CFP: Works in Process. Dimensions of Becoming in the Arts, Bochum (14.03.2022)

Jennifer Gerber's picture

Interdisciplinary Early Career Conference at the University of Bochum, organized by the DFG-research group Dimensions of techne in the Fine Arts – Manifestations / Systems / Narratives


Submission Deadline: March 14, 2022


Since the middle of the 20th century, scholars have observed a mode of “becoming” in non-animate entities: not only in the genesis of technological objects (Simondon 1958), but also within natural and cultural processes (Barad 2005). Such concepts of vitality have been successfully applied to the arts: artifacts and artworks can no longer be studied merely in terms of their materiality and objecthood. They need to be understood as agents (Latour 2005) within a complex system of correlations and thus, as subjected to constant transformation (Ingold 2010). 

In the Western world, the (neo-)Platonic theory of ideas and Aristotelian hylomorphism have dominated artistic discourses for centuries. According to these concepts, possible completions of any work of art are – owing to its matter – already ideally presupposed during its formation; they assume a work of art will be completed at a certain point in time. Since the 1960s, the structural openness of art works has been increasingly stressed within the humanities (Eco 1962). Questions of “form” and “finish” have shifted towards the study of the processual nature of artworks and artistic strategies (Parshall 2016). As a result, visible traces of processing, materialization, and post-production (Bushart/Haug 2017, Kunze 2019, Manovich 2001) and intentionally obscured efforts of artistic production (Pousão-Smith 2003) have become central research subjects within art history and other disciplines.

The interdisciplinary conference “Works in Process. Dimensions of Becoming in the Arts” will build on these themes of becoming within the processual for the arts. Organized by the early career researchers of the DFG-funded research group Dimensions of techne in the Fine Arts – Manifestations / Systems / Narratives, we want to deploy the theoretical approaches of structural vitality and openness to artifacts and artworks – from their creative conception to their (autopoietic) production up until their afterlife – and make them observable as epistemically significant.

Questions that we plan to discuss include:

  • How can existing theories concerning the idea of open artworks become fruitful by applying the aforementioned concepts of “becoming”, vitality and openness? 
  • How can the often assumed divide between subject/maker/recipient and object/artwork be challenged? 
  • How can transfer processes, inherent dynamics of materials, norms (poetics) and “soft” factors such as the maker’s self-reflection, nature, fortune, and time be understood as co-producers? 
  • To what extent do uncontrollable factors such as chance, failure or transience play a role under this particular perspective? 

This CfP is directed to early career scholars (graduate students, Ph.D.- or Postdoc-Candidates) and to emerging artists and practitioners. We welcome proposals that explore these questions from different perspectives of the humanities, social sciences, and current artistic practices as well as conservation and restoration.

Contributions might address but are not limited to:

  • traces indicating the manufacturing process, the use, the handling, the repurpose and the post-processing of artifacts and artworks
  • translations, retelling, reformulations of processes
  • wear-and-tear, alteration, transformation processes
  • visibility, invisibility, and manifestations of processes
  • temporality or timelessness/supratemporality of and in processes
  • artistic research, inventions or interventions of processes


The conference will be held in English and will take place in Bochum on October 5-7, 2022.

To apply, please send a 300-word abstract and a short (100-word) biography in one PDF to Jennifer Gerber and Theresa Brauer ( by March 14, 2022. Accepted speakers will be notified by mid-April.

Despite the unpredictability of pandemic conditions, every effort will be made to have an in-person conference in Bochum. Should conditions not allow us to do so, a hybrid or online format will be pursued. 



Barad, Karen, "Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter comes to Matter", in Corinna Bath, Yvonne Bauer, Bettina Bock von Wülfingen (eds.), Materialität denken. Studien zur technologischen Verkörperung – Hybride Artefakte, posthumane Körper. transcript: Bielefeld 2005, pp. 187-216.

Bushart, Magdalena and Henrike Haug, "Spurensuche/Spurenlese. Zur Sichtbarkeit von Arbeit im Werk“, in ibid. (eds.), Spur der Arbeit. Oberfläche und Werkprozess, Böhlau: Köln/Wien, 2017, pp. 7-24.

Eco, Umberto, The Open Work, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989. 

Ingold, Tim, “Bringing Things to Life: Creative Entanglements in a World of Materials”, in NCRM Working Papers Series 2010, Vol. 5, No.10, pp. 1-14.

Kunze, Franziska, Opake Fotografien. Das Sichtbarmachen fotografischer Materialität als künstlerische Strategie, Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 2019. 

Latour, Bruno, Reassembling the Social: an Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford: Clarendon, 2005.

Manovich, Lev, The Language of New Media, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.

Parshall, Peter, The Unfinished Print, exhib.-cat. National Gallery of Art Washington, Washington: Lund Humphries, 2001.

Pousão-Smith, Maria-Isabel, “Sprezzatura, Nettigheid and the Fallacy of ‘Invisible Brushwork’ in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting“, in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (NKJ) / Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art, Vol. 54, 2003, pp. 258-279. 

Simondon, Gilbert, Die Existenzweise technischer Objekte, trans. By Michael Cuntz, Zürich : diaphanes, 2012. [= ibid. Du mode d’existence des objets techniques, Aubier, 1958].

Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Nils Gelker] betreut –