Postmoderns and After? -40 Years after The Postmodern Condition

Postmoderns and After?

—40 years after The Postmodern Condition

Date: November 9th and 10th, 2019

Venue: Nanyuan Conference Room, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China

Speakers: Ashley WOODWARD (University of Dundee/UK), Sarah WILSON (Courtauld Institute of Art/UK), Bernard STIEGLER (Institute of Research and Innovation Paris & CAA/FR), Philippe PARRENO (Artist/FR), LI Yang (Peking University/CN), Yuk HUI (Bauhaus University Weimar & CAA/ HK), Hiroki AZUMA (Genron /JP)

Academic Support: Prof.Gao Shiming, Prof. Yu Xuhong and Prof. Guan Huaibin

Convener: Yuk Hui


China Academy of Art;

Institute for Collaborative Innovation in Chinese Visual Studies, CAA

School of Inter-media, CAA

Research Network for Philosophy and Technology


This conference takes the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge appeared in 1979, to readdress the concept of the postmodern and its legacy today. The Postmodern condition and Lyotard’s other writings after 1979 remain a prophecy of our epoch: the judgment that Lyotard made on the transformation of the production of knowledge and the social organization by the new technology is not only valid but also bears increasing importance for a critical reassessment of an epoch dominated by discourses on AI, Machine Learning, and technological singularity.

Historically speaking, if the postmodern is considered a rupture from the European modernity and an invitation to critically understand the transformation of our society, this discourse remains very much a European one. Because what does it mean by modernity outside of Europe? If it is true, as claimed by some European intellectuals, that non-European countries, for example China, only have modernization but not modernity, then what does postmodern mean to cultures that didn’t have that kind of modernity which was target of Lyotard’s discourse? Or the embracement of the postmodern in non-European cultures in general remains nothing but a blind spot of their own intellectual reflections? Or the axis of time, which indicates a progress from premodern—modern—postmodern is nothing but a fabrication that has to be put into question? And if so, in what way can the question of world history be rearticulated in view of the technological convergence that we have today? Is it still possible to articulate different technological futures beyond this synchronization?

What would be the contribution of art in this process of re-opening, both the postmodern and after? This is a question that concerns the later Lyotard. In his 1985 Exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou titled Les Immatériaux, and his 1988 publication The Inhuman, Lyotard attempted to expose the potential transformative power of digital technology and its limit, by appealing to art and, and somewhat astonishingly, the teaching of the 13th century Japanese monk Dōgen Kigen. Les Immatériaux remains one of the most significant exhibitions in the 20th century. How can we evaluate these reflections and efforts of the late Lyotard since 1979? This symposium would like to gather scholars who have been working on Lyotard to critically reflect together on these questions, but also beyond Lyotard and his time.


November 9, Saturday

8:30 -9:00 Participants Admission

9:00-10:00 Opening Speeches

Gao Shiming (Vice-president of the China Academy of Art)

Yuk Hui (Initiator of Symposium): Postmoderns and after?

10:00 -11:00  Session I

Speaker: Bernard Stiegler

De la fable postmoderne, à la fabuleuse ère Néguanthropocène.

11:00 -12:00  Session II

Speaker: Sarah Wilson

Philosophy as vanitas: Lyotard’s exploded Sublime

12:00 -14:00 Lunch and Rest

14:00-15:00  Session III

Speaker: Yuk Hui

Exhibiting and Sensibilizing: Recontextualizing “Les Immatériaux”

Break Time

15:30-16:30 Session IV

Speaker: Philippe Parreno

A Sequel to Les Immatériaux?

16:30-17:30  Session V

Conclusion and Discussion of the First Day

18:00-20:00 Supper

November 10, Sunday

9:30-10:30  Session VI

Speaker: Li Yang

Lyotard and the Genealogy of Cinema-alien

Break Time

11:00-12:00 Session VII

Speaker: Ashley Woodward

System Failure

12:00 -14:00 Lunch and Rest

14:00-15:00  Session VIII

Speaker: Hiroki Azuma

How Can Database Animals Be Political Animals?

Break Time

15:30-16:30 Session IX

Roundtable Discussion: All Participants