On the Techno-Imaginary of the Car Battery

Looking back at the 20th century, the history of the automobile seems to be primarily associated with the internal combustion engine. At the same time, however, it is a history of the batteries used in the car. Two batteries must be distinguished: The battery as a source to power the car and the car battery as a power source for starting, lighting and other subsystems.

In various studies on the history of electromobility, history of technology has so far focused primarily on the technical and cultural dimensions of the battery as a source of propulsion.[1] It becomes clear in all studies that neither the history of the automobile nor the history of the battery can be told only as a sequence of technical innovations. Technical functionalities always develop in close interaction with cultural images and phantasms, expectations and appropriations. For example, the historian of technology Gijs Mom has explained in an extensive and important publication how the technical characteristics of the battery as source to power a car collided or interacted with cultural expectations of the automobile. Although electromobility had already established itself by the end of the 19th century and electric vehicles successfully participated in car races, the gasoline-powered automobile prevailed at the turn of the century. Mom explains this with the cultural expectations of the automobile, which were shaped by the long-distance races organized from 1900 onward. In this field, combustion engines were superior to electric drives. This was because lead batteries allowed either high speed or a long range, but not both at the same time.[2]

According to Mom, the dream of virtually unlimited range, which became hegemonic from 1912 onward, and the futile wait for a miracle battery led to a marginalization of the electric drive, which was now defined from the perspective of the gasoline car.[3]

According to Mom, the most important thing was that car races contributed to the cultural perception of the car as an “adventurous machine”.[4] It was precisely the unreliability of the gasoline car that could be perceived by the senses, the small defects that could be seen, felt, heard, and smelled that made it attractive to its users.[5] In 1907, for example, a British motorist justified his desire for the engine by saying that it possessed “a soul that has much in common with the human soul.”[6] Historically, this bringing to life of the machine obviously referred primarily to the gasoline engine.

Dreams, miracles, vivification – without explicitly naming it, Mom deals with the imaginary of technology. Following the philosopher Pierre Musso, the concept of the imaginary is to be understood here as a reservoir of images, social representations and grand narratives that are collectively shared.[7] The imaginary is always ambivalent and follows its own, non-rational logic, which, however, is not diametrically opposed to the real, but rather complements it, explains Musso.[8] It is also important that this collective imaginary is fed by individual imaginations, with which it is not identical.

The connection of a technical object with certain symbols and fantasies of use – the gasoline car as an animated adventure machine – can be described as “techno-imaginary”, following a term of the anthropologist Georges Balandier.[9] This outlines the fact that technical objects are not exhausted in their functionality. They have a double identity of functionality and fictionality, explains Musso.[10] This techno-imaginary usually unfolds between two poles: images of desire are juxtaposed with visions of horror. It is important that they do not start to appear in the representations and practices of use of the technical objects, but that they are already active at the time of their conception. As already outlined above, the engineers dreamed of a “miracle battery”,[11] while the users struggled with range anxiety.

The following essay expands the technical-historical horizon focused on the battery as propulsion concept with a cultural sciences perspective that examines the techno-imaginary of the car battery. For the question arises whether the phantasm of vivification outlined above is really limited to the engine: are batteries not also fed by notions of the living? This leading question is answered with an image analysis of contemporary depictions of the car battery in visual culture. How do advertising images visualize the techno-imaginary of these batteries? What analogies and allegories are used to describe them? How are car batteries inscribed into the symbolic reference system of culture and nature? Can the special case of the car battery reveal certain characteristics that apply to rechargeable batteries or secondary cells in general? How do they shape the cultural meaning of the objects in which they are integrated? What can be learned from this about our relationship to batteries as cultural objects?

In addition to approaches of art history, the essay draws primarily on the positions of the phenomenologist Mircea Eliade and the cultural scientist Hartmut Böhme.

