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© Jonathan Blaschke and Moritz Simon

From the perspective of media theory Theodor W. Adorno is one of the most ambivalent figures of the 20th century. His work as a music critic at a young age was already reaching a huge public. Since the 1940s, he and Max Horkheimer used the concept of "culture industry" to analyze the logic of mediatized culture and education. Adorno, who constantly emphasized and theorized the notion of mediation and mediality, was one of the most recognizable media intellectuals of his time. As a philosopher and sociologist he discussed the state of the public sphere and the individual under the conditions of industrialized media production. He did this in the form of media interventions, mainly interviews and lectures, which now have legendary status.

As relentlessly "negative" as Adorno's analyzes were, he nonetheless dealt in a practical-critical register with the world of the media, broadcasting and television, and knew how to use such mediums for the project of critical theory.

In contemporary debates, Adorno's sometimes apocalyptic tone has regained influence. With the spread of fake news, big data, social media and digital populism, critical theory once again serves as an important and productive reference for philosophically informed and sociologically substantiated media critique.

The conference, fifty years after Adorno's death, focuses on three topics:

  • Adorno's ambivalent attitude to the dangers and potentials of modern media
  • The impact of Adorno's theory in the media theoretical approaches of the last several decades
  • The relevance of Adorno's critical theory in the contemporary critique of digital culture



FRIDAY, December 13, 2019

12:00 – 13:00h
Opening of the exhibition “Adorno and the Media”
(Museumsbalkon ZKM)

14:00 – 14:30h
Welcome: Peter Weibel, Johan F. Hartle, Lioudmila Voropai
(Medientheater ZKM)

14:30 – 16:00h
Keynote 1: Josef Früchtl - 'Message in a Bottle': Adornos kritische Theorie und die Popkultur

16:15 – 17:45h
Panel 1: »Audio«
Moderation: Roger Behrens

Antonia Hofstätter - Utopian Grooves
Ulrike Ramming - Waren-Hören und - Sehen und unreglementierte Erfahrung

Panel 2: »Film«
Moderation: Judith-Frederike Popp

Pola Groß - ‚Die Revuefilme sind meist die, welche dem Ideal der Montage am nächsten kommen‘: Adorno und die leichten Künste
Wonho Lee - Ein Beispiel ästhetischer Formbildung im Film

18:00 – 19:30h
Panel 1: »Digitale Medien 1«
Moderation: Gerhard Schweppenhäuser

Sarah Bianchi - Adorno, Foucault und der digitale Wandel
Henrik Holm - Ästhetische Bildung in der digitalen Kultur
Michael Meyer - Adornos kritische Theorie und die digitale Kultur

Panel 2: »TV 1«
Moderation: Johan F. Hartle

Roger Behrens - Adorno bei Monty Python in der Sesamstraße
Florian Wobser - Alexander Kluges Transformieren der Medienkritik Adornos im TV
Stefan Niklas - Will the Enlightenment be broadcasted (or is it on Twitter)?

Panel 3: »Media Theory and Philosophy 1«
(in English)
Moderation: Samir Gandesha

Tyrus Miller - Adorno, Stiegler, and the Industrial Schemata of Experience
Martin Ritter - Rethinking Social Mediation

20:00 – 21:30h
Keynote 2: Christiane Voss - Medienanthropologie im Lichte von Adornos Anthropologieskepsis


SATURDAY, December 14, 2019

9:00 – 11:00h

Panel 1: »TV 2«
(in English)
Moderation: Tyrus Miller

Stefano Marino - Philosophical Anthropology vs. Negative Dialectics on TV
Stuart Walton - Sehen und Fernsehen: Adorno on Television

Panel 2: »Kulturindustrie digital«
Moderation: Johan F. Hartle

Cyrill Miksch - Kittler und Adorno
Sebastian Tränkle - Adornos negativ - anthropologische Medienkritik im digitalen Zeitalter
Tobias Litterst - Fake News - Über den Zusammenhang von Nachrichten und Ideologie
Olivier Voirol - ‚Kulturindustrie‘ as Pathology of the Public Sphere

11:15 – 12:45h
Keynote 3: Samir Gandesha - Adorno and the Spectre of Fascism

13:30 – 14:00h
Guided tour
Exhibition “Adorno and the Media”
(ZKM Museumsbalkon)

14:00 – 16:00h
Panel 1: »Digitale Medien 2«
(in English)
Moderation: Stefano Marino

Divya Nadkarni: Poetic autonomy?
Philipp Kleinmichel: Absolute Negativity: Art and Technological Media

Panel 2: »Medientheorie und Philosophie 2«
Moderation: Lioudmila Voropai

Christine Abbt - Nichtidentität und Kritik
Sulgi Lie - Synthetische Physiognomien
Judith-Frederike Popp - Aktuelle Formen medialer Selbstgestaltung auf Adornos Prüfstand
Malte Fabian Rauch - Medien des Zerfalls: Adorno – Benjamin – Bataille

16:00 – 17:30h
Keynote 4: Christian Fuchs - Adorno and the Media in Digital Capitalism

Organised by the State University for the Arts and Design Karlsruhe
in cooperation with the ZKM, the Simon Fraser University, Vancouver and the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt


The exhibition "Adorno and the Media", which is organized parallel with the conference, displays a series of artistic works dealing with the same topics. In addition to the question of the impact of Adorno's media criticism and analysis of society in today's context, the participating artists deal with the representation and reception of Theodor W. Adorno's theory in international cultural and media production since the 1950's to the present.

From December 13 to 22, 2019 at the Museumsbalken/ ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien.

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