At the Conjuncture: Art and the Imagination

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The imagination has a long and complex trajectory as a human faculty, but in this epoch of planetary-scale computation and the explosion of synthetic intelligence, genomic engineering, and robotics it has been decentered and accelerated in compelling and disconcerting ways. Now more than ever the security of positivistic reasoning has undergone radical questioning, addressing with urgency the fundamental perceptions of what we are, and what our reality consists of, yet opening as well almost unthinkable and unimaginable possibilities for our definition of what human modes of thinking and the imagination could be. However, the tension between the possibilities that the imagination holds and its material reality remain intolerably constrained and controlled by the structures of planetary capital. The question of global sapience, as potential and as problem, consists of dense strands of transparency and opacity. In this project, the focus will be on proposals for reconfigurations of time, space, and otherness that necessarily generate comprehensive interrogation of the formation of histories, and at the same juncture think time as informing possible alternate, non-linear futures.

This current research module explores and models the dynamics of the imagination as a manifestation of artistic production and critical thought, in part ‘as if’, in part as concept/object modeling, to effectuate other modalities which might lead to different modes of world-making. This ‘global’ (as opposed to individualistic) reenergized faculty of imagination—imagination on a global scale—asks us to focus on the relations between the empirical, the socio-political, the economic and the scientific space of what is common, and potential philosophical concepts of universality. It asks us to consider the condition of the subject in the world, the world that forms a subject, and the transgressive production of the global imagination through it, as well as the divisive violence that is incumbent upon the planetary impulse itself. 

The global in this case brings us back to the question of metaphysical meditations and socio-political ruptures, and vice versa; it demands that we address the traversals between what mind is and what is a world; what is an act of self-consciousness about it, and the acts of unconscious doings when both are acts in the world. The complexity and contradictions of the representations of transcendence and embodiment are not simply political or philosophical, but they can instantiate new perspectives on the role of the global artistic imagination.

Conveners

Amanda Beech
James Wiltgen
Christine Wertheim