From the body as a machine to the enlivenment of technology

 First of all, it has to be stated that the relation between the technical and the living has been historically grasped from two different sides. On the one hand, there is a long tradition of the self-description of the living as a machine. Already Descartes in his Discours de la méthode (1637) equated the movements of animals with those of automata. The philosopher Julien Offray de La Mettrie described in his work L’homme machine (1748) the human being as a particularly complicated machine. The human body has been captured in mechanical terms ever since.[12]

Historical examples can also be found for the reverse process, the vivification and animation of technical objects, in which electricity often played a major role: Electricity and life were already seen as synonyms in Galvani’s experiments with twitching legs of frogs (1780). The animation of the artificial human being in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818) was also based on electricity.[13]

In his dissertation Batterien der Lebenskraft, the art scholar Christoph Asendorf emphasizes that this vivification of technology gained importance in the 19th century. He states a transformation of the perception of things in literature, art and everyday life: It was no longer the body as a machine but the “machine as object with a body”[14] that now came to the foreground. According to Asendorf, this artificial animation of things was a response to the increasing displacement of nature.[15] Steam engines, locomotives, and bicycles were imagined as organically animated entities in which the “automatically” performed “human movements of heartbeat, breathing, or walking” were repeated.[16] These animated things took the place of nature. The anthropologist Arnold Gehlen called this mechanism the “resonance phenomenon”[17] of technology.

The vivifying poetization of everyday things can also be found in literature. The lyricist Rainer Maria Rilke, for example, described talismans as “little batteries of vitality.”[18] This formula is fascinating because it technically substantiates the magical properties of these lucky charms and at the same time ascribes magical abilities to technology. As we will see in the following paragraphs, today it is the batteries themselves that act like talismans in the collective imaginary, promising us mobility and protection and that are closely linked to the phantasm of vivification.

Bringing the battery to life in words and pictures

 A first trace of the techno-imaginary of batteries emerges from an analysis of the rich repertoire of linguistic metaphors we use to describe the inner state of batteries. Interestingly, the fact that a battery provides energy for a long time is described similarly in different languages. In German, the ‘Lebensdauer’ (lifetime) of the battery is spoken of, in French the ‘durée de vie’ is praised, and in English there is the term ‘Longlife Batteries’.[19] A technical thing made of inanimate matter is thus ascribed one of the characteristics of living things, namely that they have a temporally limited existence. This limitedness is at the same time emphasized as something temporally extended, without limiting this exactly: If a battery is said to have a ‘long life’, this reminds us at the same time that its lifetime is not infinite. If a battery is new, we also say in German that it is ‘frisch’ (fresh)[20] , which is again a word used for organic, perishable things.

For this inscription of the battery into the sphere of the living there is also a conceptual equivalent with regard to the end of its life cycle. When its power comes to an end, we say in German it is ‘schwach’ (weak), in English ‘low’ or ‘flat’, in French ‘faible’, ‘épuisée’ or ‘à plat’ (weak, exhausted, flat). If a battery no longer supplies electricity, we say in English it is ‘dead’ or ‘morte’ (French).[21] There is also the expression of ‘lacking juice’, reminiscent of the vital juices in Galen’s humoral pathology. Even stronger is the French expression ‘elle a rendu l’âme’, the battery has given up its soul.

Firstly, it can be stated that batteries are addressed like living beings.[22] The beginning and end of the state of charge of batteries are described with metaphors borrowed from the realm of the living. All these terms have something in common, they try to describe that batteries change their internal state ‘in the course of their life’. This internal change, however, remains invisible externally – it only becomes visible when the battery is connected to a consumer.

Secondly, in the advertisements discussed further below, the batteries described with metaphors of vitality are said to have the ability to animate other objects, i.e. to transfer their power to others. As techno-imaginary objects, batteries thus have the power to animate other technical objects.

In addition to language, central elements of the techno-imaginary of batteries are crystallized in contemporary media representations, which then in turn have an effect on the collective imaginary. In addition to visual art, film, and media, cultural mediating instances such as advertising therefore constitute an interesting source. Advertising has so far been studied primarily by research in communication theory, focusing on questions of reception and effect, sender and receiver, consumers and producers.[23] For a cultural studies perspective, however, advertising images can be impressive sources in a very different way, as they allegorically stage abstract qualities of an object in order to assert themselves in the attention economy. Using the stylistic devices of allegory (figuration) and hyperbole (exaggeration), advertising reflects and shapes the mostly unconscious images of horror and dream with which technical objects are associated.[24] It produces fictional sketches of the possible and, in the process, reenacts ancient myths. Thus, advertising is a revealing form of self-representation of the respective contemporary culture.

Phenomenological parenthesis on the car battery as a thing

Batteries are special things that differ from other technical objects in significant ways: Batteries do not make any noise, they do not glow, they are odorless. You cannot tell whether they are charged or discharged. They are completely non-sensual objects.[25] They fulfill neither an aesthetic nor a practical function if they are not connected to another object.

