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Audiovisual Posthumanism
 1443881775, 9781443881777

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Copyright © 2017. Cambridge Scholars Publisher. All rights reserved.

Audiovisual Posthumanism

Copyright © 2017. Cambridge Scholars Publisher. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2017. Cambridge Scholars Publisher. All rights reserved.

Audiovisual Posthumanism

Edited by

Evi D. Sampanikou

Audiovisual Posthumanism Edited by Evi D. Sampanikou This book first published 2017 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2017 by Evi D. Sampanikou and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

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ISBN (10): 1-4438-8177-5 ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-8177-7

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To Akis and all the children of a better tomorrow

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CONTENTS

Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 Why a Humane Posthumanism Matters: Posthumanism and Audiovisual Arts Evi D. Sampanikou Text.............................................................................................................. 9 A Metahumanist Manifesto Jaime del Val and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner Part One: Ethics, Bioethics and Posthumanism Chapter One ............................................................................................... 14 The Four Stages of the Conception of Art Karen Gloy

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Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 27 Prometheus Redivivus: The Mythological Roots of Transhumanism Trisje Franssen Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 50 Transhumanism, Bioethics and Science Fiction Dónal P. Omathúna Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 64 From Humans to Persons: Niklas Luhmann’s Posthumanism Thomas Mavrofides Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 75 Targets and Posthumanistic Consequences of Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism Ioana Zirra Chapter Six ................................................................................................ 87 Dune: The Birth of a Messiah. Enhancement vs. Enlightenment George Voreas Melas

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Chapter Seven............................................................................................ 97 Moving Beyond (Humanist) Sociology: The Complexity Turn in Social Theory Panayiota Georgopoulou Part Two: Literary and Social Theory, Archaeology, Aesthetics and Posthumanism Chapter One ............................................................................................. 114 Simulacrum and Art as Self-Transformation after Nietzsche Yunus Tuncel Chapter Two ............................................................................................ 126 Posthumanism in the Work of Marcel-lí Antúnez Roca: Phenomenology of New Aesthetics Resistance Strategies and Artificialization of the Living Being Anna Sara D’Aversa

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Chapter Three .......................................................................................... 135 Probing the Posthuman: Body Modification in Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s Lorsque j’étais une oeuvre d’art Titika Karavia Chapter Four ............................................................................................ 145 Letter, Number, Cup, Female: V, Alan Moore and Posthumanism Abraham Kawa Chapter Five ............................................................................................ 155 Preservation of Media Installation Art in the Posthuman Era: Posthumanism and the artwork, “Human Traces” Georgia Tzirou Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 166 3D Graphics and Post-Processual Archaeology: A Posthumanist Approach Yiannis Kourtzellis and Evi D. Sampanikou Chapter Seven.......................................................................................... 184 Dangerous Allies: Artistic Transgression and Posthumanism Konstantinos Vassiliou

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Part Three: Posthumanism, Postmodernism and the Essence of Transhumanism in Graphic and Audiovisual Art Chapter One ............................................................................................. 192 Postmodernism, Posthumanism and Transhumanism in Science Fiction: Graphic Novels. Enki Bilal and the ‘Hatzfeld Tetralogy’ Evi D. Sampanikou Chapter Two ............................................................................................ 208 A Feminist Genealogy of Posthuman Aesthetics in the Visual Arts Francesca Ferrando Chapter Three .......................................................................................... 239 Musical Posthuman Aesthetics: The Nomad Technobody of the DJ Alessandro Giovannuci Chapter Four ............................................................................................ 245 Experience Design and Aesthetics of Interaction from a Posthuman Perspective Sofia Mytilinaiou

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Chapter Five ............................................................................................ 275 The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac and the Posthumanistic Perception of his Artwork, Genesis Panayiota Polymeropoulou Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 284 Avatars in Videogames Marios M. Giakalaras and Christos P. Tsongidis Chapter Seven.......................................................................................... 291 An Eco-Posthuman Reading of Avatar Patrícia Silveirinha Castello Branco Chapter Eight ........................................................................................... 310 Towards the Creation of a Semi-Living Avatar: Investigating the Interface between Body and Smart Machines in Stelarc’s Work Anna Hatziyiannaki

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Part Four: Media Artists on Posthumanism Chapter One ............................................................................................. 328 What Would We Mean by Realism? Amanda Beech Chapter Two ............................................................................................ 337 Image and the Appearance of the Image: Fear, Speed, Force Bridget Crone Chapter Three .......................................................................................... 343 Towards an Anti-Humanist Critique of Immaterial Labour, or How to Negotiate with Vampires Pill and Gallia Kollectiv

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Contributors ............................................................................................. 355

INTRODUCTION WHY A HUMANE POSTHUMANISM MATTERS: POSTHUMANISM AND AUDIOVISUAL ARTS EVI D. SAMPANIKOU

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Posthumanism, Literary Theory and the Audiovisual Arts Only in recent years has the term “Posthumanism” been introduced to the terminology of philosophy (Ranisch-Sorgner, 2014, 7–16 and Braidotti, 2013, 55–104). It still meets with much scepticism in a large part of the international academia and with almost complete distrust in the Greek academic community where I come from. The mistrust against Posthumanism can be compared with the ways Postmodernism was confronted by the totality of academia. But, while the main argument against Postmodernism focused on the meanings of the prefix ‘Post-’ and its characteristics and symptoms (Jameson, 1991), on the question of Posthumanism the objections are mainly concentrated on the ideological content of Transhumanism (Rubin, 2014, 8–23) and its obsessions with the countless possibilities of “improving” the human race with the aid of biotechnology, leaving aside moral dilemmas about several forms of hybrid existence (Bostrom, 2014, 32–51).1 The critics probably ignore the fact that, while for many scholars, “posthumanism” is actually an identical term to “transhumanism”, other posthumanist scholars have completely different views. These scholars tend to analyse Posthumanism in cultural terms. Therefore, they consider posthumanism to be a philosophical trend that broadens the frame of the anthropocentric diptych of Greco-Roman/Renaissance Humanism and Enlightenment, including, for example, all other beings and the totality of 1

There are also political extensions, for example the founding in the State of California of a Transhumanist party that has actually appeared as a disguised National Socialist (fascist) party, see: www.transhumanistparty.org.

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Introduction

Nature. This seems to be a rational consideration of an era intensely characterized by both the digital image and biotechnology, consequently an era not completely anthropocentric and open to all technological possibilities, while still respecting the notion of the biological being. These culturally oriented scholars also view Posthumanism as the ideological expression of a contemporary cultural theory born immediately after Postmodernism, a deeply political theory (Sampanikou, 2014, 241–242). According to Gianni Vattimo (2013):

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“The reason why a philosopher educated in the European tradition can feel interested in the ‘post-human’ thematic, is the fact that this same tradition has developed, at least since Nietzsche and above all since Heidegger, a critical consciousness of the inhuman aspects of the humanistic tradition. Humanism has been too long and too strictly connected to Eurocentrism, universalistic claims of the West (and of its religion, Christianity), colonial imperialism, that our culture may be considered mature for an abandonment of the very idea of ‘humanity’.” To the aforementioned quotation we could definitely add Orientalism, as a central logic of Eurocentrism, firmly denied by posthumanistic thought. One of the fundamental elements of the above-mentioned view is the notion of ‘progress’ bearing huge responsibility for the degradation of the notion of the human being (Sampanikou, 2010, 407–408; Vattimo, 2013; Sampanikou, 2015). The notion of ‘progress’ has actually become the synonym of a continuing social hubris, especially when the globalized idea of control steadily deconstructs the Enlightenment ideals and even disclaims people’s political rights down to the basic habeas corpus. The recent example of the millions of refugees from Syria, the Middle East, Asia and North Africa could not illustrate this fact any better. The posthuman lens thus re-opens, probably for the first time after Antiquity and the Enlightenment, the issue of ‘the human as a political being’, offering a re-orientation to the human being’s values, worldviews and rights in a techno-centred posthuman era (Sampanikou, 2015). But how and what is ‘the posthuman’ (that is us) thinking? What is the posthuman’s political vision? How does the posthuman conceive their place in the world? Do they, traditionally, continue to express existential agony through the arts of their era? And which art forms seem to be more representative? Of course, there is more than one answer to this question, as the multimedia audiovisual environment of the arts of the contemporary world indicates (Huhtamo, 2011, 27–47 and 2013, 10–19). Cinema, music, digital video, installation and performance art, virtual and augmented

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Why a Humane Posthumanism Matters

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reality, internet art, graphic arts and design, comics and graphic novels, and even more traditional arts, like painting and photography, coexist today with Kac’s bioart, Stelarc’s biotechnological experiments and Orlan’s traumatic, self-humiliating surgeries (Sampanikou, 2014, 243– 250). This book explores this landscape, focusing on the audiovisual arts of our times as posthumanist arts, within the broader cultural context of posthumanism, while giving emphasis to the production of new theories.

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The Volume, ‘Audiovisual Posthumanism’ The present volume is comprised of texts first delivered as papers at the Beyond Humanism Conference series, an annual international conference on Posthumanism first held in 2009. Most of the chapters in this volume have been developed from ideas first presented in the 2nd Beyond Humanism Conference (2010) at the University of the Aegean in Mytilini (Lesvos, Greece), while a very small number come from articles first presented at the 6th and the 7th Beyond Humanism Conferences (2014, Mytilini, University of the Aegean and 2015, Seoul, Ewha Women’s University). This Introduction is followed by the groundbreaking text written by Stefan Lorenz Sorgner and Jaime del Val, A Metahumanist Manifesto (2010), a text that has indeed produced a new philosophical approach to posthumanism, focusing on the notion of the ‘Metahuman’.2 The chapters of the book are organized in four parts. Each focuses on specific aspects of Posthumanism and the arts. The first part, entitled Ethics, Bioethics and Posthumanism, deals with the ethics of Posthumanism, examining the relation of both Posthumanism and Transhumanism with the notion of art in texts about mythology, science fiction, classical philosophy and contemporary social theory. In the first chapter, Karen Gloy deals with ‘The Four Stages of the Conception of Art’, in which she discusses the notion of the classical, the imitation of nature according to Aristotle, the Renaissance concept, as well as the Darwinian concept of art as an evolutionary process in the 19th century; finally, she deals with the contemporary concept of replacing nature with technology, as it is expressed in the arts of modernism and 2 The Manifesto was first read by the two authors in a special session during the 2nd Beyond Humanism Conference (Mytilini), followed by a performance by Jaime del Val. It is now also published in www.metahumanism.eu transformed into: http://metabody.eu/metahumanism/ and appears in this volume with the permission of the authors.

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Introduction

postmodernism. Trisje Franssen’s, ‘Prometheus Redivivus: The Mythological Roots of Transhumanism’ deals with the various versions of the myth, from Plato and Hesiod to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, focusing on creation and advancement in Posthuman terms. Dónal P. Omathúna’s ‘Transhumanism, Ethics and Science Fiction’ examines how the posthuman–transhuman vision raises significant ethical issues, focusing on the long tradition of science fiction texts in both literature and cinema suggesting that human enhancement may lead to injustice and conflict, while Thomas Mavrofides, in his chapter, ‘From Humans to Persons: Niklas Luhmann’s Posthumanism’, focuses on the main aspects of criticism of Luhmann’s theory, in an effort to resolve what initially might have appeared as anti-humanism. Ioana Zirra, in ‘Targets and Posthumanistic Consequences of Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism’, deals with a text that had acquired a meaning that took philosophy decisively over the threshold of humanism and became a starting point for several post-humanistic debates. George Voreas Melas, in his text ‘Dune. The Birth of a Messiah. Enhancement vs Enlightenment’, deals with the diachronically Posthumanist content and ethics of Dune, while Panayiota Georgopoulou, in ‘Moving Beyond (Humanist) Sociology: The Complexity Turn in Social Theory’, aims at a re-definition of social thought in less anthropocentric forms and orientations as Posthumanism indicates. The second part of the book, entitled Literary and Social Theory, Archaeology, Aesthetics and Posthumanism, focusses on the relation of postmodern and posthuman thought and expression in contemporary literature and audiovisual art forms. In Yunus Tuncel’s ‘Simulacrum and Art as Self-Transformation after Nietzsche’, the question of spectacle in recent French postmodern theory is related to the questions of Posthumanism. It is mainly analysed on the basis of the notion of artmaking as a form of making of the self, a view also connected with Nietzsche’s self-transformation. In Anna Sara D’Aversa’s ‘Posthumanism in the Work of Marcel- lí Antúnez Roca: Phenomenology of new aesthetics resistance strategies and artificialization of the living being’, the posthuman–transhuman work of the Catalan micro-technologies and genetic engineering performing artist is analysed, while Titika Karavia’s ‘Probing the Posthuman. Body Modification in Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s Lorsque j’étais un oeuvre d’art’ deals with the limits of body modification and monstrousness in eccentric artistic procedures. Abraham Kawa, in his chapter ‘Letter, Number, Cup, Female: V, Alan Moore and Posthumanism’, takes us into the world of graphic novel literature focusing on notions of Posthumanism in the work of Alan Moore. Georgia Tzirou, in ‘Preservation of Media Installation Art in the Posthuman Era.

