Concerning Astonishing Atmospheres. Aisthesis, Aura, and Atmospheric Portfolio

Atmospheres are omnipresent and they are frequently used in everyday language. Yet, when do we perceive atmospheres and how can we explore them? The concept of atmosphere extends aesthetics to aisthesis and conceives of perception as a relation bound to the present and with regard to others. In this context, the astonishing atmosphere is identifi ed as a watershed moment when the object of perception becomes the object of discourse. Surveying Benjamin’s defi nitions of aura, one becomes aware of two modes of perception, which are crucial for the understanding of atmospheres. The “Atmospheric Portfolio”, therefore, provides the possibility to explore the particular features of the phenomenon. It is a collection of studies and research methods, which, on the one hand, refl ects on the terms and concepts, and, which, on the other, allows for exemplary experiments of empirical approaches to the phenomenon.

Andreas Rauh is managing director of the Human Dynamics Centre (HDC) of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Würzburg ( He studied philosophy, pedagogy, and art education. Since 2008 he has been a member of the Réseau International Ambiance(s) and he is an associate member of the Atmospheric Spaces network.