Aesthetic Dimensions of Warfare

Aesthetic Dimensions of Warfare

Graduiertenkolleg "Technisierung und Gesellschaft" TU-Darmstadt
From - Until
12.10.2005 - 14.10.2005
Christian Kehrt

Technisierung/Ästhetisierung - Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)Formations of Society

International Conference

Panel: The Aesthetic Dimensions of Warfare

This panel deals with the aesthetic qualities of military technology. Weapons are culturally constructed and endowed with symbolical meaning in the setting of exhibitions, public parades, in art, literature and the media. In this respect military technology contributes to the formation of modern myths. Weapons suggest superiority, power, but also death and apocalypse. While political propaganda emphasizes the modern myth of a clean war guaranteeing peace and prosperity or relying on the intimidating effects of atomic weapons, the peace movement mistrusts those qualities, and instead focuses on the devastating effects and ultimate dangers of new weapons. Warfare and weapon industries invoke aesthetic qualities to advertise their products, likewise, the military decides on the basis of certain style and appearance of weapon technology. Soldiers are fascinated by modern technology and develop an emotional relation to machines. Furthermore, technology is by itself a condition of possibility and medium of the aesthetic experience of war. Technology distances the soldier from the battlefield, endowing it under certain circumstances with a touch of the beautiful and sublime.
We wish to ask in which context the aesthetic qualities of modern warfare matter, how weapons are illustrated and culturally constructed. What does the aesthetic dimension mean for people acting in the context of war? Can aesthetics disclose and unveil the nature of modern warfare or does it rather hide its moral dimensions?

Abstracts from a wide variety of disciplines are welcome. These include history, sociology, philosophy, economics, engineering and art history. Submit 500-word abstracts by Mai 15, 2005, as a Word or RichText document to


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Christian Kehrt

Graduiertenkolleg "Technisierung und Gesellschaft"
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