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Why a Humane Posthumanism Matters

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Posthumanism and the artwork «Human Traces»’, takes us into the world of contemporary installation art and issues of preservation in posthumanist terms. Yiannis Kourtzellis and Evi D. Sampanikou, in ‘3D Graphics and Post-Processual Archaeology: A Posthumanist Approach’, explain how Posthumanism is also affecting the notion of 3D representation in contemporary archaeology. Finally, Konstantinos Vassiliou, in his text ‘Dangerous Allies: Artistic Transgression and Posthumanism’, investigates how, in new media art, Posthumanism has sought to renegotiate the relationships between humans and technology and also how Posthumanism offers new orientation to artistic transgression. Part three, under the title Posthumanism, Postmodernism and the Essence of Transhumanism in Graphic and Audiovisual Art, relates specific contemporary theoretical and artistic fields, such as comics and graphic novel theory, feminist theory and aesthetics, contemporary music, experience design aesthetics, transgenic and bio art, digital cinema and videogames, with the evolution of both postmodern theory and posthuman philosophy. Evi D. Sampanikou, in ‘Postmodernism, Posthumanism and Transhumanism in Science Fiction Graphic Novels. Enki Bilal and the «Hatzfeld Tetralogy»’, explores the thin red line between Posthumanism and Transhumanism in the work of one of the most famous European graphic artists. Francesca Ferrando, in her text, ‘A Feminist Genealogy of Posthuman Aesthetics in the Visual Arts’, analyses three generations of women artists from both the feminist and the posthumanist perspective, explaining how women’s art is redefining human boundaries in original ways, offering new insights into the possibilities inscribed in the shaping of posthuman embodiments. Alessandro Giovannuci, in ‘Musical Posthuman Aesthetics: the Nomad Technobody of the DJ’, shows how posthuman archetypes are traceable in the phenomenology of contemporary music and in particular in the shape of the DJ, as a mutual correlation between human flesh and technology, while Sofia Mytilinaiou, in ‘Experience Design and Aesthetics of Interaction from a Posthuman Perspective’, introduces us to a new art form, the experience design that puts human experience in an artistic frame and relates this experience to Posthumanism. Panayiota Polymeropoulou deals with ‘The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac and the Posthumanistic Perception of his Artwork GENESIS’, analysing this work further, while Marios M. Giakalaras and Christos P. Tsongidis deal with the notion of ‘Avatars in Videogames’ and their posthumanist content. In Patrícia Silveirinha Castello Branco’s ‘An Eco-Posthuman Reading of Avatar’, the western Modern Humanistic project to rule over and master nature is criticized, while it is also argued that Avatar can be placed at the core of Posthuman views concerning the

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Introduction

shifting boundary line between the Human and the Animal, the Natural and the Technological. Finally, in Anna Hatziyiannaki’s ‘Stelarc: Towards the Creation of a Semi-Living Avatar. Investigating the Interface between Body-Smart Machines in Stelarc’s Work’, Stelarc’s work is analysed as crossing the boundaries between cyberpunk fiction and reality, a work gradually exploring the interface between the actual and the virtual worlds, with the body acting seamlessly in mixed realities and with an intelligent avatar performing in the real world. The fourth part, entitled Media Artists on Posthumanism, presents the views of contemporary media artists and theorists whose work and writings deal with aspects of Posthumanism. Amanda Beech, in ‘What Would We Mean by Realism?’, offers a renovating view of the artist as realist, examining a few key problems of thinking through the correspondence between the nature of the image, that is the image as part of an unreconstructed world of the given, and its politics, and how idealisms become incapable of representing the realism they are seeking, turning it into a condition of ‘being without a cause’. Bridget Crone, in her chapter, ‘Image and the Appearance of the Image: Fear, Speed, Force’, examines the idea of “image” as marked by the speed of its dissemination, but not marked by representation or by its representative capacities, and also in relation to the terror alert system in the US, in which the image can be a tool for effective control. Finally, Pill and Gallia Kollectiv, in their text ‘Towards an Anti-Humanist Critique of Immaterial Labour, or How to Negotiate with Vampires’, discuss Marx’s Capital and how the appeal to the respectable and charitable side of bourgeois culture is insufficient for resisting the rational, albeit ruthless, capitalist. They also discuss how Marx’s views, and his proposal to adopt the discourse of the Capitalist to negotiate the limit of the working day, point the way towards an antihumanist critique of the kind that art has been unable to take up from its assumed position of externality to the system within which it operates. These views have given rise to an anti-humanist tradition in 20th century philosophy, from Arendt to Althusser, which is now also dealing with Posthumanism. Reading all the above-mentioned texts, one can easily observe that the central attitude in Posthuman philosophy could be the evolution of the Postmodern confrontation of the ‘uncanny’ and its identification with the Other. This still remains a multi-levelled and complex issue, either as a ‘politically correct’ statement or as a new ethical argument. New forms of ‘otherness’ have now been developed, for example, the condition of being a refugee at a moment when the international political scenery changes and new economic elite hierarchies are formed. The notion of the ‘Other’

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Why a Humane Posthumanism Matters

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in contemporary capitalism is thus gradually transformed into a hyperrealistic image that grows more and more and contains the viewer in an everlastingly temporary and controlled environment of virtual reality, in exclusively Posthumanist terms (Wilson, 1996, 321–330; Virilio, 2001; Zizek, 1996, 290 and 2001, 113–124; Jameson, 1991, 1–20; Harvey, 1990, 39–68). Having the honour of being the editor of this volume, I would like to thank all the contributors for their participation. I would also like to thank John Ingamells who did an excellent job as a proofreader, Victoria Carruthers, Commissioning Editor at CSP for having done the whole way with me and all the other members of CSP involved into this publication. Corresponding and working with all of them has been a great experience for me. Hopefully, this collaboration will have produced an influential book.

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References Bostrom, Nick (2014), Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Oxford University Press. Braidotti, Rosi (2013), The Posthuman, Cambridge, Polity Press. Harvey, David (1991), The Condition of Postmodern. An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Cambridge MA and Oxford UK: Blackwell. Huhtamo, Erkki (2011), “Dismantling the Fairy Engine: Media Archaeology as Topos Study”, in: Huhtamo, Erkki and Jussi Parika (2011) (editors), Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications and Implications, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press. —. (2013), Illusions in Motion. Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles, Cambridge MA and London UK, MIT Press – Leonardo Book Series. Jameson, Fredric (1990), Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Durham NC: Duke University Press. Ranisch, Robert and Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz (2014), “Introducing Postand Transhumanism”, in: Ranisch, Robert and Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz (editors) (2014), Post- and Transhumanism. An Introduction, Peter Lang Edition, Frankfurt am Main, 7–27. Rubin, Charles T. (2014), Eclipse of Man. Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress, New York, Encounter Books. Sampanikou, Evi (2010), “From the Digital to the Virtual. Art and Technology at the beginning of the 21st century”, in: Kokkonis

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Michalis – Paschalidis Gregory – Bantimaroudis Philemon (2010), Digital Media. The Culture of Sound and Spectacle, Athens, Kritiki Publishers, 400–428 (In Greek). —. (2012), “Generation ȋ in Greek Comics”, in: Henseler, Christine (editor), Generation X Goes Global. Youth Culture at the Turn of the Century, New York, Routledge, 130–155. —. (2013), “Posthumanism and Transhumanism in Science Fiction Comics”, paper in: The Posthuman. Differences, Embodiments, Possibilities, 5th Beyond Humanism Conference, University Roma Tre, Rome, 11th–15th September 2013. —. (2014), “New Media Art”, in: Ranisch, Robert and Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz (editors) (2014), Post- and Transhumanism. An Introduction, Peter Lang Edition, Frankfurt am Main, 241–250. —. (2014), “Framing Posthuman Notions of Politics in Contemporary Greek Graphic Novels: Aivali, by Soloup and Other Novels”, paper in: Posthuman Politics. 6th Beyond Humanism Conference, Mytilini, 25th– 28th September 2014 (prepared for publication). —. (2015), “From Lazarus to Humans. Notes on Posthumanist Attitudes in Contemporary Graphic Novels and TV Series”, paper in: Humanism and Transhumanism. 7th Beyond Humanism Conference, Ewha Women’s University, Seoul, 15th–18th September 2015 (prepared for publication). Vattimo, Gianni (2013), “Why Posthuman?”, invited paper in: The Posthuman. Differences, Embodiments, Possibilities, 5th Beyond Humanism Conference, University Roma Tre, Rome, 11th–15th September 2013. Virilio, Paul (2001), Desert Screen: War at the Speed of Light. Trans. by Michael Degener. London, Athlone Press. Wilson, Louise, K. (1996), “Cyberwar, god and television: Interview with Paul Virilio”, ıIJȠ: Druckrey, T. (editor), Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation. Canada and U.K., Aperture Foundation: 321–330. Zizek, Slavoj (1996), “From virtual reality to virtualization of reality.” In Druckrey, T. (editor), Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation. Canada and U. K., Aperture Foundation: 290–295. —. (2001), On Belief: Thinking in Action, N.Y. / London, Routledge.

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TEXT A METAHUMANIST MANIFESTO

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JAIME DEL VAL AND STEFAN LORENZ SORGNER

1. What is Metahumanism? Metahumanism is a critique of some of humanism’s foundational premises such as free will, autonomy and the superiority of anthropoi due to their rationality. It deepens the view of the body as field of relational forces in motion and of reality as an immanent embodied process of becoming that does not necessarily end up in defined forms or identities, but may unfold into endless amorphogenesis. Monsters are promising strategies for performing this development away from humanism. 2. The world as relational complex – The Metahuman as Metabody: Metahumanist critique proposes to deepen the understanding of reality as an unquantifiable field of relational bodies, or metabodies, in changing and constitutive relation with one another. Herewith, we attempt to finally overcome the Cartesian split between body and mind, object and subject, by proposing a view of the mind as an embodied relational process, and of the body as relational movement, that operates from the molecular and bacterial, through the individual and psychic, to the social, planetary and cosmic levels, and in other dimensions of experience. There is no possibility to map a totality or limits of the forces that constitute a metabody and there is no ultimate exteriority to them, though they may gravitate around provisional nodal points that account for an immanent perspectivism and the formation of power relations. 3. Towards a Common Relational Body: Traditionally relationality has developed into or been subjected to a variety of systems of intensive regulations. In contemporary capitalism of affects relationality is increasingly being subjected to control through technologies which produce global standard affects by distributing discreet choreographies.

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4.

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5.

6.

7.

Text

The Panchoreographic is the biopolitical meta-system of control in which metabodies are being preemptively appropriated. Possibilities to reappropriate and redefine technologies of becoming need to be shown. Towards a politics of movement and radical pluralism: A radical pluralist politics is a non paternalist movement that works through power structures to avoid the retotalitarianisation of politics. It does not aim at an ideal final state but stresses the need to permanently overcome contemporary challenges that arise by necessity through combining the immanentism proposed by the metahuman with the perspectivism of the posthuman, stressing the importance of movement versus identity. The metahuman as postanatomical body: We propose to challenge the anatomies, forms, cartographies or identities that constitute the humanist concept of the anthropos, and the technologies that allow for such representations to take form. Anatomy, as a map of human and social bodies, can only be articulated from an external perspective to the body. We challenge the Cartesian split that situates us as subjects external to an objective reality and to other subjects. Through reappropriating and subverting technologies of perception we may dissolve the condition of exteriority and therewith anatomy and the destiny of the body, not for the sake of a new anatomy, but of a postanatomical body. Metahumanism thus proposes an aesthetics of the amorphous, by considering metamedia, metaformance and metaformativity as possibilities to permanently redefine sensory organs. Metahumans as metasexual: Metasexuality is a productive state of disorientation of desire that challenges categories of sex-gender identity and sexual orientation. A metabody is not ultimately categorisable in terms of morphological sex or gender but rather is an amorphogenesis of infinite potential sexes: microsexes. It is postqueer: we are beyond the understanding of gender as performative. Metasex not only challenges the dictatorship of anatomical, genital and binary sex, but also the limits of the species and intimacy. Pansexuality, public sex, poliamoria, or voluntary sexwork are means to redefine sexual norms into open fields of relationality, where modalities of affect reconfigure the limits of kinship, family and the community. Redefining science and knowledge: Immanentism and perspectivism do not need to be self contradictory concepts – we hold both of them! Yet, we propose the need to introduce immanence into knowledge production, and the revision of encrusted structures. Perspectives are

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A Metahumanist Manifesto

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contingent nodes within stratified intensities of the metabody. We propose both to explode and dissolve existing strata and to move through its nodes reconfiguring perspectives as well as immanence. 8. Towards a relational ecology – Metahuman Ethics: A metabody is to be understood as a sustainable relational body that includes anthropoi, other species, technology and the environment. Metahuman ethics avows to bring about forms of interaction that avoid the permanent superiority of a force over others, so that a certain non-violent equilibrium is reinstated over and over again. 9. Towards the transformation, amorphogenesis and emergent becoming of metahumans: There is no need to distinguish between procedures of genetic enhancement and classical education. Both rely on untimely distinctions or use given representations of a normative regime which are not universal but the result of paternalist political technologies of affective production. We understand alteration processes of the metahuman as flowing types of amorphogenesis of the relational body, all being equally subject to ongoing critique. 10. What is the Metahuman?: The metahuman is neither a stable reality, essence or identity, nor a utopia, but an open set of strategies and movements in the present. It implies the need to deterritorialise strata of power and violence and induce new forms of embodied relationality by producing a frontier body that is operating on existing boundaries and redefining them. A micro-recherche considers the genealogies of bodies, movements and affects for the purpose of both challenging existing regimes and producing new forms of resistance and emergence.

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PART ONE:

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ETHICS, BIOETHICS AND POSTHUMANISM

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CHAPTER ONE THE FOUR STAGES OF THE CONCEPTION OF ART

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KAREN GLOY

Terms such as post, trans, late, neo, etc. are going through a boom period right now and are concepts key to the understanding of our contemporary culture and societal, political, and especially artistic and philosophical situation. When the term post-modernism, which was used in competition with the concept of late-modernism, lost its lustre, post-humanism or postbiologism, as well as trans-humanism and trans-biologism, became the vogue. With them – as their names illustrate – a situation is designated which transcends the mere human and natural in the direction of the nolonger-human and the no-longer-natural, in other words, in the direction of a world of machines and constructions. In addition, a subtle distinction is made between the post-human and the trans-human – accordingly in biologism as well – which results from the partial or total substitution of the human or natural factor. Post-human is the designation for the combination of the human and technical in so-called machine men or cyborgs, trans-human, or trans-biological, means the total abdication of the human and its substitution by the technical. This development was made possible by the innovations of the 20th and 21st centuries, in particular, in computer technology, robotics, nano and information technologies. By means of these innovations, virtual worlds can be generated with the help of data helmets, data gloves, head-mounted displays and three-dimensional movie glasses in which one can virtually move around at will, e.g. one can move through rooms of museums and their exhibits, visit the tombs of pharaohs which are restricted to the public, or admire caves with prehistoric designs and similar attractions, all while, in reality, sitting comfortably in a reclining chair. Through data gloves, patterns can be impregnated on the palms of the hands which generate artificial sensations, such as “now my hand is touching cold

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water”, without this being the case in reality. A special case is the multisensor theatre, developed and installed by Mort Heilig, which operates with one-person boxes, in which the visitor watches a movie in stereo, hears sounds such as the noise of a passing motorcycle and simultaneously smells odours and aromas which are wafted into his nose by means of small air hoses – in the above-mentioned case, oil and gas odours.1 In lieu of the real world, virtual worlds can be generated – “simulacra” according to Jean Baudrillard – which lack a distinguishing criterion from the real world. We can thus imagine box worlds in which men are constructed virtually, who in turn construct virtual men and so on ad infinitum, where the relationship to reality is being severed or has always been severed. This problem of the impossibility of distinguishing between real and imaginary worlds, between reality and dreams, has forever intrigued philosophers. Descartes expressed this in an especially impressive manner in the first Meditation, describing a dream in which he sits next to the fireplace holding and moving a piece of paper in his hands. While, in this case, the capacity of man to perceive is preserved and only the perceived or perceivable object is shifted into an indifferent, indistinct sphere, a radicalization of the problematic takes place in the moment in which the capacity to perceive is also basically changed, increased, perfected or modified, based on the increasing use of artificial limbs and the substitution of man by machines and robots. Already now, all intellectual activities such as reading, writing, calculating and playing chess can be performed better and more efficiently by computers than by humans. Time announcements are performed better by the iron lady; the solutions to calculation problems, for which humans need more than their entire lifetime, are found within seconds or minutes by computers; computers which play chess such as Deep Thought have Elo class, i.e. grandmaster class, against which even the best chess players in the world have difficulties. Sensorial and motoric tasks are performed more optimally in an artificial manner by escalators, elevators, mixing and washing machines, household robots, etc. than in a natural manner. Beyond the perfecting and optimizing of human capacities, their total alteration is thinkable, which goes in the direction of a transcendence of human capacities which can no longer be understood by us. Even when it has so far remained the specialty of science fiction novels and movies to simulate a world which has no similarity to our own, this possibility is no longer a utopia, but has become a real, tangible possibility. 1 See Waffender (Hrsg.): Cyberspace. Ausflüge in virtuelle Wirklichkeiten, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1991, 120.

