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Present Fictions

David Roberts Art Foundation DRAF, London

This two-day special programme of screenings, performance lectures and discussions focuses on contemporary approaches to visual culture, poetry, science fiction and narrative structures.

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Present Fictions is a two-day special programme of screenings, performance lectures and discussions. Diverse events focus on contemporary approaches to visual culture, poetry, science fiction and narrative structures and explore their relationships to new technologies and the expanded information society. A temporary research library presents a selection of publications and materials that have informed the research for this project. The exhibition Geographies of Contamination is on view in the gallery space.

Artists and speakers include Rachael Allen, Hannah Black, Ami Clarke, Tyler Coburn, David Raymond Conroy, Robert Cowley, David Cunningham, Keren Cytter, Jesse Darling, Rózsa Farkas, Barnaby Lambert, Pablo Larios, Hannah Perry, Heather Phillipson, Cher Potter, Val Ravaglia, Sam Riviere, Erica Scourti, Richard Sides, Michael E. Smith, Lucy Soutter and Georgina Voss.

Curated by Sandra Pusterhofer with Micola Brambilla and Nina Trivedi.


2 – 3 pm > Gallery 5 | Screening

Through characteristics of fast-cutting, re-mixing and layering of images these videos address ideas of repetition and distortion and explore the possibility of non-linear and fragmented narratives.

Hannah Black: Intensive Care/Hot New Track, 2013, 5:36 min; My Bodies, 2014, 3:30 min. Black’s recent work across video, text and performance draws on communist, feminist theory, autobiographical fragments, and pop music as a collective imaginary.
Richard Sides: He tried to be a nice guy, but it just didn’t work out, 2012, 21:12 min. Sides’ work uses a variety of media to explore notions of presence, temporality, complexity, conflict and the possible idea of ‘an ontology of communication’. This video is a tragedy or perhaps a stream of consciousness in which an anonymous protagonist pursues a moral balance or a positive outlook.
Hanna Perry: While it Lasts, 2012, 7:28 min. Continuously generating and manipulating materials (footage, sound clips, images and objects) Perry develops a network of references, carefully exploring personal memory in today’s hyper-technological society. Inspired by dance music loops and hip-hop sampling, the video reveals the strength of our personal investment in images of the illusory (power, sex, taste, lifestyle) and the vulnerability of youth.

3 – 5 pm > Studio | ‘Present Fictions’: Presentations followed by Q&A consider how visual arts, design, ‘eco-cities’ and technological innovation relate to contemporary science fiction and notions of the future.

Georgina Voss: Bodies of Glass: Interfaces between science fiction, design, and material forms. Despite overwrought frothing about the technologies that have transformed from the science fiction texts and ‘into the real’, there are relatively few examples of such artefacts. Far more numerous are the fictional ‘technologies’ that influence how design and technological initiatives are framed and ushered in. In this talk Voss explores the relationship between science fiction, design, and innovation as one of mutual engagement and co-constitution, tracing the importance of desire, persuasion and influence in this process.
Cher Potter: The Speculative Arts. Cher Potter outlines the emerging fields of Design Fictions and Speculative Art as a creative approach that lies between hard science fiction, emerging technologies and cultural myth. She will introduce and discuss the work of a cross-section of artists and designers such as Lu Yang, Kenny Irwin, Daisy Ginsberg and Katja Novitskova who work with wildly differing notions of the future.
Robert Cowley: The eco-city as ‘applied fiction’. Robert Cowley will consider whether the contemporary ‘eco-city’ might be usefully characterised as a type of ‘applied fiction’. On the one hand, the eco-city has been increasingly mainstreamed into policy making and become aligned with the interests of big business; on the other, its pragmatic, experimental qualities reflect the speculative dimensions of its origins as a radical and visionary concept.

5 – 6 pm > Gallery 5 | Screening (see above)

6.30 – 8 pm > Gallery 5 | Talk: From Production to Consumption

Pablo Larios, Lucy Soutter and David Cunningham discuss the political and cultural implications of the use of commodities and products in current artistic practices. The conversation, chaired by Nina Trivedi, also asks how new forms of distribution relate to fractured narratives and how this in turn can result in a new affective encounter with the work.

12 – 6pm > Office, 1st Floor | Research Library and Screening

Throughout the two days of events DRAF will host a Temporary Research Library with books, magazines and articles that have informed the research for this project.
Michael E. Smith, Spider Leviator, 2008; No ball-swing low, 2007; Dope dog, 2008; Hammerpants, 2010 and Jellyfish, 2011 are miniatures, usually looped fragments of no more than a few seconds. Like Smiths’ other works— sculptures, pictures, and installations —his videos are based on found materials; with simple technical means, he makes the vulnerability of bodies and emotions palpable in everyday objects lost in a world without human kindness.


