obscure these terms more than it illuminates them?



Download of the programm as pdf.

Please click here to find the downloads of the abstracts in german.


Friday Nov 23, 2007

10:00    Markus Rautzenberg / Andreas Wolfsteiner: Greetings and Introduction

11:00    Coffee Break

11:15    Sybille Krämer: Media Between Transparency and Opacity. On Maps and Cartography

12.00    lunch break

13:00    Ana Ofak: Disturbance. The Flickering Between Transparency and Opacity

13:45    Meike Adam: Gaps, Left-Overs, Resistancies – A Media Theoretical Approach to Processes of Erasure  

14:30    Coffee Break

14:45    David Lauer: Saying what / that shows itself. On the Logic of Embodied Language

15:30    Jaime Tsai: Duchamp's Impossible Topographies

16:15  Coffee Break

16:30    Silke Tammen: Streaks and Fluffyfications: Textile Images and Texts Between Transparency and Opacity

17:15    Mirjam Schaub: Transparency, Opaque. An Inspection of Leibniz’ Kristallpalast

Evening Lecture
18:30    Peter Geimer: Camera Obscura. Appearances and Misappearances of Photography


Saturday Nov 24, 2007

10:00    Matthias Korn: On Finding. Invisible Procedures Within the Artistic Creative Process

10:45    Jörg Schulte: The Secret Within Philosophy and Poetics of Humanism

11:30    Coffee Break

11:45    Pepper A. Stetler: The Open Book: Photography and Transparency in the Weimar Republic

12:30    Jens Papenburg: CD-Listening in the Literal Sense. Oscillations between Hi-Fi and Glitch 

13:15    Lunch Break

14:15    Helga Lutz: Dissolutions of Vision. Photographies, Glances, Enlargements

15:00    Matthias Krüger: Through A Magnifying Glass – How Ernest Meissoniers’ Pictures Were Seen

15:45    Coffee Break

Parallel Sections: Performing Arts and Hidden Sciences

* Theater and Performing Arts *

16:00    Natascha Siouzuli: Show and Seek: On Visual Dramaturgy In Contemporary Theatre

16:45    Stefan Bläske: On Uncanny Valleys in Animated Film and Puppet Theatre

* Phonorama *

16:00    Joyce Chia Chi Tsai: Crosstalk: Moholy-Nagy's Enamel Pictures as Telephone Pictures

16.45    Nike Bätzner: The Noise of the Image (Friedrich, Magritte, Anselmo)

17.30    Break

Evening Lecture
18.00    Jean Clam: Yellowing and Yellowing of Yellowing. On the Phenomenon of Apperception of the Aging of Images, Voices, Texts,…


Sunday Nov 25, 2007

10:00    Thomas Mical: Blurring (What-comes-after-Transparency)

10:45    Emanuel Alloa: Transparency and Disturbance. On the Questionable Use of a Paradigm in Communication Science for Picture Theory. 

11:30    Coffee Break

11:45    Sabine Nessel: Mediality of Animals – On the Production of Presence in Zoo and Cinema

12:30    Ulrike Stamm: Transparency and Opacity Within Late 19th Century Aesthetics  

13:15   Lunch Break

14:15    Fabian Goppelsröder: Irritation as Method? On Philosophy of Assemblage (Versammlung) and Disturbance

15:00    Sylwia Chomentowska: As One Entity Iconoclastic Pictoriality in the Work of Munch, Matisse and Richter.           

15:45   Coffee Break

16:00    Peter Muir: The Mourning Play (Trauerspiel) of Shimon Attie

Evening Lecture
16:45    Dieter Mersch: Tertium datur. Mediality as Paradox Structure   

17:30    Erika Fischer-Lichte: Closing