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The Myth-Functions of Contemporary Art and Philosophy

David Burrows, Simon O'Sullivan

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Maps out the practice of fictioning as a new field of study for art and philosophy

Fictioning in art is an open-ended, experimental practice that involves performing, diagramming or assembling to create or anticipate new modes of existence. In this extensively illustrated book containing over 80 diagrams and images of artworks, David Burrows and Simon O’Sullivan explore the technics of fictioning through three focal points: mythopoesis, myth-science and mythotechnesis. These relate to three specific modes of fictioning: performance fictioning, science fictioning and machine fictioning.

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List of Figures


Section I. Mythopoesis to Performance Fictioning

A. Mythopoesis: Against Control and the Fiction of the Self

1. Mythopoesis, Fabulous Images and Memories of a Sorcerer

2. Against Control: Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

3. Overcoming the Fiction of the Self

4. Mirror Work: Self-Obliteration


B. Performance Fictioning: Pasts, Presents and Futures

5. Residual Culture and the Magical Mode of Existence

6. Future-Past-Presents: Neomedieval Mappae Mundi

7. Fictioning the Landscape

8. A Journey through the Ruins of Colonialism

9. Scenes as Performance Fictions


Section II. Myth-Science to Science Fictioning

A. Myth-Science: Perspectivism and Alienation as Method

10. Myth-Analysis: Lessons in Enchantment

11. Myth-Science: Alien Perspectives

12. Afrofuturism, Sonic Fiction and Alienation as Method

13. Wildness and Alienation in the Networks of the Digital


B. Science Fictioning: Worlds and Models

14. Feminist World Building and Worlding

15. The Inhuman Social Imaginary of Science Fiction

16. From Science Fiction to Science Fictioning

17. Non-Philosophy and Science Fiction as Method


Section III. Mythotechnesis to Machine Fictioning

A. Mythotechnesis: Promethean and Intelligence Economies

18. A Renewed Prometheanism

19. The Subject Who Fell to Earth

20. Financial Fictions

21. Post-Singularity Fictions as Mythotechnesis

22. Technofeminisms


B. Machine Fictioning: Analogue and Digital Life

23. Loops of the Posthuman: Towards Machine Fictioning

24. The Radicalisation of Singularity

25. By Any Memes Necessary

26. Subjects Without a Body





About the Author

David Burrows is Reader in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. He has contributed to a number of book projects and his exhibitions include Micro/Macro: British Art 1996–2002, Mucsanok, Budapest (2003); Take Me With You, Circulo des Bellas Artes, Madrid/Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2006); All Over the New Smart, FA Projects, London (2008); Waving From Afar, Star Space, Shanghai (2009); The Diagram Banner Repeater, London/Torna, Istanbul (2011); In Outer Space There is No Painting and Sculpture, Summerhall, Edinburgh (2014); The Birmingham Show, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2014).

Simon O’Sullivan is Professor of Art Theory and Practice in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmith College, London. He is the author of the monographs On the Production of Subjectivity: Five Diagrams of the Finite-Infinite Relation (Palgrave, 2012) and Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Representation (Palgrave, 2005), and is co-editor (with Henriette Gunkel and Ayesha Hameed) of Futures and Fictions (Repeater, 2017) and (with Stephen Zepke) of both Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New (Continuum, 2008) and Deleuze and Contemporary Art (Edinburgh University Press, 2009).


This is a book about loops, the fictional and the real, the virtual and the actual, the past that never was and the people yet to come – and how to occupy them, to live in the in-between, summon demons, talk to cats, compose new temporalities, all in the name of building a future so alien that none of us could even imagine what it might be like.

- Laboria Cuboniks (polymorphous xenofeminist collective)

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