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McGill Colloquium 2010

Social Aesthetics Conference: Improvisation & Social Research Group

Friday, 12 March, 2010 - Sunday, 14 March, 2010

New Music Building at McGill University, room 832-833, 527 Sherbrooke Street West

This conference explored the question of the extent to which the social and dialogical practices which are foregrounded in improvisation are themselves bearers of aesthetic effects. Speakers considered how social, cultural, economic and political forces condition the aesthetic practices and values of improvised performance. In this way the conference was concerned with re-theorising the nature of the aesthetic in improvisational and related creative practices. A feature of the conference was to debate these issues with reference not only to improvisation in music, but across a variety of other arts and media – film, dance, theatre, literature and new media.

The idea of social aesthetics has been a topic of renewed interest in recent years, as evident in curatorial work that foregrounds the social relations of art and new strands of theoretical writing on the ways in which artworks and creative practices can themselves be conceived as immanently social. The conference moved between the specific practice of musical improvisation and larger debates in the realm of social aesthetics.

The aim of the conference was nothing less than to move on the conceptual and theoretical basis of the notion of social aesthetics through the insights afforded by the improvisational arts.


2010 Conference Poster

2010 Conference Schedule

2010 Conference Abstracts

Musical improvisation is a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.

– Ajay Heble