petak, 14. rujna 2012.

Aesthetics in the 21st Century conference

Ovo je gromoglasno!!! U velikoj mjeri primjena spekulativnog realizma na umjetnost, čini se.

Aesthetics in the 21st Century conference

University of Basel                     [download poster and flyer as pdf]
September 13-15, 2012
Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Graham Harman: "The Next Avant-Garde"
N. Katherine Hayles: "Speculative Aesthetics"
Steven Shaviro: "Non-Phenomenological Aesthetics"
Scope & Aims
This conference engages with the recent speculative turn in continental philosophy and aesthetics. Hosted by the University of Basel’s Department of English, the conference is particularly interested in the implications of what could be termed the new speculative aesthetics for literary and cultural studies. Through academic talks, an Editors' Panel, and an Art Event, we aim at staging a three-fold encounter: between aesthetics and speculation, between speculative realism and its (possible) precursors, and between speculative realism and art and literature.

Thursday, September 13
14:30-15:30  Registration
Welcome and Opening
Antonio Loprieno, Rector of the University of Basel
Philipp Schweighauser, Head of American and General Literatures & Conference Co-Organizer
Conference Team

16:00-17:15 Keynote I
  Graham Harman (American University in Cairo): The Next Avant-Garde
Moderator: Paul J. Ennis, Conference Co-Organizer & Independent Scholar
17:15-17:45 Coffee Break
17:45-19:30 Panel 1: avant-garde
Thomas Gokey (Syracuse University): Strategic Invisibility: The Zero Point of Modernism and the Avant-Garde
Paul Boshears (European Graduate School, Saas-Fee): Marina Abramovic: What Is Present when the Artist Is Absent?
Vijak Haddadi Moghaddam (Kingston University London): The Dictatorship of Art – the Symbolic Absolute in Meese, Meillassoux and Schelling
Chair: Peter Burleigh (University of Basel)
Conference Dinner

Friday, September 14
Panel 2: onto-epistemological
Francis Halsall (National College of Art and Design, Dublin): Aesthetics as 1st Philosophy in Graham Harman’s Speculative Metaphysics
Magdalena Wisniowska (Royal Academy Schools): Images I Cannot See: Deleuze and the Problem of Imagination
Matija Jelača (Juraj Dobrila University of Pula/ University of Zagreb): Sellars Contra Deleuze on Sensation, Knowledge and Aesthetics
  Chair: Marc Nicolas Sommer (University of Basel/ Institut für Sozialforschung, University of Frankfurt)
11:15-11:45 Coffee Break
11:45-13:00 Panel 3: algorithmic
Robert Jackson (University of Plymouth): Actor Recursion Theory (ART): Procedure and Presentness
Roberto Simanowski (University of Basel): Speculative Realism in Contemporary Art? Examples of the Mathematical Turn in Aesthetics
  Chair: Till Heilmann (University of Basel)
13:00-14:30 Lunch
14:30-15:45 Keynote II
N. Katherine Hayles (Duke University): Speculative Aesthetics
  Moderator: Philipp Schweighauser, Conference Co-Organizer (University of Basel)
15:45-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:00 Editors’ Panel
The Aesthetics of (Para)Academic Practice
Jamie Allen
(Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design; editor, continent.)
Paul Boshears (editor, continent.)
Paul J. Ennis (editor, Speculations)
Michael Austin (editor, Speculations)
Robert Jackson (editor, Speculations)
Thomas Gokey (editor, Speculations)
*See continent. issue 2.2 (2012) for participants' preliminary exchange of ideas on issues discussed on the Editors' Panel:
  Chair: Simon Aeberhard (University of Basel)
17:00-17:30 Coffee Break
17:30-18:45 Panel 4: beautiful
  Theodor Leiber (University of Augsburg) & Kirsten Voigt (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology): Beauty, the Will to Power and Life as Artwork: The Aesthetico-Speculative Realism in Nietzsche and Whitehead
  Moritz Gansen (Kingston University London/Free University Berlin): Cosmic Dreams: The Ecological Aesthetics of dOCUMENTA (13)
  Chair: Nicole Sütterlin (University of Basel)
21:00-23:00 Art Event: The Nonhuman / Das Nichtmenschliche
Oliver Minder / Walter Derungs: Exhibition & Discussion at Kaskadenkondensator (venue)
*See Kaskadenkondensator's announcement of the event.
  Moderator: Andreas Hägler, Conference Co-Organizer (University of Basel)

Saturday, September 15
09:00-10:45 Panel 5: creative
Ridvan Askin (University of Basel): Differential Narratology: Program for a Speculative Poetics
Sjoerd van Tuinen (Erasmus University Rotterdam): Idea and Maniera: Bergson and Deleuze on Mannerist Diagrams
Miguel Penas López (Autonomous University of Barcelona): Is there a Place for Simondon’s Philosophy in Speculative Realism?
  Chair: Samira Lütscher (University of Basel)
10:45-11:15 Coffee Break
11:15-12:30 Keynote III
  Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University): Non-Phenomenological Aesthetics
  Moderator: Ridvan Askin, Conference Co-Organizer (University of Basel)
12:30-14:00 Lunch
Panel 6: alternative
Virginia Richter (University of Berne): Darwinism and Aesthetics in the 21st Century
  Michael Austin (Memorial University of Newfoundland): The Feeling of Things: Transcendental Empiricism in Herder, Whitehead, and Serres
  Chair: Derek Gottlieb (University of Basel)
15:15-15:45 End of Conference
Ridvan Askin, Conference Co-Organizer (University of Basel)
Paul Ennis, Conference Co-Organizer & Independent Scholar
Andreas Hägler, Conference Co-Organizer (University of Basel)

(in alphabetical order)

Allen, Jamie
Convenor of Editors' Panel (see continent. issue 2.2 (2012) for participants' preliminary exchange of ideas on issues discussed on the Editors' Panel)
Bio: Jamie Allen is Head of Research at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and a PhD candidate with the European Graduate School (Media & Communications). His research explores technology as an autonomous agent in artistic and design practice. He is one of the editors of the online journal continent., which has a strong focus on speculative realism.

