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NCCR Mediality

Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
Y. Implosion
Y.2. Medial ambiguities

This project finds its point of departure in the intersection between systematic and historical modes of media analysis. In many of the newer, non-technologically-determined media theories, the medial is captured by a paired opposition: unobtrusive vs. conspicuous, normal vs. deviant, function vs. irritation. The relationship between the poles is precarious: when one of them comes into focus, the other disappears; when one sees through signs as operators and bearers of meaning, one does not look at them as iconic or figural forms. The idea of the multistable figure (Kippfigur) has the advantage where media are concerned, of on the one hand emphasizing the link between mediality and perception, while on the other it draws attention to the constitutive, reciprocal relationship of highlighting and fading out which characterises media. But it also has limitations. Complexes of medial configurations tend not to switch between two conditions or forms; rather, they undergo various entanglements, the interpenetration, interconnection and nesting of different dimensions of conspicuity and unobtrusiveness.

The idea of the multistable figure will not therefore simply be taken as given, but rather explored historically and systematically. For example, media are not simply observed as such, but rather the relationship between what the individual forms are, and what they bring to appearance. This happens in the first instance in an overarching investigation of the oscillation between mediacy and immediacy, immersion, meditation and reflection, the intensification and shattering of presence. Two sub-projects focus on central high medieval and early modern texts. Subproject (a) studies the dynamics of salvific mediation in the Lancelot-Grail cycle, where moments of presence are interrupted by commentaries, excurses and theological explanations, and perception oscillates between immediacy and mediacy, presence and reflection, and materiality and signification. Subproject (b) investigates the rogue as early modern figure of ambiguity in the picaresque novel, and the way in which the ambiguities, precarious figures and oscillatory movements of narrated worlds are transferred on to narrative situations and medial forms.