Picked this up in the market yesterday on my lunch break. Very Zen and all man but maybe if you spent a bit more time thinking about the ramifications of developing the pinnacle in human kinds destructive capability some of the most horrendous developments of the 20th century could have been avoided. That’s probably not fair. Maybe he stated this as a by-product of his disillusionment in the post-nuclear world which he contributed to, Einstein always seemed quite melancholic particularly when you look at his most quotable statements. I suppose when you consider the size of intellect he harboured when dealing with his past and the effect of the Manhattan project he probably harboured a sizeable amount of guilt too in that big noggin. Its all relative I suppose(ahem excuse the pun). Einstein not only had a huge effect on the combined destiny of mankind, in regards to what his actions contributed to in the future(our present), the advent of nuclear technologies was not the punctuation mark in his scientific career. It must also be noted that he was one of many scientist involved in the Manhattan project. Einstein created a new paradigm in terms of how we now consider, even from a layman perspective, time and space. In fact Einstein developed theories in regards to time and space’s interrelation that are proving very difficult to disprove, although we are sort of near there.

I can’t really get my head around it though, it’s Sunday morning and after a lovely dinner party last night I am a bit groggy. There is a sense of peace in this statement, “not to worry” I think he meant, in some ways it seems that Einstein only saw doom in the future. In his own life time that perspective must have been proven correct on several occasions. It is doubtful he was born with this inclination of course. I doubt Einstein never thought about the future, present or past or at least not in the simplistic temporal terms we do in the everyday. Time and space, the theory of relativity and then the development of quantum physics(much later), when you consider these things it gets very difficult to consider the future in chronological terms. We can only forecast though, the things we speculate upon in a cosmological sense are minuscule but a shift in traditional thinking can only truly happen with the implementation of subtle changes. Discussion about what we think may happen  and indeed what we think in general may produce these changes. Maybe some of these changes may be to the advantage of the species it’s hard to know but its better than turning our backs to what lies ahead.


This is a multiples exhibition which is currently being held at Ormston House, until the end of the year, Extinct Like us strand 1 takes  its name from a work by Paul Hallahan. This is strand 1 of a two tiered event strand 2  being more film based and curated by Mary Conlon director of Ormston House. Steve’s participation in the Extinct Like Us project comes from his research in Speculation as part of his MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment.

Extinct like us – Strand 1

Curated by Steve Maher

Extinction takes many forms. Our species has an internal evolutionary struggle separate to the biological, within our cultures is an additional evolutionary process. This is the struggle for survival that complex conceptual organism take part in when we exchange them in dialogue. This intercourse is the breeding ground for further conceptual organisms. At the micro-biological level viruses pass from host to host on the back of physical material, the conceptual organism uses a similar process but its material is not corporeal rather rhetorical. As ideas are exchanged between individuals certain preconceived notions pervade through complex systems akin to life itself, these systems are the many different forms of logic humankind uses in everyday mundane reality. Some more successful concepts last generation,others are inherently linked to how we have come to define ourselves as human and predate history, others still fail to pervade and simply fall into the category of forgotten/extinct.

The work shown as part of Extinct Like Us – Strand 1 covers vast areas which fall into the redundancy of cultural assumptions. The artifacts portrayed and recombined through different methods of bricollage highlight a varied array of aspects within the original brief but are linked through a common ground interpretation of failure and extinction in its many forms. Some of the works show something from our relatively recent history others takes the stance of the purely prophetic. Both the prophetic stance and the referential stance lead to questions about what we assume today, what models of thought will persist and which will fail. The use of nostalgia today is sort of like the afterlife for previous methods and systems which were once thought to be integral but through the annals of time prove to be deciduous. Nostalgia itself proves to be a successful conceptual organism in that it permeates far beyond a point where any individual consenting to it has any first hand experience of the object or theme. What we relate to instead is an anecdotal virus, parasitic of our contemporary attitudes. Although this nostalgia could act as a parable for contemporary and future living, through these concepts we learn what was successful for the uses of society and what proved only suit a particular eras requirements. In this manner the concepts shed by a particular culture persist as artifacts waiting to be unearthed for the sake of a critical reflection on what we as a species are and where we a destined to go. This is not for the sake of glorifying nostalgia in and of itself but by examining through the reflections within this show what is extinct today we might have an idea of what may be extinct tomorrow.

Writen by : Steve Maher
Curator Extinct Like Us – Strand 1
Work Space Manager, Ormston House
MA Social Practice and The Creative Environment, Limerick School of Art and Design.

The Speculative Society were lucky enough to have the help of Mary Conlon in our inclusion in the Limerick edition of Paper Visual Art Hard Copy. Mary who was invited by paper visual art to participate in some manner decided to react to it as a curatorial challenge.  In a curatorial role and as a fellow Speculative Society member she selected work submitted by members of the discussion groups which were initiated during the summer.   Each of the collaborators submitted a visually based art piece or text suitable for the publication. The segment started with a manifesto of sorts, it was more of a statement of intent. It can be found on the header of this blog under the title The Speculative Society. The contributors are as follows Anastasia Atremeva, Kevin O Keefe, Gimena Blanco, Tim O’Niell, Steve Maher and David Mc’Inerny.