In addition, batteries are objects that can only be aestheticized to a limited extent. Car batteries, for example, hardly differ in their external shape. Their box type shape has hardly changed historically. Only a small outer surface can be used to emphasize their difference. In the 1950s, marketing took up this circumstance and referred to the inner qualities of a car battery, which only needed to be refilled with water three times a year.[26]

One of the most important characteristics of batteries is that they are hidden, they disappear immediately after production and purchase. Each car battery is placed in a specially designed trough and then disappears under the hood. It is expected to provide reliable power for as long as possible, while remaining as invisible as possible. In other words, it should be present without being visible, without being exposed. While engine hoods are also opened in order to inspect and demonstrate the engine, car batteries preferably remain peripheral objects. Batteries are not suitable for fetishization.

The battery brings the automobile to life

In order to be able to advertise something that no one wants to see, some agencies have decided to take a detour. Since the turn of the millennium, a whole series of ads have appeared that use animated car wrecks to highlight the lifetime of batteries: Instead of showing the battery, the aesthetics of glowing headlights and taillights, interior lights, or radios playing music are the focus of current productions. These visual signs refer to the long life, the high range of the product being advertised, which itself no longer needs to be shown at all. Advertising thus places batteries in relation to the passing of time.

These sources are interesting because they design a visual battery mythology. “Mythology undoubtedly constitutes one of the most developed forms of the imaginary,” writes the philosopher Jean-Jacques Wunenburger.[27] Mythologies can be understood as a collection of myths, they “tell the story of divine and human figures” and convey “in a symbolic and anthropomorphic way beliefs about the origin, nature and end of cosmological, psychological, historical phenomena.”[28] Batteries, with their special relationship to the end, thus lend themselves perfectly to mythological representations. Three series of motifs can be distinguished according to their respective settings or spaces: Car wrecks in the water, in the forest, and in junkyards.

Car wrecks in the water: death and rebirth


Fig. 1: Advertisement for car batteries from the brand Koba, 2009 (Agency: Fp7 Oman).

Source: Koba [Koba]: “River,” ad uploaded 03/29/2009 to Ads of the World, https://www.adsoftheworld.co m/media/print/koba_river, accessed 01/17/2020.

An ad by the Koba company shows a completely rusted vehicle that has fallen sideways into a river (Fig. 1). A white-yellow glowing headlight – which on closer inspection turns out to be the tail light of a four-door Chevrolet Chevelle from 1967 – shines over the surface of the water. Apparently the wreck has been lying here for many years, with a withered bush sticking out of the rear window. The light of the spotlight here is supposed to refer to the long life of the battery, its enormous range.

As the phenomenologist of religion Mircea Eliade has pointed out in his book The Sacred and the Profane, the symbolism of water “encompasses both death and rebirth.”[29] Immersion in water symbolizes “the return to the unformed, the reintroduction into the undifferentiated state of preexistence”.[30] But water also means regeneration: immersion, dissolution is followed by emergence, shaping.

The picture shows an intermediate stage in which nature and culture are not sharply separated: The contrast between the poetic figure of the wreck as a cultural object transforming into a state of nature and the invisible battery that refuses this transformation is characteristic of the image here. Although it is metaphorically vivified and organized in our language, the car battery in this image clearly resists decay; it stands for the undecomposability of technology. The almost sacral light underlines that we are dealing here with an allegory of technical triumph over range anxiety.

Car wrecks in the forest: sacralization

Another ad by the brand Interstate Batteries from 2014 shows two decaying wrecks, overgrown with moss, at the edge of a dark forest path (Fig. 2). A tree has already grown through the vehicle in front, but both front headlights are still shining.[31] As in the water images, the cars here have become part of a staging of nature – but again a sharp separation of nature and culture has been abandoned: While the headlights bring the car to life, nature seems frozen, almost artificial. This is a reminder that we are living in an “epoch of artificiality” in which naturalness is no longer a point of reference, or can no longer be, as the cultural scientist Hartmut Böhme has noted.[32] Nature has “forfeited its eschatological function” – it is “no longer the image of utopia, be it of liberation, be it of peace (paradise),” Böhme emphasizes.[33] The promise of transcendence is now a technical one.