Askin, Ridvan
Talk: "Differential Narratology: Program for a Speculative Poetics”
Abstract: This talk elaborates a transcendental empiricist concept of narrative arguing for an understanding of narrative as fundamentally nonhuman (instead of human), unconscious (instead of correlated to consciousness) and expressive (instead of representational). Through an exemplary reading of a passage from Richard Powers’s The Echo Maker Deleuzian transcendental sensations and forces are determined as the stuff narratives are made of. These sensations and forces are the populace of Deleuze’s realm of virtual becoming. Differential narratology thus emphasizes the becoming of narrative. Conversely, since Deleuzian becoming names the very process of configuring and composing these virtual sensations and forces, it also proclaims the narrativity of becoming. Indeed, this talk suggests that Deleuze’s “movement of dramatization” needs to be recast as process of narrativization. Seen in this light, Deleuze’s univocity and clamor of being turn out to be the very voice and noise of being’s telling.
Bio: Ridvan Askin is Assistant in American and General Literatures at the University of Basel. Currently, he is working on his PhD with a book project tentatively entitled Narrative and Becoming: Differential Narratology. He has published on narrative theory and contemporary North-American literature, and his main research focuses on aesthetics, contemporary North-American fiction, Gilles Deleuze, literary theory, narrative theory, the relation of philosophy and literature, and speculative realism.

Austin, Michael
Talk: "The Feeling of Things: Transcendental Empiricism in Herder, Whitehead, and Serres"
Abstract: While contemporary philosophers have turned once again to aesthetics as an important field, some going as far as to claim it as “first philosophy,” this focus has important precursors (and, as we will see, an unfortunately ignored contemporary). This paper outlines an important historical tradition steeped in romanticism and a variety of transcendental empiricism, while also showing its relevance and applicability to the speculative turn. Beginning with Johann Gottfried Herder, I will discuss an alternative to Kantianism, a philosophy which takes feeling and sensation seriously. This will ground a position I term “non-cognitive philosophy,” a methodology in opposition to many of the neo-rationalists associated with or related to speculative realism (Badiou, Meillassoux). Non-cognitive philosophy refuses to reduce the world to concepts, language, human minds, or rationality. Instead, it is a methodology aimed at showing the multiplicity of things, affirming that a thing is not reducible to any single variety of access (cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, causal, logical, relational, etc, etc.). This tradition continues prominently in the work of Alfred North Whitehead and his attempt to construct a “critique of pure feeling” in contrast to the Kantian and Idealist traditions. In addition, Whitehead provides a non-anthropocentric metaphysics, with feeling no longer being tied to flesh and nerves, but understood as an attribute of being. The paper will conclude by turning to Michel Serres, whose work has gone seemingly unnoticed by the speculative realist movement. Serres should be a central figure for the “aesthetic turn” both for his metaphysics of communication and his study of bodily sensation as an alternative to epistemology. This tradition, which is founded on the principle of “feeling as first philosophy,” will prove to be an important, though untapped, aspect of the speculative turn.
Bio: Michael Austin is a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Canada. He is a founding member of the Schelling Society of North America, a member of the editorial team for Speculations: Journal of Speculative Realism, as well as guest editor for Analecta Hermeneutica Vol. 3: Transcendence and Immanence. He has published numerous articles on Schelling, Badiou, Deleuze, Lacan, as well as speculative realism, and has lectured on contemporary philosophy and psychoanalytic theory. His current work is focused on the concept of structure as found in 20th century French philosophy, particularly as it relates metaphysically to the later works of Jacques Lacan.

Boshears, Paul
Talk: "Marina Abramović: What Is Present when the Artist Is Absent?"
Abstract: While her video The Kitchen I, Homage to Saint Therese (2009)—which features Marina Abramović floating before a bright window inside a dingy kitchen—could be pointed to as evidence of a transcendental metaphysical or mystical concern within Abramovic’s oeuvre, I think this otherworldly lens is limiting in discussions of the video work The Kitchen V, Carrying the Milk (2009). I suggest that this piece is more generously viewed through the lens of the Object-Oriented Ontology branch of the family tree called Speculative Realism. Abramović’s Carrying the Milk depicts the artist remaining very still while holding a saucer of milk, which contrasts sumptuously with her black dress. As the video progresses, the viewer sees that the milk is anything but still: it undulates and careens across the border of its container. If a vessel is defined by its ability to hold material, then the milk and its meniscus challenge our understanding of that relationship. Upon first consideration, the milk appears to be still, and it is Abramović who is causing the milk to sway and spill. One could argue that, regardless of the artist’s intention to hold still, her body will have a resting tremble—that is, the natural flexing and relaxing of her muscles will produce these oscillations in what should be perfectly still, inert matter. This perspective holds that there is the intentionality of one’s mind, that there is the physicality of one’s body, and that there is life which is lived in the tension between these two poles. But drawing on Object-Oriented Ontology, we begin to sense that bodies are never still, and that matter is anything but inert—indeed, that it is vibrant and thrumming. Carrying the Milk challenges the viewer to reexamine the conceit that the “world out there” is composed of dumb matter.
Bio: Paul Boshears is an Atlanta-based curator and PhD candidate at the Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinäre Studien (the European Graduate School) in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He has studied with Jacques Rancière, Judith Butler, Brian Holmes, and Giorgio Agamben. His research and studies have been conducted in East Asia, West Africa, Europe, North America, and the Deep South. Paul is Co-Editor of the journal continent. and sits on the editorial board for Burnaway. Working at the intersection of aesthetics and politics, Boshears's works have appeared in high-impact scholarly journals across diverse disciplines as well as arts publications, including several national and international design awards.

Derungs, Walter
Artist at Art Event
Bio: Walter Derungs is an artist from Basel. His photographic work negotiates snapshots of the everyday in public spaces. His work often focuses on nightly places without human presence, concrete vistas, house entrances, and labyrinthine staircases. Derung's focus on objects and his reductionist, conceptual approach to art closely links up with speculative realism's philosophical concerns, especially in his persistent inquiry into things themselves and his opening up of spheres of reality that are independent of human beings.