The publication was launched at Gracelands – Circling the Square as part of EVA International which was held at the Limerick Milk Market, this ran concurrently alongside The Speculative Societies meeting at the same event.  Many thanks to Editor Niamh Dunphy and Co- Editor Adrian Duncan as well as Mary for curating the selection. And many thanks to all the speculators involved.

This year The Speculative Society was lucky enough to be invited to hold one of our meetings as part of Gracelands at EVA 2012 along side a reading/performance by Mary Conlon and Anastasia Artemeva. A lot of the regular speculators attended as well as some new ones. The meeting was kicked of with an introduction to the the Drake equation which was proposed in the 1960’s by Frank Drake which proves that the cosmos is either densely populated or so scarcely populated that from our perspective it wouldn’t matter anyway. The discussion went from there and became on of those rare occasions where we actually talked about contemporary art. The meeting went on for about two hours then we went on to enjoy the rest of the work at Gracelands. After all of that we helped pushed Basic Space’s home made boat all the way down O’Connell Street over Sarsfield Bridge and then at saint Michael’s Rowing Club we pushed it into the Shannon. There were fireworks. What a day. Any way here is the photos.

Here is the EVA International 2012 blurb

Thursday 2 August, from 18.00
The Milk Market, Cornmarket Row

Anastasia Artemeva, Mary Conlon & The Speculative Society, Otto Berchem, Oisin Byrne, Vaari Claffey & others, Rhona Byrne, Paper Visual Art, Sarah Pierce, Grace Weir
Basic Space, Gerard Byrne, David Fagan & Aoibheann Greenan, Dean Hughes, Sam Keogh, Barbara Knezevic, El Lissitzky, Jem Noble, Isabel Nolan, Cian O’Ruanaidh, Alice Rekab, Lucy A Sames, Franz Erhard Walther, Walker and Walker
John Baldessari, Keren Cytter, Adam Frelin, Jeroen Eisinga, Joan Jonas, Frank O’Hara, David Malijkovic, Deimantas Narkevicius, Sarah Pierce, Elizabeth Price, Emily Richardson, Margaret Salmon, Jan Švankmajer
Curated by Vaari Claffey

Download Gracelands_Programme_1.pdf…

For one evening only Gracelands presents Circling the Square: a site-specific programme of new and historical sculpture, performance and screenings by Irish and and Internationally based artists, at The Milk Market Limerick.

Merging the formats of exhibition and festival, a series of artworks will transform the site into a unique, temporary platform where an evening of performances, readings and screenings will unfold. Responding to the canopy which covers The Milk Market, the exhibition event will include a number of fabric based sculptural works, some of which are incorporated into performative works, and many of which have been specially commissioned.

Circling the Square takes the two geometric shapes as starting points. It considers the square as a central meeting point, the site of social exchange and civic or political gathering, as well as a site for the display and exchange of produce, artifacts and effects; and considers circling as a kind of uncertain or preparatory gathering for these occasions. Here, the idiom ‘Squaring the Circle’, referring to the finding of a solution to a complex problem, is reversed, implying a return to complexity and problematics.

By taking over a site designed for another function, Gracelands inserts itself into an existing situation, layering the conventions of both. By re-configuring the furnishings and equipment, the display systems for the market square begin to resemble those of a museum. The inclusion of documentation of historic works and exhibition design from the Van Abbemuseum collection together with performance programme result in a focus on the process of unmaking and remaking which reveals some of the very specific choreography involved in the management of people, space and artworks.

Director/Curator: Vaari Claffey
Assistant Curator: David Fagan
Technicians: Oliver Alcorn, Robby Collins
Assistants: Claire Breen, Sean Guinan, Darius Murtagh, Kieran Nash, Paul Quast, Matthew Slack, Joan Stack

Ewelina Bubanja, Mary Conlon, Faber Studios, Dara Fahy, Annie Fletcher, Gemma Gore, Francis Halsall, Robin & Juno Hegarty, K & C, Kerlin Gallery, Woodrow Kernohan, Limerick Youth Theatre, Lux, Jacinta Lynch, David O’Brien, Aislinn O’Donnell, Kevin O’Keeffe/Occupy Space, Eamonn O’Mahoney, Ormston House, Bea McMahon, The Milk Market Trust, The Model, Shannon Rowing Club, Eilish Tuite, Aoife Tunney, Van Abbemuseum, Grace Weir & Joe Walker, Wickham Street Studios

So just in case you were thinking that The Speculative Society is a new phenomenon check this out. Now it was my intention that the term society although a group with members was an open experience that anyone could contribute to not a closed Society or clandestine group. “Society” in our speculative society is more of a metaphor considering that the aim of the group is to promote the uses of speculation itself. The aspiration of a more forward thinking society, willing to consider the outcome of our actions here and now and their repercussions in the future. I don’t think they ate as much cake as we do though.

