The Longplayer Assembly marked the twentieth anniversary of Longplayer.
Embracing the essence of Longplayer as a contemplation of time, the Longplayer Assembly echoed this continuity through its convergence of 24 participants, from around the world, whose individual specialist work embodies long term thought. Each speaker conversed in turn, passing the virtual baton every 30 minutes in a non-stop 12-hour relay. This was broadcast live online on Saturday 26 September, 10:00 – 22:00 BST and is now viewable in its entirety on both YouTube and Vimeo.
There is no formula for the conversations beyond the stipulations that they should last exactly 30 minutes, and should address themselves to a series of central questions: “What kind of future do you want and how could it be realised within your field of expertise?”, “What stories can you tell that point to the kind of future we could be heading towards?” and “Might collaboration between disciplines help to imagine positive long-term change?” – Claire Armitstead, the Guardian, 22 September 2020
1. John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker.
His works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, with whom he continues to collaborate. In 1986 their first film, Handsworth Songs explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos, and newsreel. The film won several international prizes and established a multi-layered visual style that has become a recognisable motif of Akomfrah’s practice. His work Vertigo Sea was exhibited at the 2015 Venice Biennale, exploring what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls ‘the sublime seas’. His largest film installation Purple, exhibited at the Barbican in 2017, addresses climate change, human communities and the wilderness.
2. Naomi Alderman is a novelist and game writer.
Her most recent novel The Power was the winner of the 2017 Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction. It was longlisted for the 2017 Orwell Prize, and chosen as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, NPR, Entertainment Weekly and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her first novel Disobedience was published in ten languages and has recently been adapted into a feature-length film by Oscar-winning director Sebastián Lelio, starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. Alderman has worked as a games writer for over a decade and is a lead writer on the alternate reality game Perplex City. In 2012 she co-created the top-selling fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!
3. Laurie Anderson is an artist, performer, composer, and writer.
She is a pioneering figure in performance art who began making work in New York in the 1970s alongside other leading figures such as Trisha Brown and Gordon Matta-Clark. In 1982 Anderson gained wider recognition with her recording O Superman, which subsequently appeared on the album Big Science, the first of her seven albums. Anderson has also published six books, and as a composer has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme; dance pieces by Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley; and a score for Robert Lepage’s theatre production, Far Side of the Moon. Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe and her film Heart of a Dog was chosen as an official selection of the 2015 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.
4. Rupert Beale is a Clinician Scientist.
He is the group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, and an Honorary Consultant at The Royal Free Hospital. His laboratory works on influenza and SARS-CoV-2, especially focussing on cellular responses to infection by these viruses. As part of the Crick Covid Consortium, he helped set up diagnostics for Covid-19 in March when there was a critical shortage of tests. This demonstrated it was possible in a few weeks for academic institutes to set up a clinical testing pipeline to the same standard as public health and NHS laboratories. He has written for the London Review of Books, the Spectator and the Guardian on the science, policy and ethics of the pandemic.
5. Holly Jean Buck is an Assistant Professor of Environment & Sustainability.
She currently works at the University at Buffalo in New York and researches how communities can be involved in the design of emerging environmental technologies. Buck works at the interface of sociology, international development, and science and technology studies. Her diverse research interests include agroecology and carbon farming, new energy technologies, artificial intelligence, and the restoration of California’s Salton Sea. At present, she is studying how technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere might affect landscapes in the central US, and how policy for scaling up carbon dioxide removal can be designed for community benefit. She has written on climate engineering including humanitarian and development approaches to geoengineering, gender considerations, and human rights issues, and is the author of After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair and Restoration from Verso Books.
6. Meehan Crist is a writer.
She is currently the writer-in-residence in Biological Sciences at Columbia University. Previously she was editor-at-large at Nautilus and reviews editor for The Believer. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books, the New Republic, The Nation, Tin House, Nautilus, Scientific American, and Science. Awards include the 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the 2016 AOA Award for excellence in Health Journalism, the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship and fellowships from MacDowell, The Blue Mountain Center, Ucross, and Yaddo. She is a founding member of NeuWrite and the host of Convergence: a show about the future.
