The Politics and Aesthetics of Error

Day: Friday 6 April


Martin Lang (University of Lincoln)
Tom Grimwood (University of Cumbria)

Session Abstract

Responding to the election of George W Bush, the ‘war on terror’ and subsequent domestic anti-terror legislation, art activists declared that we were living in a time of political, economic and environmental error. The Errorist International was established to embrace error and establish an ‘international network’ in its name. Conversely, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) waged a ‘war on error’, referring to G8 politicians as the ‘world’s most dangerous “errorists”‘. These interventions reflected a long-standing relationship between art and error. For example, psychoanalytic interpretations of the gaffe or the slip of the tongue provided the inspiration for Surrealist automatic writing and the production of ‘exquisite corpses’; or the field of ‘glitch aesthetics’, which explores artistic possibilities that arise from random computer or electronic malfunction.

Recent political developments in Britain and the USA invite accusations of a politics driven by error (‘misinformed’ voters, ‘post-truth’ politicians, ‘fake news’ agencies etc). This interdisciplinary session discusses how error has, can or might be addressed aesthetically, philosophically and politically, in order to explore possible roles for aesthetics in interpreting political error, and the political ramifications of aesthetic error. The papers draw on a range of contexts and conceptualisations of error, and the session will conclude with a roundtable discussion exploring the role of error in critique, disruption, and the potential for alternative politics.

Speakers & Papers

Ileana Parvu (Geneva School of Art and Design) Errors and Making Badly. The politics of Ion Grigorescu’s faulty technique

Kyveli Lignou-Tsamantani (University of York) Visible and Invisible ‘Frames’: Towards a consideration of representations of ‘political errors’ in the 21st-century refugee crisis

Steve Klee (University of Lincoln) An Aesthetics of Objectivity Arsalan Rafique (Independent) On Fortifying a Paranoid City: Pakistan and security errors in times of perpetual conflict

Raquel Wilner (Courtauld Institute of Art) Pareidolia as an Explanation for the Misperception of Hidden Images in Art

Michael Pinchbeck (University of Lincoln) Errors of Memory, Memories of Error: Slip-roads and pit-stops on The Long and Winding Road

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