Twice Upon A Time: Magic, Alchemy and the Transubstantiation of the Senses conference

The Centre for Fine Art Research based at the School of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design presents a conference like no other: Twice Upon a Time: Magic, Alchemy and the Transubstantiation of the Senses, 26-27 June 2014.

I am thrilled to be giving a paper here in such illustrious company as Ron Athey. My paper is called 3am: Terrors, Revels and Exhilarations and explores an exhibition curated by Angela Kingston called 3am: wonder, paranoia and the restless night.

During the conference there will be a number of artworks inhabiting the building and interactive demonstrations related to alchemy. This is no ordinary dry academic conference.

Artwork by Grace Williams

To be held in association with Zetesis, the international Journal for Fine Art, Philosophy and the Wild Sciences (ARTicle Press) and the Centre for Making (S.T.U.F.F.)

Under the illusive cloak of magic, the curiosity of alchemists introduced a means for experimentation into the innate properties of materials. The transformation of raw matter into precious metals, the combination of hot sulphur and wet cold mercury to birth the philosophers stone; to bring the inanimate to life, to miraculously vanish and conjure the body as well as providing a basis for the laws of substance based on sensory interaction and its potentiality. The scientific practices of today echo this inherent desire for material transformation, yet Western tradition remains cautious of unreasoned sensorial data, treating it with illusory trepidation. While this paradigm has proven an efficient methodology, it has installed a discriminatory partition between that which can be rationalised or mathematized and that which is ‘only’ sensory. These energised and sensate transformations mark the beginning of a new challenge against tradition, returning to curiosity, experimentation and the intensity of the senses away from conventional modes of thought.

Artwork by David Cheeseman

The Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR) and the Research Centre for Creative Making (S.T.U.F.F.) based at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), have joined forces to welcome a mixture of papers/performances/exhibition installations that respond to magical and alchemical practices, in all their forms; including but not limited to the origins of alchemy and its contemporary relevance in science, magical performance, illusion, automata, the sensory in artificial intelligence and radical thinking in relation to concepts of time. We have invited artists, scientists and philosophers to explore again the threshold between these paradigms, dwelling on curiosity and the tradition of scientific questing. By re-visiting the alchemist’s vision, we are engaging in a renegotiation of the very boundary that separates the shifting representational referents in the traditional image of magic; seeking a way to extend the concept of transformation of the same (metamorphosis), rather than re-defining a realm that is allegedly beyond rationality and linguistic articulation.

The Alchemists include:
Jivan Astfalck (School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University)
Grace Williams & David Cheeseman (School of Art, Birmingham City University)
Martin Reinhart (Artist/Inventor, Vienna)
David Toop (University of the Arts London, Chair of Audio Culture and Improvisation)
Ron Athey (2 Gyrlz Performing Arts)
Fatima (School of Art, Birmingham City University)
Stuart Nolan (Research Magician)

Two Day: Full Price: £50.00
Concessions: £30.00
One Day:
Full Price: £25.00
Concessions: £15.00

Book Now:

@CFAR_BCU #TwiceuponATime
T: +44 (0)121 331 5978


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s