Back to the future. Bogomir Ecker's Tropfsteinmaschine as a thought experiment in stone

Mohs, Johanne (2018). Back to the future. Bogomir Ecker's Tropfsteinmaschine as a thought experiment in stone In: Sormani, Philippe; Carbone, Guelfo; Gisler, Priska (eds.) Practicing Art/Science. Experiments in an emerging field (pp. 216-235). London & New York: Taylor & Francis

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Stalactite caverns are materializing time. They are a kind of compressed index of the past. But in his installation Tropfsteinmaschine (Dripstone Machine, 1996), Bogomir Ecker invents a temporal freezing point. Using the knowledge of scientists and engineers, he transfers the growth of a stalactite from its natural occurrence into a laboratory situation in the museum. Instead of analyzing the stalactite in its natural environment or recreating its materiality, he is interested in time as a factor of natural and cultural building processes. The idea of seeing a stalactite grow, which is in fact removed from the viewer’s sight, makes nature in the Dripstone Machine a comparative figure to understand artistic, scientific and social interaction. From the perspective of a material- and production-esthetical approach, this chapter analyzes the double experimental structure of Ecker’s installation. Completely equipped to carry out the experiment of letting a dripstone grow over 500 years, the Dripstone Machine can also be seen as a thought experiment with the potential for social continuity and interdisciplinary exchange. The chapter examines this complex relationship of form and concept describing the long implementation of the idea with its cooperation practice and referring to different understandings of experimentation (Rheinberger 2006; Macho et al. 2004; Rickli 2015) and authorship (Kyora 2014; Thielmann & Schüttpelz 2013; Bippus 2007) in the arts and sciences.

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Book Section (Book Chapter)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Practices and Theories in the Arts


Mohs, Johanne;
Sormani, Philippe;
Carbone, Guelfo and
Gisler, Priska0000-0002-9812-4014


Taylor & Francis




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Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2019 09:46

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:28

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