Ann Cotten
IFK_Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2020 bis 30. June 2021



Ann Cotten


Towards an Empirical Aesthetics Which Also Works for Machines: A Survey of the Recyclability of Existing Theories


Asian product and interface design arguably owes its stunning success to the lack of Western tradition of separating aesthetic considerations and functionalist modes of thinking about objects, humans, and goals. A conception of history and human existence as cyclical, ecological, and balance-oriented may be linked to the development of beautiful and functional design. Japan’s late and eclectic adoption and translation of the global industrial revolution, especially as inscribed in language, make Japanese product design and theory an ideal viewpoint from which to correct Eurocentric distortions.

Based on the premise that explanation is translation, Cotten will develop an overtly and consciously circular method of surveying existing aesthetic theories and terminologies for their recyclability––with the ultimate goal of formulating a non-humanist empirical aesthetics that will help artificial intelligences and self-learning software understand humans’ functional relation to beauty and elegance.


Ann Cotten studied German literature at the University of Vienna and the Peter Szondi-Institute of Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin, finishing with a book on the use of lists in concrete poetry. Since then she has been working in primary literature, using different genres and unclassified ways of writing. Her books have won numerous prizes. Cotten’s bilingual background (USA, Austria) is being augmented by an ongoing study of the Japanese language. Her areas of interest are regional differences in global histories of the mind; language as a system, amplification, and distortion; side effects of and intercultural differences in aesthetics, philosophy, and artificial intelligence. Recent translations include Nirvana, Liesl Ujvary, Isabel Waidner, Rosmarie Waldrop und Joe Wenderoth. In 2020 she held the DAAD Distinguished Chair in Contemporary Poetics in the Department of German at New York University.


Publikationen (u. a.): (Hg.), Literatur von Nicht-Muttersprachlern. Eine reflektierende Sammlung (= Triëdere#21) (2020); gem. mit Daniel Falb, Hendrik Jackson, Steffen Popp, Monika Rinck (Hg.), Helm aus Phlox. Zur Theorie des schlechtesten Werkzeugs, Berlin 2011, S. 336; Nach der Welt. Die Listen der Konkreten Poesie und ihre Folgen, Wien 2008, S. 224.

18:15 - 20:00
  • Lecture
IFK & IFK@Zoom
Ann Cotten

In diesem Vortrag staunt Ann Cotten über die Kontinuität der Symmetrien in Theorien, Fachsprachen und Diagrammen. Dabei wagt sie ein paar Hypothesen, warum bestimmte User Interfaces sich zur Organisation von Ideen bewährt haben und warum „User Interface“ als Denkgerüst für posthumanistisches Denken/Übersetzen geeignet erscheint.