Special Lecture:Nick Prior “Culture and Crisis in the Age of Superabundance: Music and Creativity at a Crossroads”

Date: 30 May (Tue), 16:20-17:50
Place: Senju Campus, 3F Lecture room 3
Guest Speaker: Nick Prior (Professor of Cultural Sociology, University of Edinburgh)
Moderator: Yoshitaka Mori (Professor, Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts)
*lecture in English

Registration is only open to members of the university. (GA students do not need to apply.)
Please note that the general public is not allowed to attend.


Culture and Crisis in the Age of Superabundance: Music and Creativity at a Crossroads
Nick Prior, University of Edinburgh, U.K.

In this session I’d like to explore with you some recent attempts to characterize, diagnose and address our global predicament and where art and culture fit into these concerns. It’s an attempt to think aloud around a number of themes, often separated, but which are entangled and speak to a range of urgent and pressing issues: most notably, environmental catastrophe (the climate crisis, in particular), the acute sense of disorientation experienced in increasingly digitalized societies; and what might be called a “crisis of over-production” in the sphere of culture. While my examples will come from across the fields of culture, it will be music that will be the primary focus. It’s also where we often see the beginnings of trends that are later taken up elsewhere – streaming and piracy, for instance, but also terms like the “gig economy”. The main contention is that we are at a critical moment – a crossroads – with respect to digitalisation as a process of almost unfettered production and circulation where quantity becomes both form and content. The driving motifs will therefore be: superabundance, growth, acceleration and excess. It’s not just that everything happens too fast (a motif of speed associated with the idea and practice of accelerationism) but that everything happens too much. It’s this superabundance that is implicated in tipping us into a crisis of intelligibility and sustainability and which requires critical understanding and action. 

Nick Prior: University of Edinburgh
Website: https://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/nick-prior

Biographical note:
With interests that span urban soundscapes, social theory and the sociology of music, Nick Prior’s work explores the myriad ways technologies are sunk into everyday cultural practices and entangled within social formations. He is author of a series of articles that explore digital mediations of popular music culture in the post-1980s period, culminating in a monograph, Popular Music, Digital Technology and Society, published by Sage in 2018. He also works with sound and how sound recordings and music composition might be used to enliven our understandings of the multi-sensorial experience of cities like Tokyo. He is an amateur bedroom musician in the best traditions of that term – passionate, serious, musically untrained and yet still harbouring fantasies of one day being signed! He has spent time in both Iceland and Japan, researching the very different music scenes there, and has carried out research on virtual idol Hatsune Miku. One of his current research projects with colleagues in Hungary, Austria, Scotland and Norway focuses on women and music making in domestic spaces – a project that has reconnected him to the home as a site of production. He has authored two monographs, an edited collection, over 30 articles and book chapters, and has supervised 22 PhDs to completion. He has held a range of professional and institutional roles, including Head of Subject, and Chief Editor/Co-editor of the BSA journal Cultural Sociology. Somewhat against prevailing stereotypes of the decade, he is a fervent believer that the 1980s are pop music’s most interesting and perhaps most important decade!


Hartmut Rosa, (2015) Social Acceleration, Columbia University Press. 
Andrew Abbott, “The Problem of Excess”, Sociological Theory, 32: 1.
Benjamin Grosser (2014) “What Do Metrics Want?”, http://computationalculture.net/what-do-metrics-want/
Paul Virilio, (1991) The Aesthetics of Disappearance, Semiotext(e)
Jussi Parikka (2015) A Geology of Media, University of Minnesota Press.
Bruno Latour (2017) Down to Earth, Polity Press.
Nick Land (2022) Fanged Noumena, Urbanomic. 
Kyle Devine (2019), Decomposed, MIT Press.
Nick Srnicek (2017) Platform Capitalism, Polity Press.
Thijs Lijsster (ed) (2018) The Future of the New: Artistic Innovation in Times of Social Accleration, Valiz.

Listening / Viewing

Kode 9 Escapology

Ryoji Ikeda, Data.Tron