Shift/Work: You Cannot Be Serious

  • Mulholland, Neil (Principal Investigator)
  • Brown, Dan (Co-investigator)
  • Sloan, Kate (Co-investigator)

Project Details


Shift/Work: You Cannot be Serious, a one day symposium to be hosted and financially assisted by our MoU partners Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. You Cannot be Serious invites a range of speakers to prosecute ‘serious play’ in defence of the cause of autotelism in art and design education and the broader post-disciplinary landscape of the (para)humanities. The symposium will be held in May 2017.

Demolish Serious Culture: ‘Constructive’, ’Meaningful’ or ‘Serious’ play are currently much fetishised in art and design education despite having long been Sherlocked by corporate training facilitators to self-manage neoliberal subjectivities (e.g. Johan Roos, Bart Victor at IMD in Switzerland and LEGO Group CEO Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen). In contradistinction, many procedural art practices since the 1950s have pursued ‘autotelism’: meaning-less play or “fun for fun’s sake”. For example, in the extensive Air de Jeu programme of the Pompidou Centre in the summer of 2015, the formulaic and routine were celebrated, in stark contrast to the technocratic social functionalism of ‘Serious Play’.

In the face of the neoliberal assault on higher education, the humanities and social sciences have been making a spirited defence of this avant-garde tradition that extends into more-than-human territories. David Grabber recently speculated that “there is a play principle at the basis of all physical reality” (What’s the Point if we Can’t Have Fun?, The Baffler, No.24, 2014) that correlates with Roy Ascott’s Technoetic Arts and the post-discipline of somatechnics. Meanwhile, Eileen Joy has invented a radical post-disciplinary commons “a space for the imp-orphans of your thought and pen, an ale-serving church for little vagabonds” (Punctum) that solicits investigations into “the question of play and new (not always human) forms of agential realism” (“Living (Playful) Process” Figure/Ground). You Cannot be Serious will manifest neologistic proclamations for non-utilitarian jouissance that support such post-disciplinary holism and ‘weirding’ of the para-humanties. This will have significant impact upon the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in Scottish HEIs and beyond.

The symposium will be webcasted on Bambuser with feeds running live in the ESW, ECA and sites. This will ensure the event has impact beyond the delegation meeting at ESW.
Acronymin defence of the cause of autotelism
Effective start/end date27/05/1727/05/17


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