This book, published in early 2023 by Cambridge University Press, asks if the arts can help us imagine a better future society and economy, without deep social gulfs or ecological harm. It argues that at their best, the arts open up new ways of seeing and thinking. They can warn and prompt and connect us to a bigger sense of what we could be.
But artists have lost their role as gods and prophets, partly as an effect of digital technologies and the ubiquity of artistic production, and partly as an effect of shifting values. Few recent books, films, artworks or exhibitions have helped us imagine how our world could solve its problems or how it might be better a generation or more from now.
The book argues that artists work best not as prophets of a new society but rather as 'prophets at a tangent'.