Fig. 2: Advertisement for car batteries of the Interstate Batteries brand from 2014 (Agency: Firehouse).

Source: Mike Campau [Mike Campau]: “Interstate Batteries Lasts Longer,” advertisement uploaded 4/4/2014 on Behance, https://www.behance.net/gallery/7108281/INTERSTATE-BATTERIES-LASTS-LONGER, accessed 1/27/2020.

The forest motif takes on another dimension in another ad by the Koba company from 2008: it shows the wreckage of a pickup truck in a nocturnal scene with some trees in the background.[34]Instead of the headlights, the interior of the vehicle is illuminated here. This light source refers to something absent, a person who has left the vehicle. But it also points to a mysterious presence that has taken its place. What this is about becomes even clearer in an advertising film produced for the company Interstate Batteries in 2013, which elaborates on the image idea.[35]The camera moves slowly through the undergrowth of a damp nocturnal forest, frogs croak. A moss-covered car comes into view and we hear a song coming from the old car radio, which is still powered by the battery. The ensoulment or vivification of the automobile through the long life of the battery is even more emphasized here, as the car is given not only an eye, but a voice.

Similar to the threshold of a church building, the car’s interior here becomes a threshold between profane and sacred space. The battery-powered radio transcends the profane world by acting as a doorway upward. It establishes a connection to the radio waves coming from outside, and thus to heaven. Eliade writes that theophany sanctifies “a place precisely by making it ‘open’ upward, putting it in connection with heaven, as a paradoxical point of transition from one mode of being to another.”[36] The battery connecting heaven and earth has here become a condition of the manifestation of the sacred.

Wrecked cars in junkyards: Demise and eternity


Fig. 3: Ad for Duracell Car Batteries, 2006 (Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Mexico).

Source: Duracell Car Batteries [Duracell Car Batteries]: “Deep Insi- de, Scrap Yard,” uploaded Dec. 10, 2006, to Adeevee, www.ade evee.com/2006/12/duracell-car-batteries-deep-inside-scrap-yard-pr int/, accessed Jan. 17, 2020.

The most common and oldest series of motifs shows wrecks in a junkyard. This motif first appeared in an ad by Volkswagen for its in-house car batteries with the claim “Lasts up to 4 times longer” from 2000 (agency: AlmapBBDO).[37] The scene, bathed entirely in blue moonlight, shows a junkyard at night, with the two front headlights of a vehicle brightly illuminated. Another ad for the Duracell Car Batteries brand also shows stacked cars in a nighttime junkyard, here the camera has moved closer to the wrecks (Fig. 3). A lone red taillight glows in the foreground. With Eliade, the vehicle lights in both displays can be interpreted as mysterious signs that once again establish a link between earth and sky[38] and underscore the sacredness of the place.[39]

Comparative mythology of the car battery

 All three series of motifs work with the opposition of nature and technology, light and darkness, life and death. However, there are two differences between the water and forest motifs on the one hand and the junkyard images on the other.

First, while the water and forest motifs show individual wrecks, the pictorial space in the junkyard ads is almost completely dominated by vehicles. Interestingly, they are shown here damaged and immobilized, but not organically as in the forest and river images. The multiple stacking of the objects has the effect to emphasize their intact technical forms. The presence of several vehicles in the moonlight gives the scenery an even clearer uncanny framing.

This brings us to the second difference: in contrast to the forest and water images, nature is represented in the junkyards by the moonlight and the clouds in the sky at night. An art-historical reference virtually imposes itself at this point. The pictorial language of Romantic landscape painting, which was opposed to the Enlightenment and deeply connected to religion, gave the night a meaning somewhere between a place of longing and a place of horror – the night referred to the unconscious, the irrational, the transcendent.[40] The junkyard images discussed here have a similar pictorial composition to Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings of shipwrecks – such as Das Eismeer (1824) or Meeresküste bei Mondschein (1830).

The depiction of destruction and demise in the fore- and middle ground of the painting is contrasted with the aspect of eternity and transcendence in the illuminated background. The wrecked cars in the battery advertisements can also be read as symbols of a “death landscape”; they mark an end point of industrialization.[41] If we think of the automobile in analogy to humans, junkyards are graveyards, which is also reflected in the designation of the ‘car graveyard’. As in Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings, however, the staging of the end here is used to construct an infinite continuation of life. It is the battery that breathes life into the wrecks shown here and thus crosses the boundary between the technical and the living, between artificialia and naturalia, i.e. made and unmade things, between culture and nature. The shining headlights look like the opened eyes of a corpse, the reanimated machine like a zombie. As already mentioned, technology is thus in an intermediate realm; it is neither completely culture nor nature.