7. Brian Eno is a musician, producer, visual artist, and activist.
He first came into international prominence in the early ’70s as a founding member of the British band, Roxy Music. His visionary production includes albums with Talking Heads, Devo, U2 and Coldplay, whilst his long list of collaborations include recordings with David Bowie, David Byrne, Grace Jones, James Blake among many. In 1995 he collaborated with Laurie Anderson on the Artangel commission Self Storage – a series of installations housed in empty spaces at a storage facility in West London. Meanwhile, his visual experiments with light and video continue to parallel his musical career with exhibitions all over the globe. Eno has helped introduce unique conceptual approaches and recording techniques to contemporary music and has been described as one of popular music’s most influential and innovative figures. His most recent album Mixing Colours is a collaboration with his brother Roger Eno and was released on Deutsche Grammophon earlier this year.
8. Saul Griffith is an inventor and entrepreneur.
He was trained as an engineer and received his Ph.D. at MIT in the junction between materials science and information theory. Prior to MIT, he studied in Sydney, Australia and at UC Berkeley in metallurgical engineering. Since graduating in 2004 Griffith has founded and co-founded numerous technology companies based in the Bay Area. These include Treau, Sunfolding, Roam Robotics, Fablight, Wattzon, Canvas Construction, Makani Power (acquired by Google), Instructables (acquired by Autodesk), Squid Labs, Howtoons, Optiopia, and Potenco. He is currently the Founder and Chief Scientist at Otherlab, an independent R&D lab that helps government agencies and Fortune 500 companies understand energy infrastructure and build transformational technologies that bring us closer to 100% decarbonisation.
9. Janna Levin is an astrophysicist and professor.
She is currently the Claire Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University, as well as the Chair and Founding Director of the Science Studios at Pioneer Works. A Guggenheim Fellow, Levin has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of space-time. She is the presenter of the NOVA feature Black Hole Apocalypse, aired on PBS—the first female presenter for NOVA in 35 years. Her previous books include How the Universe Got Its Spots and the novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham Prize, and Black Hole Blues. Her latest book, Black Hole Survival Guide, will be published in autumn 2020.
10. Precious Lunga is an epidemiologist and entrepreneur.
She is the CEO and Co-Founder of Baobab Circle – the company that developed the award-winning health platform Afya Pap which delivers personalised management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension across the African continent via mobile phones. She was previously at Econet Wireless where she established Econet Health, launching several services including the HealthTips platform which acquired more than 750,000 users within a 6-month period. Previous roles have included working in biotechnology research and development, clinical trials and policy implementation. She has held positions as an advisor at UNAIDS Geneva and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Dr Lunga trained as an epidemiologist and sits on the boards of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Malaria Consortium. She has a PhD in Neuroscience from Cambridge University and is a Yale World Fellow.
11. Vibeke Mascini is a visual artist and writer.
Her research looks into historic and futuristic concepts of electricity as a speculative agent of life. Often working collaboratively with scientists, engineers, government employees, and music composers, her sculptures, installations, videos, and texts seek to channel an intimate understanding of electricity by drawing a direct relation to its source. Among the outcomes of this research is the sound installation Salvage, for which a new form of battery was developed that harnessed the energy released from burning the remains of a stranded whale. Mascini’s work is included in international collections such as MoMA Library, New York; Academisch Medisch Centrum, Amsterdam; Columbia University Library, New York; and Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.
12. Mariana Mazzucato is a Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value.
She currently works at UCL and is the founding director of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Her work is focused on the relationship between innovation and the direction of growth, with emphasis on rethinking the public sector’s role to ensure growth is more innovation-led, inclusive and sustainable. Mazzucato works with global leaders on ‘mission-oriented’ policies, which can steer solutions towards grand challenges from the battle against climate warming to building resilient health systems. Her 2013 book, The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths, looks at the ‘investor of first resort’ role that the State has played in the history of technological change — from the Internet to biotech— and the lessons for a Green New Deal. In 2016 she co-edited the book Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth and in 2018 wrote the book, The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy.
