Founding director of the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, which he has directed since 2006. He read physics at Oxford (B.A. 1988) and received a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University in 1993 with a dissertation on the entropy and information loss of black holes. At Columbia University, he studied German Literature (MA 1994, MPhil 1996) and wrote a dissertation on paradoxical pleasures in aesthetics (PhD 2001). Returning to Germany, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (2001-03) and at the Universität Siegen (2003-06).
His research interests include paradoxical pleasures in literature and aesthetics; constructions of identity, gender and sexuality; theories of emergence, self-organization, and complementarity as figures of thought; science and aesthetics. He has directed the ICI Research Projects Tension/Spannung, including the foci Multistable Figures, Complementarity, Wholes Which Are Not One, Constituting Wholes, and ERRANS.