The Artangel Longplayer Conversation 2013

Longplayer Conversation 2013: Richard Holloway and Richard Mabey.

Longplayer conversation 2013: Richard Holloway and Richard Mabey from Artangel on Vimeo.

Mabey is a celebrated writer about nature and our relationship to it. His most recent books include Turned Out Nice Again, Living With the Weather and Weeds: The Story of Outlaw Plants.

Holloway, a writer, broadcaster and self-proclaimed ‘agnostic Christian’, was formerly Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church until he stood down in 2000. His books include the memoir Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt and Between the Monster and the Saint: Reflections on the Human Condition.

The talk took place at RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD on Thursday 31 October 2013.

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?