Accessibility statement

Detail from Anish Kapoor, 'Cloud Gate', 2006, Millenium Park, Chicago, photo Michael White


Organisers: Michael White and Jo Applin (History of Art)

‘Nothing’ is central to modern thought, be it relativity and quantum theories that propose unobservable events, or philosophies which dispense with the metaphysical traditions that present ‘nothing’ solely in terms of being, as absence, as non-existence. In terms of culture, ‘nothing’ could be said to characterise most profoundly the crises in representation that typify modernism. From monochrome paintings to the complete dematerialisation of the art object, plotless novels and actionless films, silent music and plays with no characters, there has been an astonishingly concerted effort to render ‘nothing’ by a vast array of artists, writers, filmmakers, dramatists and theorists.

This research strand will place reflection on such attempts to manifest ‘nothing’ alongside current debates among philosophers and cultural theorists on such topics as temporality, which has repositioned ‘nothing’ in connection to events rather than objects, the creativity of non-productivity and non-participation, and the ever-increasing virtualisation of economic structures, in which forms of immaterial wealth hold greater sway and labour becomes ever more immaterial.

Forthcoming meetings

Past meetings