Applied Baudrillard


5-7 September 2018 / Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) was a poet, pataphysician, translator, photographer, public intellectual, theoretician, enfant terrible and personae non gratae of French philosophy, whose works had a major worldwide influence in academia and popular discourse. Across a seemingly heterogeneous oeuvre – of more than forty books and numerous other publications from articles, poems, and songs, to interviews and photographs – that touched upon almost every discipline across the humanities and social sciences Baudrillard had one predominant concern: a theorization of the ‘object’.

From Baudrillard’s earliest theorizations of the ‘object system’, and the general semiological process and logic for social integration in affluent consumer societies (e.g. The System of Objects, 1968); to his final essays on taking up the position of the ‘object’ in the wake of mediatisation, virtualisation, and the disappearance of the subject to imagine a world without humans (e.g. Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, 2007), Baudrillard’s oeuvre is a remarkably consistent treatise on the disappearance of the object and its appearance as image, sign, simulacra, simulation, hyperreality, integral reality. Through an inversion of perhaps the most famous of philosophical questions, Baudrillard asks ‘Why is there nothing rather than something?’ to simulate and challenge the reality principle: the systematic completion and overpowering of the world through technology and the elimination of all illusion and enigma.

More than just an initiator of poststructuralism Baudrillard was one of the world’s most fêted, influential, provocative and divisive thinkers. Eschewing the restrictions and responsibilities of an academic career, Baudrillard was nevertheless serious, but it seems that Baudrillard’s philosophy was not taken seriously enough during his lifetime. Whilst more than ten years after his death Baudrillard’s theoretical writings continue to inspire by matching and anticipating the form and direction of the state of the world (the world appears to be playing catch-up to Baudrillard’s theorisations); they are also assuming more importance as it is increasingly realised that the later Baudrillard’s books were published the more interesting they are. Most research and opinion with regard to Baudrillard’s ideas to date have either focused on his earliest works, or have incorrectly sought to restrict Baudrillard’s importance to a particular epoch (as a philosopher of his times, the chief diagnostician of postmodernity) or decade (the fashionable philosopher of the 1980s when Baudrillard’s work on simulation had a huge impact, especially in the art world), whereas the fact of the matter is that on the cusp of his death Baudrillard was signalling another shift in his thinking to a state where integral reality has become all encompassing (This text is from - Smith RG (2018) 'Baudrillard, Jean', in Bloomsbury Handbook of Literary and Cultural Theory. Ed. Jeffrey R. Di Leo (London, Bloomsbury), pp. 387–388).

The 1st and 2nd International Conferences on Baudrillard Studies

The 1st International and Multidisciplinary Conference on Baudrillard studies - with the theme 'Engaging Baudrillard' - took place at Swansea University in 2006 and was organized by Richard G. Smith, William Merrin, Marcus Doel, and David Clarke. With 110 delegates its aims were to explore how Baudrillard’s work has been taken up within different disciplines and contexts - to consider how these are related to one another and ponder their likely legacy. Moving on from, and building upon, the Swansea conference some 12 years later, this 2nd International and Multidisciplinary Conference on Baudrillard Studies - with the theme of 'Applied Baudrillard - aims to take stock of developments in Baudrillard Studies over the past decade and enable discussion and debate as to the ever-increasing significance and importance of the application of Baudrillard’s writings and ideas across the world in numerous disciplines. Thus we welcome contributions that pertain to the relevance of Baudrillard's philosophy in established and emerging fields across and beyond the the disciplines that constitute the humanities and social sciences.

Conference Organizers

Dr Francesco Proto is an Architect, Theorist, Architecture Historian, Critical Theorist and Visual Culturist. He trained as an architect at Dominique Perrault Architecte in Paris and worked on projects such as the extension of the Naples Railway Station and Metro Exchange, the Marjinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Donau City (Vienna), and on bids such as the competition for the London Olympics 2012. Currently Francesco is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Oxford Brookes University. He was the first to translate Baudrillard’s work into the architectural world with his edited book Mass Identity Architecture: Architectural Writings of Jean Baudrillard (Wiley Classic, 2006). His forthcoming book Baudrillard for Architects explores more deeply Baudrillard’s legacy in Architecture, and especially the neglected concept of ‘ambience’. As a scholar of both Baudrillard and Jacques Lacan, Francesco also researches the original translation of Lacan’s ideas into Baudrillard’s oeuvre and the application of both into architectural theory and practice as cross-disciplinary areas of investigation incorporating art, music, politics and aesthetics.

Dr Richard G. Smith is Reader/Associate Professor in Human Geography at Swansea University, UK. He is the Editor of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, and has published many articles and several books on Baudrillard: Jean Baudrillard: Fatal Theories (2009), The Baudrillard Dictionary (2010), Jean Baudrillard: From Hyperreality to Disappearance, Uncollected Interviews (2015), Jean Baudrillard: the Disappearance of Culture, Uncollected Interviews (2017), and Jean Baudrillard: penser à voix haute, entretiens 1968–2008 (Presses Universitaires de France, 2019). He co-organized the first major international and interdisciplinary UK conference on Baudrillard in 2006, and was interviewed about Jean Baudrillard for a South Korean TV documentary. He is currently completing eight more books on Baudrillard, including: Jean Baudrillard: The Missing Pieces, Uncollected Writings and Photographs (Edinburgh University Press), Jean Baudrillard: Untranslated German Interviews (Seagull Books) [3 volumes], Jean Baudrillard: Untranslated French Interviews (Seagull Books) [3 volumes], and Collecting Baudrillard (Delere Press, Singapore). In Urban Studies he has pioneered new poststructuralist network and assemblage approaches and his research on world cities has been reported on extensively in the world’s print media, is among the most highly-cited and reprinted in the world, and has recently been translated into Chinese. His research on world cities has been so influential it even features in the AS/A Level Geography school syllabus. Current service to the wider discipline concerns his editing of a major textbook The Companion to Urban Studies (Routledge, 2019). In 2017 he was an invited TEDx speaker on ‘London After Brexit’ at the major annual TED event in London; earlier this year he was the sole invited keynote speaker at the 12th Luxury Real Estate Association Conference in London; his latest publication is 'Why Skyscrapers? Structures, Networks, Assemblages'.