They were Free Masons.


The Speculative Society is a Scottish Enlightenment society dedicated to public speaking and literary composition. The Society is mainly, but not exclusively, a university student organisation.
The formal purpose of the Society is met by acting as a venue for social interchange and for practising of professional competency in rhetoric, argument, and the presentation of papers among fellow members.
Organisations using the name The Speculative Society include:
Edinburgh University, Edinburgh (formed in 1764), formerly for Law students;
University of Southern California, mostly for Philosophy students;
Harvard University, formerly, for Law students;


In the United Kingdom and especially Scotland, The Speculative Society has been said to have undue influence over the legal system, and be a secret society, due to the prominence of its members. These claims, largely emanating from one source, have been discounted in a Judicial Enquiry by Lord Gill.[1]
Past members of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh include:
Robert Louis Stevenson [2]
Sir Walter Scott[2]
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn
Lord Cullen
William Shee[2]
John Playfair[2]
Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux[2]
Francis Horner[2]
William Douglas of Almorness
Cyrus Griffin


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Just in the event that you were wondering: “What ever happened to that time capsule project, and the submissions for the project”. The box itself is closed but not yet sealed I am still researching the best possible method for storing the ammo can which I have up-cycled into a time capsule. I am also in negotiations with the owners of Bourkes on Catherine Street to store the capsule as a piece of pub paraphernalia. I think in this function the cannister will last a long time, because although owner ship of a bar may change hands it is very rare that a pubs décor will change, its hard earned authenticity is not too easily sacrificed. The box will be sealed with silicone, I am no longer afraid to talk about this project as if it was the wrong area to look into.

As I was researching towards this aspect of my overall project, I was met with criticism about my agenda and so on in the development of this concept, this was useful to the extent that it made me critically analyse aspects about what I was developing but I believed then as I believe now that there are no bad ideas. Maybe my communication about what I thought wasn’t efficient enough to communicate what I had in mind or maybe the environment I was in was not yet in-line with my own way of thinking. This project was a vital stepping stone towards what was to become The Speculative Society. I am not one to put much stock into Nietzschean philosophy but I did come out of what I can only refer to as an ordeal of outsider impatience stronger and more aware of what makes a project tick.

This project was an amazing experience, it was so refreshing at the time to stick my head out of the ground of collegial research and literally hit the streets. People ranged as they do from kind and receptive to arrogant and downright ass-holes, the range of submissions received although vital was not what I was in search of. What I wanted was to approach a group with something I had done which fit into the same veign as a project that I wished to collaborate with them on . To approach a group with nothing, completely fresh is a respectable position in my opinion but it was not how I wanted to originate a project myself. Instead by carrying out a project which had a similar inclination to what I proposed we orchestrate I approached any project which we would be collaborating on with some amount of confidence due to the precedence of a previous project.

So although I dealt with questions of the legitimacy of this sub-project I can confidently say that it was worth it not only for my self but also for the passer-by participants in this sub-project. It was a vital kick start and I wouldn’t change a thing. I will let the “evidence” speak for itself and with out it I do not think the same people would be involved in the project today.

The Speculative Society Inaugural meeting

Over the course of the summer The Speculative Society has met over eight times, we have discussed to date everything from the future of the Internet to more the ethereal and insubstantial. We have drunk tea, eaten cakes and had the occasional beer. Meetings have lasted between 1-5 hours and have been a great experience in the uses of speculation, the sort of meandering stream of group consciousness discussions about life, reality and the universe that normally only occurs over the course of late night sleep deprived discussions. We have worked through different conceptual frameworks and through these heated discussion we have devised many speculative theories and have come up with a series of projects which are just now about to come into fruition.

The core coordination for this project has taken place on Facebook, the group post elements of their own research on the page for all to view. Some interact exclusively on-line others attend the real world interactions. The meeting have taken place fortnightly at Ormston house and in one case the living room of the groups coordinator Steve Maher. All of this time and effort have recently been honed toward one project which is the publication Particular Future Scenarios. The group’s creative decision making process was for the most part democratic although special cases have proven otherwise, in these instances lengthy discussion has proven to be the ultimate antidote.

Lengthier Discussion

One of the initial proposals brought up by the coordinator at the start of the project was a group publication, possible a bi-monthly issue to be distributed nationally. This project was to be open to all Speculators self edited and not curated by any one member. This will also be produced as an   E-Zine. I will talk about this at greater length in a later post.

Another project suggested when the meetings started to get going was a a radio broadcast, the work for this project will most likely take place after the publication project is completed and printed. We hope to have the first broadcast out by late this year. There are many different things being discussed in the present moment in time, this ranges from the SETI project spearheaded by NASA to Orson Well’s broadcast of war of the worlds. Radio is a powerful social factor in Ireland, maybe there is some way to utilize this factor.