The Artangel Longplayer Conversation 2009: The Long Conversation

10:00 – 10:36 Jeanette Winterson with Susie OrbachThe 2009 Longplayer Conversation was a 12-hour relay-style Long Conversation, opened and closed by writer Jeanette Winterson (for biography see 21:24 – 22:00 below).

Susie Orbach is a psychoanalyst and writer. She co-founded The Women’s Therapy Centre in 1976 and The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute, a training institute in New York, in 1981. Her many books include the recently published Bodies and the classic Fat is a Feminist Issue. For 10 years Susie wrote a series of columns in the Guardian on emotion, provoking conversation about public affairs and private feelings.

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10:36 – 11:12 Susie Orbach with Daniel GlaserDr Daniel Glaser is Head of Special Projects in public engagement at the Wellcome Trust. He comes from a neuroscience background, was the first ‘Scientist in Residence’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), has presented a television series for the BBC and co-chairs Café Scientifique at the Photographers’ Gallery.

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11:12 – 11:48 Daniel Glaser with Sophie FiennesSophie Fiennes began making films in 1998. She is widely acclaimed for her unique
observational eye and strong sense of cinematic form. Her films include The Late Michael Clark, Because I Sing, Hoover Street Revival, The Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema and VSPRS Show and Tell. Fiennes often employs a collaborative approach to filmmaking. She has worked with artists and thinkers ranging from dance maker Alain Platel to philosopher/psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek. Her films therefore also act as powerful portraits of some of today’s most iconic individuals. Current projects include a film with Anselm Kiefer called Over Your Cities, Grass Will Grow and an observational feature documentary titled Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life.[ download mp3 audio ]
11:48 – 12:24 Sophie Fiennes with Mark MiodownikDr Mark Miodownik is Head of the Materials Research Group at King’s College, London, and his main research area is self-organising materials on which he has published one book and more than 50 research papers. In 2003 he co-founded Materials Library which has been actively researching the senso-aesthetic properties of materials to understand why materials feel, smell and taste the way they do. This has resulted in collaborations with designers, architects, artists, as well as many museums, such as the Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery and the Wellcome Collection. Mark is a broadcaster and writer on engineering issues and believes passionately that to engineer is human.

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12:24 – 13:00 Mark Miodownik with Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the bestselling Tor Teens/HarperCollins UK novel Little Brother. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.

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13:00 – 13:36 Cory Doctorow with Ruth PadelRuth Padel’s latest collections of poetry is a biography through lyric poems of her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin. She has won the National Poetry Competition, is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London and Resident Poet at Christ’s College, Cambridge. She began as a Greek scholar at Oxford; her non-fiction includes a study of rock music and Greek myth, an eco-travel book on tigers, two studies of Greek ideas of the mind, and two popular books on reading modern poetry.

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13:36 – 14:12 Ruth Padel with Lewis WolpertLewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. Wolpert was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999.

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14:12 – 14:48 Lewis Wolpert with Charles Arsène-HenryCharles Arsène-Henry is a London-based editor and writer. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming second volume of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Infinite Conversation, a range of 70 interviews with prominent artists, writers, architects, philosophers and scientists. In 2009, he founded the agence de pensée White Box Black Box whose first project is a series of Knowledge Capsules, both printed and digital, conceived for specific individuals or institutions, made as an edition of one. Past and current themes: Images of the Brain, Texture of Dreams, Structure of the Night and Infinity.

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14:48 – 15:24 Charles Arsène-Henry with Mark LythgoeDr Mark Lythgoe is Director of the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging at University College London, where he develops novel imaging techniques for investigating brain and cardiac function. Mark is co-Director of the Cheltenham Science Festival, one of the largest science festivals in the world, and is passionately involved in the public engagement of science. As well as collaborating with artists to gain new perspectives on neuroscience, he has looked into the neuroscience of creativity itself, studying a former builder who developed an insatiable need to paint, draw, write and sculpt after suffering a stroke.

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15:24 – 16:00 Mark Lythgoe with Bonnie GreerBonnie Greer is a Chicago-born playwright living and working in Britain. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of the Franco-British Council. Greer has been Arts Council Playwright in Residence for the Soho Theatre and for the Black Theatre Co-operative, and Arts Council of England Playwright in Residence for the Pascal Theatre Company. She has won a Verity Bargate Award for Best New Play and has played Joan of Arc on the Paris stage. Greer is a frequent contributor to television, radio and newspaper reviews. Greer has been a regular panellist on the BBC’s Newsnight Review, and is the author of two novels: Hanging by Her Teeth and Entropy. Currently she is working on a play for the National Theatre Studio.

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16:00 – 16:36 Bonnie Greer with Marcus du SautoyMarcus du Sautoy is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He is currently an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and was previously a Royal Society University Research Fellow. In 2001 he won the prestigious Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society, and in 2004 Esquire Magazine chose him as one of the 100 most influential people under 40 in Britain. His academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory. In October 2008, he was appointed to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science, succeeding Richard Dawkins. He writes for The Times and The Guardian and has appeared several times on BBC Radio 4 and television. He has also written numerous academic articles and books on mathematics, the most recent being Finding Moonshine.

