Tuning Speculation: Experimental Aesthetics and the Sonic Imaginary
(Deadline Extended — 15 July 2013)
A two-day conference hosted by the Department of Art and Art History at York University in Toronto from 1-2 November 2013.
Over the past few years, the term “speculation” has become something of a buzzword and has acquired a rhetorical currency that, arguably, owes much of its value to the way Speculative Realism’s agenda to emancipate thinking from a sense of indenture to its own finitude crystallizes a hazy longing in the humanities to invest in something besides the constant deployment of textual strategies and ideology critique. Indeed, a conjectural spirit can be found haunting recent work in feminism, media and animal studies, as well as certain spheres of the social and ecological sciences. However, the force of this speculative thrust has been largely directed towards advancing metaphysical models that challenge the interpretive exception of human experience such that aesthetic figurations, perhaps because the concept of the aesthetic is entangled in the very definition of human being, have been largely excluded from the game. This is lamentable because the speculative venture of the humanities shares much in common with experimental art practices where “an act the outcome of which is unknown” is not the goal but the very point of departure.
This two-day conference will therefore address the idea of a speculative aesthetics and propose ways of tuning speculation to its imaginative and experimental principle. While several approaches can address the exclusion of the aesthetic from expressions of the current speculative attitude, we propose to concentrate on the sonic arts as an initial point of entry for the reason that the sonic arts rely on a constitutive conceit and effective imaginary that claims access to a material reality which can only be conceived through a rhetoric of immersion and immediacy. In this respect, we suggest that sound art, in the widest sense of the term, pressures the conceptual disconnect between the essentially fantastic gesture that speculation is and the necessary veracity that any realism or materiality demands.
Abstracts (300-500 words) for 30-minute papers from scholars/writers/artists in any relevant field are welcome. We are especially interested in presentations that recognize the necessary intimacy between speculative theory and fiction (in the broadest sense). Please send abstracts, along with brief biographical details and contact information, to email@example.com by
15 July 2013.
Participants will be informed of acceptance by 8 July 2013.