Gansen, Moritz
Talk: Cosmic Dreams: The Ecological Aesthetics of dOCUMENTA (13)
Abstract: In a recent interview, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13), has formulated her hope that a visit to the show would change the way people dream, that it would infuse them with 'strange dreams.' But strange dreams of what kind? Cosmic dreams, we might say, dreams of different worlds, intensive experiential and experimental constituents of a politics of 'matter, material, and form'. We can hence, although Christov-Bakargiev and her collaborators profess that there is no single concept guiding their exhibition, easily diagnose a ubiquity of 'cosmic dust'; the cosmic is doubtless one of its most important themes and problematics. Overall, the current edition of documenta proposes a plurality of investigations into the different operations of consistency that shape a cosmos, or rather cosmoi, from forces and molecular matters. In a related sense, although within a very different canon and aesthetics, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, from whose deterritorialized history of art I borrow these terms, evoke the figure of a 'cosmic artisan', a post-artist whose task is the opening of a cosmos by means of the modulation and contraction of forces and materials. For dOCUMENTA (13), such cosmic artisans are the protagonists of an aesthetics for the twenty-first century, an aesthetics that is fundamentally ecological: it concerns the ways in which communities of humans and nonhumans, animate as well as inanimate, are assembled and interact. Hence it is once again the practice of being and becoming that presents the problem of art. Artistic experimentation is seen as producing infinitesimal events, things, as Bruno Latour might say, which challenge and disrupt given forms of knowledge, including the very criteria for the disciplinary identification of art as such. The new aesthetics is not an aesthetics of art - it is thoroughly transdisciplinary. Its sceptical gesture emancipates the movement of thought and allows for the emergence of new powers of speculation: as Christov-Bakargiev and her Head of Department Chus Martínez repeatedly emphasize, the art of dOCUMENTA (13) is ultimately to allow an abundance of locally consistent worlds to cascade from sheer incompleteness. As this paper will show, such is the art of cosmic dreaming.
Bio: Moritz Gansen studied English, philosophy, and sociology at the University of Freiburg and Goldsmiths, University of London. He is currently a postgraduate student in philosophy at Kingston University and the Free University Berlin. His research interests include Deleuze, Hegel and his reception in France, psychoanalysis, aesthetics and its relation to politics, and the relationship between literature and philosophy.

Gokey, Thomas
Talk: "Strategic Invisibility: The Zero Point of Modernism and the Avant-Garde"
Abstract: In this paper I follow modern painting and the avant-garde as they pass through what Malevich called “the zero point,” an impasse that is less of an aporia than a portal to a new and stranger world. The formula for modernism was to purify each medium (Greenberg) but when painting reached a state of purity beyond which it could not go, it disappeared underground only to pop up in strange non-painterly forms. I explore Stephen Melville’s exhibition As Painting to examine the way painting developed the semi-autonomous ability to nominate other objects as paintings. The avant-garde reached a similar impasse. A 1913 note written by Duchamp sums up the formula of the avant-garde: “Speculations. Can one make works which are not works of ‘art’?" The logic of the avant-garde was to make art outside the current definition of art, but when Duchamp abandoned painting for the readymade, suddenly any object could become art simply by being perceived as such by a human consciousness. Focusing on Duchamp’s readymades, Alan Kaprow’s happenings, and the Fluxus artworks of Ben Vautier, I attempt to show that there is ultimately an inviolable boundary between art and life. If every difference makes a difference (Bryant’s Ontic Principle) then one of the differences that human consciousness makes is the difference between “art” and “life.” I will argue that it is this very impasse which caused Duchamp to abandon art-making for chess and to eventually develop what he called “strategic invisibility,” a way of making art that was intended to escape human consciousness altogether. Strategic invisibility takes Duchamp’s “pictorial nominalism” (Thierry De Duve) to its logical extreme. A strategically invisible artwork can never be recognized as such by a human and can only be nominated as art by another strategically invisible artwork.
Bio: Thomas Gokey is a visual artist who has exhibited widely, including shows at the Galapagos Art Space, Eyebeam (as a part of Joanna Spitzner’s project The Creative Class), the Everson Museum of Art, and the University of Texas, San Marco. He teaches art at Syracuse University, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Foundations. Currently he is a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and has an MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also co-edits and designs Speculations: A Journal of Speculative Realism.

Halsall, Francis
Talk: "Aesthetics as 1st Philosophy in Graham Harman’s Speculative Metaphysics"
Abstract: Using specific examples from contemporary art practice, this paper thinks through Graham Harman’s claim that "aesthetics may be a branch of metaphysics." Two of the most seductive yet troublesome claims that Harman has made on behalf of Speculative Realism/Object Orientated Philosophy are: (i) "The default state of reality is that I am protected by firewalls from the objects lying outside me." And (ii): "Intentionality is not a special human property at all, but an ontological feature of objects in general." These related claims are seductive because they promise a way out of those philosophical trajectories (in both the continental and analytic traditions) that lead away from the world and toward forms of transcendental idealism that bracket "any deeper reality out of existence." Yet they are problematic for precisely the same reasons; that is, whilst gesturing toward reality, Speculative Realism, by accepting that the world withdraws into a shadowy and weird realm beyond human thinking, simultaneously seems to deny human access to a domain of reality where objects reside. Harman’s argument thus appears to undermine philosophical attempts to provide knowledge of a mind-independent reality. Reality might be there, but it can’t be fully known through the operations of human thought. If Harman is right that "all human relations to objects strip them of their inner depth, revealing only some of their qualities to view," then we face the problem of how to think beyond the context of human relations to the world into which we find ourselves flung. Husserl’s epoché was just such an attempt and Harman argues that, "the great breakthrough of phenomenology," namely Husserl’s call to get back to the things themselves, "would have been impossible without suspending natural objects from consideration." However, as Merleau-Ponty argued, the phenomenological reduction is difficult if not impossible to achieve. My argument is that aesthetic experience provides the opportunity for such bracketing. Using specific examples of contemporary art by Martin Creed and Liam Gillick, I argue that it is precisely in the strangeness and oddness of the experience of art as art that our natural attitudes toward the object of reflection are suspended. Works of art, when they succeed, present instances when ‘natural’ assumptions about the world can no longer be taken for granted. In aesthetic experience, certain aspects of everyday experience are suspended and the object withdraws from us to become an inscrutable and open aesthetic form. Thus art can also be a form of thinking, and art practice forms another branch of what Harman calls a ‘Guerilla Metaphysics’ orientated toward the occult strangeness of the world and its objects.
Bio: Francis Halsall is Lecturer in the History/Theory of Modern & Contemporary Art at National College of Art and Design, Dublin where is Co-Director of the MA Art in the Contemporary World. He has a MA and PhD in Art History (on systems aesthetics and art after modernism) from Glasgow University and is completing a PhD in Philosophy (on Niklas Luhmann’s aesthetics) at the University College Dublin. Recent representative publications include the books Systems of Art, (2008) (foreword Prof. Kitty Zijlmans), Rediscovering Aesthetics, (ed. with Julia Jansen & Tony O'Connor; Stanford University Press, 2009), and Aesthetic Practices and Critical Communities: Art, Politics, Friendship (ed. with Julia Jansen and Sinead Murphy; Springer, 2012); and the articles "Chaos, Fractals and the Pedagogical Challenge of Jackson Pollock’s 'All-Over' Paintings," (The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 2009), "Strategic Amnesia" (The Irish Review, 2008), and "Niklas Luhmann" (in Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers, ed. Costello & Vickery, Berg, 2007).

