Thanks to the ongoing support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, we are going to be doing some self-reflective research this year, using this period of uncertainty as a positive opportunity to examine the aesthetics behind the Abridged project. As much of what we know has been suddenly changed it seemed an appropriate time to ask ourselves where exactly are we going and do we evolve with a world that has suddenly become much more ‘Abridged’ We will use the 1979 website as a platform for this research.
There are a number of things that have come to characterise Abridged’s relationship with its contemporary contexts as a platform, a ‘space’ of the imagination. These aren’t just consistent ‘themes’ but mechanisms of operation and engagement. Many of these have become established over time as consistent components of the Abridged ‘ethos’. Abridged has no manifesto nor do we intend to lay one down. We value ambiguity, doubt, change, flexibility, openness, questions from all angles.
However, as an ongoing project and active interdisciplinary platform, the opportunity to reflect critically on what defines the Abridged project and how it can make a positive impact is highly valuable and at this time of change and uncertainty following the pandemic. It’s our hope that this will help us lay a stronger foundation for the Abridged’s potential futures and the stimulation and adaptive platform it can offer its contributors.
Abridged ‘themes’ have always had to do with contemporary concerns in a rapidly changing society. It has been our approach to present an opportunity for reflecting on the ‘dark side’ of immediate situations, where fears and anxieties can be examined, expressed and find amplification. (This is not for the sake of inducing panic, but for the sake of valuable societal and personal self-knowledge and self-engagement.) Our concern is, of course, with being human and all of the shadows and light of this, the ambiguity, consistent inconsistencies. Our themes are designed to reflect on correspondences between the absolutely contemporary and the ancient.
Reflecting on all of this, during 2021 the Abridged team will explore, reflect on and undertake research in a variety interrelated areas. We’ll be asking questions about, among other matters, Mythos in the Contemporary (Digital) World; Catharsis and the Aesthetics of Fear; Constructive Gothicisms; the Apocalyptic Imagination; Melodrama, Juxtaposition and Ambiguity (in Interdisciplinary practice). In doing so we will look both inward and outward, reflecting critically on Abridged practice and out toward knowledge and ideas beyond the project. At a time when many are adapting publication and production to the digital (Abridged included) we will also spend some time reflecting on the idea of medium, thinking about the book/magazine object, and the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk.
As the team goes through this process, this site will be host to its trace, a sketchbook indexing of our research and development. We aim to post something every month so anyone interested in following along with these Abridged crumb-trails of thought can do so.
Image by Zoe Murdoch: https://zoejmurdoch.format.com/
Abridged is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Thank you and as ever,
The Editors (Greg & Susanna)