The starting point for grouping the individual projects together in project areas is the systematic question in what way and to what degree the acts and artefacts are marked by figures of aesthetic reflection. In general, a distinction can be made between implicit refractions of aesthetic processes and clearly displayed reflections in the sense of directly ’thinking about art’. Between these two possibilities lies a broad spectrum, mostly characterized by fluid boundaries. In an innovative approach (and at the same time as a conceptual challenge), the CRC would also like to include borderline cases in which aesthetic reflections have so far not been expected or have not been obvious to research. All together, we distinguish between three ‘levels of condensation’ with regard to the markedness of aesthetic reflection. By means of this heuristic differentiation, the CRC’s field of research can be divided into three project areas to which the individual projects are allocated: Project Area A ‘Practices’, B ‘Manifestations’ and C ‘Concepts’.
The CRC provides for interdisciplinary exchange between the three project areas A, B and C by means of three cross-sectional topics. These topics are dedicated to central problems and to the areas of tension that shall serve to gradually identify the basic characteristics of a different aesthetics in the course of the funding phases. In the first funding period, the CRC expects the following cross-sectional topics to prove especially enlightening: 1) ‘Individual and Collective’, 2) ‘Materiality and Mediality’, 3) ‘Norm and Diversity’. The three cross-sectional topics intentionally operate with opposites on a medium level of abstraction which are not to be interpreted as static oppositions. Rather, in each case, the two terms dynamically interact. The heuristic gain of the cross-sectional topics is that they give the individual projects and project areas more flexibility, create new connections and make us more sensitive to systematic interfaces as well as diachronic processes. Therefore, the projects are not exclusively and one-sidedly allocated to a single cross-sectional topic, but rather use them as ‘think tanks’ in which they can loosely participate, e.g. in workshop talks. Accordingly, the cross-sectional topics are fuelled by the findings and suggestions of the individual projects. In dealing with the asymmetrical conceptual pairs, the cross-sectional topics strive to discover the crucial characteristics of a different aesthetics – in other words, the ‘coordinates’ and ‘points of intersection’.