LUNÄ Talks: Uncertainty Scenarios


01.06–07.06.2015: fig-2, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, UK

fig-2, The Studio, ICA, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH. fig-2 is accessible through the ICA, and on Monday nights via the ramp on Carlton House Terrace.

fig-2 – 50 projects in 50 weeks
fig-2 is a revival of the project fig-1, which was conceived and developed by Mark Francis and Jay Jopling in 2000. Experimental in its nature, each project was programmed only a few weeks in advance to maintain as much spontaneity as possible. Providing a new model for the presentation of contemporary creativity in London, the project preceded the term pop-up. fig-1 presented projects by Jeremy Deller, Richard Hamilton, Runa Islam, Oliver Payne + Nick Relph, Will Self, Patti Smith, Caruso St. John, Philip Treacy, among others. Fifteen years later, fig-2 brings together a programme that is driven by the radical imagination of artists, writers, dancers, architects, and designers. fig-2 is curated by Fatoş Üstek. Jessica Temple and Yves Blais are assistant curators, and Irene Altaió is project assistant.

These LUNÄ talks are developed by Marjolijn Dijkman in collaboration with Fig. 2. LUNÄ is a work by Marjolijn Dijkman based on the Lunar Society of Birmingham. The Lunar Society of Birmingham was formed from a group of amateur experimenters, tradesmen and artisans who met and made friends in the Midlands from the 1760s till around 1810. The original Lunar men gathered together for lively dinner conversations, the journey back from their Birmingham meeting place lit by the full moon. Members included the larger than life Erasmus Darwin, the flamboyant entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, the brilliantly perceptive engineer James Watt whose inventions harnessed the power of steam, the radical polymath Joseph Priestley who, among his wide-ranging achievements discovered oxygen, and the innovative potter and social reformer Josiah Wedgwood. Their debates brought together philosophy, arts, science and commerce, and as well as debating and discovering, the ‘Lunarticks’ also built canals and factories, launched balloons, named plants, gases and minerals, managed world-class businesses — and changed the face of England.

Three centuries later, Dijkman revisits this moment of historical significance. She produces the replica of the table where Lunar Men met, in order to provide a platform to develop and expand on the knowledge production of our times. At fig-2, she will specifically focus on the notion of the future investigating modes in which the idea of future is seeded in our society today. Titled as Uncertainty Scenarios, the project will draw its streamlines of thinking on social, scientific and artistic endeavours.
‘Uncertainty Scenarios’, is an ongoing experimental research project initiated by Marjolijn Dijkman and Amélie Bouvier in 2015 part of the artist initiative Enough Room for Space founded by Marjolijn Dijkman and Maarten Vanden Eynde and based in Brussels. that explores the ways in which people throughout history have tried to speculate, predict and anticipate the future, highlighting different attitudes involved. The project creates a common ground for a group of artists that all share interest in the concerns of the project and aims to establish a context for the development of new works. Together they reflect on possible consequences of current global socio-political or ecological issues and question our position as artists towards these.

Uncertainty Scenarios tries to become an artistic tool to grasp the ‘futurity’ that is already, and increasingly, a part of our present. Collectively they research concepts such as, notions of speculation, methodologies of predicting the future, alongside strategic thinking and scenario planning, risk and crisis management, voodoo rituals, divination, spiritual forecasts and science fiction. The collective questions the impact of these current streams of engagement with the world around us.

Supported by Outset Netherlands

Monday 1st June
18:00 – 20:00: Time and Progress
With Stephen Boyd Davis (RCA), Marjolijn Dijkman (Artist), Jay Griffiths (Author), Cathy Haynes (Artist and Curator)
On Monday we will introduce LUNÄ and the project Uncertainty Scenarios. We will focus on the origins of ideas around progress in relation to the timeline ‘A New Chart of History’ of Lunar Man Joseph Priestley and alternative ideas in relation to this concept of time from the past as the present as from different cultural perspectives.

Tuesday 2nd June
11:00 – 13:30: Outset Commissions and Programmes Presentation
With Outset Contemporary Art Fund
Outset assists a wide range of organisations from the grassroots level through to internationally established institutions, enabling the production of new works, acquisitions for public collections, capital campaigns, publications and educational programmes.