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Since the relationship of the natural to the artificial, or technical, can be described as a relationship that, since ancient times, has dealt with the prototype and the image, as can be found in the famous Aristotelian definition according to which art and technology are an imitatio of nature and, since this relationship has experienced grave changes in the course of the history of the mind and civilization, including the history of art and technology, I would like to retrace this development in four stages: first, art and technology as imitation of nature in the status quo; second, art and technology as free creations of the artist (genius); third, art and technology as imitation of an evolutionary nature; and fourth, art and technology as a substitution of the natural.

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1. Art as Imitation of Nature in the Status Quo In the second book of the Aristotelian Physics, one can find the famous and much-quoted definition of art, according to which art is the imitation of nature. This definition requires a closer discussion of the terms used. On the one hand, the term art – techne in Greek – covers not only the skills that are considered art nowadays such as painting, sculpture, poetry, dramaturgy and music, but also crafting skills and, indeed, not only artistic crafts and those higher artistic performances which we now call styling, designing, etc., in the fields of architecture or exhibitions, but also the very common crafting activities such as the construction of houses, weaving, darning, etc. The Greek word covers the creative, liberal arts as well as the crafts and practical skills, which underwent a special development as technology. Identical in their origins, art and technology took historically different turns and are now again converging. On the other hand, it must be noted that nature (physis or cosmos, respectively), according to Greek ontology, is something given and existing, which is indeed not rigid or static, but living and moving in itself – Plato calls the kosmos in Timaios a zoon,2 i.e. a living being or a living thing – which, however, consists of perpetual self-reproduction and selfpreservation. When processes take place in this moving world, they are teleological processes oriented towards an immanent purpose, such as we can observe in the developmental processes of plants, animals and human beings: for instance, when an oak tree develops from an acorn or a human being from an embryo. The Aristotelian formula, that man generates man, expresses this adequately. The teleological, purpose-oriented process realizes only those possibilities which are contained within it from the 2

Plato: Timaios, 30 d.

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beginning and may not be confused with the modern evolutionary process. In antiquity, nature remained within its limits. Movement, change, life are immanent movements of a whole, enclosed in itself, self-relating and autarchic, repeating only its own possibilities. Possibility and reality are identical in their scope. The real is that which is possible and only that which can be realized is possible. The third term of the Aristotelian definition, i.e. imitation, is also to be understood on this basis. It does not simply mean copying, providing a poor imitation of reality, but implies the perfecting of the possibilities lying within nature. Playing witness to this tendency to idealize are not only the art works of ancient Greece but also the Aristotelian definition which, if one takes a closer look, consists of two parts. “On the one hand, art perfects that which nature is not able to accomplish; on the other hand, it imitates what is given by nature.”3 While Aristotle goes partly beyond the purely mimetic aspect, it must be taken into consideration that perfection may not be interpreted in the modern sense of a new conception, a transcendence beyond the limits given by nature to itself, but as the realization of possibilities, lying in nature itself, which for whatever reason sometimes remain unrealized, fail or are corrupted as manifested in defects, deformities and monstrosities. A real transcendence has different ontological preconditions. In Greek thought, however, the cosmos is the ideal – based on its self-referential and autarchic character – to which the artist and art must subordinate themselves. The basic dependency on, and interconnectivity with, nature determine the artist’s understanding method. The artist executes on the outside that which nature performs inside or can perform inside. The homology between nature and art or technology, respectively, becomes manifest, for example, in the circular, rotating and highly artistic movements of a ballerina, which appear so light and gracious, so “natural” as we like to say. Aristotle bases his view on a thought experiment: if natural objects were to be artificially created, they would have to be generated in the same way as they are generated naturally, and if an artificial object such as a house or a ship, produced by an architect or a shipbuilder, were to be generated naturally, it would have to be generated in the same way as they are generated artificially. This comparison makes clear that an artist is only perfect when they quasi automatically (i.e. naturally) create their work. An artist who deliberates on which tools to use and which operations to perform possesses insufficient familiarity with

3

Aristotle: Physics, 199 a 15–17.

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their object and is disturbed in their relations to it. It is a banal truth that art is the more perfect the more it appears natural. The structural analogy between art and nature or technology, respectively, raises the question whether the artfulness that we observe in the artful construction of a bird’s nest for raising its young, in the artful cobweb of a spider for catching flies, in the artful arrangement of petals and stamens around the ovary for pollination of a plant, can be traced back to a conscious purpose of nature – similar to the case of art and technology where a conscious purpose precedes the act – or to a simple purposeful activity. The passage through the various areas of nature, starting from the human and animal areas to the vegetative, imposes a certain reluctance on Aristotle to assume a conscious purposefulness of nature. He seems to assume an unconscious purposefulness which is, however, to be explained in analogy with artistic and technical activities. Independent of how he sees the status of awareness, it is clear that between nature and art or technology, respectively, a necessary homology exists. This conception changes in the following periods.

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2. Art as Imitation of the Free Creative Force of God While in the entire antiquity and the middle ages – insofar as they follow the ancient tradition – the mimetic perception of art is dominant, a new definition of art appears during the Renaissance based on a strengthened self-consciousness of man, his separation from the god-created cosmos, although not without the theological background of Christianity. This new definition sees art as the free, autonomous performance of man in analogy to the divine process of creation. The artist advances to an alter deus based on his similarity with God or His Son, which allows him to recreate the divine ars infinita. In this comparison of God and man, it is not the similarity to God or His Son that plays the major role – a role that could lead one to the conclusion that a dependency exists – but rather the fact that divine predicates can be attributed to the artist such as his unique metaphysical rank, his creative power, his infinite talent of invention and productivity, etc. Pointedly, one could talk here about a usurpation of divine attributes, which justifies the often raised reproach of the hybris of humanity during the Renaissance. The locus classicus for the new definition of art can be found in Nicolaus Cusanus’s essay De mente (“On the Spirit”) of 1450, which, together with two further essays, form part of the so-called complex of the Idiota essays, where the focus is on the idiota and his new self-

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understanding. Idiota does not mean the mentally defective, but the uneducated and, indeed, the one who is not educated in literature, the layman who is confronted with the educated of his time, on the one hand, the theologian, on the other hand, the scholastic philosopher and, third, the orator as representative of humanistic education. Although uneducated in comparison to them, he develops a self-understanding that grows out of his naïve activity and makes him, in combination with his devotio (humbleness), a parodistic counterfigure to the educated class, distinguished by its arrogance. Here appears the combination of work (performance) and sentiment of self-value, a combination which was up to that time not at all natural or self-evident. In the second chapter of De mente, the idiota presents to his conversation partners what his own art or craft, for instance the very common and far from extravagant spoon-carving, means to him. When carving spoons out of wood or producing artificial-technical products such as plates and pots, he is not able to do this, according to Cusanus, in view of given ideas such as an idea of a spoon, plate, pot, etc. because there are no ideas of artifacts in nature. Rather, he is forced to invent them himself and therewith, godlike, imitate the infinite innovative and creative power of God. The finite human spirit is seen in analogy to the infinite divine, not insofar as he re-creates the given divine thoughts (ideas), according to which God created the world, but insofar as he – like God – creates new ideas and executes his work in accordance with them. Here, imitation does not mean reproduction of an eidetic being but repetition of the creative activity itself. This capacity establishes the singular position of the artist or craftsman. For the first time in history, a completely positive evaluation of technology occurs. Contrary to this, the ancient myths have stressed the ambivalence of technology, the greatness of it on the one hand and the hybris and transcendence of the natural limits imposed on man on the other hand. Prometheus, who invented fire, was chained to a rock as punishment; Hephaistos, the inventor of the art of metal-working, was a lame, subterraneous working god; Icarus, who constructed the first flying machine fell in the water and drowned. The purely positive appreciation of technology has also been the reason for the social appreciation of artists and craftsmen ever since the Renaissance, which culminated in the cult of the genius. With the example of the spoon carver, Cusanus picks up an old platonic problem, the question of the existence of artificial ideas. While ideas of natural objects are conceded without much hesitation, this is not equally the case with ideas of artifacts. Plato mentions in his dialogues an entire

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series of such ideas: the idea of the table and chair in the Politeia, the idea of the harness, also there in the tenth book, the idea of the batten in Kratylos. In contrast, there is the testimony of Aristotle4 that in the Academy no ideas of artificial objects were accepted and, in the context of important classifications in Platonic texts, e.g. in the introduction to Parmenides or in the seventh letter, ideas of artifacts are strikingly missing. Based on the structural analogy found in Aristotle of nature and art, or technology, respectively, it may have been inherent in the tendency of Greek thought also to accept ideas of artifacts, since for instance the circular form of the spoon or the plate can be found in the disc of the sun, the handle in the shape of a stick, the form of a pot in the shape of a hollow space, all of which in turn have natural ideas as their examples. Everything newly produced seems to be reducible in some way to already existing things. The idea of the total correspondence of possibility and reality in antiquity did not allow that man become spiritually original. However, for Cusanus, the ideas of artificial products, be they artistic or crafted or technical products, are inventions of the human spirit, which point to its creative power. The epochal new definition of art is, in regard to the history of the mind, only to be understood on the basis of Christian theological ideas such as the doctrine of creation, the omnipotence of God, the thought of infinity, free will, etc. They provide the nourishing ground for the development of a new conception of art but they are not yet sufficient. Although many ancient thoughts proved to be compatible with Christian doctrine, shown by the fact that the Greek theory of art was preserved during the entire medieval period, we find a completely new impulse at the beginning of the modern age which explains the criticism of the old theory and the beginning of a new one, i.e. the subjectivistic turn. It consists of the severance from the objectivity of the ancient and medieval world and the discovery of the autonomous ego, independent of God and nature, in many cases even opposed to them, with its own power, originality and creative activity. This innovation has motivated the idea of genius in modern times. Despite all the freedom and independence, the conception of the artist and his work remains limited in one point, compared to the omnipotence fantasies of the present post-humanism and post-biologism, which can be illustrated by the example of Shakespeare’s ingenious work. While Shakespeare’s works appeared as irreparably confused, chaotic, barbaric and tasteless to representatives of earlier epochs, who were oriented towards the canonical means of style and the rules of antiquity and to the 4

Vgl. Aristotle Metaphysics, I.9, 991 b 6 et seq. And XII, 3, 1070, 18–20

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French who considered a work of art to be a microscopic image of the macrocosmic world; they appeared to representatives of the new theory of genius as art worlds organized in themselves and obliged only to themselves, based on an internal logic and rationality. While Lessing, based on and tied to the Enlightenment, highlights the generally understandable logic and rationality of Shakespeare’s genius, Herder underlines in his famous essay on Shakespeare, published in the “Blätter von deutscher Art und Kunst (1773)” the creative uniqueness and singularity. The work of the genius is for him an equally unique and individual world and life project as is the divine plan for the world. Just as God manifests himself in the world, especially in history, so is the work of the genius an allegory of his unique historic life. The reasonable, generally understandable world plan is replaced by the unique, unrepeatable, for others often not easily accessible historical project of the artist, an idea first presented by Hamann who was religiously motivated and influenced. Nonetheless, the artistic work remains a logical, individual conception. However, it cannot be denied that with this conception of genius a problem emerged, which kept the subsequent centuries occupied until the latest post-human and post-biological thoughts appeared on the scene, a problem that was ignited by the concept of freedom or arbitrariness, respectively. As God in his omnipotence would be able to realize a multitude of possible worlds but has realized only one of them, i.e. the best of all possible worlds, as Leibniz claims in his theodicy, the artistic genius could conceive a multitude of possible worlds as well, even when it only realizes the best world, which is organized in itself and understandable, although unique. Despite the taming of the boundlessness, the problem is raised in this context whether God, and accordingly the artist, is bound to his own immanent laws – such as Einstein formulated later: “God does not throw the dice.” – or whether he is a boundless arbitrary God who can also generate impossible things, namely miracles. In regard to the artist, the question is whether he is bound by his immanent possibilities or whether he can, in principle, transcend them, which seems to become reality in the conception of post-biological and post-human worlds.

3. Art as Imitation of Evolutionary Nature In the 19th century, the concept of nature changes with Darwinism in the area of biology, with Historicism in the area of history and with Relativism in the area of philosophy. Nature is now no longer conceived as remaining in the status quo – a perpetual return of the same – but as a dynamic, evolutionary natural process which follows the principles of

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mutation, selection and the survival of the fittest. This interpretation of the natural process is not necessarily oriented towards the idea of linear progress as theoreticians of progress and optimists like to assume, it could in principle also be a regression or a stagnation, as pessimists suspect, or a quasi-teleology which resembles the experimentation of a tinkerer who, by trial and error, steers towards a goal. Finally, this process could also be completely aimless according to the slogan by Feyerabend: “Anything goes.” With this new understanding of nature, a completely new understanding also opens up for art, which implies the possibility of a combination of the imitation of nature and free boundless creation. While, until now, the ancient and modern conceptions of art as an obsequious submission to nature, on the one hand, and an autocratic, free power of creation on the other, radically opposed each other, now a combination of the two becomes possible: while the artist remains freely creative in the imitation of the evolutionary natural dynamics with its mutative conquest of completely new possibilities, he is at the same time – in his free creative process of conceiving new worlds – bound to nature, namely bound to a mutative nature. The opposition of imitation and free creation, adherence and freedom is here resolved and mediated by submission to the free evolutionary natural process with its unlimited possibilities. As nature does in its evolutionary process, so does the artist realize new possibilities through variation and new combinations; he thus imitates the natural process. In his creation of works, he realizes only that which nature can or could in principle also realize, though in a significantly shorter period of time. Being himself a member of the natural process, he actualizes only his own possibilities given to him by nature. He does not imitate the creations of nature but nature itself. Like nature, art also remains an open contingent process of realization of its own, individually chosen, however at the same time pre-given possibilities of being. In ancient times, possibility and reality, being of the same scope, went hand in hand based on the closed cosmos, such that only that could be realized which was possible and also only that which was possible could in principle be realized, i.e. the not-yet-actualized. In modern times, however, – with the opening of the closed cosmos to the infinite universe – the space of possibilities goes beyond that which is realized. Of the infinitely many possible worlds, only a contingent part thereof is realized in our world. The part that lies beyond our reality becomes the target sphere of the evolutionary natural process and also the preferred domain of artistic productivity, in which the creative urge of the artist can realize itself.

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The process of secularization forms the cultural-historical background of this conception. It shifts the infinite divine power of creation to nature and attributes to nature the role of the divine power of creation. In its imitation – a seemingly obsequious process – the artist all the same is able to live out his godlike power of creation.