Harman, Graham
Talk: "The Next Avant-Garde"
Abstract: The concept of the avant garde has already attracted a number of serious theorists – Clement Greenberg, Renato Poggioli, and Peter Bürger come to mind. Yet none of these authors was primarily a philosopher, and hence their concept of the avant garde had a cultural or historical basis rather than an ontological one. This talk attempts to provide an ontological justification for the avant garde, and for its indefinite continuation, if in modified form. After considering possible defenses of the avant garde that might be drawn from Heidegger, McLuhan, and Badiou, the lecture ends with a rather different account of the problem, as well as speculation on possible avant gardes in a number of fields.
Bio: Graham Harman is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Provost for Research Administration at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. His most recent books are The Quadruple Object (Zero, 2011), Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2011), and [with Bruno Latour and Peter Erdélyi] The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE (Zero, 2011).

Hayles, N. Katherine
Talk: "Speculative Aesthetics"
Abstract: Philosophically diverse, speculative realism nevertheless has some core ideas. Central among these is a “flat ontology,” a view of being that renounces the privilege of anthropocentrism and seeks to understand the world without taking the human viewpoint as a primary ground, whether through renouncing correlationism (Quentin Meillassoux), developing an object-oriented philosophy (Graham Harman, Ian Bogost, Nathan Brown), or other strategies. Speculative realism therefore has affinities with similar moves within theoretical feminism to seek a philosophical ground for understanding nonhuman others, as Patricia Clough has argued. In these contexts, speculative aesthetics may be understood in at least two senses: as the aesthetics inhering in the discourses of speculative realism (the rhetorical and performative), or as a philosophy of aesthetics emerging from the arguments of speculative realism (the argumentative and philosophical). The attempt to move beyond the confines of a human perspective may accordingly take two contrary forms: breaking open the human perspective to a chaotic, nonhuman cosmos (allied with the argumentative), or going beyond the human perspective by using it as an empathic springboard to understand the nonhuman other (allied with the performative). These two strategies, while often present together in many of the canonical texts of speculative realism, are conceptually distinct and strategically very different. Attempting to move from speculative realism to speculative aesthetics highlights the tensions between them; speculative aesthetics may therefore be used to stage their juxtaposition as a confrontation rather than a reflexive unity.  Taking as my tutor texts Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia and Vilém Flusser’s Brazilian Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, I will explore in this talk the implications of a performative breaking-open that transforms the human into the inorganic, versus an empathic reaching-toward that reveals the porosity of the boundaries between the human and living nonhuman.
Bio: N. Katherine Hayles is Professor in the Literature Program at Duke University. She has a background in Chemistry (MS) and English (PhD); she worked as chemical research consultant before shifting fields to English Literature. Her interests include digital humanities; electronic literature; literature, science and technology; science fiction; and critical theory. Hayles is the author of numerous books, including How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics (1999), for which she won the René Wellek Prize. Her most recent publications are Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary (2008), a primer of electronic literature; My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts (2005); Nanoculture: Implications of the New Technoscience (ed.) (2004). Hayles has won numerous prestigious awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Residential Fellowship, and two Presidential Research Fellowships from the University of California.

Jackson, Robert
Talk: "Actor Recursion Theory (ART): Procedure and Presentness"
Abstract: “The view that machines cannot give rise to surprises is due, I believe, to a fallacy to which philosophers and mathematicians are particularly subject. This is the assumption that as soon as a fact is presented to a mind, all consequences of that fact spring into the mind simultaneously with it. It is a very useful assumption under many circumstances, but one too easily forgets that it is false” (Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”). Any discourse surrounding the implementation of computing into art theory is met with either humanist derision ('the reflection of art in the mind exists at an uncomputable limit') post-humanist progressive ambition ('there are no limits to fusing mind, art, and computation'), or a clash of agencies ('the agency of computing has transformed cultural intelligence'). In most cases, calculating rules and procedures are only considered within the parameters of cultural derision or expansion. But is there any form of aesthetic deliberation given to automated recursion on which procedural machinery is based? The problem here, as with most cognitive endeavours, is that human intelligence itself has set the - numbingly high - benchmark for meaningful aesthetic relationships that judge whether the output of a machine is capable of being intelligent, or whether the opposite is true; a machine is relegated to automating procedures, the consequences of which are without intelligence. But concomitant with the discovery of computation itself, Alan Turing originally speculated on the surprising, anti-reductionist nature of mechanisms. For him, it was fundamental that even if one understood or knew the programmed rules beforehand, one still discovered surprising results when the procedure was executed in the present. This view makes it clear that there is more to the role of computation within aesthetics than automating/perturbing human behaviour, demonstrating proofs, or performing tasks more efficiently. This paper will suggest that the very act of mechanical execution is, in itself, aesthetic in so far as it attains an unpredictable, necessary acting of (art)work; the continued execution of which may remain a surprise even if it is determinate. The philosophical importance of this claim cannot be overstated: in alignment with the object-oriented ontology approach that supports the existence of individual units, Turing's anti-reductionism reveals the paradoxical capacity of computation to ruin any obligatory choice between pure automation and construction, as it emphasizes the presentness of both.
Bio: Robert Jackson is an MPhil/PhD student at the University of Plymouth, an artist and a software developer working in the UK. Currently entitled "Algorithm and Contingency," his research incorporates Computational Algorithmic Artworks, Art Formalism and Speculative Realist Philosophy, identifying an occluded history of computer art which operates as configurable units of individual necessity rather than networked systems of situational contingency. His research proposes the idea that discrete artworks attain independent autonomy themselves, which renders them capable of experiencing a formal, non-human variance of aesthetic sophistication rather than being relegated to aesthetic tools for human communication. Robert is also an associate editor of the independent philosophical journal Speculations; a graduate student run, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to speculative realist philosophy. He also writes for on the relationships between philosophy and digital art. He blogs regularly on speculative realism and art on his website Algorithm and Contingency.

