A series of programs exploring the past, present and future of Pataphysics - the "science of the particular" - in Philadelphia and beyond
From March 21 through April 21, 2014, Slought will present a series of programs exploring the past, present and future of 'Pataphysics. These programs include a conference exploring 'Pataphysics, both then and now, an architectural competition for students about retreat spaces entitled "Patarchitecture," and a retrospective exhibition of works by James Brewton, a Philadelphia artist whose short but very productive career epitomized the power of Pataphysics in 1960s American art and helped spawn graffiti art. In so doing, Slought seeks to further the study and practice of 'Pataphysics itself, and to transform Philadelphia itself into a "'Pataphysical city."
So what exactly is 'Pataphysics? 'Pataphysics, the "science of the particular" that "will examine the laws governing exceptions" and "explain the universe supplementary to this one" (Faustroll, Ch. 8), leapt into being through the works of French avant-garde novelist and playwright Alfred Jarry (1873-1907). Its life has extended far beyond its creator's and has taken on multiple forms. 'Pataphysics has inspired scores of the most important figures and movements of modernism and postmodernism, from Duchamp, Man Ray, Satie, Joyce, Dadaism, and Surrealism, to Beckett, Foucault, Deleuze, Cage, Nauman, Kentridge, Chimes, Anastasi, Oulipo and Fluxus. It has reached fields as diverse as music, architecture, film, philosophy, literature, linguistics, theater, the visual arts, politics, and the history of science, and even marks popular culture in the works of the Beatles and Monty Python. 'Pataphysics presents not merely a playful, comic inversion of physics and science as a whole, but a "jocoserious" approach to the examination all systems of knowledge and power, and this is one reason why so many avant-garde artists and thinkers have seen it as an ideal ludic tool for creative production and socio-political change.
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