What are you currently working on?
For the next two years I'll be working on two book projects. The first is a small monograph about the skizzogramme - a mixture of sketching and diagrams, creating a draft concept out of some scribbled pictures and an Ordnungsbild. In the subjects literature, music and drawings. Names that are regularly going to come up are: Pessoa, Mayröcker, Dyer, Espedal, Perec, Derrida, D. H. Lawrence, Aira, Cortázar, Valéry, Handke und Tim Buckley, John Martyn, Laura Nyro, Michael Chapman, Robert Wyatt, Laura Marling, Kendrick Lamar, Sun Kil Moon sowie A. Warburg, R. Venturi, A. Töpfer, J. Berger, C. Twombly, E. Ruscha.
The second book project is a collaboration with my colleague Christian Blümelhuber about "Shapes from Shapes". It is theoretical and about the transformation of shapes and the changing of formats. It includes a dozen case studies.
And my "texture" series will continue with the 5th and 6th books coming out this year – perhaps with a new publishing concept.
What do you think is the world’s greatest discovery?
If I don't have to limit myself to technical innovations, then my answer would be the discovery of intermediate worldliness, by this I mean the ability, to open up direct ways to communicate through distance, indirectness and detours (of language, media, tools and theories).
What are you currently learning, that you couldn't do that well before?
Norwegian. I am only at an A1 Level and have almost finished one textbook in my individual classes. I want to improve, that is my biggest goal this year. I actually retired to Oslo with my wife in December 2019.
What would you have been if you hadn't become an academic?
My wife says "a ball". She has something there. If I said an interior architect, then I wouldn't be answering the question because that is also academic. And people associate the worst with so called "interior decorators", I mean Lothar Matthäus was one! He was probably better with balls.
What advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your studies?
Create a way of collecting topics, which you build up over years, that mediates between your private interests, the subjects you study and your own abilities. If your own person represents a recognizable " authorship or work" of cultivated interests and initiative, then the rest will follow: finishing your degree, choosing a career, partnerships. That would be my answer to students.
I just saw that this question concerns my personal self. The answer remains the same, but I would add: along with studying the development and interpretation of aesthetic materials (literary studies and art history) and a couple of semesters of proper theory work, I should have studied a foreign language and/or something less speculative, more conceptual (like architechture or geopolitics), at least for a few semesters. And absolutely at least one year abroad. Earlier it wasn't done as much.
Is writing books still relevant?
Perhaps not, but there isn't any other alternative if you want to concisely and coherently explore a subject and develop a couple of interesting theories – in the context of whatever kind of empiricism. Peer reviewed contributions are important but structurally conservative. Digital formats are communicative and quick but they don't stand the test of time in unfurling compelling and wild ways of of creating value as well as books. You don't have to discuss it as an either-or situation.
Does academia need publishers?
I can't imagine it any different. Self publishing and such: also good, and is growing, but it can't replace working with a sound and trustworthy publisher.(Translation by Helen Michaelson-Yeates)