Jelača, Matija
Talk: "Sellars Contra Deleuze on Sensation, Knowledge and Aesthetics"

Abstract: With regards to Kant's path-breaking conception of knowledge as a necessary synthesis of sensible intuitions and concepts of the understanding, Gilles Deleuze's and Wilfrid Sellars' respective philosophical projects can be interpreted as two opposite ways of pursuing this basic Kantian idea. On the one hand, for Deleuze, the adventure of thinking always begins with an encounter with the sentiendum, or that which can only be sensed, and the task before us is to create the concept appropriate to the singularity of that encounter. Of course, the concept in question cannot be the Kantian concept of the understanding, which is by definition too general for the job. Therefore, the main task for philosophy is to formulate an account of this other kind of concept formation, or of this other kind of knowledge, "a knowledge that science hides from us" (Deleuze). Contrasting the arts to the sciences, Deleuze claims that philosophy should turn to artistic practice and aesthetic experience as its main models of attaining this other knowledge. On the other hand, Sellars’ critique of the myth of the given consists in denying to non-propositional items (such as sense data) any kind of foundational role in the constitution of knowledge. According to Sellars, to know something is to place it in "the logical space of reasons," i.e., to "be able to justify what one says." Therefore, it is imperative not to confuse the space of causes (the natural domain) with the logical space of reasons (the normative domain). The main task for philosophy today consists in an attempt to integrate the two seemingly opposed images of "man-in-the-world": the scientific image, which deals with the natural order, and the manifest image, which deals with the normative order. The aim of this talk is threefold. First, to confront Deleuze’s and Sellars’ respective accounts of sensation and its function in the formation of knowledge. Second, to determine the precise role that art in general, and aesthetic experience in particular play in Deleuze’s philosophical system as elaborated in Difference and Repetition. Third and final, to contrapose to this Deleuzian aesthetics an exploration of the possibility of a post-Sellarsian theory of art and aesthetic experience.
Bio: I am a teaching and research assistant at the Humanities Department of Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, and a PhD student at the Comparative Literature Department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. The subject of my dissertation is the confrontation of Gilles Deleuze's and Wilfrid Sellars’ respective philosophies with regards to the question of sensibility and aesthetics. I’ve presented talks on Speculative Realism and aesthetics (in Croatia), published texts on Deleuze and Speculative Realism (also in Croatian), and edited the first introductory collection of texts about Speculative Realism to appear in the Croatian language (containing pieces by Ray Brassier, Quentin Meillassoux, Peter Hallward and Graham Harman; published in Quorum, Vols. 5-6, 2010)

Leiber, Theodor
Talk (with Kirsten Claudia Voigt): "Beauty, the Will to Power and Life as Artwork: The Aesthetico-Speculative Realism in Nietzsche and Whitehead"
Abstract: Etymologically, "speculatio" (from Latin) means: "careful observation from an elevated place." In that sense, speculative philosophy – or "descriptive generalisation" – moves forward under the "perspective of the whole," which is methodically (and unavoidably) excluded by the special sciences. It will be shown that this is true for Whitehead and Nietzsche and, more specifically, that their philosophies are "elevated against" the following: the doctrine of "reality without qualities"; the trust in the power of language ("normal" and logic) for giving adequate expression to feelings and thoughts; the (ontological) distinction of subject and object; the sensualistic conception of perception (e.g., assuming an atomistic structure of the sensible "outside world"); naïve scientific realism (i.e., mistaking scientific abstractions for comprehensive descriptions and explanations of reality as such); giving everyday experience and the lifeworld no distinct "place of their own" in relation to the scientific perspective; and, above all, conceiving aesthetics as merely regulative, and not constitutive for judging and evaluating. Furthermore, it will be argued that the aforementioned "elements of speculative elevation" imply interpretationally rich concepts of beauty, artwork, and human life as a whole. For instance, according to Whitehead, the ultimate and only aim of the (development of the) world is beauty and harmony – i.e., maximizing individual experiential intensity while minimizing the hindrance of other individual entities' intensities. In a similar vein, Nietzsche argues that the only justification of human existence – in the sense of self-design on the basis of the "will(s) to power," and not just self-conservation – is the aesthetic one. Our analysis will also show that the two systematically non-systematic thinkers differ in some important respects which are relevant to the concepts of culture and civilization. Especially, “harmony,” a companion piece to Whitehead's important "force" (which counterbalances the ubiquitous striving for intensity) seems to be missing in Nietzsche's conception of the will(s) to power.
Bio: Prof. Dr. Dr. Theodor Leiber was born in 1959, studied physics and philosophy in Ulm and Augsburg; 1989 Dr. rer. nat. in theoretical physics at the University of Ulm, 1993 Dr. phil. and 1999 habilitation in philosophy at the University of Augsburg, since 2007 associate professor for philosophy in Augsburg. He teaches at the University of Augsburg and the Technical University of Munich. He has published four monographs, an anthology, and over 50 articles. Recently, he completed two articles on Whitehead and the neuro-sciences (published in 2011) and Whitehead's systemic interdisciplinarity.

Minder, Oliver
Artist at Art Event
Bio: Oliver Minder is an artist from Basel. His work explores the relation between humans and nature, creating juxtapositions rather than harmonious connections. In its focus on the materials and the materiality of nature, Minder's work closely intersects with the emerging philosophical-aesthetic interest in objects and materiality.

Moghaddam, Vijak Haddadi
Talk: "The Dictatorship of Art – the Symbolic Absolute in Meese, Meillassoux and Schelling"
Abstract: I propose to present a speculative reading of the work of Jonathan Meese – one of the most exciting and radical contemporary artists – by confronting it with the speculative philosophy of the Absolute in Schelling and Meillassoux. Producing a post-Meillassouxian reading of Schelling, I will show how Schelling’s 'universal symbolics' (in which the facticity of art and mythology are the objective reality of the Absolute) not only explodes correlationist encapsulation in reflexivity (being directed chiefly against Hegel’s absolutisation of reflexivity and thus of correlation) but also crucially allows for the conception of a Symbolic Absolute. Reading Schelling with Meillassoux, we can discern the unground or abysmal foundation of reality in Schelling as the ‘primary’ or Chaotic Absolute, and yet, as I will demonstrate, following Schelling against Meillassoux, we can replace Meillassoux’ own transition to the ‘secondary’ Absolute of pure mathematical extension, by a transition to a Symbolic Absolute of infinite physico-poetic semiosis. Thus suggesting an alternative trajectory of modern philosophy, Meillassoux’ Cartesian Absolute is replaced with Schelling’s Brunonian Absolute, which, in the controversy surrounding Giordano Bruno, has already partially been the object of debate between Grant and Harman. Based on this philosophical construction, I will engage the work of Jonathan Meese, which in its visual and performative presentations, as well as in the artist's extensive meta-practical writings, has advanced a number of striking propositions. Meese’s challenging of subjectivisms of all kinds (‘self-realisation’); his insistence on the non-human and universal reality of art and of the metabolic; his opposition of art (as independently real) to culture (as socially constructed); and his messianic notion of the Dictatorship of Art will all be interrogated and philosophically articulated as a powerful aesthetic exploration of the speculative reality of the Symbolic Absolute. My presentation will also feature a short video demonstration of Meese’s work.
Bio: I am a (German-Iranian) PhD student in philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) at Kingston University London. I have previously studied economics, international relations and philosophy in Berlin, London, and Manchester, pursuing research on the nature of chaos and complex systems in these diverse fields. Currently, I am spending  a year at CRMEP’s partner institute Paris VIII Vincennes. My PhD thesis takes the problematic conjunction of Chaos and System in Schelling as a vantage point from which to problematize post-Kantian philosophy. I have previously presented at philosophy, cybernetics, and systems sciences conferences in Germany, the UK, and the US.

