Memories-of-the-Future-banner-1896x948Tomorrow (Friday 2 May 2014) Senate House will host an exciting 2-day interdisciplinary conference on the interrelation between the imagination of the future, memory and the future of memory. In this guest post Emanuela Patti (IMLR) talks about the forthcoming conference.


The Memories of the Future conference is about to start. Utopian visions of the future loom large in the modern age, often fuelled by spectacular advancements in technology, applied arts and industries, and yet, much of this is a myth of the future, rooted in modern capitalism and drawn upon history, imagination and memory of the past.  By gathering sixty experts in memory studies as well as philosophy, design, architecture, digital culture, literature and the arts, this interdisciplinary conference will look at the interrelation between the imagination of the future, memory and the future of memory. Utopias, dystopias, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic visions across arts will be taken into consideration, with a special focus on Italian Futurism (1909-1944), the avant-garde movement which made the concept of ‘future’ the core of its ideology. We will discuss these topics with our three keynote speakers: Alberto Abruzzese, Professor of Sociology of Communication at IULM University in Milan; Giuliana Pieri, Reader in Italian and the Visual Arts at Royal Holloway; Malcom Quinn, Reader in Critical Practice at the University of the Arts London.

If there is no future without memory, the first question to be asked is what the future of memory is. While some panels will explore how we are dealing with the lingering presence of old traumas within new generations (‘postmemory’, Hirsch), others will examine the impact of digital technology on the ways we construct and disseminate our narratives and images of the past. Not only can digital memory store a great amount of incorruptible data, but the social media and mass audience participation have led to new forms of negotiation of our ‘collective memory’ (Halbwachs). Whether the future of memory will be a ‘cloud atlas’ (Mitchell), the ‘crowdsourcing’ of our memories or yet something different, they all seem to be affected by a new conception of time and space. As Bernard Stiegler points out, ‘real-time’ communication implies that an event is not only already memorable at the moment it is perceived but also already a projection of the future since it has been chosen as memorable before its transmission.

Co-organised by UAL Chelsea and the Centre for the study of Cultural Memory (CCM) at the IMLR (School of Advanced Study), Memories of the Future promises to be a unique event focused on the following questions:

  • If we are in an ‘after the future’ position where utopias have been crushed under the awareness that the myth of the future is rooted in modern capitalism, is the future a thing of the past?
  • Is no future the new future?
  • How do ancient myths and narratives construct future scenarios?


The full conference programme and registration details can be found at the University of the Arts London website. Emanuela Patti works for the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR), and is a member of the Steering Committee for Memories of the Future conference.