Light is the key to decoding these images: Moonlight was often used in Romanticism as a stylistic device with religious connotations, where it refers to infinity as a cosmic reference. The art historian Helmut Börsch-Supan even interprets the rising moon in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich as a symbol of Christ.[42]

Mircea Eliade also emphasizes that the phases of the moon can be read as a sequence of birth, death and resurrection.[43] The moon “disappears periodically, dying to be reborn three nights later.”[44] The message of the moon includes “above all that death is not final, that it is always followed by a new birth [emphasis added by FK]”.[45] The moon reconciles man with death by presenting it as a “condition for all mystical regeneration”.[46] It is this regenerative ability that makes the moon an ideal symbol for the power of rechargeable batteries. While Romantic paintings usually showed the moon directly, the moonlight is only indirectly present in the images discussed here, illuminating the clouds in the background, which can be interpreted as symbols of panta rhei, the eternal change of things. Hartmut Böhme points out that clouds were carriers of meaning in the mythical age.[47] “Clouds harbor, conceal, spread the danger and fear that man must have of himself.”[48] Translated into the language of batteries, the clouds thus refer to range anxiety on the one hand. On the other hand, by reflecting the moonlight, they give us hope for regeneration, recharging.

The indirect light of the sky coming from above is contrasted by the headlights and taillights as the only direct light sources below on earth. It is decisive that they form an arc to the sky, which Mircea Eliade associates with the infinite, the transcendent, the eternal; the “completely other.”[49]

This visual reference is intended to evoke a deification of battery performance, or at least an exaltation of technology. Here, the battery establishes contact with the cosmic, the numinous, the sacred via the mediating light. Here, it is no longer nature that is animated by the divine, as was still the case in the pantheistic worldview of Romanticism. The religious content has now migrated into the technical artifacts.

Charging as religious act

 Finally, it is worth mentioning a mechanism that applies to rechargeable batteries in general. Secondary cells or accumulators, which is what car batteries are, are particularly interesting in terms of time, because their aging is reversible for a longer period of time. Especially the charging of accumulators is a fascinating cycle, a postponed death, a life extended to many life cycles, which nevertheless dies a little bit with each revival. Thus they are almost timeless, promising to make us independent of time, to forget death. In the eternally shining lamps of the car wrecks this idea comes to life. Their light stands for hope, it embodies infinite life and thus points to the future. In contrast, nature, the night and plants occupy the ephemeral.

Mircea Eliade contrasts two forms of time, profane time and the sacred time of religious rituals. While profane time runs irreversibly, sacred time is circular, repeatable, and thus consists of “an eternal present that can be reached an infinite number of times.”[50] Thus, in religious rituals, time is regenerated. Man is always “born again” and begins “his existence once more with an undiminished supply of vitality, as at the moment of his birth.”[51]

These forms of time are also found in our dealings with rechargeable batteries: the periodically recurring recharging rituals also seem to make us independent of the expiration of profane time. By recharging our devices, we imitate the sacred, non-historical time of religious rituals. Each recharging is thus a small rebirth, a reactualization of the original time of the myths and gods we are approaching.[52] Charging can thus be called a religious act.[53] This confirms that many of the religious behaviors described by Eliade for “the religious man of primitive and archaic societies”[54] “persist”[55] in the secularized societies of modern technical civilizations.


The history of technology is not exhausted in invention-based narratives, which are often told as a linear chain of innovations by great men. We often find an explanation in the large field of socio-cultural anchoring of innovations as to why certain technologies have become established and others remained in a niche for decades. It can be stated that battery-powered propulsion concepts at the beginning of the 20th century collided with a specific form of techno-imaginary that had formed around the ‘animated’ gasoline car. It was not only the lack of range of the batteries, it were techno-imaginary phantasms that gave advantages to the gasoline motor. This is why electromobility was unable to prevail over the internal combustion engine at the turn of the century.