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4. Art and Technology as Replacements of Nature In the last few decades, a flood of science fiction books and movies have inundated the market, such as the book Summa Technologiae by the Polish futurist Stanislaw Lem or the movies with the expressive names Star Wars, Star Trek, Cyborg (1989), I’m a Cyborg (2006), I Robot (2004), Terminator (1984), Terminator 2 (1991), Terminator 3 (2003) and Terminator 4 (2009). In these books and movies, the most fantastic, grotesque and abstruse worlds are developed, in which the creative urges of man go on an actual rampage. In which direction this development is tending is illustrated by Stanislaw Lem in the above-mentioned book based on stages which proceed from the technical domination of individual natural processes to the domination of large parts of nature and finally of the whole of nature. If one imagines this process as sufficiently far advanced, one arrives at the “cosmogonic engineering”5 or pantocreatics6 which deal with the creation of new worlds, however, still with this-worldly creations, not transcendent ones. Cosmogonic engineering constructs in nature with nature by employing natural materials such as space and time, atoms, open or closed systems, but it goes so far beyond the present that it not only repeats it, but replaces it in each aspect. While the creator of small worlds builds with the means available within our world, the helmsman of the great cosmogony takes on the modification of the entire universe.7 Cosmogonic engineering does not deal, however, only with the construction of new worlds but also with the reconstruction of man, by subjecting him to several stages of perfection. In the first stage, the socalled “preserving engineering”8 stage, the focus is on the preservation of the average health and prevention of illnesses, on the elimination of 5

Stanislaw Lem: Summa technologiae (Title of the Polish original edition: Summa technologiae, Cracow 1964), translated from Polish by F. Griese, Frankfurt a.M. 1981, P. 481 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid., P. 485 8 Ibid., P. 579

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illnesses and on the replacement of failed functions and defective organs by technical substitutes. The precondition of this reparative medicine is the acceptance of the natural construction plan of man. In the second stage, the “genetic engineering”9 stage, interventions into the evolution of man are undertaken, by replacing the natural evolutionary gradients by goal-oriented steering. The goal of the biological development of man is the realization of a maximum programme, consisting of the maximization and optimization of his skills, the increase in resistance to illnesses, immunization, increased brain performance, etc. It is the “next model of homo sapiens”,10 step by step. With the third stage commences the total restructuring of man, not only by mending individual parameters but by changing the entire construction plan of man, e.g. by striving for a quasi-immortality. This occurs through the gradual substitution of individual body parts and organs by more efficient prostheses and physical devices, such that a combination of natural organs and technical devices is achieved with, at the end, a “robot with a perfect crystalline brain of computers”, all with the intention to come closer to the realization of the dream of man for immortality. Finally, one could imagine a continuation of the biochemical revolution by the construction of completely different aggregate states and organizational forms of life, such as crystalline or gaseous, in lieu of colloid forms. Even though Lem’s book belongs in the category of utopian literature and develops visions of future worlds and creatures, it cannot be denied that modern techniques and technologies are on the way to realizing this programme: the programme of a total substitution, a transhuman and transbiological world, in which all skills, capacities and performances are optimized and finally completely different from our natural world. The frequently raised objection that each root and computer remains in principle dependent on its creator, the programmer – since the latter only has to remove the plug from the outlet to interrupt the contact – becomes void in view of solar-power-driven constructions independent of man. One could easily imagine that we create creatures in this process, which are physically and spiritually, sensorially and motorically superior to us and would defeat us in the battle for survival. According to the opinions of American IT experts, the human race is not the most important thing in the universe.11 With this level of replacement of man by robots, the self9

Ibid., P. 586 Ibid., P. 503 11 Cf. Joseph Weizenbaum: Absurde Pläne, in: Zeitmagazin, No. 12 (16. Mai 1990), 38–41, especially 41. 10

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abdication of man, his good-bye, would have commenced. By following his power of creation, by perfecting his own nature, this process would, in the stage of perfection, turn into a stage that could no longer be conceived by man. This would occur according to the laws of the paradox, such as we know them from the set-theoretic and linguistic area. Applied to the present case, the perfection of its own possibilities means the switch to a completely unknown and unknowable dimension, which would no longer be reachable from the present stage. Here the question arises about the sense and purpose of the total simulation and substitution of man and his environment. Is it not directly a contradiction in itself if the entire striving of man results in his selfannihilation? There is no doubt that man not only realizes his playful instinct with the direction of his research but also a very old dream to become godlike, to create, as alter deus, creatures reflecting his fantasy and whim, at his absolute discretion, therewith to gain power over nature and to set himself up as maître et possesseur de la nature, as Descartes calls it. It is the thought of competition with the divine creator and the divine plan of creation, which are theologically founded in the idea of the Old Testament of the similitude of man with God according to Genesis 1.27 and in the New Testament of the sonship according to Galatians 4.1–7 and Corinthians 3.18. These omnipotence fantasies resort to the ancient European ideas about the divinity of man. At the same time, the resurgence of the concept of the fall from grace appears again – shown mostly in movies or novels – along with the concept of the hybris of man, since man is only able to create imperfect, deficient and defective creatures such as Frankenstein, Golem, creatures ex vitro, absolute evildoers, killers, terminators, etc. who lack a human face. The movie with its projections and fictions advances to become the mirror of man, in which the latter puts himself in the spotlight and recognizes his greatness and glory but also his finiteness and his failures. He represents himself as torn between self-glorification and self-doubt, omnipotence fantasies and visions of decline. Even when we, neither as individuals nor as group of people, can withdraw from the historical process, the decision for continuation or reversal is our responsibility. The respective anthropological conception and worldview is not a blind natural event, but a conscious and desired human and culture-specific construction.

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References

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Lem, S. (1981): Summa technologiae (Title of the Polish original edition: Summa technologiae, Cracow 1964), translated from Polish by F. Griese, Frankfurt a.M. Waffender (Hrsg.) (1991): Cyberspace. Ausflüge in virtuelle Wirklichkeiten, Reinbek bei Hamburg. Weizenbaum, J. (1990): Absurde Pläne, in: Zeitmagazin, No. 12 (16. Mai 1990).

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CHAPTER TWO PROMETHEUS REDIVIVUS: THE MYTHOLOGICAL ROOTS OF TRANSHUMANISM TRISJE FRANSSEN

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Introduction Transhumanism is a movement of people who argue that we should ‘enhance’ the human being by means of e.g. genetic engineering, cloning or nanotechnology in order to become ‘posthuman’. As leading transhumanist Nick Bostrom puts it, this new creature will have physical and mental capacities ‘greatly exceeding the maximum attainable by any current human being’ (2009, 1). Transhumanists believe that we can and should take control of our nature, and cross our ‘natural boundaries’, for it will make us healthier, more intelligent, prettier and happier. Central is a striving for perfection, for self-creation, and in its most radical form the idea that we should use any means possible to achieve this posthuman state. Immortality is considered to be a reasonable possibility as well. The gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, for instance, writes that ‘we are close enough (to the biomedical revolution) that our action (or inaction …) today will affect the date at which ageing is defeated’ (2007, ix). Transhumanists exhibit a strong belief in science, technology, rationality and objectivity. As the radical transhumanist, ‘extropian’ Max More asserts, ‘[e]xtropians seek objective knowledge and truth’ (1998). Interestingly, despite their emphasis on reason and objectivity, several advocates of enhancement with transhumanist leanings refer to mythology in their arguments, in particular to the ancient Greek myth of Prometheus. The biophysicist Gregory Stock, for instance, claims that it is useless to try to stop emerging technologies such as genetic engineering. We should rather face the facts: further development is inevitable. He strongly doubts that we will turn away when we realize there are risks involved, for ‘when

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we imagine Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, we are not incredulous or shocked by his act. It is too characteristically human’ (2003, 2). In this chapter, I will have a close look at this and similar references to the myth. I will argue that the myth is more than a mere illustration since it encloses some of the main themes of transhumanism and even reveals major ontological and ethical claims. Moreover, I hope to show, not only that this myth discloses some of their most fundamental pleas, but also that there is something fundamentally mythological to these pleas and perhaps even to their thinking as such. A quick investigation into a few accounts of the function of myth in general leads, I think, to the conclusion that what at first sight seems to be a mere rhetorical device is, in fact, a quite fundamental part of transhumanism. This, in turn, would severely challenge the idea of transhumanism as a purely rational and objective theory.

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The Myth Before we have a look at the references to Prometheus, first let us recall what the myth was about. The oldest and best-known versions of the myth are the ones by Hesiod, Aeschylus and Plato. Prometheus was a Titan, belonging to the generation of gods before the Olympians. Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound (5th/6th century BC) relates how Zeus expelled all of the generation’s members after his victory in the Clash of the Titans. He spared Prometheus, however, because his cunning (his name means ‘forethought’) and good advice had helped Zeus to win the battle. However, the new ruler of Olympus turned out to be a ruthless despot. When he conceived a plan to destroy humanity, Prometheus decided to help them. He stole fire from Olympus to give to the mortals, offered them wisdom and taught them many arts and technologies. However, when Zeus found out, he punished the immortal rebel by chaining him to the peak of Mount Caucasus. Every day, a vulture would come to eat his liver, which would regenerate every night. This way, his torture would be repeated day after day, until many centuries later he would be rescued by Hercules. Earlier, in his Theogony and Works and Days (8th century BC), Hesiod narrates that Zeus also punished humanity. He sent Pandora, the first woman, to Prometheus’s not-so-clever brother, Epimetheus. Despite Prometheus’s advice not to accept any presents from Zeus, he happily received her and the box she carried. But Pandora ‘took the lid off the big jar with her hands and scattered all the miseries that spell sorrow for man’ (1993, 26). Whereas before, humanity had lived without trouble, pain or disease, from then on the earth was filled with ‘horrors’ and ‘evil things’.

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Plato’s much more positive version in the Protagoras (4th century BC) describes how Prometheus took part in the creation of human beings. After the Olympian gods moulded the mortal races from earth and fire, they appointed Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus to the task of equipping them with powers, abilities and qualities. However, Epimetheus used up all the powers and attributes on the ‘non-reasoning animals’, so that nothing was left when he came to humanity. In order to solve the problem created by his brother, Prometheus stole fire, wisdom, practical arts and technologies so that mankind, too, would be able to survive. Plato does not mention Pandora or any other punishment of either man or Prometheus, except that later Prometheus was charged with theft.

Themes

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The interesting thing is that this myth contains a number of themes that match very well the most important themes, beliefs and characteristics of transhumanism – probably the main reason why they are used so often. Below I will concentrate in particular on three – related – characteristics that are clearly common to both the myth and the theory. First, Prometheus symbolizes mastery or control. In Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound, for instance, Prometheus tells the chorus the following: ‘Hear, what wretched lives people used to lead, how babyish they were – until I gave them intelligence, I made them masters of their own thought.’ (1975, 335, my emphasis)

Prometheus relates how ignorant people were, how they didn’t understand anything of the world until he gave them not only fire, but wisdom too, and taught them all kinds of techniques and arts – from reading and mathematics, to medicine, building houses, horsemanship, navigation and even the art of prophecy. His gifts to humanity provide not merely a means of survival, or even just a means to master their thinking, but also a means to manipulate and control the world by means of knowledge, science and technology. Similarly, transhumanists attach a lot of value to control – what opponents call their ‘drive to mastery’ (Sandel, 2004, 56). One of their main goals is to take control of our nature. Transhumanist Simon Young, for instance, asserts in his Transhumanist Manifesto that he has put his trust in the power and possibilities of science to eventually conquer the suffering and restrictions brought about by our biological limitations –

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disease and death, that is. We humans, have always been engaged in the ongoing process of evolution, and now the time has come to gain mastery over this process: ‘Humanity will take evolution out of the hands of butterfingered nature into its own transhuman hands’ (2006, 38, my emphasis). Young holds that we are standing at ‘the Dawn of a New Age – the ‘DNAge’ – which will be characterized by the ability to manipulate and enhance the human body by means of ‘Superbiology’. A ‘Designer Evolution’ is the inevitable next step in man’s history of selfimprovement. Another theme central to the myth, in Plato’s version at least, is creation. To finish the genesis of the yet completely unequipped human beings, Prometheus steals fire and wisdom: ‘The human race was naked, unshod, unbedded, and unarmed, and it was

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already the day on which all of them […] were destined to emerge from the earth into the light. It was then that Prometheus, desperate to find some means of survival for the human race, stole [...] wisdom in the practical arts together with fire.’ (1997, 757)

Historically (in philosophy, literature and art), Prometheus is often compared with, or even identified with, the human being himself. In On the Dignity of Man (1486), Pico della Mirandola quotes ‘Asclepius the Athenian’ who said that ‘man was symbolised by Prometheus in the secret rites, by reason of our nature sloughing its skin and transforming itself ’ (1998, 5, my emphasis). In the 1770s, a young Goethe dedicated a poem to the Titan which ends with the following verse: ‘Here I sit, making man in my own image, a race that shall resemble me, a race that shall suffer and weep, and know joy and delight, and be heedless of you, as I am!’ (1964, 19, my emphasis)

The core message of this dramatic poem, though less explicit, seems to be that the human will be like Prometheus. He will rebel against the gods (‘you’ refers to Zeus), and the divine show of force, misery or suffering will not stop him from creating whatever he wants, striving for more and transcending his boundaries. In short, over the years, Prometheus, thus evolves into a symbol of the human being who, apart from civilizing

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himself by means of knowledge, and creating objects by means of art and technology, sometimes even takes part in his own creation. Creation obviously also plays a major role in transhumanism. To create human life follows almost automatically from taking control of evolution. In the 2002 Transhumanist Declaration, Humanity+ (formerly known as the World Transhumanist Association, co-founded by Bostrom and David Pearce) asserts that they ‘foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition’ (2002, my emphasis). Young speaks of ‘Designer Evolution’ and the pro-enhancement bioethicist John Harris simply describes one of their most important goals to be the ‘making of better people’ (2007, 4). They intend to bring about a future in which knowledge, science, and technology have made so much progress that we will be able to control evolution not only in the sense of manipulating our genes, but also of controlling (pro-)creation as a whole. The principles of the transhumanist religion Prometheism even foresee a whole breeding system. Their purpose

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‘is merely to do what we believe is noble, using and unifying science and spirituality to create a new human species [...]. We believe in total reproductive freedom, neither any single woman nor man must be forced to procreate or spend time raising children [...]. It may be more beneficial to hire breeders for having the children rather than force women who prefer an intellectual life over being pregnant.’ (2003, my emphasis) The fact that transhumanists strive to attain the ability to create humans is, of course, the reason why an often heard concern raised by opponents of enhancement is that they will end up ‘playing God’. Finally, the latter – mankind’s relationship with divinity – is an aspect which is emphasized by the myth as well, again especially in Plato’s account of the story. The ability to develop himself by means of originally Olympic wisdom and technology gives the human being a (semi-)divine status: ‘It is because humans had a share of the divine dispensation that they alone among animals worshipped the gods, with whom they had a kind of kinship.’ (1997, 757, my emphasis) Humans, in short, have become godlike (at least partially), especially when later, as Plato relates, Zeus gives them the art of politics, and a sense of shame and justice as well, ‘so that there would be order within cities and bonds of friendship to unite them’ (1997, 757). Of course, the divinity of

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man is even clearer when Prometheus comes to be identified with the human, for first, he is a Greek god himself, and second, his role in the creation of humanity places him on a level with the Christian God as well. Transhumanists regularly state explicitly that one of their main objectives is to become divine. Bostrom formulates it in a relatively careful way: ‘Some of the prospects that used to be the exclusive thunder of the

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religious institutions, such as very long lifespan, unfading bliss, and godlike intelligence, are being discussed by transhumanists as hypothetical future engineering achievements.’ (2003, 46, my emphasis)

In an interview, transhumanist philosopher David Pearce puts it more directly: ‘If we want eternal life, then we’ll need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become godlike’ (2007, my emphasis). The principles of Prometheism, too, openly assert they ‘seek to bring ourselves closer to Godhood’ (2003, my emphasis). In other words, all three of them envision a future in which the human being has not only managed to take control over nature and creation, but will also have achieved a paradisiacal state of straightforward bliss, perfection and divinity. Interestingly, although the objective is to become godlike in the world to come, at the same time the transhumanists do not seem to start with a concept of the present human being as completely un-divine. In a sense, their claims already seem to presuppose the superiority of the current human. The Prometheists’ goal which is formulated as seeking to bring themselves ‘closer to Godhood’ (my emphasis) could be interpreted as implying that we are already on our way, and that our knowledge and abilities place us half-way on the trajectory between earth and heaven. And it is almost as if Pearce means to say that if we become able to ‘rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code’, we will finally realize our divine potentialities, situate ourselves on a level with the Creator and reach a fully divine state. However, it is of course debatable how literally their claims should be taken. What remains certain is that they base themselves on a view of the human being as fundamentally superior to other species. Many transhumanists argue that it is inherently human to master nature, transcend human boundaries and make infinite progress. The human’s high intellectual capacities compared to other animals and his great potential to develop himself in a cultural, technological and now, obviously, even biological sense makes him surpass any other creature.

