Atmosphere (aesthetics)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In aesthetics and phenomenology in particular, atmosphere is used and referred to as mood or aura

  • From the point of view of reception theory, a subjective mood that is mediated socially and by the external environment or else
  • an objective property of an environment that cannot be traced back to a single object, but to the way that environment is put together. Atmospheres are used in this context by Gernot Böhme because of their reproducibility, i. H. their always similar effect on different people, understood as objective facts.

Use of the term in context

The concept of atmosphere is used on the one hand in art discourse, on the other hand as a technical term in some more recent aesthetic theories, especially in ecological natural aesthetics .

The term atmosphere is used in the context of both the aesthetics of nature, particularly the landscape, and the visual arts. So he can z. B. refer to moods that are mediated by time, weather, architecture and vegetation, but also by social constellations or the design of a work of art. In the latter case, the concept of atmosphere conveys aspects of production and work as well as reception aesthetics. The main aim is to not only semiotic grasp the meaningful components of the work of art itself, but above all the mood values ​​in the exhibition or gallery space that are (partly) shaped by the work of art. Qualitative methods of field research are used to grasp and research the atmosphere linguistically.

The philosopher Hermann Schmitz from Kiel established “atmosphere” as a phenomenological term. With his controversially discussed proposal to define feelings as “spatially poured atmospheres”, the term occupies a central position in his New Phenomenology . Gernot Böhme , who borrows from Schmitz's phenomenological observations but does not agree with them on key issues, translates the philosopher's complex physical phenomenology into an aesthetic of atmospheres . The starting point is a phenomenological anthropology, which sees the human being as a bodily sensory being to a particular extent integrated into ecological contexts. Accordingly, in a general theory of sensory perception, the focus is on “relationships between ambient qualities and sensitivities”. He refers to the impulses of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty , but focuses above all on Schmitz 'theory of corporeality or “personal feeling”, in which the atmosphere is one of the key concepts. Schmitz's understanding of atmosphere has also found its way into some other disciplines such as medicine, architecture and economics.

Walter Benjamin's concept of aura can be understood as the predecessor of “atmosphere”. In it, two modes of perception are laid out and differentiated, which may be considered modes of perception of atmospheres: aura breathing and leaning towards the eye .

Based on Gernot Boehme's phenomenological-aesthetic understanding of atmospheres as a physical sense of movement spaces, Martina Löw develops a spatial sociological concept of atmosphere. She conceives atmospheres as the invisible side of socially constituted spaces. The sensing of atmospheres, with reference to Pierre Bourdieu's field theory , is to be understood as an expression of habitual commands and prohibitions, whereby their perception structures class-specific behavior in social spaces. Löw emphasizes the aspect of the social and cultural influence on the respective content of the atmosphere experience.

In his debates on the sociology of art, Niklas Luhmann derives the creation of atmospheres from a system-theoretical basis. A space occupied by a work of art, for example, not only places the object in a communicative context, but also communicates the space itself as a medium for form formation, as a continuum of possible communicative occupation points. According to Luhmann, atmospheres arise as an “excess of the difference in places”, which results from the selection of a place in space and points to the contingency of space as the other side of its concrete form.

Davor Löffler suggests a further development of the term atmosphere that goes beyond the phenomenological description and is based on the process philosophy and embodiment . Atmospheres which, metaphorically speaking, express themselves in a kind of coloration of consciousness represent, in addition to emotions and moods, an independent type of cognition. Atmospheres are caused by the perception of real or imaginary situations and, as a form of cognition, provide information about the possible future sensitivities contained in situations. In the feeling of atmospheres, hidden readiness potentials of the body are expressed in the latent, they make future modes of coupling between organism and environment tangible. According to this understanding, the experience of atmospheres arises not only as a mediation level between dualistic subjects and objects in a static present. They convey as a feeling for projected course of the situation and possible future interactions between concrete situations and potential futures of the dynamic body-world relationship. This conceptualization of atmospheres as a type of cognition for potential futures thus combines classic questions of aesthetics with more recent concepts of the theory of consciousness such as Karl Friston's “predictive coding” . In relation to the cosmopolitanism and temporality of man, the phenomenon of atmosphere has the status of a conditio humana , since atmospheres preconsciously catalyze actions and readiness to act and through them world relations become real.


