At what point does a practical problem become an existential one? When do we have to admit that not everyone can experience everything – and what do we do about that? Forgery is no solution because good forgeries are, by definition, as exclusive as originals: if the original turns up, the forgery loses all value. But what if we undermined cultural norms to the point where fakery was the norm?
A visit to the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and the Tinguely Museum Basel for New Scientist, 13 May 2017.
“The aim of my work is to create a visually attractive image that draws the viewer in, then shocks them with what is represented,” artist Mandy Barker explains. “This contradiction between beauty and fact is intended to make people question how their shoe, computer, or ink cartridge ended up in the sea.”
A short feature for New Scientist, 22 April 2017
He ended up on this island in this rather beautiful part of the country, on a very beautiful lake with the Ural Mountains in the background and flowers awaiting him on his doorstep—and far in the distance, men with dogs and some barbed wire.
I talk to Marina Koren of The Atlantic about the Soviet Union’s system of special prisons.
On Sunday 11 June at 2.00pm I’ll be at the York Festival of Ideas, talking about Stalin and his scientists.
May contain nuts.
Admission is free. Further details here.
We imagine things before we make them, from spacecraft to smartphones – and designers often turn artists’ imaginings of the future into our everyday reality. So who’s in charge?
At least, I will be on 29 June when I herd Matt Smith (editor of 2000 AD) spaceflight expert Piers Bizony and architect Liam Young into London’s Barbican Centre for a session called The Dreamer’s Club. Fun and games begin at 7.30pm. Details and tickets here.
At 3pm on Sunday April 30 I’ll be chatting to Neil Denny about Stalin and his scientists – part of Little Atoms’s first literary festival at Waterstones Piccadilly. More details here.
We have to remember that the point of study is not to power, enable, de-glitch or otherwise save civilisation. The point of study is to create a civilisation worth saving.
For New Scientist, 17 March 2017
Here’s something for the evening of Thursday 27 April 7-10 pm.
Designer and trouble-maker Leila Johnston has invited me to join Katharine Vega (chroma.space) and Dr Sean Power (Trinity College, Dublin) at the Site Gallery in Sheffield to ask whether art, science and belief are “branches of the same tree” as Albert Einstein once said, and what happens when some of those branches begin to crack?
Full details here.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival have invited me to talk about Stalin and the Scientists on Saturday 29 April at 3.15pm at the Stratford Artshouse.
Tickets are £10.
The Bristol Festival of Ideas have invited me along to Waterstones, The Galleries, Bristol, to talk about Stalin’s scientists on 24 April at 7pm. “The Soviet Union’s sciences were the largest and best funded in history,” it says in this here programme, “and were at once the glory and laughing stock of the intellectual world” — a description that might well apply to me. Anyway, I’m going to be speaking. Come listen. Tickets are £6.