Tate Britain Talk

Haunters and the Haunted

If, as Derrida supposes, each era creates its own ghosts, we live in extraordinarily creative times. Our rational, technological world is populated with more phantoms than ever. We are paralysed in a frozen now, smothered by the massed murmurings of the past, stalked by the angry revenants of forgotten radicals and the awful twins of a future, that is at once inconceivable and yet inevitable.

In this, final, session of the current Speculative Tate seminars, we take a spectral turn to explore haunting, the figure of the ghost and hyperstitional forms of temporality. The ghost, rather than supernatural relic of a primitive age, is an increasingly prevalent aspect of the modern world. From avatars and chatbots to bump maps and page curls, the digital world is populated with a host of skeuomorphic phantoms clothed in shroud sails of the dust scratches and imperfections of lost surface patination and the process noise of unfulfilled modernism. Whether these persistent incursions are understood in religious, ontological, scientific or epistemological terms, they taunt us by flouting our schemata. Life has become an immense accumulation of ghosts. Everything that was once directly lived is now haunted by itself.

The session will consist of three short papers leaving ample time for discussion and debate.


Amy Ireland (via Skype), Anastrophic Modernism: Occult Time and the Production of Radical Novelty

Mark Fisher, Spectres of Lost Futures

Luke Pendrell: Ignis Fatuus

Suggested reading

Fredric Jameson, Marx's Purloined Letter in Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacqures Derrida's Specters of Marx, ed. Michael Sprinker, London and New York: Verso, 1999

Nick Land, Teleoplexy; in #Accelerate, eds. Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian, (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2014)

États présents: Colin Davis. Hauntology, spectres and phantoms, French Studies (July 2005) 59 (3): 373-379


Mark Fisher is the author of Capitalist Realism (2009) and Ghosts Of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (2014). His writing has appeared in many publications, including The Wire, Frieze, The Guardian and New Humanist. He is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has also produced two acclaimed audio-essays in collaboration with Justin Barton: londonunderlondon (2005) and On Vanishing Land (2013).

Amy Ireland is an experimental poet and theorist based in Sydney, Australia. She is writing a PhD on xenopoetics at the University of New South Wales, where she also teaches and lectures on Creative Writing; is co-convenor of the philosophy and aesthetics research cluster 'Aesthetics After Finitude’; and is currently engaged in various poetry projects involving sound, linguistic transcoding, 3D-printing, encryption, camouflage, and projectiles. Her research focuses on questions of agency and technology in modernity, and she is a member of the technomaterialist transfeminist collective ‘Laboria Cuboniks’. Amy has exhibited or given performances of her creative work in venues across Sydney, London, and Paris, and has brought to life numerous rogue publications and zines, some of which can be found in the National Library of Australia.

Luke Pendrell is an artist and writer based in the school of Arts & Media at the University of Brighton. His work explores the interstices of science, technology and the supernatural and has been exhibited at amongst others: The Barbican and ICA in London; MoMi in New York and Le Salle de Legion d’honneur in Paris.

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

14 January 2015 at 16.00–18.00