Margaret-Anne HuttonOn Writing a Literary History of the Contemporary, or What is, or was, “the Contemporary,” and should we keep calling it that?

“The contemporary” is an established term in a range of scholarly and disciplinary discourses, but what does it mean? Interweaving sections drawn from an (apparently) hypothetical and oxymoronic project—the writing of a literary history of “the contemporary”—with a critical analysis of the term(s) “the contemporary” and “contemporary” in the work of a range of theorists, Margaret-Anne Hutton sets out to expose the inconsistencies and ambiguities in its terminological usage, and to unpick some of the knots which bind the substantive and adjective. How can “(the) contemporary” function as a critical term, and how might we map its history?



Mikkel Bolt RasmussenHegel after Occupy

Hegel after Occupy is a Western Marxist analysis of different attempts to understand the present historical situation and the way theories of postmodernity, globalization, and contemporaneity implicitly or explicitly conceptualize the relationship between the historical present and political action. They all persuasively describe a breakdown of former historical categories but paradoxically end up understanding this breakdown as the end of politics tout court. Analysis and “position” thus merge, and the analytic diagnosis of a disavowal of the future (and the past) ends up as a disavowal of politics.



Contemporary Research Intensive

Contemporary Research Intensive was an event organized in the context of the 57th Venice Art Biennale to investigate the concept of “contemporaneity.” Gathering together artists/curators/researchers through an open call, we asked how the temporal complexity that follows from the coming together of different temporalities in the same present could be made known in the context of contemporary art research, and particularly through practices that involve exhibitionary forms. The book is both part and result of the intensive sharing of ideas to produce something that captures the spirit of both discussions at that time and the publication process as a temporal form.



Knut EbelingThere Is No Now
An Archaeology of Contemporaneity


Drawing together discourses on contemporaneity and new materialisms, this book examines a material conception of temporality that makes it possible to develop a critique of the philosophical discourse on presence. Claiming that “there is no now,” Ebeling develops an archaeology of contemporaneity according to which the traces of the contemporary can only be secured through visual or material operations, not historical ones.



Wolfgang ErnstThe Delayed Present
Media-Induced Tempor(e)alities & Techno-traumatic Irritations of “the Contemporary”


In the media theatre of contemporary culture, a drama unfolds: While the human sense of “the present” is challenged by the immediacy of analog signal transmission and the delays of digital data processing, a different (non-)sense of time unfolds within technologies themselves. At that moment, human-related phenomenological analysis clashes with the media-archaeological close reading of the technological event, in an impossible effort to let the temporeal articulate itself.



Raqs Media CollectiveWe Are Here, But Is It Now?
(The Submarine Horizons of Contemporaneity)


It is said that we know more about far-away galaxies than we do about the bottom of the oceans on earth. One could say something similar about our relationship to the future and to the contemporary. Searching for the present is a bit like deep sea diving. How to dive without drowning in the turbulent waters of now? How to find and share sources of illumination in submarine darkness? When to surface and how to ride a strong current? These are some of the questions that Raqs Media Collective address in their account of contemporaneity, guided by a motley collection of figures lost and found in the turbulence of their practice.



Dexter SinisterNotes on the Type, Time, Letters & Spirits

Three interconnected palimpsest essays recount (1) the backstory of a “meta” font recently updated by Dexter Sinister and used to typeset the Contemporary Condition book series, (2) a broad history of the rationalization of letterforms that considers the same typeface from “a higher point of disinterest,” and (3) a pending proposal for a sundial designed to operate in parallel physical and digital realms. Along the way they contemplate the ambiguous nature of our shared idea of *time* itself.



Geoff Cox, Jacob LundThe Contemporary Condition
Introductory Thoughts on Contemporaneity and Contemporary Art


What do we mean when we say that something is contemporary? And what should the designator “contemporary art” refer to? An immediate response would be that contemporary art is an art of the present, that it somehow addresses and expresses the present. But what is this present? What constitutes the present present or the contemporary contemporary? This first book in the Contemporary Condition series introduces some of the key issues concerning contemporaneity as a defining condition of our historical present. It thus acts as an extended preface to the series as a whole, calling for a rethinking of the deep structures of temporalization that render our present the way it is.



Jussi ParikkaA Slow, Contemporary Violence
Damaged Environments of Technological Culture


The contemporary moment is comprised of many overlapping speeds, rhythms, and periods of time. A central theme of Jussi Parikka’s book concerns slowness instead of acceleration: a different sort of a temporal horizon in order to understand some of the environmental temporalities that media and technological arts are involved in. This is approached through art and design practices that unfold this multiplicity of time, closely entwined with contemporary concerns in aesthetic theory, to understand and engage with the planetary time scales of slow environmental violence.



Terry SmithThe Contemporary Composition

Can we speak of composition when we are in a state of unfathomable decomposition? Art being made today defies coherent categorization, and the world presents itself, day after day, as spinning into confused chaos, structural disintegration, and violent disorder. Revising his well-known histories of contemporary art, Terry Smith argues that we must respond to the compelling need for coeval composition at a time defined by the contemporaneity of divisive difference. This book traces how—despite many obstacles—visual artists across the globe are rising to this challenge.