  • Gernot Böhme : aesthetics. Lectures on aesthetics as a general theory of perception . Fink, Munich 2001.
  • Gernot Böhme: atmosphere. Essays on the new aesthetic. 7th edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2013.
  • Rainer Goetz , Stefan Graupner (eds.): Atmosphere (s). Interdisciplinary approaches to a vague concept . Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-86736-101-9 .
  • Michael Großheim : Atmospheres in Nature - Phenomena or Constructs? In: RP Sieferle, H. Breuninger (Hrsg.): Nature pictures: Perceptions of nature and the environment in history . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1999, pp. 325–365.
  • Jürgen Hasse : Atmospheres of the city: Detected spaces . Jovis Verlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-86859-125-5 .
  • Michael Hauskeller : Experiencing Atmospheres: Philosophical Investigations into Sensory Perception . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 978-3050027135 .
  • Institute for immersive media (ed.): Yearbook of immersive media 2013. Atmospheres: Tuned spaces and sensual perception . Schüren, Marburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-89472-867-0 .
  • Christian Julmi : Atmospheres in Organizations. How feelings dominate coexistence in organizations . Projektverlag, Bochum / Freiburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-89733-367-3 .
  • Reinhard Knodt : Atmospheres - About a forgotten object of good taste. In Reinhard Knodt: Aesthetic Correspondence . Reclam, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-15-008986-7 , pp. 39-70.
  • Before Löffler: Life in the future tense II subjunctive. About the phenomenon of the atmosphere and its importance in the age of technical immersion. In: Institute for immersive media (Ed.): Yearbook of immersive media 2013. Atmospheres: Tuned spaces and sensual perception . Schüren, Marburg 2013, pp. 23–37.
  • Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek : Lyrical Feeling - From the secret sensorium of poetry . Fink, Paderborn / Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-7705-5146-0 .
  • Radermacher, Martin: “Atmosphere”: On the potential of a concept for religious studies. A research overview. In: Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft , 26 (1), 142–194, DOI: 10.1515 / zfr-2017-0018 .
  • Andreas Rauh : The special atmosphere. Aesthetic field research. transcript, Bielefeld 2012, ISBN 978-3-8376-2027-6 .
  • Hermann Schmitz : Atmospheres . Karl Alber, Freiburg / Br. 2014.
  • Georg Simmel : Philosophy of the Landscape. In: The Guild Chamber. 3, 11, 1913, pp. 635-644.

Web links

  • Homepage Atmospheric Spaces
  • Susanne Hofmann: Atmosphere as a participatory design strategy . Berlin 2013 ( [PDF; 35.0 MB ] dissertation).
  • Christian Julmi, Ewald Scherm: The atmospheric influence on the organizational culture . In: SEM Radar. Journal for systems thinking and decision-making in management . tape 11 , no. 2 , 2012, p. 3–37 ( [PDF; 526 kB ]).


  1. For an overview cf. the articles in Goetz / Graupner 2007.
  2. ^ Georg Simmel: Philosophy of the landscape. In: The Guild Chamber. 3, 11, 1913, pp. 635-644.
  3. See Andreas Rauh: The special atmosphere. Aesthetic field research. Bielefeld 2012, pp. 203ff.
  4. Gernot Böhme: For an ecological natural aesthetic . Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 30.
  5. Wolf Langewitz: Beyond content analysis and non-verbal behavior - What about atmosphere? A phenomenological approach. In: Patient Education and Counseling 53. 2007, pp. 319-323.
  6. Jürgen Hasse : The city as a space of atmospheres. To differentiate between atmospheres and moods. In: The Old City. 35, 2, 2008, pp. 103-116.
  7. Ewald Scherm, Christian Julmi: Influence of the atmosphere. In: Organizational Development. 2, 31, 2012, pp. 69-76.
  8. Most prominently developed in: Walter Benjamin: The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility: Three studies on art sociology. Frankfurt am Main 1986, p. 15, also in: Walter Benjamin: Charles Baudelaire: A poet in the age of high capitalism. Frankfurt am Main 1974.
  9. Andreas Rauh: The special atmosphere. Aesthetic field research. Bielefeld 2012, p. 72f.
  10. Martina Löw: Spatial Sociology . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2001, p. 205.
  11. ^ Niklas Luhmann: The art of society . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 181.
  12. Jordana Cepelewicz: “Does our brain predict the future?” In: Spektrum, April 22, 2019, .
  13. Before Löffler: Life in the future II subjunctive. About the phenomenon of the atmosphere and its importance in the age of technical immersion. In: Institute for immersive media (Ed.): Yearbook of immersive media 2013. Atmospheres: Tuned spaces and sensual perception . Schüren, Marburg 2013, pp. 23–37.