The Power of Dizziness: A Resource for Art and Thought

As an ontological state, dizziness can prompt transformation and innovation. This is the central hypothesis of a recent project supported by the FWF. The subject of the research is the experience of states of dizziness and disorientation and a reflection on the phenomenon and its perception in various scientific disciplines and contemporary art production. The collection, generation and analysis of a wide range of text and film material is to demonstrate how dizziness is portrayed in contemporary moving image art production. The aim of the project is to illustrate the potential that dizziness has in transformation and innovation processes and to stimulate a scientific and artistic debate on the extent to which traces of dizziness can be determined in all transformation processes.

In artistic, philosophical and scientific thought, dizziness starts with teetering at the limitations of knowledge when faced with a central problem. © Anderwald + Grond

Dizziness destabilises and sets things in motion. According to Plato, it represents the origin of thought because it can destabilise within us what we think is set in stone. Dizziness is now the focal point of the artistic research project "Dizziness – A Resource" supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. It focuses on a study of the experience of dizziness and the reflection on dizziness. Incorporating a variety of research directions, materials and resources are to be made available for contemporary art production and applied within a film project.

Stumbling towards Eureka

Ruth Anderwald, project leader and research artist at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, describes the state of dizziness for the artistic research project "Dizziness – A Resource": "In artistic, philosophical and scientific thought, a person starts to get dizzy if they are teetering at the limitations of their knowledge when faced with a problem. The person must begin to generate the means to navigate the Unknown. In Socratic philosophy, tripping and staggering were forms of movement in the pursuit of knowledge as these dizzy types of movement open the eyes to new perspectives and avoid presupposition." The functioning and potential of this mental and physical state are now being studied in the project. After all, it is only through a potential change in perspective that an innovative, completely new artistic or scientific thought can emerge. To be able to do justice to dizziness as a subject of research, the project needs to take an approach that sees art and science as two dimensions of the same cultural space. Bridging the gap presents challenges – cooperation between different disciplines and their heterogeneous theories, methods, materials and thought patterns requires a constant process of interpretation. Ms. Anderwald comments: "Conceptual accuracy is very important. This requires a constant review of the concepts between those involved in the project so that all the experts can link in at the right place with their know-how."

An Exhilarating Source

A special platform has been created for the project – – ensuring good networking and visibility of the project. The input of experts on the website means that processes are clearly documented and topic-related materials from the wide variety of research disciplines are published. These range from artistic to medical short films, from cultural studies texts and analyses to creative research studies. The online research library shows the scientific and artistic rationales and directions within the project. Short explanatory texts will accompany the materials. The artistic maxim of multiperspectivism is pursued here hand-in-hand with science and research.

The e-publication acts as a process-oriented research archive, accompanying the production of a 20-minute film in which Ms. Anderwald, as part of the artist duo Anderwald + Grond, is heavily involved. As a theory-led experiment, its structure creates a relationship with the medical condition of dizziness. Accompanying film screenings, in style of the internationally established "HASENHERZ"-series, workshops and a conference provide opportunities for (re)focusing and discussion.

The knowledge potential for this key human state is thus demonstrated within the framework of this FWF project. This is a prime example of a cultural studies work that looks beyond itself and an example of how basic research can make an important contribution to the discourse in scientific theoretical works in a wide variety of disciplines and in artistic practice.


Scientific contact
Ruth Anderwald
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Schillerplatz 3
1010 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 699 / 109 84 551

Austrian Science Fund FWF
Marc Seumenicht
Haus der Forschung 
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
+43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111

Copy Editing & Distribution
PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
+43 / (0)1 / 505 70 44