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Nikita Braguinski joins the Vossius Center for one month in September 2021 as a Research Fellow with the project 'ART AS SCIENCE. The American Career of the Soviet Avant-Garde Research on Mathematical Aesthetics'.

About the project

In my project I will focus on how early Soviet arts research institutions informed the work of the influential Russian-American theorist Joseph Schillinger.

Among the early Soviet adherents of mathematical aesthetics, Joseph Schillinger was one of the most intriguing figures. Originally a member of the Russian avant-garde, Schillinger later emigrated to the USA, becoming there a prominent mentor of American musicians. In this process, he, curiously, also transferred the avant-garde mathematical methods to the world of American commercial music.

This not only saved the legacy of early Soviet mathematical avant-garde aesthetics research from destruction at the hands of the new Stalinist culture of traditionalism and nationalism, but also made available to the American audience the abstract and mathematical methods of teaching that were prominent in Soviet art education.

My research project at the Vossius Center will illuminate the transfer of discourses between science, artistic theory, and, finally, practice, showcasing a rich intellectual history that transgresses multiple historical, political, and geographic boundaries.

About the researcher

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Music Department of Humboldt University of Berlin. 

I studied musicology at the University of Cologne and wrote my PhD at Humboldt University with Wolfgang Ernst. In my PhD thesis “Die Archäologie der elektronischen Spielzeugklänge” I investigated automatic and randomized composition in early video games.

My next book entitled “Mathematical Music” (Routledge, forthcoming) will tell the story of the various ways in which mathematics was used to analyze and create music.