IMAG-E-NATION the political & philosophical arts initiative blog

(re)imagining the political and philosophical in the 21st century

The Political & Philosophical Arts Initiative is interested in the ways in which people interact with and compose political and philosophical ideas and actions through the various, diverse media of technology and the arts. Participants in PAI seek to explore the ways in which poetry, literature, music, photography, performance and other creative arts interleave with the political and philosophical life, either as vehicles for criticism, elaboration, theorization, intervention or activism.
The Imag-e-nation blog is a forum for interested parties to share stories, images or other contributions. Contributors range from students and faculty to artists and musicians to professional and casual commentators. Pieces can be short opinions, re-postings of appropriate materials, or original compositions. In addition, the PAI at LUC will make a selection of relevant or provocative news items each week for (re)publication here.


Manga, Social Media, Movies, Art & Drinks - reminder Spotlight Taiwan Sampler


Professor Chris Goto-Jones, Director of Asiascape, is delighted to invite you to the Spotlight Taiwan Sampler on Monday 2 December from 19.00 until 21.00 in the Auditorium at LUC The Hague for a taste of Asiascape’s vision on Taiwan.
All players in the Asiascape Spotlight Taiwan Project will be present (physically and virtually) to warm you up for the exciting events in 2014.



19.00 Welcome & Introduction by Chris Goto-Jones
19.10 A few words by Taiwanese Representative Mr. James K.J. Lee
19.15 Florian Schneider – Conference: The Emancipatory Potential of Social Media in Asia
19.25 Jay Hwang – Film Festival: Some Thoughts on Taiwan
19.35 Cissie Fu – Artist-in-Residence: Exploring Taiwanese Female Masculinity
19.45 Closing by Chris Goto-Jones, followed by conversations over drinks

More information on the project is here:

Design and violence: Online exhibition @

Design has a history of violence. It can be an act of creative destruction and a double-edged sword, surprising us with consequences intended or unintended. Yet professional discourse has been dominated by voices that only trumpet design’s commercial and aesthetic successes.

Historically, designers’ ambitions have ranged from the quotidian to the autocratic, from the spoon to the city. Under the guise of urban renewal or the cliché of disruptive innovation, designers of all kinds—from architects and typographers to interface, product, and fashion designers—have played a role in the reconfiguration of ways of life, ecosystems, and moral philosophies. Although designers aim to work toward the betterment of society, it is and has been easy for them to overstep, indulge in temptation, succumb to the dark side of a moral dilemma, or simply err.

Violence, on the other hand, is one of the most mutable constants in history. It accommodates myriad definitions, spanning a wide spectrum between the symbolic and the real, and between the individual and the public. In recent years, technology has introduced new threats and added dramatically to its many manifestations. Our exploration of the relationship between design and violence will shed light on the complex impact of design on the built environment and on everyday life, as well as on the role of violence in contemporary society.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York innovates yet again with an online curatorial project which invites experts from science, philosophy, literature, music, film, journalism, and politics to converse about specific topics of design and violence.  Follow this virtual exhibition online, and entertain another critical perspective of 3D printing, drones, and other arising design technologies.


Audio-visual movement: A Limitless / Noh / Quilt

In anticipation of the 2014 PAI theme of *movement* (stay tuned for geo-caching, sound-scaping, graphic-animating, and more!), a trio of videos from various global spaces on different art forms for your delectation:

LIMITLESS – inverse street art in Brisbane

Four graffiti artists, a warehouse interior, and an unlimited amount of paint.  With this warehouse in Brisbane scheduled to be demolished soon (follow the demise of another graffiti mecca here), street artists Sofles, Fintan Magee, Treas, and Quench went nuts brightening it up.  Filmmaker Selina Miles followed them every step to create this killer time-lapse video.

CURLEW RIVER – English music meets Japanese theatre in London

With Benjamin Britten’s centenary celebration this November comes a wondrous performance of his first church opera, which was inspired by the noh play Sumidagawa by Juro Motomasa.  Staying true to the noh treatment of theatrical time, Britten experimented with heterophony and a conductor-less chamber ensemble to render colours of loss, return, and acceptance.

CRYSTAL QUILT – glistening mothers in Minneapolis

Suzanne Lacy gathered 430 women over the age of 60 on Mother’s Day 1987 to share their views on growing older, the performance of which was broadcast live on television and attended by over 3,000 people.  She comes to The Hague this 28 November for an evening lecture at Stroom to speak about her art in action.


Utopia in a love song: Sam Green's live documentary

Sam Green, the acclaimed director of The Weather Underground, has taken documentary film-making to the next level with his concept of live documentary, where the screening of the film is accompanied by live music, stage lighting, and spoken word by the director.

This mixed, multi-media approach, combined with the spontaneity of live music and narration, by bringing the audience closer to the film-maker and the content of the film itself, revolutionises the documentary-making and documentary-watching experience.  Following the success of Utopia in Four Movements, his first experiment in this new genre, he is now on tour with Yo La Tengo to perform The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller.

Perhaps most famous for his creation of the geodesic dome, the 20th-century futurist, architect, engineer, and inventor that is Buckminster Fuller merits a 21st-century tribute to sing his ideas of how design and architecture can spur environmental sustainability and spark radical social change. 


Can design save the world?

Kanye West thinks so and said as much to an ad hoc student audience at the Harvard Graduate School of Design this past weekend:

I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be "architected". . . to see the work be actualised.  