13. Mulindwa Moses is a climate activist.
He is from Uganda where he stands in strike for two days per week, alone on the roadside. He stood for 55 days consecutively to raise awareness of the Save Congo Rainforest and Two Trees a Week campaigns. Moses was inspired to take action after speaking to those who had lost family members in landslides and floods, which he later discovered were being caused by the climate crisis. Moses is the founder of BELIEVE, a platform that aims to create climate resilience societies and the empowering of young people.
14. Catalina Ortiz is an urbanist and Associate Professor.
She currently works at UCL where her research focuses on critical spatial practices and the negotiated co-production of space intersecting urban design, strategic spatial planning, and urban policy mobility in the global south. She holds a PhD in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago as Fulbright scholar as well as a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Studies. Ortiz’s professional experience of over a decade focuses on teaching, research and consultancy linked to international organisations, national and local governments around urban projects, and spatial planning issues in Latin America. Before joining UCL, Ortiz worked for the National University of Colombia (Medellin), where she was the Director of the Urban and Regional Planning at the School of Architecture. She has been a visiting fellow at the Latin Lab, GSAPP, Columbia University and at DUSP, MIT.
15. Will Prentice is a sound archivist.
He currently works at the British Library, as part of a team, caring for their seven million audio and video recordings since 1999. His work focuses on preservation, digitisation and education, and he has a research interest in early ethnographic sound recordings. Will is currently the Training Manager for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage, an £18.8 million project funded in part by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project will digitally preserve half a million of the UK’s most vulnerable sound recordings, and create ten audio preservation centres of excellence around the UK, by 2022. He is a Trustee of the EMI Archive Trust, and Chair of the Training & Education Committee for the International Association for Sound & Audiovisual Archives (IASA).
16. Alexander Rose is an industrial designer.
He is also the Executive Director of The Long Now Foundation where he has been working with Long Now and computer scientist Danny Hillis since 1997 to build a monument scale, all mechanical 10,000 Year Clock. Rose speaks about the work of The Long Now Foundation, a close cousin of Longplayer, all over the world at venues ranging from the TED conference to corporations and government agencies. He founded The Interval and has facilitated a range of projects including The Organizational Continuity Project, The Rosetta Project, Long Server and others. He shares several design patents on the 10,000 Year Clock with Danny Hillis, the first prototype of which is in the Science Museum of London, and the monument scale version is now under construction in West Texas. Rose was an artist in residence at Silicon Graphics Inc., and a founding partner of the robotics company Inertia Labs. He frequently writes about building artefacts and institutions that last, co-curates the Long Now Seminars, as well as The Conversations at The Interval and some talks at The Battery SF. Alexander is also an advisor to the METI project.
17. Sukhdev Sandhu is a Professor of English and Social and Cultural Analysis.
He currently works at New York University where he founded the Center for Experimental Humanities and runs the hugely popular and wildly eclectic Colloquium for Unpopular Culture. He publishes and edits the imprint Texte und Tone and is the author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City, I’ll Get My Coat and Night Haunts: A Journey through the London Night. Formerly the chief film critic for the Daily Telegraph, he now lives in New York and London where he has written for numerous publications including London Review of Books, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Frieze, Art in America, Artforum, Times Literary Supplement, Du, Sight & Sound, The Wire, Bidoun, and The Guardian.
18. Saskia Sassen is a Professor of Sociology.
She is currently the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and a member of its Committee on Global Thought, which has chaired until 2015. She is a student of cities, immigration, and states in the world economy, with inequality, gendering and digitization – three key variables that also run through her work. Born in the Netherlands, she grew up in Argentina and Italy, studied in France, was raised in five languages, and began her professional life in the United States. Sassen is the author of eight books, translated into over twenty languages. She has received numerous awards and honours, among them the 2020 The Edgar de Picciotto International Prize, multiple doctor honoris causa, the 2013 Principe de Asturias Prize in the Social Sciences, election to the Royal Academy of the Sciences of the Netherlands, and made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government.