14:00 – 18:00: Concepts of Time: Future (Platform for Climate Affairs).
With Ifor Duncan (Goldsmiths) and Tom Trevatt (Goldsmiths)
For those on the political left, May 2015 will mark the moment when a viable and popular alternative to the prevailing conditions must be forcefully constructed. This sedimentation process begins with the production of new forms of living that are both legitimate and desirable to the general public, not to mention sustainable and scalable. This consultation meeting is the first opportunity to discuss how we can construct the type of society we want to live in, and what tactics and strategies must be used in this ongoing project. Invited speakers will engage with normative questions of the future, offering possible solutions, but the important work must be done collectively through consultation and discussion. This is an open forum for discussion, with the aim to contribute to the ideological aims of the Platform for Climate Affairs. We will discuss the conceptual tools required for such a project and at the same time practical proposals.

Wednesday 3rd June
11:00 – 13:30: Reflections on FOMO
With Stephen Cairns (ICA) and Rosalie Doubal (ICA)
Using the year 2015 as a lens through which to view the early 21st century, Fear of Missing Out captures current debate and forecasts future possibilities for action and change, while acknowledging the complexities of historicising the present at the expense of the future. Stephen Cairns will reflect on the ICA’s recent three day event FOMO which brought together leading international theorists, academics, social thinkers and artists to discuss postdigital anxieties and the social condition.

14:00 – 18:00 Mining the Mind
With Magda Osman (Dynamic Learning & Decision Making Laboratory), Maarten Speekenbrink (UCL), Jamie Ward (University of Sussex)
On Wednesday we will explore current brain research in relation to the experience of time and relating to the future, and the applications of this research into new marketing strategies to influence peoples thinking and or behaviour.

Thursday 4th June
11:00 – 13:30: Free Booking
14:00 – 17:00: Curatorial Practice Workshop

As part of fig-2 the Art Fund Curatorial Practice Workshop, led by Fatoş Üstek, will bring together a range of arts and museum professionals to discuss currencies of curatorial practice in relation to exhibition making and collecting. The workshop will explore the idea that an exhibition is not a singular constellation of works or a single consistent message, but instead several constellations, each revealing how one object put next to another could provoke different readings of both. Guided by this thought, the curator/director works to highlight the urgencies and desires of our contemporary society.

18:00 – 21:00: Anticipating Behaviour
With: Ramon Amaro (Big Data and Society), Emily Penn (EXXpedition / Pangea Explorations), Philip Sheldrake (Euler Partners)
On Thursday we will explore different techniques and attitudes towards anticipations used in ecology, politics and management from big data (digital and physical) to scenario planning and the effects of this on our behaviour and thinking.

Friday 5th June
11:00 – 13:00: Free Booking
13:30 – 16:00 Free Booking
16:30 – 18:00: Free Booking

Saturday 6th June
11:15 – 13:30: Pre-enactment between reality and fiction
With Francesca Laura Cavallo (curator) Helene Kazan (artist) Caroline Thomas (Casualties Union)
From fire drills and mock-disaster-response exercises, to the risk assessment processes accompanying so many events, structures and even ‘high-risk’ people, a pre-enactment is the anticipation of future disasters through performance, a coping mechanism of society increasingly concerned with the predictable future. The panel will explore the cogency of reality and fiction in risk management strategies.

14:00 – 18:00 Changing prospects
With Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck University of London) and Mark Fisher (Goldsmiths), Ken Hollings (Author)
Saturday’s session will concentrate on the notion of change in relation to the locus of collective imagination of the future. We will explore different approaches, which are utilised to motivate and trigger seismic shifts relating to the world around us.

Sunday 7th June
11:00 – 13:30: Firstsite Associate Artists
The Firstsite Associate Artist scheme is a professional development programme for artists based in the East of England. It is a self-directed programme which enables artists to identify individual and shared interests in current practice across a theoretical and practical spectrum. The artists selected for 2014/15 are: Savinder Bual, Briony Clarke, Lawrence Epps, George Grace, Jessica Mendham, Ilona Sagar and James Torble. The group will be discussing a range of subjects including predictions, divination, design fiction and rhetoric.

14:00 – 18:00: Existential Questions
With: Rebecca Bligh (Living in the Future), Owen Cotton-Barrat (Future of Humanity Institute) and Murray Shanahan ( Imperial College London)
On Sunday we will explore different existential questions for the future of humanity in a long term future and imagine possible scenarios developed by scientists as well as fiction writers and artists.