[ARENA] Fw: Experimentality conference - Visual submissions accepted
Domingo, 6 de Dezembro de 2009 - 12:02:42 WET
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From: "Sarah Casey" <sarahmariecasey HOTMAIL.COM>
To: <DRAWING-RESEARCH JISCMAIL.AC.UK>
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 9:01 AM
Subject: Experimentality conference - Visual submissions accepted
International conference: The Experimental Society, Lancaster University,
First call for papers
Experimentation, with its distinctive way of joining action and knowledge,
played a crucial role in the culture and politics of modern society, but one
has a number of contradictory strands. In one strand, experimentation is
associated with the opening up of the closed medieval universe into an open
world of endless possibility. This story would include the development of
arts as an autonomous space for free exploration, and practices of social,
cultural and political experimentation that invent new ways of living. It
perhaps its leading advocate in Friedrich Nietzsche, with his notion of life
continuous experiment, but in the contemporary world it is also manifested
the everyday creativity (de Certeau) with which people experiment ‘casually’
with new forms of humanity, technology, space, economic exchange and
political participation (Hayles, Stelarc, Soja, Ghosh, Rheingold, Lury).
Yet the dominant strand to the modern experiment has surely been that of
experimental science, which from the 17th century offered to solve the
problem of social dissensus by putting all truth claims to public test,
replacing the received certainties of traditional society with the new
certainties of objective facts and natural laws (Shapin, Schaffer, Toulmin).
performing the split between nature and culture that Bruno Latour calls
the ‘modern constitution’, the experiment thus started its long relationship
with social ordering, technology and power, which has helped to legitimise
instrumental paradigm of modern political action (Ezrahi), drive forward the
grand projects of 20th century high-modernist statecraft (Scott), and shape
the contemporary world of evidence-based policy, clinical trials and audits.
Critiques of this development include early warnings about the iron cage of
instrumental rationality (Weber), twentieth century unease about technocracy
and the scientisation of politics (the Frankfurt school) and autonomous
technology (Ellul, Winner), and contemporary concern about the proliferation
of states of exception in which experimental subjection and the reduction of
the human to ‘bare life’ becomes the norm (Agamben).
It is time to ask whether the experiment is now too complicit with power to
act as a carrier of the hopes of (post)modernity, or whether its
potential can be renewed through a sustained inquiry into the different
that it takes in science and technology, in the arts and in wider culture.
experimentation and innovation have become too integrated with imaginaries
of technological control, and thereby with consequent externalisations
and Felt), then further large questions arise not only for politics, but
However, any such project also needs to be sensitive to ways in which the
key role played by experimentation in the ordering of society seems to be
shifting away from the special to the general experiment – from the
experiment as a bounded episode situated in time and space, to a
performative experimentality. Driven by pervasive informationalisation, we
observe a number of interlinked trends, including: the acceleration and
proliferation of feedback loops between action and reaction; the
of fixed structures by networks and dissipative structures; the abandonment
of fixed goals for continuous repositioning; and the carrying out of
work in the context of application. Such trends can be observed in domains
as disparate as science and innovation, network-centric digital warfare,
finance capitalism, product design, software engineering, new media and
popular culture. Do these add up to a systemic transformation of how
is being ordered? Are humans no longer in control of their
experimental ‘projects’, and what does this mean for our conceptualisation
the human and of politics? Does this create the conditions in which a new
kind of experimental society might be possible? How might we imagine this,
and perhaps influence its form?
This three-day international conference is the culmination of Lancaster’s
long research programme Experimentality, which in six two-day workshops and
a range of arts events in the North West has been exploring the varieties
transformations of experimentation. It will draw on the inquiries held in
events: into experimentation and eventality, into the forms of subject and
object implicated in experimentation, into the experimentality of matter
and into the social and spatial organisation of experimentation in urban
will draw on recent work on experimentation as having its own logic
as being shaped into experimental systems which produce novelty and surprise
(Rheinberger), as involving pervasive everyday improvisation (Ingold), as
brought to closure in different ways (Galison) and as enacted in different
experimental spaces or 'truth-spots' (Gieryn). It will bring together
from a range of disciplines, and practitioners from different spheres of
life, to set out and debate different diagnoses and visions of the
society. It will be an interdisciplinary, collaborative exploration of the
of experimentation to shape the future.
Questions to be pursued in the conference will include the following:
Is experimentality becoming a key trope of contemporary society? Is it
new forms, and if so with what implications?
How can we learn from the differences between the modes of experimentality
operating within science, the arts and wider culture?
How do notions of experimentality intersect with other dominant notions of
social change, such as societal reflexivity, liquidity, knowing capitalism,
cosmopolitanism, mobility and complexity?
What dangers to human freedom are posed by new, experimental forms of
If a shift is occurring in modern society's ontology, so that ‘society’ is
becoming self-interrogating, what does this mean for the social sciences?
How can the power to shape our socio-technical future be distributed more
evenly in society? Can people and publics appropriate 'the experiment' so
it operates as an engine of human freedom harnessed to the task of building
common world, rather than as a tool of power?
If modern society is implicated in, perhaps dependent upon, forms of
uncontrolled, unintended or blind experiment, what forms of regulatory
ordering might be required?
Plenary speakers will include:
Ulrich Beck (London School of Economics)
Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen)
Scott Lash (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Helga Nowotny (European Research Council)
Gísli Pálsson (University of Iceland)
To submit a presentation to the conference in response to this first call,
please send an abstract (200-400 words) by 15 December 2009 to Anne-Marie
Mumford. We also encourage proposals of sessions of three papers, and non-
standard submissions, for example those that involve the visual arts,
performance or music.
For submission of proposed papers, or further details and queries, please
Institute for Advanced Studies
Lancaster LA1 4YD, UK
Email: a.mumford lancaster.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 1524 510816
Fax: +44 (0) 1524 510857
‘The Experimental Society’ is being organised by the Institute for Advanced
Studies (IAS) in collaboration with the ESRC Centre for the Economic and
Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen) and Lancaster Institute for the
Contemporary Arts (LICA). It forms part of the 2009-2010 Annual Research
Programme of the IAS, Experimentality, which is directed by Bronislaw
Szerszynski and co-directed by Stephanie Koerner (University of Manchester)
and Brian Wynne.
Experimentality is being delivered in collaboration with the School of Arts,
Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester; the ESRC Centre for the
Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Lancaster University;
FutureEverything; the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and
Medicine, University of Manchester; the Max Planck Institute for the History
Science, Berlin; the AHRC Research Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its
Legacies, University of Manchester; The Centre for Mobilities Research,
Lancaster University; The Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster; The Lancaster
International Concert Series; The Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster; The Storey
Gallery, Lancaster; Lancaster Literature Festival; and CUBE, Manchester.
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