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The References

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Gregory Stock One of the proponents of enhancement who refers to Prometheus is Gregory Stock. In his book Redesigning Humans (2003), he declares that, although many people do not realize it yet, we are ‘poised to transcend our current form and character on a journey to destinations of new imagination’ (2003, 1). We owe the transcendence that is about to befall us to emerging technologies such as cloning and genetic engineering, which will soon enable us to manipulate our own genetics, and ‘seize control of our evolutionary future’ (2003, 2). Stock recognizes that it will probably challenge some of our most fundamental concepts and create difficult moral issues, but he argues that the process has been set in motion and we are simply unable to stop it. Plastic surgery and the use of drugs in sports provide proof of the fact that people will use the possibility to enhance themselves if it is there. If they believe manipulating themselves by means of genetic engineering is to their advantage, as soon as they think it is safe enough, they will be willing to use these new technologies. Quoting James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, Stock asks us: ‘If we could make better humans … why shouldn’t we?’ (2003, 12). Of course we should be very cautious when it comes to the manipulation of human genetics, but worries about enhancement’s safety ‘miss the point’ (2003, 12) because, Stock reassures us, no one will accept such a procedure unless its benefits and safety are guaranteed. Rather than worrying, we should face the truth, and accept the fact that further development of enhancement is inevitable. ‘Humanity is moving out of its childhood and into a gawky, stumbling adolescence in which it must learn not only to acknowledge its immense new powers, but to figure out how to use them wisely. The choices we face are daunting, but putting our heads in the sand is not the solution.’ (2003, 17)

Instead, we should be brave, focus on ways to deal with the profound changes that lie before us, and devise a course of action that may decrease the risks and realize as many benefits as possible. For again, it will happen anyway. ‘Some imagine we will see the perils, come to our senses, and turn away from such possibilities. But when we imagine Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, we are not incredulous or shocked by his act. It is too characteristically human. To forego the powerful [enhancement] technologies

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Stock reasons that we will not be able to stop human enhancement, because we are all like Prometheus. By nature, we tend to be rebellious and engage in risky enterprises, since we are always looking for ways to extend our limits and improve ourselves. A typical human being is Promethean. A true human being dares to take the challenge of enhancement – it is only natural. To turn away from the – possibly dangerous – challenges, to dismiss the new technologies would not simply mean (apart from keeping on suffering) to be unrealistic – it would mean to lack something fundamental. Perhaps one would even not really be human, for it would be ‘out of character for humanity’.

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Ronald Dworkin A similar point is made by the philosopher of law Ronald Dworkin in his book Sovereign Virtue (2000). He argues that the reluctance many people feel against cloning and genetic engineering is not based so much on their fear of the dangers, the social injustice, or the possible lack of human diversity to which these might lead. Their revulsion is really grounded in something deeper: an aversion to ‘playing God’. In contrast to the fears discussed above, this aversion is not based on so-called ‘derivative values’ – values that are ‘parasitic on the interests of particular people’. Rather, it appeals to what Dworkin calls a ‘detached’ value: playing God is considered to be wrong in itself, apart from the specific implications for individual people and their interests. However: ‘It is deeply unclear [...] what playing God is, and what, exactly, is wrong with it. It can’t mean that it is always wrong for human beings to attempt to resist natural catastrophes, or to improve upon the hand that nature has dealt them. People do that—always have done that—all the time.’ (2000, 443)

The problem rather seems to be that genetic science presents the possibility of an enormous dislocation in the very structure of our moral and ethical framework. ‘For that structure depends, crucially, on a fundamental distinction between what we are responsible for doing or deciding, individually or collectively, and what is given to us, as a background against which we act or decide, but which we are powerless to change.’ (2000, 443)

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Whether it be formulated in religious or scientific language, people generally distinguish between chance and choice: between fate or destiny, what is created by God or nature on the one hand, and their own actions, their free will or what they do with that creation on the other. The possibility to design human beings in the future seriously shifts the boundary between chance and choice: parents could suddenly choose the way their children will look. It makes some of our present values obsolete – the value we attach to the body we are born with (and the pride we take in it), for instance, and it broadens the scope of our responsibility – if our parents come to determine our physical being, of course they will also become responsible for it. People, says Dworkin, then dread genetic engineering not so much because of a fear of what is wrong, ‘it is rather a fear of losing our grip on what is wrong’, of a ‘moral freefall’ (2000, 446). However, this doesn’t mean that the emotional responses to genetic manipulations are justified, for this terror is not based on any value, derivative or detached. It only means that we may have to revise some of our most basic moral presuppositions, but we should see this as a challenge. ‘Playing God is indeed playing with fire. But that is what we mortals have

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done since Prometheus, the patron saint of dangerous discoveries. We play with fire and take the consequences, because the alternative is cowardice in the face of the unknown.’ (2000, 446)

Although many people show a kind of all-encompassing hostility towards the possibilities that these new techniques have created, and although making practical decisions with respect to the new issues that will arise will not be easy, we should take the challenge because, Dworkin claims, we humans are like Prometheus: we make dangerous discoveries. This is not the first time that our values have been radically destabilized by scientific change – nuclear fission and deathbed medicine, for instance, did this. However, he seems to suggest, we tend to face the challenges and even take the possibly awful consequences because we do not want to be cowards. Humans, then, by nature, possess a kind of Promethean courage. That is how we have always been, and so this time as well, a period of moral instability is no reason to refrain completely from genetic engineering. It simply means that we should engage in discussions on the new technologies, explore our present convictions and ask ourselves whether our ethical objections still make sense in these new situations.

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Donrich Jordaan The passage by Dworkin on Prometheus is quoted in ‘Antipromethean Fallacies: A Critique of Fukuyama’s Bioethics’ (2009) by the entrepreneur in biotechnology (and lawyer/political analyst) Donrich Jordaan. Jordaan accuses ‘bioconservative’ Francis Fukuyama of, among other things, ‘resurrecting’ the naturalistic fallacy. Fukuyama rejects genetic engineering on the grounds that it would harm human dignity, be unnatural, and dehumanize us. In Our Posthuman Future (2003) he argues that human dignity is based on something he calls ‘Factor X’, which ‘cannot be reduced to the possession of moral choice, or reason, or

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language, or sociability, or sentience, or emotions, or consciousness, or any other quality that has been put forth as a ground for human dignity. It is all these qualities coming together in a human whole that make up Factor X.’ (2003, 171)

According to Fukuyama, enhancement would mean an invasion of this ‘human whole’ and, as such, harm human dignity. Jordaan, however, argues that this human whole or Factor X is nothing but human nature, and to derive values (such as human dignity) exclusively from human nature is invalid because human nature, in itself, has no (or limited) moral relevance. Therefore, he claims, Fukuyama’s argument is a case of naturalistic fallacy. Furthermore, Fukuyama seems to hold that any change in human nature is automatically bad, but human nature could just as much ‘be changed for the better, promoting human dignity rather than undermining it’ (2009, 585). Genetic modifications that would lead to a longer human life, a higher intellect, stronger immunity and ‘enhanced capacity for filial love’ (2009, 584) are other conceivable alterations that might very well improve the human condition, despite their being changes to human nature. To sum up, says Jordaan, Fukuyama shows a ‘disappointing lack of intellectual courage’ (2009, 590). According to him, we should follow the example of Dworkin, who does have the ‘Promethean courage’ to play with fire – to face the moral challenges that the new technologies confront us with, that is. It is thanks to this courage, this ‘cultural catalyst’, that we live in such a modern, civilized and technologically advanced society right now, that we have made such ‘awesome improvements to the human condition’ (2009, 590). And so he concludes the article with the following warning:

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‘At the onset of modernity, only 500 years ago, nearly all Westerners lived

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in servitude, almost unimaginable poverty, ignorance, and superstition and toiled their short, disease-ridden lives away with hard physical labor. Beware the day when we betray our promethean heritage. Beware the antipromethean heresy of Fukuyama.’ (2009, 590)

In other words: Promethean courage is an indispensable part of our ‘heritage’, it is the paradigm that has inspired us to civilize ourselves, take new steps, explore new ethical frameworks, develop new technologies and improve our lives. The Promethean bravery and technological ingenuity may not necessarily be part of our biological or ontological constitution – which is what Stock and Dworkin seem to suggest – it is, however, part of our cultural, historical and spiritual constitution. And by labelling Fukuyama guilty of ‘antipromethean heresy’, Jordaan even insinuates that it has some religious sanctity – it would not only contradict the historical successes of our culture, but it would, in a sense, be blasphemous. Moreover, Jordaan includes a kind of risk rhetoric in his argument: enhancement technologies might be dangerous, but to refrain from moving on also contains risks, possibly even worse ones. To forsake our ‘Promethean heritage’, he seems to suggest, could take us back to circumstances similar to those at the onset of modernity when virtually all of us ‘lived in servitude, almost unimaginable poverty, ignorance, and superstition’. If we do not want to fall back, but instead improve the human condition, we should open ourselves up for the technologies and the ethical changes they could bring along. For Jordaan, then, Prometheus does not so much embody the typical or natural human being, he is the ideal human, if not our God.

Prometheism By baptizing their – ‘secular’ – religion ‘Prometheism’, its adherents seem to endorse a similar idealism, for the fact that they explicitly choose to characterize their movement as a religion suggests that they consider Prometheus to be some ideal figure: ‘This religion is dedicated to Prometheus. Join us in creating the future of boundless possibilities’ (2000a). The Prometheans’ transhumanist objective is to ‘create a neoeugenically enhanced race that will eventually become a new, superior species with whatever scientific means are available’ (2003), such as genetic engineering, cloning, nanotechnology and mind uploading. Infinite

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progress and ‘Self-Directed Evolution’ is what they are striving for, and ultimately their aim is to: ‘continue genetically modifying ourselves for space travel and galactic colonization. […] Imagine a galaxy populated with 1000’s of new

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superhuman GM1 promethean species, and trillions of new varieties of floral and animal life. […] Our goal is to enable total and unlimited selftransformation, consciousness and expansion across the universe of our species. […] We seek to bring ourselves closer to Godhood.’ (2003)

The connection between their philosophy – or should I say, theology – and Prometheus seems rather obvious: it emphasizes control, progress, selfcreation, and aims for a superior, divine mode of existence, and ultimately even a galaxy. Moreover, they repeatedly stress the importance of science and knowledge: ‘We are not a cult or sect. Our principles are firmly grounded in empiricism, science, evolutionary theory, logic and neo-Darwinism’ (2003). Furthermore, they seem to want to underscore that it is not merely some egoistic striving for self-satisfaction, because ‘[o]ur purpose is merely to do what we believe is noble’ (2003). Prometheus thus embodies the ideal the Prometheans seek to attain: a godlike and ever improving state of being, achieved through passionate creativity, courageous striving for progress and transcendence, and wise application of (and mastery by means of) knowledge and science. Prometheism, then, is an excellent example which combines all the characteristics of transhumanism I mentioned.

Analysis In all four cases Prometheus is referred to in order to encourage us to move forward, take our destiny in our own hands and urge us not to be afraid of the possible threats posed by the new technologies. Look at Prometheus: he sought adventure, he faced danger, and he crossed boundaries! His courage led to creation, control, progress and transcendence. Obviously, that is what we want, even though it might be a bit dangerous. Prometheus challenged the gods, they seem to say, and so should we! It might even lead to our own ascension to a superior mode of existence.

1

i.e. genetically modified – TF.

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It is important to note that behind each use of the myth lies a particular idea of the human being. This idea, moreover, each time implies or is connected to a moral imperative as to what the human should be like – now, in the future, or both – which, in turn, is connected to a moral judgement on what should be done now with respect to enhancement. Stock and Dworkin compare humanity in general to Prometheus, implying that it is simply our nature to confront the new and the dangerous, to be rebellious, to seek to cross our natural limitations – even if this means taking part in our own creation. As Stock says: ‘It is too characteristically human.’ A typical human being dares to take the challenge of enhancement and is courageous enough to question his own moral framework. A true human being enhances himself – it is only natural, for ‘that is what we mortals have done since Prometheus’ (Dworkin). Not to face the risky but promising possibilities would not be merely unrealistic or cowardly, it would be ‘out of character for humanity’ (Stock). To be human is to be Promethean. Stock and Dworkin then seem to infer a moral judgement from what they consider to be human nature: they seem to claim that since it is our nature to create, discover, face danger and improve, we should. We have always done it, so why stop now? The myth of Prometheus is thus used to characterize human nature, which is consequently used as the basis for a moral imperative: we are creative, daring, knowledge-seeking beings, therefore we ought to enhance. It is ethically right to act ‘in harmony’ with nature. For Jordaan, Prometheus does not so much represent the ‘typical’ or ‘natural’ human being, but rather the ideal human. Jordaan argues that it was the Promethean fire of the courageous among us that created the ‘awesome improvements to the human condition’. Thanks to this cultural heritage we live in such a free, civilized and advanced society today, whereas before, all was misery, ignorance and disaster. However, ‘not all philosophers can have Promethean courage to face and explore a radically new value paradigm’ (2009, 590). In other words, not all ‘normal’ human beings possess this intellectual Promethean bravery – just like Dworkin, Jordaan thinks some current humans are cowards. Nevertheless, it does belong to our culture, and if we are unfaithful to our Promethean heritage, such – Fukuyaman – ‘heresy’ might lead to the poverty and superstition in which we lived in pre-modern times. Therefore, Jordaan seems to imply, ideally the human will keep on worshipping this heritage. Although not every human is necessarily endowed with the intellectual courage needed to improve the human condition, the ideal human is, and so a ‘good’ human should. By warning us for ‘the day we betray our Promethean heritage’ and for Fukuyama’s heresy, Jordaan uses the image of

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Prometheus in order to transfer what he considers to be a proper human condition. Physically, one that does not take place in ‘servitude, almost unimaginable poverty’ or toil its ‘short, disease-ridden lives away with hard physical labor’. More importantly, what it means to be a good human in a psychological sense is to not degenerate into an ignorant and superstitious state, but to have the titanic audacity to face the moral challenges that technological progress confronts us with, so that we may continue improving our social and cultural condition. Obviously, then, Jordaan’s argument also implies a strong moral imperative: the Promethean urge characterizes what a good human being should be like and what we should do with respect to biotechnology. This urge is an indispensable part of our cultural heritage, and since it has brought us incredible progress, we should continue on the same track – we should continue to develop biotechnology. The Prometheans use the mythical god’s name to, very straightforwardly, paint an ideal picture of the future human being: ‘a species with higher intellect, creativity, consciousness and love of one’s people’ (2000a). They will create a ‘new superhuman GM promethean species’ that will be enhanced by means of neo-eugenics. ‘A communion of intellect and beauty, for the simple reason that it can be done’ (2000a). There is not much extensive argumentation with respect to why this species should be created in the first place, but the main reason seems to be simply that being more intelligent, healthier and prettier is inherently good in itself; they see it as ‘the noble thing to do’ (2003). The image of Prometheus does not reflect the current ‘normal’ human, but is rather about what our species should be like or should become: a species that would perhaps still be human in a way, but without all our problems, pains and defects. ‘Every child brought into this world should be of the finest intellect possible, and free of genetic diseases or abnormalities’ (2003). The Prometheans seem to consider the nonenhanced, current human being as defective, imperfect, abnormal, or inferior even. Just as in the cases discussed above, their idea of the human being is connected to a moral judgement as to what our species should be like, and to a moral imperative as to what action should be taken: create a new, superior species. Apart from embodying the ideal, posthuman being, Prometheus’s heroic character should thus also encourage the current humans so that (as described in a poem on their website) they may transcend ‘the concerns of mere mortals, and lesser gods’ and nurture ‘the flame in its true spirit of striving towards excellence, everywhere, for everyone’ (2000b).

