30 years after Les Immatériaux

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Speakers: Jean-Louis Boissier (FR), Andreas Brockemann (DE), Francesca Gallo(IT), Charlie Gere(UK), Florian Hecker(DE/US), Yuk Hui (HK/DE), Robin MacKay(UK), Tim Otto Roth(DE), Anne Elisabeth Sejten(DK), Bernard Stielger(FR), Sven-Olov Wallenstein(SE)

Organisation: Yuk Hui, Andreas Broeckmann, Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana Universität

Date: Wednesday and Thursday, 21 – 22 May 2014

Venue: Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Centre for Digital Cultures, Alte Post, Sülztorstr. 21-25


Wednesday, 21 May

13:00 – 14:00 Registration

13:00 – 14:00 Film Screening: Octave au pays des Immatériaux Auteur (dir. Daniel Soutif; Paule Zajdermann; François Kotlarski)

14:00 – 14:30 Introduction (Yuk Hui, Andreas Broeckmann, CDC, Leuphana Universität)

14:30 – 15:30 Jean-Louis Boissier (Paris VIII, France): Scénographie et dramaturgie des Immatériaux (lecture in French)

15:30 – 16:00 Break

16:00 – 17:00 Charlie Gere (Lancaster University, UK): Voice, Trace and Incarnation in Relation to Les Immatériaux

17:00 – 18:00 Tim Otto Roth (Artist, Germany): Shadow of a Shadow? – A Physical Re-Orientation

18:00 – 18:30 Break

18:30 – 19:30 Bernard Stiegler (Centre Pompidou, France) Les Immatériaux are not immaterial – What does materialism do in the time of the hypermaterial?

20:00 Dinner

Thursday, 22 May

09:30 – 10:30 Andreas Broeckmann (Leuphana University, Germany): The Materiality of Immaterial Art

10:30 – 11:30 Francesca Gallo (Rome University, Italy): Contemporary Art at Les Immatériaux: Yesterday and Today

11:30 – 11:45 Break

11:45 – 12:45 Anne Elisabeth Sejten (Roskilde University, Denmark): Exhibiting and Thinking: Anamnesis of the Postmodern 

12:45 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:00 Florian Hecker (Artist, Germany): Reformulation (Lecture Performace)

15:00 – 15:15 Break

15:15 – 16:15 Yuk Hui (Leuphana University, Lüneburg): Anamnesis and Dis-Orient-ation – A Discourse on Matter and Time

16:15 – 17:15 Robin MacKay (Urbanomics, UK): Immaterials, Between Acceleration and Anamnesis

17:15 – 18:00 Closing Discussion

This symposium is dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Jean François Lyotard’s exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 1985, entitled Les Immatériaux. The exhibition wanted to demonstrate the emergence of a new materiality produced by the advancement in telecommunication technology. The prefix im- announced a break from the modern conception of material, language, body, science, and art. The exhibition has shown how the desire of modernity produced a negation of itself and passed to a new cultural form which Lyotard named postmodern. The exhibition was hence also an inauguration of the postmodern. This symposium wants to trace the historical discourse both within the exhibition and in the intellectual environment of the late 1970s and early 80s that put art, science and theory into question, and it wants to reflect on the new material conditions brought up by digital technologies in the last 30 years. For example, in art, we see the rise and fall of new media art; in science, the triumph of computer simulation is displacing the epistemology of laboratory science, and we can observe the birth of the universe and humankind on a screen; in theory, in the face of the the rise of digital humanities, media philosophy aims to respond to the separation between culture and technology in the long occidental history.

If Les Immatériaux proposed a new sensibility of material being, and if this sensibility demanded a new response from art, science and theory, we want to ask 30 years after that milestone of the postmodern, what kind of sensibility and response is appropriate towards our current material condition? For some thinkers, the modern could be seen as the celebration of the abundance of energy and material (Sloterdijk 2004) which produced a spleen of the obsolescence of history. We can also understand the postmodern as the celebration of disorientation and uncertainty as well as a second kind of melancholia arose after the energy crisis and financial crisis (Bourriaud 2009). Culture needs to response to the crisis generated in itself (Greenberg 1979), while this response is always two folds or pharmacological (Derrida 1972, Stiegler 2011). 30 years after Les Immatériaux, we have an hypothesis that the postmodern is also a symptom. On one hand the development of aesthetics in life-style surpasses the commodity fetish described by Marx, a process that Frederic Jameson (1991) calls the logic of late capitalism; on the other hand, it creates a new sentiment of loss, the destruction of difference between rural and urban, work and play, functionalism and perception, art and art market, biopower and biopolitics. One cannot identify where one is, due to the removal of places by globalisation which is driven heavily by marketing aesthetics and economic growth. The postmodern presents itself as a symptom of our time.

Indeed, a new sentiment is also present at our time in terms of scientific progress, globalisation, social networks, as well as wars, the Occupy movement, global warming, financial crisis, all of which brought to our eyes and ears via optical cables and digital gadgets. Our hypothesis for the symposium is the following: if modernity designates a will of mastery, and postmodernity celebrates the sense uncertainty and disorientation, then we demand a new vision of orientation, a re-orientation. The word re-orientation has two senses here. Firstly with regard to the historical discourse of the occident and orient, we can observe that this relation has been further distorted by globalisation and modernisation. For example, Asian countries are the copy-cats of the West which embeds a dis-orientation in a geopolitical sense. At the same time, the search for a god (Heidegger 1967) or Japanese Zen (Lyotard 1987) as a remedy of the West’s own intoxication. Re-orientation is also an effort to produce a dialogue that has never taken place, instead of political conflicts and economical exchanges. Secondly the re-orientation as new discourses of human progress, of aesthetics, of technological development, that move away from the post- including postmodern and post-human, from the second death of man to a new vision in art, science and theory. The symposium invites scientists, artists and theorists to participate in two days of discussion and performance.

Dr. Yuk Hui, Centre for Digital Cultures
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Scharnhorstr. 1, 21335 Lüneburg



1 comment for “30 years after Les Immatériaux

  1. February 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Hello Yuk, this sounds like another interesting adventure…. Are you still looking for presenters? I might be interested in contributing.

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