Penas López, Miguel
Talk: "Is there a Place for Simondon’s Philosophy in Speculative Realism?"
Abstract: In Graham Harman's object-oriented version of Speculative Realism, Simondon's ontogenetical approach is rejected as a philosophy in which objects are undermined. In this talk, I will try to show two things: firstly, that both Simondon's philosophy and object-oriented ontology face the same question, namely, how can we explain the very individuality of objects?; secondly, that the rejection of Simondon's relational ontology, in which individuality of objects is explained in terms of preindividual reality and individuation, is due to a confusion between internal and external relations. The concept of preindividual reality is a speculative hypothesis that needs to be rigorously articulated, and we do not find this thoroughness in Simondon's own explanation. It is a reality, as Simondon says, in which several orders of magnitude remain without communication. This diversity has a capacity of transformation, i.e., a potential. The appearance of an individual or object, the result of a process of individuation, consists in the communication of these disparate orders of magnitude: it is the meeting of a compatibility between them. The individual exists to the extent that it gives signification to what until then was only disparity. I defend we can find a compatibility between object-oriented ontology and Simondon's philosophy through this question: can objects be considered as preindividual reality? I claim that they can be, and that this is possible only if we adopt an ontogenetic and relational approach. Encounters, relations between objects, are the sources of individuation processes. The result of these processes, a new object, is not reduced to its external relations with other objects. Instead, it is seen as made of internal relations. Thus, internal relations are both the source of becoming and the being of objects. If we focus only on objects, and not on relations between them, we can't explain the origin of objects and their individuality. Within objects, we find relations between objects that gave rise to processes of individuation by which objects come into existence.
Bio: I got my M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Santiago de Compostela and my B.A. in Contemporary Philosophy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona with a thesis on the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. I am currently doing a PhD in Philosophy under the direction of Jesús Hernández Reynés (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and Pierre Montebello (University of Toulouse II-Le Mirail). My research is focused on the processual and relational ontology developed by French philosopher Gilbert Simondon. Specifically, I am interested in the possiblity of bridging the gap between physics and biology through the encounter between Simondon's ontology and scientific research in complex systems and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. I am also interested in the current movement of Speculative Realism and the embodied and enactive paradigm of cognitive sciences. I explore the relations that can be established between these fields and Simondon's philosophy.

Richter, Virginia
Talk: "Darwinism and Aesthetics in the 21st Century"
Abstract: In recent years, Charles Darwin’s writings have gained a progressively prominent role in theory formation outside classical Darwinian fields such as biology, zoology, and biogeography as well as the history of science. If in the 1980s and 1990s, scholars in cultural and literary studies (e.g. Gillian Beer, George Levine) were primarily interested in Darwin’s major evolutionary works – On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man –, today this interest has shifted toward his studies on visual culture, art, and aesthetics such as The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Since the turn of the century, various studies on Darwin’s theory have been published by art historians and theorists of aesthetics, most recently Wozu Kunst? Ästhetik nach Darwin by Winfried Menninghaus (October 2011). This shift seems to correspond in many ways to the turn toward a speculative realist framework in aesthetic philosophy. Darwinian aesthetics similarly imply a move beyond anthropocentrism, a focus on the unpredictable event and the primacy of the sensual encounter. While there is much common ground between these two approaches to aesthetics, so far, the similarities and differences have not been systematically explored. In my paper, I look at rhetorical strategies and tropes employed in selected studies on Darwinian aesthetics to consider their possible bearing on speculative realism. However, my stance is explicitly that of a literary scholar. In consequence, I am particularly interested in the use – and, possibly, abuse – of literature within such approaches, for example, in the selection of literary examples, the discussion of genres, and the valorization of readerly experience.
Bio: Virginia Richter is Full Professor of English Literature at the University of Berne (since 2007). She studied English Literature, Comparative Literature, and German Literature at the University of Munich and completed her doctoral dissertation as a fellow of the graduate school Literatur und Geschlechterdifferenz. She was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Kent at Canterbury and the University of Leeds, and a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Munich and Göttingen. Her research interests include Darwinism, literature and science, literary representations of animals, and the beach as a semiotic, cultural, and ecological space. Recent publications include Literature after Darwin. Human Beasts in Western Fiction 1859-1939 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Poetische Gerechtigkeit (ed. with Sebastian Donat, Roger Lüdeke, and Stephan Packard, Düsseldorf: Düsseldorf University Press, forthcoming); “‘I cannot endure to read a line of poetry’: The Text and the Empirical in Literary Studies” (Journal of Literary Theory 3.3 (2009): 375-386).