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Why Use Myth? As the specific content of the myth of Prometheus thus corresponds so well to the pro-enhancement themes, claims, goals and morals, these thinkers employ it, first, to convince the reader about what the human being is and/or should be like, and second, to transfer a strong moral message about what we should do with respect to enhancement. Still, we do not know why the authors in question thought it helpful to refer to a myth in order to make their point. Why use a myth in the first place? I will try and give below some preliminary answers to this question. I will present a few theories about more common characteristics of myths in general and their use, function and utility, which, I hope, will shed some light on the issue.

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A Definition of Myth In order to properly answer the question why one should refer to a myth at all, more research is required into the definition of myth and into its various functions. According to the historian and philosopher Mircea Eliade, myth is a representation of the truth about primordial time or the origin of the world: ‘myth, then, is always an account of a creation’ (1963, 6). Father of anthropology, Claude Lévi-Strauss described myths as arbitrary and fantastic stories, which nevertheless possess the capacity to overcome so-called ‘binary contradictions’: ‘mythical thought always progresses from the awareness of oppositions toward their resolution’ (1977, 224). Classics scholar G. S. Kirk, however, claims that myths differ so enormously from one another that ‘there is no one definition of myths’ (1970, 7). Because it is a rather complicated question, here I will not settle for a final definition of myth yet, I will only point out a few possible answers regarding its moral, social or bonding, and‘re-enchanting’ functions.

Myth’s moral function Evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith argues that a major function of myths is to ‘give moral and evaluative guidance’ and to supply ‘a source and justification for values’ (1998, 375). People reproduce myths ‘because they hope to persuade others to behave in certain ways’ (1998, 381). The ethicist and theologist Anna Lydia Svalastog also emphasizes myth’s moral function:

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‘A myth contains several possible interpretative outcomes in a community,

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each interpretation intending to grasp what has been, what is, and what can, or will, become [...]. I understand myths to be a carrier of both constructive and destructive norms and values.’ (2010, 4)

These scholars’ ideas on myth’s moral significance affirm the way the myth of Prometheus is used by the transhumanists. The analysis in the former section showed how the myth serves to establish the value of courage, the expansion of knowledge, the crossing of limitations and technological progress. One could say, indeed, that the myth provides a means ‘to grasp what has been, what is, and what can, or will, become’. The transhumanist references to Prometheus imply an idea of the typical and/or ideal human being – often of what the human has ‘always’ been like, and what life is (or should be) about. This is connected to an argument with which transhumanists envision what the future can and hopefully will look like, while trying to persuade people to participate in the achievement of their goals. Often, while introducing their view of the typical and/or ideal human being by means of the image of Prometheus, they thus simultaneously present a moral imperative on what should be done in order to live up to or improve this definition. Concretely, in this way the myth serves to morally justify the value, use and development of human genetic engineering and other forms of enhancement. Nevertheless, the myth does contain ‘several interpretive outcomes’. Apart from the fact that the transhumanists’ interpretations, though very similar, are, of course, not exactly the same, opponents of transhumanism employ the myth in a completely different way by evaluating the Titan’s story rather negatively, using it to argue that we should not enhance the human being. According to the scientist and medical ethicist, Leon Kass, for instance, the myth of Prometheus epitomizes the hubristic disposition to ‘rational mastery’. If we became able to completely master the human mind, for instance, this would result in ‘flattened souls’, a ‘disconnected existence’, and outright ‘dehumanization’: ‘In his moment of triumph, Promethean man will become also a contented cow’ (2002, 138). This way, the myth could indeed be understood as carrying both ‘constructive and destructive norms and values’, the outcomes depending on the reading of the individual or group in question.

Myth’s originary and bonding function Anthropologist and evolutionary biologist, Robin Dunbar, like Eliade, argues that storytelling, myth and religion are often about origins – group origins, to be exact. They are effective ways of creating a sense of

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belonging by ‘reminding us of who we are’ (2007, 46). This feeling leads to a commitment to the social group and its common benefits, so that we will cooperate rather than simply follow our personal desires – a very successful effect from an evolutionary perspective. The origin stories habitually revolve around a common ancestor, whether he actually existed or is purely mythical. Sharing this ancestor means that originally we are all family, and the realization of this fact arouses strong emotions, especially the ‘evolutionary very ancient emotions associated with behaving altruistically to kin’ (2007, 46). Further, says Dunbar, indirectly a sense of communality is also created through the shared knowledge implied in these stories: ‘Being able to tell a story depends on being able to call on a vast array of

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implicit shared knowledge among the listeners, so that the storyteller does not have to explain every last detail.’ (2007, 46)

The fact that we share this knowledge also points to membership of the group, to common kinship. To be able to fill in whatever remains inarticulate in the story again calls up emotions and produces a feeling of ‘bonding’. It might very well be that the transhumanists try to appeal to such a shared origin when referring to the myth of Prometheus. They remind us of the fact that we share a self-creating and courageous Promethean nature or culture, implying that these should continue to guide our actions. An appeal to our communality is emphasized by the frequent use of the pronouns ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’, like in Dworkin’s reassurance that to play with fire is ‘what we mortals have done since Prometheus’, or in Jordaan’s caution to ‘[B]eware the day when we betray our Promethean heritage’ (my emphasis). Moreover, the reference to the myth is rarely anything more than a short mention, which affirms Dunbar’s claim that this kind of storytelling relies on ‘a vast array of implicit shared knowledge’. Whether this does indeed call up emotions of loyalty and create a sense of bonding among readers or listeners is hard to establish on the basis of the debaters’ texts alone. At least, however, it seems justifiable to say that the proenhancement camp tries to elicit such a sense of loyalty and bonding by emphasizing – among other things, by means of the myth of Prometheus – who we are and what it means to be human, and often inferring from that, in turn, how we should act with regard to the current situation – in (the group of) humanity’s best interests, that is.

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Myth’s ‘re-enchanting’, teleological or redeeming function Referring to Max Weber who believed reason and understanding disenchant the world, professor of comparative literature, Theodore Ziolkowski suggests that today, in the modern, secularized society ‘perhaps the use of myth to explain the origin of things represents an attempt to “re-enchant” a world grown rational and colourless’ (2000, 21). He even claims the urge to retell ancient myths to be a sign of the ‘cultural exhaustion of modern civilisation’ (2000, 191). Our societies have ‘so objectified themselves’ (2000, 191) – we lack modern, enchanting stories, even the ability to create our own myths – that we are forced to reach back for ancient ones. Whether our modern society is indeed culturally exhausted is debatable. However, in view of the language, images and metaphors used by the advocates of enhancement, the suggestion of these pleas being attempts at re-enchantment sounds more convincing. As discussed, Stock and Dworkin use the myth of Prometheus to characterize human nature as courageous, (self-)creating, knowledge-expanding, and progressive. The possibilities of biological manipulation will, according to Stock, send us ‘on a journey to destinations of new imagination’ – leading, in the end, in all probability to ‘better humans’. Jordaan insinuates the results of a Promethean disposition will be ‘awesome improvements to the human condition’, and the Prometheans paint an entirely ambrosial picture of the future: their ‘goal is to enable total and unlimited self-transformation’, to become a ‘superior species’, and to colonize the galaxy. In other words, all scholars seem to hold on to a worldview which portrays a future of major scientific and technological progress, human enhancement, and perhaps even omnipotence, immortality, divinity and galactic colonization. And they are not the only ones. Consider for instance Young’s description of how he is ‘rejoicing in the e-phoria of the technosublime – the feeling of awe and wonder at the miraculous technowonderland created by human beings’ (2006, 20); Bostrom’s vivid imagination of how the posthuman will be ‘creating new realms of abstract and concrete beauty that humans could never […] dream of’ (2008, 112); and the conviction of de Grey – who is described by his assistant as ‘tirelessly and courageously bearing Promethean fire’ (2007, x) in his book’s dedication – that we will soon ‘enjoy dramatically extended lives […], the dark specter of the age plague driven away by the sunshine of perpetual youth’ (2007, 339). ‘Awesome improvements’, ‘unlimited self-transformation’, ‘technosublime’, ‘miraculous techno-wonderland’, ‘new realms’, ‘perpetual youth’ – it seems clear that there is a tendency to speak in a language of enchantment,

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if not to believe in certain captivating possibilities which, together, might indeed serve to ‘re-enchant the world’. Especially considering the fact that Prometheus and/or other myths are explicitly mentioned by the last three scholars as well, this re-enchantment is not unlikely to be inspired – whether consciously or not – by myths.

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Rationality and objectivity Transhumanists often explicitly emphasize how much value they attach to ‘science’, ‘rational argument’, ‘objective knowledge’ and ‘truth’. Max More, as mentioned before, states for instance that ‘[e]xtropians seek objective knowledge and truth’, just as they hold that they ‘can know reality’ and that humanity can, through science, be made to overcome its biases ‘to discover the world as it really is’ (1998). Harris and the bioethicist Julian Savulescu define bioethics to be ‘about reason and argument. […] It is about discovery of the truth and gaining knowledge’ (2004, 94). However, although at first sight the myth of Prometheus seems to be a mere metaphor or illustration of their arguments, the former section seems to point at a more important role. If my arguments are correct, the myth has a moral, bonding and re-enchanting function, and those functions are used by the transhumanists in the context of their arguments. Through the employment of a ‘mere’, mythological illustration shines a wish to create a sense of bonding, and to re-enchant a secular and unimaginative world. Most of all, the use of the myth uncovers a desire to send an ontological and moral message, to convince the reader about what it means to be human, what the human should be like, and what we should do with regard to the future. The question is, then, to what extent is the transhumanists’ argumentation (ideology, reasoning) truly as rational, impartial and scientific as they claim it to be, since the use of the myth reveals some other incentives and objectives than a quest for pure truth and objective knowledge. In the end, their titanic imagery might actually point at a more fundamental role for mythology when it comes to the core of their argumentation. The moral philosopher, Mary Midgley connects myth, science and religion. According to her, Ziolkowski would have no reason to fear aesthetic erosion because myth-making is a ‘vital human function’ (1992, 1): we create myths today just as we always have. Our minds simply need to detect or establish order in the confusion and chaos the universe presents to us: we need to think teleologically.

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‘It is quite true that the religions have grown out of this unifying, ordering vision. But then, so have the sciences. The kinship between these two ways of thinking is far closer than has been recognized.’ (1992, 12)

Today, science fulfils a function that entails much more than rational theorizing, objective analysis, or technological invention. According to Midgley, it shapes our myths, imaginations, our views of human life and the world, while at the same time depending itself on the mental urge to look for order, purpose and meaning in an inherently irrational universe. Science itself needs to use metaphors and myths as well since these enable it to make this world intelligible.

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‘We have a choice of what myths, what visions we will use to help us understand the physical world. We do not have a choice of understanding it without using any myths or visions at all.’ (1992, 13)

Myths, metaphors and images surrounding science, then, play a much more important role than is often assumed. In current society, which celebrates and rejoices in its ‘scientific’ attitudes, science is just as much a way to reach salvation as religion used to be, simply fulfilling our ‘imaginative needs’ (1992, 1). The myths and fantasies used in scientific works should, therefore, not be treated as a side-issue, as scientific reviewers, for instance, often seem to do. The myths do not simply fade away, says Midgley, but ‘can hang around like a fog, changing the atmosphere of thought and influencing ideas quite strongly. It tends to be the part of a book that people remember’ (1992, 15). Midgley’s theory seems quite relevant when it comes to the transhumanists’ idea of science. Apart from being the source for rationality, truth, and knowledge, science seems to satisfy the – teleological – need for order, purpose and meaning as well. It provides an explanation of how nature and the universe work, how the world should be understood and what the human is like: (evolutionary) biology, genetics, neuroscience, gerontology and artificial intelligence, for instance, are a few of the sciences that contribute to such understanding. Science establishes order by supplying the only trustworthy and acceptable way to find out ‘objective knowledge’ and the truth about ‘reality’. At the same time, it provides transhumanists with a means to attain their aims: it is through science and technology that human enhancement, technological progress and more can be achieved. Scientific order and intelligibility make the world, its rules and purposes – apart from intelligible – also predictable and therefore controllable: scientific understanding enables man to manipulate these rules. Science, then, seems to shape the way

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transhumanists imagine and comprehend the current world and its possibilities as well as the future. The enchanting phrases picturing the ‘awesome improvements’, ‘unlimited self-transformation’, ‘miraculous technowonderland’, and ‘perpetual youth’ that science and technology are expected to bring about, might very well be examples of metaphors and fantasies that serve to fulfil what Midgley would call the ‘imaginative needs’ of the transhumanists. Moreover, many of the transhumanists employ religious terminology. Words such as ‘godhood’ and ‘divinity’ are frequent, and there are many other examples as well. Jordaan for instance, accuses his opponent of ‘antipromethean heresy’, and the Prometheans, of course, present their entire futuristic, transhumanist ideology in the format of a ‘secular religion’. ‘Transcendence’ is used quite often in general: Bostrom, for instance, paraphrases the ‘human desire to acquire new capacities’ as ‘the quest to transcend our natural confines’ (2005, 1). Young, too, often speaks of transcendence, and also of miracles, and sees ‘science […] as the liberator of mankind’ (2006, 20, 43–44), while Pearce speaks of biotechnical ‘paradise-engineering’ (2004). This, then, seems to confirm Midgley’s claim that science has become the new way to reach salvation. In short, rather than entertaining an ‘objective’ scientific view (if there is such a thing in the first place), the advocates of enhancement could indeed be said to – probably unconsciously – endorse a mythological view of science in Midgley’s sense of the word. Basing teleological thinking upon ‘objective’ science and weaving it into supposedly pure, rational theories, while satisfying their imaginative needs and the need for meaning, they end up expecting something rather analogous to religious salvation for humanity. Saving us from our imperfections, science will finally enable us to become what we are truly meant to be: flawless, posthuman, immortal beings – who might even take over the entire universe at some point. By means of enhancement, the ‘superbiological’ knowledge acquired by us humans driven by the ‘technosublime’, will transcend our already unique and superior being further, lifting us up to the level of the Divine.

