The Atmospheric Whereby: Reflections on Subject and Object

Andreas Rauh 1
  • 1 University of Würzburg, , Würzburg, Germany


Atmospheres constitute an ordinary perceptual phenomenon that can become a new experience, as the former are more than the sum of single-sensory perceptual factors. Drawing on the terminological pair ‘subject’ and ‘object’ and its interdependencies, the atmospheric phenomenon can be approached in an essayistic fashion (and by means of applying an aesthetic focus in the broadest sense). In so doing, it becomes clear that the atmosphere serves as a condition for the emergence as well as actualization of special perception. Based on Gernot Böhme’s research and further studies, specific (ontological) determinants are identified and differentiated according to the definitional facets of the ‘and’, the ‘in-between’ and the ‘whereby’ or ‘in what way’. These considerations demonstrate to what extent perception precedes the separation of subject and object in that the atmospheric ‘whereby’ is responsible for creating tuned spaces and situations. Turning to the objects of perception and their concomitant ecstasies as well as to the subject of perception with its reception helps to clarify which components of an atmosphere work in what way. In this context, methods of exploratory involvement and participation (in the Parcours Commenté but even more so in the Aesthetic Fieldwork) gain in importance in order to explore atmospheres from a lifeworld perspective.

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