Devised by Dominic Paterson (The Hunterian / University of Glasgow), ‘Other Futures’ is a panel discussion which brings together artistic and academic perspectives to explore how time relates to political and aesthetic questions. Three academic contributors from the University of Glasgow will each give short talks rooted in their expertise in music, theatre and digital media, respectively.
Dr David Code will discuss the ways in which Stanley Kubrick’s film soundtracks construct time. Professor Carl Lavery will consider the themes of theatricality and drift in relation to the work of situationist Guy Debord. Finally, Dr Tim Barker will consider the term 'contemporaneity' to describe the current historical moment, as an alternative to modernity and post-modernity, and particularly focusing on the challenges and strategies of living within multiple and often conflicting types of time.
Visual artist Ruth Ewan will introduce some of her own works which have addressed the political dimensions of imagining both pasts and futures. Among her many projects to navigate this terrain are We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be (2011), in which she placed decimal clocks into the town of Folkstone in a small echo of a bold historic attempt to redefine and rationalise daily time itself during the French Revolution. The Glasgow Schools (2012), meanwhile, investigated the archival traces of the city’s Proletarian, Socialist Sunday and Socialist Fellowship Schools - part of a network of alternative educational organisations that once spread across the UK.
More recently, Another Time (2016-19) turned Cambridge University’s farm into a non-mechanical clock, using plant species carefully selected for their predictable flower opening and closing times – an idea first hypothesised by the Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus in his 1751 book Philosophia Botanica. The panel will include time for discussion amongst the participants about their various views on ‘past futures’.
Ruth Ewan is a Glasgow-based artist whose work is often concerned with the social and political stakes of imagined futures. Among her recent exhibitions and projects are Another Time (North West Cambridge, 2016-19), All Distinctions Levelled (Focal Point Gallery, 2016) and Back to the Fields (Camden Arts Centre, 2015). In addition to many other international group exhibitions, Ewan’s work was included in the 2016 Sao Paolo Biennale, in How to Construct a Time Machine, (Milton Keynes Gallery, 2015), In The Near Future, (Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, 2014) and Altermodern (Tate Britain, 2009).
Tim Barker is Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Glasgow. His research spans aesthetics, philosophy and media archaeology and often addresses questions of technology and temporality. He is the author of Against Transmission: Media Philosophy and the Engineering of Time (Bloomsbury, 2018), which explores the ways that experiences of time have been shaped by the history of measurement and storage media.
David Code is Reader in Music at the University of Glasgow. He has written extensively on the work of Claude Debussy, including in a 2010 book for the ‘Critical lives’ series published by Reaktion Books. He is also an expert on Stanley Kubrick’s use of pre-existing music in films such as The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon.
Carl Lavery is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Glasgow. He has published extensively on the topics of ecology and environment, contemporary French theatre and performance and performance writing. His recent projects which have addressed the legacy of the situationist international and the theme of ruination. With David Archibald he is the founder of ‘Glam Rock Dialogues.’