The Longplayer Conversation 2021

THE LONGPLAYER CONVERSATION 2021
Denise Ferreira da Silva and Timothy Morton

Online, presented in partnership with the British Library
27 October, 19:30 – 20:45
Free event

This year’s edition brought together two of the most important thinkers and cultural activists of our age – Denise Ferreira da Silva and Timothy Morton – for a fascinating conversation, informed by their profound engagement with ecology, race and social justice.

Through the lens of Longplayer, they discussed moving towards global equity in human and non-human relations and how the Black Lives Matter movement is key to a properly green and socially sustainable future.

This online event, free to attend, was introduced by the Chair of the Longplayer Trust, Gareth Evans. There was a live Q&A with the speakers after their conversation.

Denise Ferreira da Silva is an academic and practising artist. She is the author of Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007), A Dívida Impagavel (2019), Unpayable Debt (2021) and co-editor (with Paula Chakravartty) of Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime (2013). Her articles have been published in leading interdisciplinary journals, such as Social Text, Theory, Culture & Society, PhiloSOPHIA, Griffith Law Review, Theory & Event and The Black Scholar. Her artistic works include the films Serpent Rain (2016), 4Waters-Deep Implicancy (2018), Soot Breath/Corpus Infinitum (2020), in collaboration with Arjuna Neuman; and the relational art practices Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon, in collaboration with Valentina Desideri. She has exhibited and lectured at major art venues, such as the Pompidou Center (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London, MASP (Sāo Paulo), Guggenheim (New York), and MoMa (New York). She has also written for publications for major art events (Liverpool Biennale, 2017; São Paulo Biennale, 2016, Venice Biennale, 2017, and Documenta 14) and feature (essays and interviews) in art publishing venues, such as Canadian Art, Texte Zur Kunst, and E-Flux.

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. Described in the Guardian in 2017 as ‘the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene’, Morton has written extensively at the intersection of culture, ecology and philosophy, including Hyposubjects: On Becoming Human (2021), All Art Is Ecological (Penguin, 2021), Spacecraft (Bloomsbury, 2021), Being Ecological (Penguin, 2018), Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People (2017), Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (2016), Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism (2015), Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (2013), Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (2013), The Ecological Thought (2010) and Ecology without Nature (2007). Morton has collaborated with numerous artists including on Living in the Future’s Past, a 2018 film about global warming with Jeff Bridges and as author of the libretto for the opera Time Time Time by Jennifer Walshe. Morton’s work has been translated into 11 languages. In 2014 they gave the Wellek Lectures in Theory.

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?