Definitions of the Undefined

Encyclopaedia, 2013


Individuals from all over the world photographed and/or copied definitions from representative reference books. The specific contributions are arranged in alphabetic order by the country of origin and includes the cover and translation. The individual contributions are published in a magazine - an edition of 130 pieces - featuring the definitions and a picture section.

Silkscreen cover

Entry RU
Chinese entry

Entry CN
Excerpt from the picture section

Entry GR
Greek entry


Encyclopaedias are a great knowledge store, a consolidation of human knowledge spanning any given subject. The content is considered scientific and reliable and is usually consulted to obtain a precise definition of a term. The terminology Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) is generally universally accepted as shown by diverse co-entries in various encyclopaedias from around the world. For the most part, these definitions are based on technological ingenuities.

My interest in UFOs is borne out of a consideration for them not only as objects and technological appliances but also as figures of thought - realities and fictions emerging from thoughts meditating towards the limits of these technological constructs. This imaginary surplus becomes apparent in the process of the intention and function of the (technological) construct by needs, desire and expectations1.

Above all, my main question is how abstract terminologies, such as an unknown and undefined object, is ultimately defined and objectified and can lead to such a universally understood concept. My lead question therefore is, do the various entries show any congruities and if so, in what ways do they differentiate?

Furthermore I am interested in whether any reference to Tekhné2 is made, which in Ancient Greek characterized the possibilities of exorbitance and excess par excellence. Also, by interacting with the imaginary surplus does the term expand towards an artistic context?

1 In acknowledgement of Aristotle who refers to God as the 'steady prime mover', intention is the motive, the reason for all things, and what counts are the imprints formed within, “coincidences and casualties cause those scars that are traces and markers – and those of traumata, phantasma and fetish that are combining the motion with the 'steady prime mover' as a trigger for the moment of desire.”
Translated from ⁠Bernhard Stiegler: Denken bis an die Grenze der Maschine, Zürich/Berlin, 2009

2 Greeks investigated systematically natural forces and formulated scientific laws ...The same word tekhné meant both art and technics.
K. G. Pontus Hultén: The machine : as seen at the end of the mechanical age, New York, NY : The Museum of Modern Art, 1968

Exhibition view at Charles Vögele Culturecenter Pfäffikon, CH 2014


Picture of the edition "Encyclopedia - Definitions of the undefined" (zip|9.8MB)

[Present at]

'Das Abenteuer Bildung' - exhibition at Charles Vöegele Kulturzentrum from 17.11.2013 – 23.03.2014, Pfäffikon, CH.

'Hagulane' - Group exhibition, 29.June-31.August 2014, municipal gallery Villingen-Schwenningen, BRD.


Silkscreen, Riso-print, BW-print

Design: Gregor Huber & Ivan Sterzinger

Thanks to: Cristiano Alessandro, Kristian de Borysevicz, Cyrille Henry, Timo Hoffmann, Fiona Inglis, Naveen Kuppuswamy, Vlada Maria, Belencia Martinez, Varvara Mitropolous, Anna Kari Sandvik, David Skirnisson, Riika Tauriainen, Simo Tauriainen, Madga Tzakosta, Gisela Usenko, Hung Q. Vu, Marc Winter, Nathalie Kilias.