Obviously, however, this enlivening or vivification of the automobile is not only fed by the gasoline engine, but also by the car battery. Its invisible, soundless and odorless presence is a central prerequisite for the car’s vivifying features, be it the headlights (sense of vision), the radio (the voice) or the engine movement (muscle power). The Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck recognized that even before the engine, it is electricity that animates the car: “Its soul, that is the electric spark that makes its breath glow seven to eight hundred times a minute. “[56] In this metaphorical language, it is the battery that first provides the spark without which the engine cannot come to life. This vivification materializes in the techno-imaginary of the car battery, where it is not only associated with longevity, but promises immortality. The battery points beyond the death of the object into which it is inserted. In conclusion, this raises the big question of whether similar techno-imaginary imagery will emerge around the batteries of electric vehicles in the future.[57] Their increasing range could lead to new forms of bringing the automobile to life.

First published in German: Kröger, Fabian, Zum Techno-Imaginären der Autobatterie, in: Müggenburg, Jan (ed.), Reichweitenangst, Batterien und Akkus als Medien des Digitalen Zeitalters, Transcript 2021, p. 95-110.

Full book available (open access):


Translation from German to English by the author (02/2023).


[1] See Schiffer, Michael B.: Taking Charge. The Electric Automobile in America, Washington: Smithsonian Inst. Press 1994; Kirsch, David A.: The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press 2000; Mom, Gijs: The Electric Vehicle. Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age, Baltimore/London: The John Hopkins University Press 2004.

[2] See G. Mom: The Electric Vehicle, p. 54.

[3] See Ibid., p. 194.

[4] Ibid., p. 40.

[5] Ibid., p. 128.

[6] Lord Montagu of Beaulieu/McComb, F. Wilson: Behind the wheel: The magic and manners of early motoring, New York: Paddington Press Ltd. 1977, p. 111-112, cit. in: G. Mom: The Electric Vehicle, p. 41.

[7] This definition differs significantly from the term “sociotechnical imaginary,” which Jasanoff and Kim use to describe visions of a desirable social order achievable through technological and scientific progress (Jasanoff, Sheila/Kim, Sang-Hyun (eds.): Dreamscapes of Modernity. Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press 2015, p. 4.

[8] See: Musso, Pierre: »Techno-Imaginaire des reseaux«, in: Fabian Kröger/Marina Maestrutti (eds.), Les Imaginaires et les Techniques, Paris : Presse des Mines 2018, p. 79-91, here p. 80.

[9] See Balandier, Georges : Le Grand Système, Paris : Fayard 2001, p. 8.

[10] See P. Musso : »Techno-Imaginaire des reseaux«, p. 79.

[11] Mom, Gijs: »Inventing the miracle battery: Thomas Edison and the electric vehicle«, in: Hollister-Short, Graham (ed.): History of Technology, Band 20, London: Bloomsbury Academic 1998, p. 18-45, http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350018891.0007.

[12] See Riskin, Jessica: The Restless Clock. A History of the Centuries-Long Argument over What Makes Living Things Tick, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press 2016 and Jank, Marlene: Der homme machine des 21. Jahrhunderts. Von lebendigen Maschinen im 18. Jahrhundert zur humanoiden Robotik der Gegenwart, Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag 2014.

[13] See Asendorf, Christoph: Batterien der Lebenskraft. Zur Geschichte der Dinge und ihrer Wahrnehmung im 19. Jahrhundert, Weimar: VDG 2002, p. 111.

[14] Ibid., p. 34.

[15] Ibid., p. 17f.

[16] Ibid., p. 76.

[17] Gehlen, Arnold/Rehberg, Karl-Siegbert (ed.): Die Seele im technischen Zeitalter: sozialpsychologische Probleme in der industriellen Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M.: Klostermann 2007, p. 16.

[18] Rilke, Rainer Maria: »Brief an Ilse Erdmann vom 20.3.1919«, cit. in: C. Asendorf: Batterien der Lebenskraft, p. 136.

[19] See VARTA: »VARTA-Longlife Batterie-Sortiment«, Website ohne Datum, https://www.varta- consumer.de/de-de/products/batteries/overview, accessed on January, 17, 2020.

[20] Duracell: »Duralock. Frische Batterien bis zu zehn Jahre lang«, Website ohne Datum, https: //www.duracell.de/technology/zuverlassige-10-jahres-garantie-bei-lagerung/, accessed on January, 17, 2020.

