All posts by henschke

art vs science / theory vs experiment - everything dissolves in the lab

the suffering of matter

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MOF mutations pulled forth from chemical reactors, fused into new forms and enframing themselves like exquisite corpuscles. Do the MOFs suffer during such processes? Does all matter suffer?

Going back to the roots of science and philosophy, the pre-socratic philosopher Empedocles postulated that all matter is comprised of four eternal elements (he called roots) – earth, air, fire, and water. These are drawn into forms by the opposing forces of love and hate. Love is a force of attraction, bringing elements together in chance combinations, whereas hate is a repulsive force and separates the elements. Forms are created and mutate by combinations of chance and adaptation (a kind of natural selection).

In this light, the scientists at the CSIRO are driven by love for their MOF creations and try to create unique and stable combinations. Sometimes it seems like  there is an ongoing Empedoclean battle between love and hate, with  the struggling and suffering  produced through this process manifested as the matter of the world.

Day One #2

My first actual experiment! Trying to activate detectable effects in Aluminium Fumerate Framework Suspension with ultra-high frequency soundwaves in the megasonic reactor! However, we have no idea whether it is actually working…..
silent and invisible phenomena, or nothing at all? How can one tell?

at the crossroads


Today I met philosopher Robert Johnston and had an enlightening discussion about the intersecting worlds of theory and experiment and the ways in which they enframe material nature. Yes, by a twist of fate, he is working here, and he is an expert on Heidegger!

(and I got the blues because Scott Walker has left his material form 🙁




“An sich Eingestellt”: Enframed in itself.

This term is derived from the Kantian quote “An sich zerstreut” (see post below). However, the essential change is the term “Gestell”, meaning a Framework or Enframing. German Philosopher Martin Heidegger used this term to define the essential aspect of contemporary science and technology. Technology enframes nature in order to draw out or “challenge forth” phenomena in a way that such phenomena is not simply being, it is always used for something else, forced into the framework – for example when a river is turned into a dam or when pitchblende ore is turned into enriched uranium. Embedded within the framework, in a state of “standing reserve”, nature and indeed us are basically raw materials used to serve technology-driven society, or perhaps society is used to power and run the technology – the framework encompasses all of us. As Tasmanian philosopher Jeff Malpas told me, a key aspect of Heidegger’s Gestell is “its character as essentially spatialising, numericizing, and quantising – and its  inability to recognise or acknowledge its own boundedness.”

What is interesting and disturbing about Metal Organic Frameworks in light of this is that the “framework” now extends to the molecular – MOFs are engineered to both conceptually and literally enframe matter. And when something enframes itself, both externally and from within, it consumes itself, like the Ouroboros (see “Benzene dream” post below).

Heidegger’s essay “The Question Concerning Technology” can be found here.

the heart of the matter


How does one get to the heart of the MOF? How can one converse with the MOFverse? How can one a produce unique MOF phenomena, or kind of perceivable signature of these unique materials? That’s the burning question!

To situate this within a wider material context, here’s a great piece of writing by “street materialist” Manuel Delanda.