1 – 2 pm > Studio | Performance lecture: I Know That Fantasies are Full of Lies (Take IV), 2013 by David Raymond Conroy. Followed by Q&A with curator Valentina Ravaglia.

David Raymond Conroy presents a performance lecture investigating the gap between the experience of something as sincere or inauthentic. How does our fascination with images, from advertising to mainstream cinema affect our interactions with objects and with each other?

2 – 3 pm > Studio | Performance/readings/distributed texts: Unidentified Fictionary Objects. Curated by Ami Clarke (Banner Repeater).

When the paradox of science fiction is everyday, artists are testing the limits of language as code, blurring the distinction between computational linguistics and natural language, hinting that technology is not merely a medium to represent thoughts that already exist but is capable of dynamic interactions producing the thoughts it describes. The following presentations act as a back-flip for the forthcoming exhibition at Banner Repeater in May.

Oral Backstory by Erica Scourti live performance. A feedback loop produced by reading the past month’s search history into Google’s voice activated search function, activating voice as both semantic and operative, and generating text and image through an interplay of spoken language, voice recognition software and search algorithms.
Robots Building Robots by Tyler Coburn, (live reading by Chris Polick) meditates on the “lights out” factory, so-named for the lack of need for regular, human supervision. The book takes form as a travelogue of improvised performances, which Coburn conducted at a science park in Southern Taiwan; rumour has it that a robotics company is presently building one such facility on site. During a long walk through the park’s grounds, the author considers literary and philosophical speculations on labour, machinic intelligence and the “automatic factory”: an enduring fiction gradually creeping into reality.
Zoēpic by Jesse Darling, performance lecture with powerpoint, 2014. “There is probably some kind of good in the mere fact of living itself [kata to zēn auto monon]. If there is no great difficulty as to the way of life [kata ton bion], clearly most men will tolerate much suffering and hold on to life [zoē] as if it were a kind of serenity [euēmeria, beautiful day] and a natural sweetness.”Aristotle, “Politics”, 350 bc
Error-Correction: an introduction to future diagrams (take 3): Impossible Structures “the eye that remains of the me that was I” - HD video (08:19 mins) and pamphlet (script) by Ami Clarke (Error-Correction App available soon). A series of experimental takes of an on-going enquiry into diagrams, that reference and include appropriated texts, whereby the voice, through language, is constituted “between someone else’s thoughts and the page’, and considers the production of meaning through inference, association, paradox, and contradiction.

3.30 – 4.30 pm > Gallery 1-5 | Poetry Readings and Performances, considering the artistic use of narrative, poetry, rhythm and fictional elements in language.

3.30 Sam Riviere, poetry reading
3.45 Rachael Allen, poetry reading
4.00 – (Gallery 1) Heather Phillipson, The TX Script (Splashy Phasings), 2013. Sound piece (2:39) + script.
4.10 Barnaby Lambert, A Planet in My Mouth, 2014. Staged as a performance in prose poetry; A Planet in My Mouth is a miniature sci-fi adventure across the language of high technology.
4.20 – (Gallery 5) Keren Cytter, Poker Face, 2009 (Performed by Andrew Kerton). One night on stage a romantic poet is overtaken by the murderous ambition of his alter ego. As he fights for the audience’s attention and for his sanity Lady Gaga’s eponymous hit is heard undulating around his poetry. His alter-ego coerces him to kill off his colleagues in order to reclaim the spotlight. Poker Face was originally conceived for the Serpentine Gallery’s poetry marathon in 2009.

5 – 6 pm > Gallery 5 | Performance Lecture: It’s Not Me It’s You, by Rózsa Farkas.

Building on her research at the Post Media Lab, on affect after the Internet, Rózsa Farkas takes Anger as her point of departure. Tracing Anger as a media and medium in art practices, as well as a socio-political device for both structural oppression and counter culture, this story asks: who is afforded Anger, and on what terms?

From 1 – 4 pm Heather Phillipson’s sound piece The TX Script (Splashy Phasings) will be played in Gallery 1 at 1, 2, 3 and 4 pm.

12 – 6pm > Office, 1st Floor | Research Library and Screening

Throughout the two days of events DRAF will host a Temporary Research Library with books, magazines and articles that have informed the research for this project.
Michael E. Smith, Spider Leviator, 2008; No ball-swing low, 2007; Dope dog, 2008; Hammerpants, 2010; Jellyfish, 2011

Partner: Arts Council England

Image: Still from Hannah Perry 'While it Lasts', 2012. Courtesy the artist

David Roberts Art Foundation
Symes Mews - London NW1 7JE
All events are free and no booking required. For more information please email

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dal 24/9/2015 al 11/12/2015

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