September 4, 2010

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics presents It Happened Tomorrow: Probabilities, Predictions and Prophecies

Vera List Center for Art and Politics

“Mystères de la Main – Révélations Complètes – Chiromancie, Phrénologie, Graphologie et Études Physiologiques”, by Ad Desbarrolles
Courtesy of the New York Public Library Image Collection

Conceived in response to the Vera List Center’s focus theme “Speculating on Change,” Lin + Lam have collected an interdisciplinary array of cultural and historical predictive devices, appropriations from popular culture, historical sources, and academic scholarship, including original interviews with professionals from diverse backgrounds, and arranged this archive into an interactive website. “Change Encounters” offers multiple vantage points on the nature and the process of change and speculation and is accessed through a random number generator based on the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching, one of the oldest books in the world and a predictive device that is still commonly used today.

The event takes its name from the title of René Clair’s 1944 film It Happened Tomorrow, a comedy in which a journalist longs for the ability to know the future in advance in order to get a jump on breaking news. This desire for precognition determines human behavior across many fields of experience. Many a head of state — emperors, presidents and dictators, including Napoleon, Hitler and Reagan — has turned to oracles to authorize and consolidate their power. The capacity to aspire to a different future is, as anthropologist Arjun Appadurai writes, critical to the possibility for the underprivileged to overcome dire conditions. Can the capacity to aspire be learned and shared? What enables future thinking that is not a product of denial, defense or mere fantasy, but is constructive to change? For contemporary forecasting on our current recession and repressions, professionals from divergent fields join Lin + Lam and present their perspectives on how the future is speculated and formed.

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2:00 to 3:00p.m.
Introduction by Carin Kuoni, director, Vera List Center
World Premiere of “Change Encounters” by Lin + Lam

3:00 to 4:00p.m.

Patricia Ticineto Clough, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center and Queens College of the City University of New York

Orit Halpern, Assistant Professor of Department of History at The New School for Social Research

Mitch Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief of Tarcher/Penguin and author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation

H. Darrel Rutkin, independent scholar, historian of science with an emphasis on the history of medieval, Renaissance, and early modern astrology

4:00 to 5:00p.m.
Celebratory Sideshow: Interactive demonstration of various speculative devices

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