Shaviro, Steven
Talk: Non-Phenomenological Aesthetics
What I call here a non-phenomenological aesthetics should be understood by analogy to non-Euclidean geometries. (I am not sufficiently acquainted with the work of François Laruelle to be able to propose a more general outline of what he might well call "non-phenomenology). I take my cues for the development of a non-phenomenological aesthetics from certain underappreciated aspects of Kant and of Deleuze, from Whitehead, and from recent discussions of speculative realism.
Deleuze suggests that the limits of Kant's own thought are reached in the "wrenching duality" between Kant's two uses of the notion of aesthetics. On the one hand, there is the Transcendental Aesthetic in the First Critique, which concerns the genesis of space and time as basic forms of sensibility. On the other hand, there is the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, constituting the first half of the Third Critique. What unites these two notions of aesthetics is that they are both non-cognitive or pre-cognitive. What separates them, however, is that the first gives general conditions of experience without explaining their genesis, while the second affirms singularities of experience, while generalizing them too restrictively under the form of judgment. The polarization between these two senses of aesthetics leads, in the 19th century, to what Deleuze describes as the "crisis" of a "duality of image and movement, of consciousness and thing." At the turn from the 19th to the 20th century, Deleuze says, two efforts were made "to overcome this duality," by "two very different authors": Bergson and Husserl. "Each had his own war cry: all consciousness is consciousness of something (Husserl), or more strongly, all consciousness is something" (Bergson).
The first of these solutions leads to a phenomenological aesthetics: one that is concerned with sensible experience "as an embodied and meaningful existential activity" (Vivian Sobchack). Phenomenological criticism not only works to overcome the duality of Kant's two senses of aesthetics; it also effectively counters the excessively formalist and cognitivist tendencies both of much 20th-century modernism and avant-gardism, and of late-twentieth century structuralist approaches to aesthetics. It returns aesthetics from conceptual and epistemological concerns back to the lived reality of the flesh. However, the price that phenomenological aesthetics pays for these achievements is to remain embedded within what we have come to know as correlationalism: "the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other" (Quentin Meillassoux).
Many speculative realist thinkers (e.g. Meillassoux and Brassier) have sought to step outside of the correlationalist circle by positing one or another notion of being without thought. This means throwing out sensibility and carnality altogether; aesthetics becomes marginal, irrelevant, or flat out impossible. As an alternative to this, I would like to suggest the possibility of constructing a non-correlationist aesthetics by returning to Kant's initial duality, and resolving it in the non-phenomenological manner that Deleuze draws from Bergson: "all thought is something." This means developing a notion of thought that is pre-cognitive (involving "feeling" rather than articulated judgments) and non-intentional (not directed towards an object with which it would be correlated). As Deleuze puts it elsewhere, "consciousness ceases to be a light cast upon objects in order to become a pure phosphorescence of things in themselves." Such a non-phenomenological (but also non-intellectual) image of thought can be composed on the basis of Whitehead's notion of prehension as an alternative to Husserlian intentionality. Such a thought is nonreflexive, probably nonconscious, and even "autistic"; it is not correlative to being, but immanently intrinsic within it. This new image of thought provides the basis for an aesthetics that meets both sides of Kant's definition: it is a form of primordial sensibility that is at the same time entirely singular. Graham Harman has argued that aesthetics should be regarded as "first philosophy"; I agree with this stipulation, although the sort of aesthetics that I propose is quite different from Harman's.
: Steven Shaviro is the DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of The Cinematic Body (1993), Doom Patrols: A Theoretical Fiction About Postmodernism (1997), Connected, Or, What It Means To Live in the Network Society (2003), Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics (2009), and Post-Cinematic Affect (2010). He blogs at The Pinocchio Theory.

Simanowski, Roberto
Talk: "Speculative Realism in Contemporary Art? Examples of the Mathematical Turn in Aesthetics"
Abstract: The 21st Century witnesses a return to realism not only in continental philosophy but also in contemporary aesthetics. The first step of such a return may be seen in the performative turn away from hermeneutics and semiotics toward the materiality of objects and the phenomenology of events, as proposed by the German scholars Erika Fischer-Lichte, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, and Dieter Mersch. The second step is what might be called the mathematical turn away from concepts and explanations towards data and numbers. While the performative turn starts as early as with performance art in the 1960s, the mathematical turn mainly results from and takes place in digital media. It is the reduction of language to binary code at the operational level of digital media that allows bypassing language on the interface and mechanically comparing, combining, connecting any data given in digital media. As Lev Manovich declares in his seminal book The Language of New Media (2001), database and narrative are competing for the same territory of human culture, each claiming an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world. According to Manovich, after the "end of grand Narratives" the database is the "new symbolic form of a computer age." While the narrative is affected by individual/cultural concepts, the database "represents the world as a list of items, and it refuses to order this list." Though data too are accumulated according to certain criteria, or "a priori categories" respectively, the presentation of indexical data independent of narrative and thought aim at a fundamental shift of what Meillassoux calls "correlationism" by moving the human factor from the artist to the audience, i.e., from the provider to the perceiver of the data accumulated. Such a positivistic approach to reality is reminiscent of earlier aesthetic movements such as Naturalismus in German and French literature around 1870 (an attempt of asubjective speaking proposed as "mathematical aesthetic") and Neue Sachlichkeit in the 1920s (focused on the indexical modus operandi of photography). This paper explores three examples of such a numerical, positivistic turn in contemporary art and culture. The Secret Lives of Numbers by Golan Levin (2002) makes numbers themselves the subject and turns them into the hero of a new narrative by ranking them according to their statistically determined popularity on the internet. Nicholas Felton’s Annual Report (2005ff.) bases the recount of Felton’s life on the counting of his everyday action (how many books read; how many miles driven, biked, walked; how many pictures taken; how many glasses of beer consumed from how many countries, etc.), thus insinuating an non-subjective access to the reality of his own life. The new Facebook-feature Timeline exceeds such (re)counting towards the entire Facebook-community promising the database-driven narrative of persons’ lives independent of these persons’ or any other person’s narrative conceptualizations. This paper discusses to what extent such cultural artifacts and concepts can be seen in relation to the philosophical questions Speculative Realism is tackling.
Bio: Roberto Simanowski holds a Ph.D. in literary studies and a venia legendi in media studies. He was a research fellow at the University of Göttingen, Harvard University, and the University of Washington, guest professor for media studies at the University of Jena, and professor for German studies at Brown University. Since 2010, he has been professor for media studies at the University of Basel. Simanowski has authored a book on mass culture around 1800 and edited a book on cultural boundaries as well as a book on the literary salon. He is the founder and editor of, the editor of three books on digital literature, and the author of four books on digital arts and online culture. Among his publications in English are Reading Moving Letters: Digital Literature in Research and Teaching: A Handbook (co-edited, Transcript 2010); Digital Art and Meaning: Reading Kinetic Poetry, Text Machines, Mapping Art, and Interactive Installations (University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