If I sit down and talk to Oprah for two hours, the conversation is about realisation, self-realisation and actually seeing your creativity happen in front of you.  So the reason why I turn up so much in interviews is because I've tasted what it means to create and be able to impact, and affect in a positive way.  

And I know that there's more creativity to happen. And I know that there's traditionalists that hold back the good thoughts and there's people in offices that stop the creative people, and are intimidated by actual good ideas.  

I believe that utopia is actually possible, but we're led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest and the most political. So in no way am I a politician, I'm usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct.  I really appreciate you guys' willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation. 

Before he (unw)raps his latest collaboration with graphic designer Peter Saville, here is a summary update from the creative, style-conscious, and sustainability-driven brains at this year's Global Design Forum.


ACTI-VISTAS @ Amsterdam: Women's performative activism in the Middle East

Women’s roles in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are frequently analyzed in terms of traditional views on femininity, either as active peacemakers or as passive victims. ACTI-VISTAS explores perspectives that go beyond these paradigms with a public lecture, symposium, workshops, and video-art screenings. How do women activists mobilize their gender and ethnic positions? In what ways do new technologies and platforms inform and shape their political struggles? Putting the finger on the pulse of contemporary women’s activism, we explore feminist strategies that activists currently employ. This event will present fresh narratives of political agency, untraditional representations of identity and alternative forms of resistance.

Critical voices, including those of journalist Amira Hass and sociologist Nahla Abdo, come together for a discussion of performative feminist activism in the Middle East from 20 - 22 November in Amsterdam (hosted at UvA, NICA, and CREA in collaboration with gate48), with an activist theatre workshop and a performance lecture by Orly Armi on Friday 22 November.


Sketchbooks on tour: Calling all doers and doodlers!

Find out more about The Sketchbook Project, a global, participatory, travelling, artistic initiative to consolidate and share the current state of expressive communities worldwide. Track and create via its stationary, mobile, and digital libraries of professional to amateur impressions from Kansas to the Sudan!


Ja prishel: Homing underground political theatre

We don’t consider our performances to be political.  We don’t claim to have a political agenda, but we do art, high-quality art, an art that highly affects the political system. . . There’s no politics in the play, but there is something that is threatening to a dictatorship: open conversation.

In an interview with freeDimensional, which identifies and redistributes resources in over 70 countries to fuel creative expression and enable artistic resistance in the global arts community, Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Koliada of the Belarus Free Theatre bring home, on the one hand, Plato’s insight on the aesthetic power of the arts and its implications for the state in The Republic, and:

   If we use art to represent political ideas, we are engaged in political illustration not political art.
   ~ Political Arts Manifesto, Thesis 12

Censored by the Belarusian authorities, this internationally acclaimed theatre troupe performs in private houses in the outskirts of Minsk and, more recently, operates from London in partnership with the Young Vic. 

Studio Fortinbras, its educational programme, sees top dramaturgs and theatre marketing professionals training universal creators who can write, stage, perform, and realise their artistic vision in any part of the world.

The rest is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ {NOISE}

Blasting away Hamlet's melancholy, London's Southbank Centre hosts The Rest Is Noise, an epic musical journey of film, debate, and concerts to explore how war, race, sex, and politics shaped the most important and controversial music of the 20th century.

Drawing inspiration from Alex Ross's book of the same title, engineers, historians, musicologists, philosophers, and political scientists join forces with curators and musicians to trace the breakdown of the old world, the confluences of Hitler's and Stalin's totalitarianism, the glamour of inter-war Paris, and the artists behind the Iron Curtain.

From the rise of nationalism to the art of fear, with detailed detours from Berlin to Hollywood, explore, watch, and listen...


The nature and animism of architecture @ Berlage

How can architecture guide us to a sustainable utopia and how does spatial design direct human interaction?  Join architect Ma YanSong in his vision for a future city where technology meets mountains and rivers:

Model of Shanshui City, MAD Architects

Taksim Network, Jinsun Baik and Xiaoting Chen

at The Berlage Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design, now based in Delft.

Grayson Perry plays to the gallery

“An artist is a pilgrim on the road to meaning”, said Grayson Perry in a rare moment of dark sincerity during his final Reith Lecture of 2013.  Frocked and besparkled in serious jest, the English contemporary artist, world renowned for his pottery and tapestries, embodied a creative and social energy matching the nobility of artistic expression and a humorous cynicism worthy of and healthy for the future of 21st-century artistic endeavours.

The annual Reith Lectures are sponsored by BBC to keep the spirit of public broadcasting alive, through which a voice of our times is invited to deliver a series of lectures to advance public understanding and encourage debate issues of contemporary significance.  Amongst a stellar cast of previous Reith Lecturers (including astronomer Martin Rees, politician-activist Aung San Suu Kyi, philosopher Michael Sandel), Grayson Perry shines distinctly as a performer of ideas, a maker of art, a go-getter for social change.  Lighting up his audience by teasing the art world and sharing his journey into it, he is truly “symbolised by his make-up”.

Grayson Perry’s series of four lectures, entitled “Playing to the Gallery”, is available for listening and re-listening on the BBC Radio 4 website.

      Lecture 1: Democracy has Bad Taste
      Lecture 2: Beating the Bounds
      Lecture 3: Nice Rebellion, Welcome In!

Whether or not art is spirituality in drag (à la Jennifer Yane), savour the stealth of subversion against a wealth of organised and organic hypocrisies and injustices in the art and wider world.  If inspired: act!



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