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16:36 – 17:12 Marcus du Sautoy with Robert PestonRobert Peston is the BBC’s award-winning Business Editor, who has broadcast and published a series of exclusive stories about the global financial crisis and the Credit Crunch. Peston has published two critically acclaimed books, including Who Runs Britain?, his best-selling account of who’s to blame for the economic mess we find ourselves in.

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17:12 – 17:48 Robert Peston with Steven RoseSteven Rose is a neuroscientist and emeritus professor of biology at the Open University, where he researches the brain processes involved in learning and memory. He is a popular author and broadcaster who has written extensively on brains, evolution and genetics. With feminist sociologist Hilary Rose he has also had a longstanding engagement with the political, ethical, legal and social aspects of the developing life sciences.

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17:48 – 18:24 Steven Rose with Lisa JardineLisa Jardine is an academic, writer and broadcaster. She is Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters and Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London. Since 2008 she has been Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

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18:24 – 19:00 Lisa Jardine with Andrew KöttingAndrew Kötting: born then Lumberjack in Scandinavia then KLIPPERTY KLOPP and HOI POLLOI then the Slade then performances and screenings of film and video work throughout UK and Europe then feature films GALLIVANT and THIS FILTHY EARTH then projects MAPPING PERCEPTION and IN THE WAKE OF A DEADAD then installations performances and bookworks then Professor of Time Based Media University for the Creative Arts then OFFSHORE Cross Channel swim project then IVUL.

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19:00 – 19:36 Andrew Kötting with David ToopDavid Toop has published four books, including Ocean of Sound and Haunted Weather, and recently completed a fifth, entitled Sinister Resonance. Curated exhibitions include Sonic Boom, Hayward Gallery, 2000, and Playing John Cage, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2005. Solo albums include Black Chamber and Sound Body. He is currently writing and composing a chamber opera entitled Star-Shaped Biscuit.

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19:36 – 20:12 David Toop with Mark HaddonMark Haddon is the author of A Spot of Bother and The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time. He has also written children’s books, radio plays, poetry and TV drama. He has recently finished writing a play and is working on a third novel.

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20:12 – 20:48 Mark Haddon with Rachel ArmstrongRachel Armstrong was recently described as a polymath by TED’s Tom Reilly (Technology Entertainment Design), at this year’s TED Global Oxford conference. Rachel’s extensive interdisciplinary practice engages with a fundamental driving principle – the fundamental creativity of science. Her work uses all manner of media to engage audiences and bring them into contact with the latest advances in science and their real potential through the inventive applications of technology, to address some of the biggest problems facing the world today.

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20:48 – 21:24 Rachel Armstrong with Vincent WalshVincent Walsh is Professor of Human Brain Research at UCL. He has published over 200 scientific articles. His research interests encompass visual perception, numerical cognition, time perception and human brain stimulation. In 2003 he proposed a Theory of Magnitude to explain the emergence of numerical understanding from the brain’s systems for processing information about time and space. He is widely involved in public projects on the science of the senses and music and is currently writing a book on why (some) scientists (sometimes) lie.

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21:24 – 22:00 Vincent Walsh with Jeanette WintersonJeanette Winterson OBE has written 9 novels, plus essays, screenplays, and childrens’ books. She is a feature writer for The Times. Her first novel Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (1985) won the Whitbread Prize. Her latest novel The Stone Gods was published in 2007. Her books are available in 11 languages and 21 countries. She grows most of her own food and has a shop in Spitalfields, London.

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More about Longplayer

Overview of Longplayer

Longplayer is a one thousand year long musical composition. It began playing at midnight on the 31st of December 1999, and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, at which point it will complete its cycle and begin again. Conceived and composed by Jem Finer, it was originally produced as an Artangel commission, and is now in the care of the Longplayer Trust.

Conceptual Background

While Longplayer is most often described as a 1000 year long musical composition, the preoccupations that led to its conception were not of a musical nature; they concerned time, as it is experienced and as it is understood from the perspectives of philosophy, physics and cosmology. At extremes of scale, time has always appeared to me as baffling, both in the transience of its passing on quantum mechanical levels and in the unfathomable expanses of geological and cosmological time, in which a human lifetime is reduced to no more than a blip.

How does Longplayer work?

The composition of Longplayer results from the application of simple and precise rules to six short pieces of music. Six sections from these pieces – one from each – are playing simultaneously at all times. Longplayer chooses and combines these sections in such a way that no combination is repeated until exactly one thousand years has passed.

About Longplayer's Survival

From its initial conception, a central part of the Longplayer project has been about considering strategies for the future. How does one keep a piece of music playing across generations? How does one prepare for its technological adaptability, knowing how few technologies have remained viable over the last millenium? How does one legislate for its upkeep? And how can one communicate that responsibility to those who might be looking after it some 950 years after its original custodians have perished?