References Aeschylus (1975): Prometheus Bound, J. Scully and C.J. Herington (tr.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bostrom, N. (2003): ‘The Transhumanist FAQ. A General Introduction, Version 2.1’. http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/FAQv21.pdf (Accessed 27–06–2011).

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—. (2005): ‘A History of Transhumanist Thought’. http://www.nickbostrom.com/papers/history.pdf (Accessed 27–06– 2011). —. (2008): ‘Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up’. In: B. Gordijn and R. Chadwick (eds.): Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity. Dordrecht: Springer. 107–137. Dunbar, R. (2007): ‘Why Are Humans Not Just Great Apes?’ In: What Makes Us Human? Oxford: Oneworld Publications. 37–48. Dworkin, R. (2000): Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality. Cambridge Mass.; London: Harvard University Press. Eliade, M. (1963): Myth and Reality. New York: Harper & Row. Fukuyama, F. (2003): Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York: Picador. Goethe, J. W. von (1964): Selected Verse. D. Luke (ed.). Harmsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books. Grey, A. de, and M. Rae (2007): Ending Ageing. The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Ageing in Our Lifetime. New York: St Martin’s Press. Harris, J. and Savulescu, J. (2004): ‘The Creation Lottery: Final Lessons from Natural Reproduction’. In: Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 13/1, 90–96. Harris, J. (2007): Enhancing Evolution. The Ethical Case for Making Better People. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press. Hesiod, (1993): Works and Days and Theogony. S. Lombardo, (tr.), R. Lamberton (notes, glossary, intr.). Indianapolis: Hackett. Humanity+ (i.e. World Transhumanist Association) (2002): ‘Transhumanism Declaration’. http://humanityplus.org/learn/philosophy/transhumanistdeclaration/transhumanismdeclaration-2002. (Accessed 31–03–2010). —. (2009): ‘Transhumanist Declaration’. http://humanityplus.org/learn/transhumanist- declaration/ (Accessed 27–06–2011). Jordaan, D. (2009): ‘Antipromethean Fallacies: A Critique of Fukuyama’s Bioethics’. In: Biotechnology Law Report, 28/5, 577–590. Kass, L. (2002): Life, Liberty and the Defence of Dignity. San Francisco: Encounter Books. Kirk, G.S. (1970): Myth: Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures. London: Cambridge University Press. Lévi-Strauss, C. (1977): Structural Anthropology. London: Allen Lane.

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Maynard Smith, J. (1998): ‘Science and Myth’. In: D. L. Hull and M. Ruse (eds.), The Philosophy of Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 374–382. Midgley, M. (1992): Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and its Meaning. London: Routledge. More, M. (1998): ‘The Extropian Principles. A Transhumanist Declaration, version 3.0’. http://www.maxmore.com/extprn3.htm (Accessed 27–06–2011). Pearce, D. (2004): ‘The Hedonistic Imperative’. http://www.hedweb.com/hedab.htm (Accessed 27–06–2011). Pearce, D. and Bostrom, N. (2007): (Interview) In: Los Cronopis Associats. http://www.hedweb.com/transhumanism/index.html (Accessed 27–06–2011). Pico della Mirandola, G. (1998): On the Dignity of Man, On Being and the One, Heptaplus. C. G. Wallace, P. J. W. Miller and D. Carmichael (trs.). Indianapolis: Hackett. Plato (1997): ‘Protagoras’. In: Complete Works. J. M. Cooper (ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett. Prometheism (2000a): http://www.prometheism.net (Accessed 27–06– 2011). —. (2000b): http://www.prometheism.net/vin.html (Accessed 27–06– 2011). —. (2003): ‘Prometheism Principles’. http://prometheism.net/principles.htm (Accessed 27–06–2011). Sandel, M. (2004): ‘The Case against Perfection.’ In: The Atlantic Monthly. 293/3, 51–62. Stock, G. (2003): Redesigning Humans. London: Profile Books. Svalastog, A. L. (2010): ‘Gene Myths in Public Perceptions’. In: Public Understanding of Science. http://pus.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/09/09/0963662510376284 (Accessed 27–06–2011). Young, S. (2006): Designer Evolution – A Transhumanist Manifesto. New York: Prometheus. Ziolkowski, T. (2000): The Sin of Knowledge. Ancient Themes and Modern Variations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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CHAPTER THREE TRANSHUMANISM, BIOETHICS AND SCIENCE FICTION DÓNAL P. OMATHÚNA

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Introduction What has been described as “bioethics one” (Nigel Cameron, cited in Hoehner 15) has focused on clinical ethics. The focus here has been on patient care and ethics at the beginning and ending of human life. The usual approach is to examine case studies and how ethical principles and theories bring clarity to ethical dilemmas. While other, non-clinical issues were also examined, these have received greater attention in “bioethics two” (ibid.). Recent developments in biotechnology have raised a host of other, more fundamental issues (Zylinska, 36). This new phase of bioethics moves from when human life begins and ends, to questions of human nature. What does it mean to be human? Is human nature fixed? If not, how should it change? Should we be involved in directing human evolution? Such questions quickly lead to a questioning of the status given to human nature. Why would we think that humans are particularly special? And what are the implications of such thinking for bioethics and how we determine what is right and wrong? Such questions have been the mainstay of science fiction (O’Mathúna, 2014). Such literature paints pictures of lives and societies where yet-tobe-developed technology is commonplace. These give some insight into what such future lives might be like, and some sense of whether we should go there or not. With developments in synthetic biology, robotics and artificial intelligence, fiction appears to be moving into reality. Hence, science fiction may provide some help in examining the questions faced today in bioethics two. Using science fiction in bioethics is challenging because one author can give a utopian vision of life with a certain technology, while another

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portrays it in dystopian images. How can these variable visions be of use as people grapple with current bioethical issues? This chapter will examine how science fiction and its futures might bring some guidance back to present-day bioethics. One way this can happen is by presenting a more realistic view of the world. Technological developments are often presented in abstract ways divorced from the realities of human life. Living longer, or being able to use more of the brain’s potential, can sound attractive on their own. Even if these developments have some risks, these can seem irrelevant when expressed as small percentages. Literature and film can put such hypothetical claims into more realistic settings. They can show some of the unintended or unanticipated consequences of these potential benefits, especially on relational and societal levels. In this way, they can put hypothetic benefits and potential risks into settings that allow more realistic consideration and evaluation. A second way to be discussed here is how literature brings out character issues, or virtues, and shows how these must be taken into account with various technologies.

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Transhumanism Bioethics is increasingly interacting with posthumanism and transhumanism. As others have noted, precise definitions for and distinctions between these terms are elusive (Wolfe, xi). Nick Bostrom’s definition of posthumanism focuses on human enhancement by technological means (Bostrom, 2008). His vision is that posthumans would have at least one capacity that greatly exceeds the maximum attainable by current humans. One means of achieving this goal is the promotion of transhumanism. This movement seeks to improve the human condition “by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate ageing, and greatly enhancing human intellectual, physical and emotional capacities” (Bostrom, 2006). Transhumanism sees itself very much following in the footsteps of humanism, whereas posthumanism is highly critical of many aspects of humanism (Wolfe, xv). This chapter will address transhumanism and technological enhancement as promoted by Bostrom, not posthumanism as defined by Wolfe. The transhumanist vision is linked to a significant change in the goals and purposes of biomedical research. The traditional goals of medicine have been the relief of sickness, the treatment of disease and the prevention of illness (O’Mathúna, 2011). Biomedical developments have become so powerful that they are expanding human capabilities. Not only can medicine fix what is broken in humans, it can enhance humans beyond their natural limits. Such capabilities are creating new ethical dilemmas.

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For example, one of the negative aspects of amputation has been the limitations that result for amputees. Prosthetics have developed so much that now athletes can run faster with prosthetics than with their natural legs. Amputees have been called ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled’, but now they may be viewed as ‘enhanced’. This raises dilemmas and debates over whether they should be allowed to compete against ‘normal’ athletes (McCallum). It may come to the point that someone will voluntarily want to replace a healthy limb or organ with a prosthetic. Acceptability of such an idea has been included in a list of items that could be used to determine when transhumanism has arrived (Munkittrick). Such trends fit in with the transhumanist vision of changing our definition of a normal human (Munkittrick). Transhumanism aims for a completely enhanced body, mind and soul. Rather than just replacing various body parts, transhumanism seeks after a completely new type of body. “What if your body could regenerate healthier, fresher skin and substitute worn out tendons, ligaments and joints with replaceable ones? What if your body was as sleek, as sexy, and felt as comfortable as your new automobile?” (Vita-More). This may sound purely science fictional, but interest in transhumanism is not limited to the fringe. Increasingly its vision is receiving attention in mainstream scientific research. Mihail Roco has been a leading promoter of nanotechnology and holds prominent advisory positions in the US and Europe. He helped start the National Nanotechnology Initiative which channels US federal funding for nanotechnology and is now the Senior Advisor for Science and Engineering at the US National Science Foundation. In 2003, he co-authored a report on Converging Technologies, which include nanotechnology, biotechnology and genetic engineering, information technology and computing, and cognitive science, also known as NBIC. This report claimed that because of NBIC, “the twenty-first century could end in world peace, universal prosperity, and evolution to a higher level of compassion and accomplishment” (Roco and Bainbridge, 6). Nanotechnology has featured prominently in the transhumanist vision. “Nanotechnology, in combination with biotechnology and medicine, opens perspectives for fundamentally altering and rebuilding the human body” (Grunwald, 197). In a chemistry textbook, the vision is given that nanotechnology “is considered poised to revolutionize the world as we know it, and transform us into something better” (Ozin et al., x). While the vision is being promoted, and some of the technological developments are beginning, an ethical examination is needed regarding whether we should go in this direction.

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What Could Be the Harm? The transhumanist project is justified on the basis of personal freedom and autonomy. According to Bostrom and Roach: “Providing they are not significantly harming others, people who live in a liberal, democratic society are free to pursue whatever lifestyle they choose” (125). This principle of autonomy has become prominent within bioethics one. While some claim that autonomy is an ethical trump card, this view has also been critiqued (Greaney et al., 2012). Many accept that autonomy must be balanced against other ethical principles and values. The need for such balance is important when considering transhumanism. The question of who might be harmed by transhumanism or any particular technology is challenging to address. Bostrom and transhumanists see little or no harm in these developments, while others raise serious concerns. Improved prosthetics for amputees raise few ethical concerns, but the idea of choosing amputation for enhancement is problematic. Controversy already rages over Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) where people seek out amputation of healthy limbs (Elliott). As transhumanism promotes the acceptability of healthy limb replacement, those afflicted with BIID could gain the courage to act upon their urges, even seeing them as fashionable. George Annas, a bioethicist and human rights advocate, is highly critical of several technologies advocated by transhumanism, including human-machine cyborgs, xenografts and brain alterations. He claims these should be viewed as “a new category of ‘crimes against humanity’” because of their potential to be so harmful they “threaten the integrity of the human species itself” (Annas, 238). Science fiction can play a role in helping to examine whether transhumanism is the answer to humanity’s problems (Bostrom, 2008), or the world’s most dangerous idea (Fukuyama). Science fiction provides a forum for assessing cultural attitudes towards human enhancement and transhumanism. On the one hand, fictional narratives and computergenerated imagery (CGI) bring to life what a posthuman future might be like. From the Bionic Woman to the Terminator, we see everything from technologically enhanced humans to humanized robots. The film Avatar shows the possibilities of interspecies genetic hybridization and transference of human consciousness into non-human bodies. As such, science fiction displays what transhumanism seeks to make possible. Science fiction can also point out ethical concerns and theoretical problems. In I, Robot, Detective Spooner benefits from a prosthetic arm to replace one torn off in an accident. The film also reveals the psychological

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difficulties he has adjusting to his prosthesis. Adapting to prosthetic devices is not as simple as transhumanists make out. They present a vision where bits and pieces of the human body can be replaced and upgraded like new parts on a car. Yet, studies in psychology show that it is far from being this simple (Gallagher et al.). In this way, Detective Spooner is closer to reality than some transhumanist visions. A number of movies highlight more distant harms that might be called the terminator problem: What if the machines or posthumans seek to dominate or annihilate humans? The Terminator series exemplifies how human creativity may lead to machines, cyborgs and posthumans with power and intelligence far exceeding human capacities. What if they want to annihilate humans as pesky vermin or use humans as energy sources, as in The Matrix? Professor Kevin Warwick, a vocal proponent of technologically enhancing the human body, claims that if we are lucky, the intelligent machines humans create will want to keep us as pets. He sees this as an inevitable feature of evolution and progress. Why should we risk this future?

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Ethical Virtue While science fiction often portrays a dystopian vision of the future due to technology and machines, there is usually a ray of hope for humanity. Character development in fiction is important. In the Terminator series, while the machines are overrunning humanity, the human spirit is inspired to develop virtuously. John Connor, the eventual hero, goes from being a snivelling kid and a petty thief to a charismatic leader defending the human race. While Hollywood has been happy to show cracks in the inevitable progress claimed by humanism, “Man, the films insisted, would survive: this was destiny, the law of nature” (Badmington, 8). Along with a critique of the machine, science fiction often calls us back to the importance of character and the development of certain character traits that are fundamentally important to human virtue. William Faulkner noted this general role of literature when he received the Noble Prize in Literature for 1949. He commented on problems he saw with literature as the Cold War was developing. “Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear … There is only the question: When will I be blown up?” (Faulkner). Today we see something similar with the litany of blockbuster movies reminding us that the world will not survive forever (notwithstanding the best efforts of our heroes). Rather than focus on fear and explosions, Faulkner said good writing focuses on “the problems of the human heart … [and] the old verities and truths of the

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heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice”. Narratives call on us to reflect on important character traits. As they do, they show how these virtues are relevant to the bioethical dilemmas of today. Science fiction can show how certain technologies might conflict with specific virtues. Some may even undermine certain virtues. This role of science fiction comes through in the film, Avatar. The natives who live on Pandora are called the Na’vi. In Hebrew, this term means a prophet, but not just one who looks into the future; it means one who has the capacity to see things at a deeper level, a theme repeatedly mentioned in the film (Blech). In Avatar, the humans have all the technological enhancements and superior equipment. Genetic technology has advanced to where species can be interbred and minds transferred into other bodies. In spite of all the technological advancements, greed, arrogance, prejudice and injustice characterize most humans. The alien Na’vi are the ones with virtue and the more attractive culture. The technological enhancement that transhumanism seeks is no guarantee of accompanying advancement in virtue or ethics. Transhumanism fails to address the fact that even if humans can be improved, this is vastly different from showing that they will be improved (Passmore, 295). If history is anything to go by, technological enhancement may exacerbate problems. Science fiction has a long tradition of suggesting that transhuman-type enhancement leads to injustice and conflict, not posthuman prosperity and tranquillity. In H. G. Wells’s Time Machine, selective breeding leads to Morlocks who dominate and hunt the Eloi; in Huxley’s Brave New World, the Alphas rule over the Betas and Deltas; while in Gattaca, the ‘valids’ take opportunities denied the ‘in-valids’. In justifying, even idolizing, the pursuit of personal enhancement, transhumanism will inevitably promote a two-tiered system: the enhanced and the unenhanced. Some transhumanists acknowledge that only the rich will be able to afford the technological enhancements of a posthuman future, at least when first available (Naam, 23). Thus the rich and powerful will have greater access to enhancement, allowing the strong to get stronger, with the weak getting weaker. The great science fiction author, H. G. Wells, also wrote about how he saw society progressing. “And the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favour the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity—beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds, and a growing body of knowledge—and to

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check the procreation of base and servile types, of fear-driven and cowardly souls, of all that is mean and ugly and bestial in the souls, bodies and habits of men” (Wells, 1901, 323). For Wells, enhancing the strong went hand in hand with eliminating the weak. In that, he was prophetic. The transhumanist vision based on progress, enhancement and perfectibility is incompatible with concern for the weak, the vulnerable and the disabled. As enhancement is actively pursued, people with real needs are being neglected. Various illnesses are called ‘neglected diseases’ because they kill millions of people globally, yet are the focus of little research funding. What is called the 10/90 gap is a rough estimate that ten per cent of global health research funding is directed towards the diseases that impact ninety per cent of the world’s population (O’Mathúna, 2009). The pursuit of enhancement has a real cost for those whose plight is thereby ignored. Transhumanists write as if they are unaware of the needs of people in the world today. K. Eric Drexler was one of the first nanotechnologists to popularize a vision of society transformed by nanotechnology. Much of his vision overlaps with transhumanism. He claimed that through nanotechnology “people will be able to make as much as they want of whatever they want” (Drexler, 376). His optimism is based on his belief that the economic growth of “recent centuries shows that the rich can get richer while the poor get richer” (Drexler, 224). Bostrom likewise claims that the past few centuries brought improvements “which enable billions of people to enjoy unprecedented opportunities for enjoyment and personal development” (Bostrom, 2004, 339). Even if some have these benefits, billions of people on the planet do not. The lack of recognition of these needs within transhumanism is a serious ethical shortcoming.

