February 12, 2015

Speculation, Now

Vera List Center for Art and Politics

“The line between the present and the near future has all but collapsed, and Speculation, Now revels in this space, envisioning a world on the cusp. This wildly diverse book makes the case for a broader definition of applied speculation, not one limited to calculated risk or dreamy conjuring (though it represents both those extremes), but a process that represents an engaged way of understanding the present: through the active desire to change it.”
–Emmet Byrne, Walker Art Center

SpeculationNow holds up a critical mirror to the speculative practices that pervade contemporary life only to come away with a generative theory supported by a glossary. In the book’s course, speculative practices emerge not as edges but as engines of artistic, scholarly, and economic creation, with the glossary framing core concepts for a speculative renewal: from credit and risk to shadow worlds and witchcraft. The voices are many and the disciplinary perspectives kaleidoscopic. But the overall effect is brilliantly choral. Under ever increasing pressure from degrees of complexity and interconnectivity so great that commonplace ideas of sequence and causality routinely fail, speculation is reborn. It casts aside its prior dreams of mastery in the name of strategies of productive drift and play.”
–Jeffrey Schnapp, Harvard University

Join us for the celebration of Speculation, Now, the Vera List Center’s book on speculative practices, published by Duke University Press. Mingle with artists, architects, designers, economists, social scientists, and students and scholars of otherness—all contributors to the book—and revel in live music by the The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music plus libations. At 7pm, an introduction by Arjun Appadurai and brief aperçus will be offered by some of the contributors to the book, among them editor Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao, as well Prem KrishnamurthyCarin Kuoni, Christina Moon, Josiah McElheny, Lize Mogel and many others.


Speculation, Now 
Edited by Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao, with Prem Krishnamurthy and Carin Kuoni
Duke University Press, 2014
Order your copy here.

Transdisciplinary by design and concept, Speculation, Now gathers the voices of artists, architects, designers, economists, scientists, and scholars of otherness who reflect on the speculative moment in their fields. Theoretical premises and anecdotal accounts, artistic interventions and ethnographic fieldwork are brought together in a productive blurring of categories and frameworks. Original texts and visual contributions commissioned for the book literally “bend away” from known methodologies, initiating adjustments that are open-ended and, in traditional terms, unverifiable. Therein lies the subversive and critical potential of speculation.

Loosely modeled on the visual and textual richness of the Vera List Center book Considering Forgiveness, Speculation, Now collects texts around topics such as the imaginary, notions of time and temporality, space and spatiality, and aspects of the economy. Among the main contributors are anthropologists Arjun Appadurai, Filip De Boeck, Christina Moon, Stefania Pandolfo; architects Laura Kurgan and Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss; mycologist Gary Lincoff; economists Darrick Hamilton and Satya Pemmaraju; philosopher Boris Groys; and artists Hans Haacke, Lin + Lam, Lize Mogel, Robert Sember, and Walid Raad as well ascultural historian Mary Poovey and Jungian psychotherapist Sherene Schostak.

Glossary entries on risk / mirroring / the paradox of beginnings / exception / infrastructure / ruin / prototype / maybe / models / failure / meta-history / neglect / verification / magic / investment / insurance / toxic debt / hallucination / contemporaneity / shadow world / and other terms by


Benjamin Aranda, Judith Barry, Katherine Carl, Celine Condorelli, Holland Cotter, Elizabeth Ellsworth & Jamie Kruse, Ozge Ersoy, Reem Fadda, Luke Fowler, Peter Geschiere, Kenan Halabi, Orit Halpern, Graham Harman, Larissa Harris, Victoria Hattam, Jamer Hunt, Angie Keefer & Lucy Skaer, Joachim Koester, Elka Krajewska, Nicolas Langlitz, Marysia Lewandowska, Josiah McElheny, Brian McGrath, Metahaven, Sarah Oppenheimer, Trevor Paglen, Dushko Petrovich, David Reinfurt, Amie Siegel, Beth Stryker, Iddo Tavory, Chen Tamir, Elizabeth Thomas, Hakan Topal, Byron Tucker, Nader Vossoughian, Aleksandra Wagner, and McKenzie Wark.

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