Tuinen, Sjoerd van
Talk: "Idea and Maniera: Bergson and Deleuze on Mannerist Diagrams"
Abstract: Mannerists like Michelangelo, Vasari, Danti, Lomazzo, and Zuccaro were the first in Western art history to explicitly reflect not only on the executional stage of the work of art, but also on its conceptual stage and on the coordination of the two stages. According to humanist interpretations of their writings, first inspired by Burckhardt and then ratified by Panofsky, what unites the eye of the artistic genius and the hand of the skilled craftsman is the paradoxical conjunction of idea and mimesis, i.e., artistic freedom and rules of imitation. Mannerism would thus mark the beginning of a reflection on the conditions of possibility of artistic creativity in general that was to culminate in the (neo-)Kantian cult of artistic genius. Bergson and Deleuze, by contrast, have criticized this idealist interpretation for reducing the real to a resemblance of the possible, and the possible to a limitation of the real. For them, the idea is a ‘manual diagram,’ different from, yet intuitively present in the texture of sensation-matter. It is not what the artist is the author of, but the set of asignifying and nonrepresentative marks and traits which he puts to work and on which he relies and speculates. In this way, Bergson and Deleuze give us the means for a materialist or pragmatist account of the creative act, and consequentially also of the genesis of art history, in which the relation between model and copy is reversed. Being both unformed chaos and immanent condition of the new, the idea is inseparable from the quasi-causal presence of a hand (maniera, mano) that gives it a practical consistency. When taken in their complex unity, I demonstrate how the concepts of idea and manner (analogous to those of difference and repetition, or matter and spirit) allow for a speculative re-reading of 16th century art theory and practice.
Bio: Sjoerd van Tuinen is Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam. In 2009, he received his PhD for a dissertation on Deleuze and Leibniz, entitled "Mannerism in Philosophy," at Ghent University. He is the editor of several books, including Deleuze and The Fold: A Critical Reader (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and has authored Sloterdijk: Binnenstebuiten denken (Kampen: Klement, 2004). He is currently preparing a book on a speculative concept of Mannerism.

Voigt, Kirsten Claudia
Talk (with Theodor Leiber): "Beauty, the Will to Power and Life as Artwork: The Aesthetico-Speculative Realism in Nietzsche and Whitehead"
Abstract: Etymologically, "speculatio" (from Latin) means: "careful observation from an elevated place." In that sense, speculative philosophy – or "descriptive generalisation" – moves forward under the "perspective of the whole," which is methodically (and unavoidably) excluded by the special sciences. It will be shown that this is true for Whitehead and Nietzsche and, more specifically, that their philosophies are "elevated against" the following: the doctrine of "reality without qualities"; the trust in the power of language ("normal" and logic) for giving adequate expression to feelings and thoughts; the (ontological) distinction of subject and object; the sensualistic conception of perception (e.g., assuming an atomistic structure of the sensible "outside world"); naïve scientific realism (i.e., mistaking scientific abstractions for comprehensive descriptions and explanations of reality as such); giving everyday experience and the lifeworld no distinct "place of their own" in relation to the scientific perspective; and, above all, conceiving aesthetics as merely regulative, and not constitutive for judging and evaluating. Furthermore, it will be argued that the aforementioned "elements of speculative elevation" imply interpretationally rich concepts of beauty, artwork, and human life as a whole. For instance, according to Whitehead, the ultimate and only aim of the (development of the) world is beauty and harmony – i.e., maximizing individual experiential intensity while minimizing the hindrance of other individual entities' intensities. In a similar vein, Nietzsche argues that the only justification of human existence – in the sense of self-design on the basis of the "will(s) to power," and not just self-conservation – is the aesthetic one. Our analysis will also show that the two systematically non-systematic thinkers differ in some important respects which are relevant to the concepts of culture and civilization. Especially, “harmony,” a companion piece to Whitehead's important "force" (which counterbalances the ubiquitous striving for intensity) seems to be missing in Nietzsche's conception of the will(s) to power.
Bio: Dr. Kirsten Claudia Voigt studied history of art, literature, and philosophy in Karlsruhe; 1996 Dr. phil. in history of art at the University of Karlsruhe (now: KIT – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) with a dissertation about Joseph Beuys, 1991-1999 journalist and head of the feuilleton in Baden-Baden, since 1999 permanent scientific employee (public relations and curator of exhibitions) at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, since 1999 she has been teaching at the institute for history of art at the KIT, she has published numerous articles in exhibition catalogues (e.g., on Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz, Tony Cragg, and Erwin Wurm). Since 1980 she has been writing and working for the SWR (Baden-Baden) and several German and Swiss newspapers (e.g., Stuttgarter Zeitung, DIE WELT, FAZ, Frankfurter Rundschau, Tagesspiegel, NZZ am Sonntag). She is currently working on the relationship between Beuys and Nietzsche.

Wisniowska, Magdalena
Talk: "Images I Cannot See: Deleuze and the Problem of Imagination"
Abstract: In one of his late essays on the work of Samuel Beckett – “The Exhausted” – Giles Deleuze offers the following definition of the image: “An image is precisely this: not a representation of an object but a movement in the world of the mind.” Therefore, the image he describes cannot be associated with the images that we see televised on our screens.  Neither can it simply be identified with the face of the woman who appears to the weary protagonist of …but the clouds….  As a movement in the world of the mind, the image is neither personal nor rational. Instead, it can be understood in a speculative realist sense, as an image without an ‘I’ – an image that is not ‘for us.’ In my paper, I will outline such a speculative understanding of the Deleuzian image, tracing this particular strain of thought back to earlier work especially Bergsonism, Difference and Repetition and Cinema I.  My paper will specifically focus on the role the concept of imagination plays within Deleuze’s formulation. Traditionally understood as the faculty that synthesises the manifold of sensory perception, I will show how Deleuze can be seen as both rejecting and borrowing from the Kantian epistemological definition. I will show how, to a certain extent, the ontology that Deleuze proposes in Difference and Repetition has its roots in Kantian critique. My paper also addresses the problems that ensue from such borrowing, questioning the validity of imagination as a category within the Deleuzian framework. Imagination is an essential faculty only when knowledge implies a necessary relation to the object – when there is a fundamental distinction between that given to the senses and that understood conceptually in thought. Why retain the faculty of imagination once this distinction is rejected?  Is there room for this faculty within an ontological understanding of the image?
Bio: Magdalena Wisniowska is an artist and writer, currently based in Munich.  After finishing her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy Schools, she completed her PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, London in 2010. In the last few years, she has divided her time between studio work and lecturing at Goldsmiths, the City and Guilds of London Art School, and the Royal Academy. She is also a founding member on InC, Continental Philosophy Research Group. Her research interests include aesthetics and the philosophy of art (specifically the work of Kant, Hegel, Adorno and Deleuze), theories of the imagination, and 20th century art.

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