Engaging with the question of speculation in ways that encompass the artistic, the economic, and the philosophical, with excursions into the literary and the scientific, this collection approaches the theme as a powerful logic of contemporary life whose key instantiations are art and finance. Both are premised on the power of contingency, temporality, and experimentation in the creation (and capitalization) of possible worlds. Artistic autonomy, and the self-legislation of the space of art, have often been seen as the freedom to speculate wildly on material and social possibilities. In this context, the artist is seen as a speculative subject and a paragon of creativity—the diametrical opposite of the bean-counter obsessed with balance sheets and value added. However, once social reality becomes speculative and opaque in its own right—risky, algorithmic, and overhauled by networked markets—what becomes of the distinction between not just art and finance but art and life?
This anthology surveys material and social inventiveness from the ground up, speculating with technologies, gender, constructs of the family, and systems of logistics and coordination. An ecology of speculation is traced—one that is as broken, specific, and enthralling as the world.