The Art of Deceleration. Motion and Rest in Art from Caspar David Friedrich to Ai Weiwei
The history of modernism appears at first sight primarily as a history of acceleration. The development of ever faster means of transportation, shorter and more far reaching channels of communications in addition to optimized production methods have continuously increased the pace of life since the 19th century—up to and including the “rushing standstill” (Paul Virilio). Art has always represented the tip of this development that even kept the wheels moving in the form of avant-garde inventions and expansions—from Impressionism via Futurism, from Abstract Expressionism to kinetic art of the 1950s and media art. Little attention has however been previously paid to the fact that the fascination with motion has been linked to the pursuit of deceleration from the very beginning. As early as 1900, one spoke of an “Age of Nervousness.” Today, in the age of globalization, turbo capitalism and the Internet which accelerate our sense of time pressures, fragmentation and burnout, not only is the yearning for deceleration—for relaxation techniques, slow food or slow communications—growing but also the insight that process has to be decoupled from the link to acceleration: In order to move forward we must decelerate!