In June of 2014, a conference was held in Berlin called The Pleasure of Doubt in Art, Aesthetics, and Everyday Life. Many of the seminars have intriguing titles: Doubt, Skepticism, and Desperation; The Theatricality of Doubting; What is a Doubtful Situation?; Catching Doubt in Mid-Air?; Reflections on the (Im)possibilities of the Empirical Study of Doubt, Moments of Sudden Rightness; and Think Today – Finish Tomorrow: Strategic Dilettantism and the Question of Knowledge in the Arts.10 These titles acknowledge a rise in interest in exploring these issues in relation to contemporary art, and, as we will explore here, this is only the beginning of the conversation.
We could ask whether doubt and uncertainty are among the many tools we should consider at our disposal as creators. Let’s allow those conference titles to fill the mind with imaginings of the presentations and resulting discussions. And sadly we can only imagine, because when I reached out to one of the organizers, Jörg Volbers, looking for the accompanying written materials, he replied that the publication got ‘stuck’ and there was nothing, unfortunately, he could offer.11 He ended the email with saying my dissertation sounded interesting, and wished me luck.
So, now we are at the start, done with the setup and like any board gamer about to make their play, I’ll take his wish of luck, make my first roll of the dice and move on to the board.
11 Volbers, Jörg 2017, pers. comm., 5 April.