Tate Britain

Speculative Tate

Speculative Aesthetics 31

Speculative Realism is a term that is used to describe an approach that attempts to consider art, politics, nature and thought beyond the confines of human finitude. The term is often ascribed both to a conference of the same name held at Goldsmiths in 2007, and a disparate set of thinkers. This centered on the work of philosophers Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant and Graham Harman.

Often referred to as a movement, Speculative Realism is perhaps best used to describe an ongoing, disparate, attempt to construct radical and emancipatory trajectories of thought, art, and political praxis. These include accelerationist politics; reconsidering the role of art and design; the disruption of human experience and access to the “real”; innovative engagement with mathematics, logic, neuroscience and technology.

These emerging positions, still in a state flux can be seen rapidly evolving on-line in heavily viewed and active discussion forums. The resultant work has been rapidly taken up in cultural theory and contemporary art and curation.

The Speculative Tate research series is a collaboration between Tate Britain and Speculative Aesthetics Research Project to explore the question “What bearing does Speculative Realism have upon aesthetics in theory and practice?”

It is an attempt to further investigate and develop the emergent field of Speculative Aesthetics, with particular attention to: the socio-historical relationship between art and design; the relationship between speculative aesthetics and design; the conceptual and pragmatic role of artistic experience; the navigational potential of aesthetics. To explore the possibility of a theory and practice no longer invested in the otherworldly promise of the aesthetic, but acknowledging the real force and traction of images in the world today.

In order to explore and represent the dynamic flux and fluidity of these contemporary discussions and introduce them to a wider audience without compromising them, this series will be in the format of open informal ‘curated’ discussion forums lead by internationally recognised leaders in the field including Ray Brassier, Mark Fisher, Steve Goodman, Toby Heys, Amy Ireland, Robin Mackay, Reza Negarastani, Luke Pendrell, Luciana Parisi, Nina Power, Patricia Reed, Benedict Singleton, Nick Srnicek Alex Williams, James Trafford and Pete Wolfendale. The last three events take place at the Late at Tate Britain and findings and works generated during the Speculative Tate discussion series will form the basis of a variety of gallery interventions curated by James Trafford and Luke Pendrell, which will be part of the May Late at Tate.

This seminar series was curated by Dr. James Trafford and Luke Pendrell.  Initiated by Adrian Shaw and is a follow up to Late at Tate: The Real Thing 2010 (Urbanomics)  

Speculative Tate is a research project developed at Tate Britain in collaboration with the Speculative Aesthetics Research Project ,a project which was initiated by Dr. James Trafford and Luke Pendrell for the consideration of open questions regarding the relation between aesthetics and new forms of realism within post-Continental philosophy (influenced by, though not limited to positions identified with 'Speculative Realism')


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