[21] In contrast to this a more mechanistic terminology exists also –  a battery is described as ‘alle’ (empty in German), ’empty’ (eng.) or ‘épuisée’ (fr.). These spatialized terms follow the image of the bottle, so they are more oriented to the material world of things.

[22] See the essay by Wolfgang Hagen in this volume.

[23] See Meyer, Urs: Poetik der Werbung, Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag 2010, p. 17.

[24] Marchand, Roland: Advertising the American dream. Making way for Modernity, 1920-1940, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press 1985, p. XV.

[25] It should be noted, however, that batteries can be perceived sensually through malfunctions (explosions) or creative misappropriation (when children hold their tongues to the contacts because they tingle so nicely).

[26] Ads of the brand AUTO-LITE sta-ful used in the 1950s the slogan “needs water only 3 times a year” for their advertisements.

[27] Wunenburger, Jean-Jacques: L’Imaginaire, Paris : Presse Universitaires de France 2003, p. 7 (Translation of the author).

[28] Ibid.

[29] Eliade, Mircea: Das Heilige und das Profane. Vom Wesen des Religiösen, Frankfurt a.M.: Insel- Verlag 1984, p. 114.

[30] Ibid.

[31] These images are reminiscent of certain photographs by Arnold Odermatt (cf. Odermatt, Arnold: Karambolage, ed. by Urs Odermatt, Göttingen: Steidl 2003), but also of popular books showing “sleeping” car wrecks in the forest (cf. Schrader, Halwart/Hesselmann, Her- bert W.: Schlafende Schönheiten, Hamburg: Ellert und Richter 1999).

[32] Böhme, Hartmut: Aussichten der Natur. Naturästhetik in Wechselwirkung von Natur und Kultur, Berlin: Matthes & Seitz Berlin 2017, p. 13.

[33] Ibid., p. 14.

[34] Al Hashar Group Koba Batteries [Al Hashar Group Koba Batteries]: “Abandoned,” promotional ad. Ad uploaded on Adeevee on 2008-09-12, https://www.adeevee.com/2008/09/al-hasha r-group-koba-batteries-abandoned-outdoor/, accessed on June, 4, 2021.

[35] Interstate Batteries Inc [Interstate Batteries]: “Interstate Batteries | MT7 AGM | No Battery Lasts Longer,” video uploaded on Youtube on Feb. 6, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=FZmP0H8UlbE, accessed Sept. 10, 2019.

[36] M. Eliade: Das Heilige und das Profane, p. 27.

[37] Louai Alasfahani [Anubis]: “Rusty Idea,” uploaded as part of a blog post on 5/04/2009, https://paragonanubis.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/rusty-idea/, accessed 2020/01/17.

[38] Cf. M. Eliade: Das Heilige und das Profane, p. 58.

[39] Cf. Ibid., p. 28.

[40] Cf. Böhme, Hartmut: Wolken, Wasser, Stein, Zur Ästhetik der Landschaft, Zürich: semina rerum 1999, p. 15-25, cit. version: https://www.hartmutboehme.de/media/Wasser.pdf, p. 5.

[41] Cf. Ibid., p. 3.

[42] Cf. Börsch-Supan, Helmut: Caspar David Friedrich, München: Prestel 1973, p. 131.

[43] Cf. M. Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane, p. 137.

[44] Ibid., p. 164.

[45] Ibid., p. 138.

[46] Ibid., p. 164.

[47] Cf. H. Böhme: Aussichten der Natur, p. 78f.

[48] Ibid., p. 80.

[49] Cf. M. Eliade: Das Heilige und das Profane, p. 105; p. 113.

[50] Ibid., p. 78.

[51] Ibid., p. 65.

[52] Ibid., p. 72, 77, 94.

[53] Ibid., p. 65.

[54] Ibid., p. 94.

[55] Ibid., p. 161.

[56] Maeterlinck, Maurice, Der doppelte Garten, Jena 1904, p. 35, cit.in: C. Asendorf: Batterien der Lebenskraft, p. 116.

[57] Cf. Kröger, Fabian: »Elektroautos verlieren die Verwandtschaft zum menschlichen Körper«, in: telepolis.de, Online-Artikel vom 27.11.2010, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Elektroautos-verlieren-die-Verwandtschaft-zum-menschlichen-Koerper-3387641.html.

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