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Benjamin Steininger

Sciences Communications Research Vienna, Austria

Benjamin Steininger, cultural scientist, media theorist, and historian of technology, studied cultural studies and philosophy at Humboldt-University Berlin. He lives in Vienna. He held scholarships at the Deutsches Museum Munich, MPIWG Berlin, University of Vienna, IFK Vienna, and the ZfL Berlin. He wrote a book on the history of the German motorway system, a dissertation on catalysis as a key notion of the 20th century. His main research topics include: a history of materials in the 20th century, theory and epistemology of fossil resources. Selected publications: „Katalysator. Mobilmachung des Materiellen“, in: Tumult – Schriften zur Verkehrswissenschaft vol. 40, 2012 (in print), „Pipeline“, in: Tumult – Schriften zur Verkehrswissenschaft vol. 39, 2012, p.22-27, „Sediment“, in: Azzouni, Safia, et. al. (eds.) Eine Naturgeschichte für das 21. Jahrhundert: hommage à, zu Ehren von, in honor of Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Berlin 2011, p.44-45, Raum-Maschine Reichsautobahn, Berlin 2005.

Articles of Benjamin Steininger

Oberflächenwissen im Untergrund. Bemerkungen zur Technizität der Landschaft

The essay explores one of the industrial foundations of modern landscape in its very materiality: the chemical industry and its main principle – catalysis. The history of this universal tool of modern chemistry makes us combine three perspectives on the concept of landscape: the planetarian perspective on the surface of the earth as landscapes of global change, the everyday perspective on the dynamics of industrial agriculture and automobile traffic, and the microperspective involving chemical agents and catalytic surfaces in industrial reactors that basically make our fertilized fields grow and our refined fuels flow. Though these topics seem far away from Flusser’s work – concepts of surface, molecular communication, and border areas as priviledged zones of productivity – they are historically and technologically relevant to Flusser’s essays on nature and culture.

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