19. Jacqueline Springer is a broadcaster, journalist, lecturer, and curator.
She has worked as a Senior Broadcast Journalist for the BBC and contributed to conversations on contemporary music, culture, and representation. She has also worked at Radio 1, 1xtra, The World Service, and 6Music and contributed to output on BBC Radio 4, 5live and television (BBC Four, BBC2, BBC News Channel). Jacqueline works independently exploring race, culture, and musical expression under the banner of Contemporary Black Music Culture. She has lectured at Berklee College of Music, Boston, Purdue University, Indiana, and London College of Communication. She is also a co-founder of fashion, culture, and identity studies event curation duo Union Black (London College of Fashion, British Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum) where the relationship between music, sartorial style, race and cultural identities are explored via bespoke commissions. She currently teaches courses on race, gender, music, class and media at Syracuse and Fordham Universities in London.
20. Amia Srinivasan is a philosopher and academic.
She specialises in political philosophy, epistemology, and the history and philosophy of feminism. Since January 2020, she has been Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, Oxford. She has recently been thinking about the role of anger in politics, political epistemology, no-platforming, and the ethics of pedagogy. Srinivasan is a contributing editor for the London Review of Books. Her writing focuses on topics such as sex, animals, death, the university, technology, anger, and has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, the Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, The New York Times and TANK. She is currently finishing writing two books – the first is about the practice of critical genealogy, entitled The Contingent World: Genealogy, Epistemology, Politics. The second is a set of feminist essays entitled The Right to Sex, forthcoming with Bloomsbury in the UK and FSG in the US.
21. Helen Thompson is a Professor of Political Economy.
She has been at Cambridge since 1994. She is a regular panellist on Talking Politics and a columnist for the New Statesman. She is interested in the political economy of the present predicaments facing western politics including their relationship to geopolitics. Since 2008 she has focussed on questions generated by the 2008 financial crash and the eurozone crisis, including their historical origins in the fallout of the economic and political crises of the 1970s. Her most recent book is Oil And The Western Economic Crisis, published by Palgrave. Meanwhile, her article Inevitability and contingency: the political economy of Brexit won the 2017 prize for best article in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations.
22. Eyal Weizman is a Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures.
He currently works at Goldsmiths, University of London where he is also the founding director of the Centre for Research Architecture. In 2010 he founded the research agency Forensic Architecture and directs it ever since. In 2007 he set up, with Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine. In 2013 he designed a permanent folly in Gwangju, South Korea which was documented in the 2015 book The Roundabout Revolution. His other books include The Conflict Shoreline, Mengele’s Skull, The Least of all Possible Evils, Hollow Land and A Civilian Occupation. Weizman is on the editorial board of Third Text, Humanity, Cabinet and Political Concepts and is on the board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and on the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
23. Farhana Yamin is an Activist, International Environmental Lawyer
She is an internationally recognised environmental lawyer, climate change and development policy expert and has advised leaders and ministers on climate negotiations for 30 years, representing small islands and developing countries since the early 1990s. In addition to founding Track 0, she is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, a Senior Advisor to SYSTEMIQ and an FRSA. Yamin stepped back from the world of UN negotiations in 2018 to focus on non-violent civil disobedience and social justice movements challenging capitalism. As a Political Coordinator of Extinction Rebellion, she played a key role in XR April 2019 protests, glueing herself to the Shell HQ offices in London, alongside thousands of other activists. She is currently a Coordinator of Camden Think & Do, an initiative s which is radical inclusion supporting communities create “pop up” actions hubs in high streets and public spaces. She also sits as an expert on various Commissions and serves as trustee or an advisor to a number of organisations working on the intersection of social, racial and ecological justice, including Greenpeace UK, SYSTEMIQ, WWF-UK and Julie’s Bicycle.
24. Theodore Zeldin CBE is a Philosopher, Sociologist, and Historian.
He is the author of numerous books including A History of French Passions, An Intimate History of Humanity, The Hidden Pleasures of Life: A New Way of remembering the past and imagining the future, Conversation and Happiness. His books have been translated into 27 languages. He is Fellow of St Antony’s and Green-Templeton Colleges at Oxford University, President of the Oxford Muse Foundation, co-founder of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery and initiator of the Feast of Strangers. He has been an adviser to the Presidents of France and the E U, and is a Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur.