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NCCR Mediality

Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
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X.7. Mediality of Visual and Poetological Vagueness

In the field of literary and visual artistic representation (Darstellung), the term vagueness (Unschärfe) has often been thought to imply a deliberately implemented obstruction: an obstacle to the clear and distinct quality of depiction, formulation or perception. In recent years, however, the concept of vagueness has undergone a thorough re-evaluation and has been invested with more positive epistemological qualities. Vagueness makes conspicuous that something is distinctly inconspicuous. And last but not least, it is apt to expose the medial basis of any work of art, drawing attention to the function of representation in general. With respect to its function as medium, vagueness assumes thus the status not just of a defect, deficit or obstruction of representation, but of one of its genuine possibilities.
The project investigates vagueness as a specific mode of representation: as an aesthetic, poetological strategy of the intermedial relation between linguistic and visual artefacts.
It focuses primarily on narrative literary texts of the 19th and 20th century (among others: G. Keller, A. Stifter, W.G. Sebald, Don DeLillo) and their relation to the visual arts. Many of these texts, referring to diffuse visual objects, treat vagueness within the framework of an extended intermedial setting that encompasses painting, photography, film, and writing, etc. Special attention is given to literary narratives about obstructed and blurred vision and their respective poetological strategies. The principle conceptual interest of the project emphasises the dynamics of disfiguration and displacement in text-image-constellations.
In general, the project seeks to highlight the critical potential of vagueness. It questions traditional assumptions about modern media and their textual and pictorial production of evidence.