Dissatisfaction and Perfection In spite of unrealistic claims about the state of the world, transhumanism presumes that many are dissatisfied with the human lot. Rather than focus on providing basic needs for those who lack food or medicine, transhumanism seeks enhancement for those who already have a lot. The claim is that those who already have a high capacity for something “are generally better judges of the value of having that capacity or of a further increment of that capacity” than those who have less of it (Bostrom and Roach, 118). In other words, let the rich get richer because they understand the value of riches better. Little wonder that the basic needs of the poor are overlooked in providing enhancement for the already well-off.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, The Birthmark, describes the tragedy of such pursuit of enhancement and perfection. A scientist wants to enhance his wife’s beauty by removing her one blemish. In doing so, he fails to appreciate her extraordinary beauty and she ends up dying because of the experimental treatment. Rather than continually seeking technological enhancement, ways are needed to appreciate what we have and to learn to cope with suffering and, ultimately, death. This type of story shows the harm in radically scrambling after perfection. With this comes the neglect of the givenness of life and all that we have been given already (O’Mathúna, 2009, 157). It leads to a lack of gratitude. The scientist’s whole focus in Hawthorne’s story becomes his wife’s one blemish, rather than her astounding beauty. He becomes obsessed with her lack of perfection, and his need to improve her, with tragic consequences. We see similar trends today with the increased use of medicine and pharmaceuticals to address lifestyle issues (O’Mathúna, 2011). As biomedical solutions become the focus, less attention is given to developing the character skills and perspectives needed to cope with life’s limitations, and develop a sense of gratitude for what we do have. Without these virtues, we acquiesce to the unending search for perfection. The pursuit of illusive perfection can feed further dissatisfaction with life. This may lead people to be more willing to take on risks they would otherwise not accept. Hawthorne’s story shows how the scientist eventually risked his wife’s life in pursuit of perfection. When someone has a disease, the risks of adverse effects are accepted to counteract the harms of the illness. A blemish on a beautiful face is not a ‘harm’ that warrants taking any risk. Currently, progress is being made to develop better prosthetics and replacement joints. But questions arise about who will have access to these products because of their costs. The investment needed to develop replacement parts is increasing dramatically. The time to bring a device to market has doubled, with start-up costs going from $20 million to $100 million (Katsnelson). Before people consider replacing healthy limbs and joints with enhanced versions, there are serious problems to overcome. For example, in 2010, Johnson & Johnson had to recall their most widely used hip replacement joints (Singer). They were failing at a much higher rate than expected due to inflammation and infections in the joints. Part of the problem was that tiny shavings were coming loose from the joints and causing problems. While such technical problems exist with every new development, the risks are acceptable when they overcome the pain and disability of failing joints. Those same risks are less acceptable to replace healthy joints based on an idealistic vision of a transhuman future.

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The pursuit of enhancement can become such an obsession that it drives people to take unwarranted risks. Cognitive enhancement drugs are today put forward as the vanguard of enhancement medicine. Drugs like Ritalin are increasingly used to enhance cognitive function, not relieve an illness or disorder. A survey of US university students found that while only four per cent had legitimate prescriptions for attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication (like Ritalin), 34 per cent were using them regularly (DeSantis et al.). A non-scientific survey of the readers of the prestigious science journal Nature found that 20 per cent of respondents were using one or more prescription medication to enhance their academic performance (Maher). Eighty per cent believed this to be ethical. In the Nature survey, only 14 per cent said they believed cognitive enhancement medications should be available for children. However, one third of these same people said they would feel pressured to give these drugs to their own children if other children at school were taking them. This coercive effect is a concern if the transhumanist vision becomes more widely accepted. People may put themselves at risk to keep up with the competition. In the same survey, about half the users of these drugs reported unpleasant side effects, some of which led them to discontinue use (Maher, 674). Many of these drugs have not been tested for the uses to which they are being put, leading people to take on unknown risks for uncertain benefits. One neuroscientist stated: “We really know very little about the short-term, and even less about the long-term, effects of these drugs in normal healthy people” (Farah, 2008). Yet this same scientist coauthored an article advocating the use of such drugs, and the free distribution of them at exams so that no student would be disadvantaged by not having access to them (Greely et al., 2008). Science fiction can once again highlight such problems. The film Limitless is about the impact of a designer drug, NZT, that unleashes the normally unused potential of the human brain. The unproductive, disorganized lead character is transformed into a financial genius. As the plot progresses, he learns that NZT has some serious side effects. If he stops taking the medication, there is a good chance he will die. The film subtly raises one of the serious ethical problems with enhancement medications. The drug is only beneficial if some have it and most don’t. Unlike a cure for cancer, where everyone would benefit from receiving it, NZT only benefits those who take it if most people stay at their unenhanced capacity. This makes such enhancement drugs inherently unjust. While transhumanists argue that everyone would benefit from releasing the full potential of their brains, Limitless shows us a more

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realistic picture of life. The film is an action-thriller as those who know of the drug seek to keep it out of the hands of the competition. Cognitive enhancement without ethical character development only puts more powerful tools in the hands of the greedy.

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Conclusion As technological and pharmaceutical enhancement is pursued, other ways of addressing social issues will be neglected or rejected. Some have proposed using the drug Modafinil to help sleep-deprived doctors and pilots stay alert during long working shifts. The effectiveness and safety of this is questionable. Some research shows that a 40-minute nap would be at least as effective, yet naps during night shifts were viewed as “not practical” (Gill et al., 2006, 158). Accepting human limitations, and making allowances for them, is rejected in favour of technologically pushing people beyond their limits. In the same way, Viagra has become the solution of choice for couples with sexual difficulties, instead of helping them talk through and resolve underlying relational difficulties (O’Mathúna, 2011). The film Surrogates highlights the difficulties of pursuing technological fixes for interpersonal challenges, leading to a world in which people can no longer negotiate walking down the street. In this transhumanist world, people stay at home plugged into their wireless robotic surrogates which go out into the world. Those in favour note that personal peace, security and prosperity have resulted. Those opposed proclaim that human life is a bodily experience, not to be lived out through a machine. The Prophet proclaims that life is given meaning “when you sacrifice your own personal desires for a greater cause, a greater good”. Transhumanism claims that life is about enhancement and progress. Inevitably, these benefits are available only to those who can afford them. Such injustices have led to rebellion in the past, but Bostrom builds in a controlling mechanism. He claims that future benefits will only result “by taking control of our own evolution” (Bostrom, 2004, 341). Whether or not that is feasible is highly questionable, given that natural selection is, by definition, an uncontrolled process without goals or direction. Bostrom seems to realize this, acknowledging that taking control of evolution would require “one independent decision-making power… a global regime that could enforce basic laws for its members… In order to be assured of stability, it would not only have to lack external competitors; its domestic affairs would have to be regulated in such a fashion that no

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internal challenges to its constitution could arise” (Bostrom, 2004, 349). History and science fiction provide many examples of such powers and their destructive impact (Passmore). Robert Eberg says the best science fiction can “use the future as a way to critique the present”. A novel or film like The Island of Dr Moreau shows how ideas of human progress and controlling evolution quickly lead to the inhumane pursuit of perfection. Biomedical research needs to be recalled to its goals of relieving suffering and correcting illness. Literature can help expose the hubris of science and technology, especially in the hands of those pursuing transhuman enhancement and perfection. Science fiction gives us a glimpse into what is possible. It shows us in words and images what it might be like to run with the wind, fly with the birds, and visit the stars. Because it is grounded in character and human nature, it also reminds us that our problems will not be answered by technology alone. Literature recalls us from the clouds and points to the importance of character development. Literature can also remind us of our track record with injustice and indifference. Those deficiencies will not be overcome by technology, but require transformation of the heart and soul. That takes us into another realm beyond the scope of this chapter.

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Filmography Avatar. DVD. Dir. James Cameron. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2009. Brave New World. DVD. Dir. Leslie Libman and Larry Williams. Dan Wigutow Productions, 1998. Gattaca. DVD. Dir. Andrew Niccol. Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1997. I, Robot. DVD. Dir. Alex Proyas. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2004. Limitless. DVD. Dir. Neil Burger. Relativity Media, 2011. Matrix, The. DVD. Dir. Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. Groucho II Film Partnership, 1999. Surrogates. DVD. Dir. Jonathan Mostow. Touchstone Pictures, 2009. Terminator Salvation. DVD. Dir. McG. Halcyon, 2009.

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References Annas, George J. (2009): “The Man on the Moon.” Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. Ed. Susan Schneider. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 227–240. Badmington, Neil (2000): “Introduction: Approaching Posthumanism.” Posthumanism. Ed. Neil Badmington. New York, Palgrave, 1–10. Blech, Benjamin (2010): “Avatar & the Jews.” Aish.com. 6 Feb. 2010. 30 Sep. 2011. Bostrom, Nick (2004): “The Future of Human Evolution.” Death and Anti-Death: Two Hundred Years After Kant, Fifty Years After Turing. Ed. C. Tandy. Palo Alto, CA: Ria University Press, 339–371. —. (2006): “Transhumanism: The Next Stage in Human Evolution?” RSA Lecture, London. 26 Mar. 2006. —. (2008): “Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up.” Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity. Ed. Bert Gordijn and Ruth Chadwick. Berlin: Springer, 107–36. Bostrom, Nick, and Rebecca Roache (2007): “Human Enhancement: Ethical Issues in Human Enhancement.” Eds. Jesper Ryberg, Thomas S. Petersen, and Clark Wolf. New Waves in Applied Ethics. New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 120–152. DeSantis, Alan D., Elizabeth M. Webb, and Seth M. Noar (2008): “Illicit Use of Prescription ADHD Medications on a College Campus: A Multimethodological Approach.” Journal of American College Health 57.3 (2008): 15–24. Drexler, K. Eric (1986): Engines of Creation 2.0: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology 20th anniversary e-book edition. New York, Anchor Books, 1986/2006. 30 Sep. 2011.

Ebert, Roger (2005): “The Island.” Chicago Sun-Times. 22 July 2005. 30 Sep. 2011.

Elliott, Carl (2000): “A New Way to be Mad.” The Atlantic. Dec. 2000. 30 Sep. 2011. Farah, Martha J. (2008): “Cognitive enhancement.” 33rd Annual AAAS Science and Technology Policy Forum, Washington, DC. 8–9 May 2008. 30 Sep. 2011. Faulkner, William (1950): “The Noble Prize in Literature 1949 Banquet Speech.” Stockholm. 10 Dec. 1950. 30 Sep. 2011.

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Fukuyama, Francis (2004): “Transhumanism.” Foreign Policy 144 (2004): 42–43. Gallagher, Pamela, Deirdre M. Desmond, and Malcolm MacLachlan, eds (2010): Psychoprosthetics. London: Springer-Verlag. Gill, Michelle, Paul Haerich, Kelli Westcott, Kristen L. Godenick, and Jennifer A. Tucker (2006): “Cognitive Performance Following Modafinil Versus Placebo in Sleep-deprived Emergency Physicians: A Double-blind Randomized Crossover Study.” Academic Emergency Medicine 13.2, (2006): 158–165. Greaney, Anna-Marie, Dónal P. O’Mathúna, and P. Anne Scott. (2012) “Autonomy and Choice in Healthcare: Self-testing Devices as a Case in Point.” Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy 15.4, 383–395. Greely, Henry, Barbara Sahakian, John Harris, Ronald C. Kessler, Michael Gazzaniga, Philip Campbell, and Martha J. Farah (2008): “Towards Responsible Use of Cognitive-enhancing Drugs by the Healthy.” Nature 456 (2008): 702–705. Grunwald, Armin (2005): “Nanotechnology: A New Field of Ethical Inquiry?” Science and Engineering Ethics 11.2 (2005): 187–201. Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1843): “The Birthmark.” Being Human. Washington, DC, President’s Council on Bioethics, 2003, 5–20. 30 Sep. 2011.

Huxley, Aldous (1932): Brave New World. New York, Bantam. Hoehner, Paul J. (2008): “The Coming Bioethics Tsunami.” Today’s Christian Doctor 39.4 (2008): 14–17. Katsnelson, Alla (2008): “Are Devices Dead?” The Scientist 22.10 (2008): 32–37. Maher, Brendan (2008): “Poll Results: Look Who’s Doping.” Nature 452 (2008): 674–675. McCallum, Kevin (2011): “London 2012 Olympics: Oscar Pistorius Wants to be the Fastest Man on the Planet.” The Telegraph. 22 May 2011. 30 Sep. 2011.

Munkittrick, Kyle. (2011): “When Will We Be Transhuman? Seven Conditions for Attaining Transhumanism.” Discover Magazine. 16 July 2011. 30 Sep. 2011.

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O’Mathúna, Dónal P. (2009): Nanoethics: Big Ethical Issues with Small Technology. London, Continuum. —. (2011): “Erecting New Goals for Medicine: Viagra and Medicalization.” The Philosophy of Viagra: Bioethical Responses to the Viagrification of the Modern World. Ed. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 111–126. —. (2014): “Movies.” Post- and Transhumanism: An Introduction. Eds. Robert Ranisch and Stefan L. Sorgner. New York, Peter Lang. 287– 298. Ozin, Geoffrey A., André C. Arsenault, and Ludovico Cademartiri (2009): Nanochemistry: A Chemical Approach to Nanomaterials. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Royal Society of Chemistry. Passmore, John (2000): The Perfectibility of Man. 3rd ed. Indianapolis, Liberty Fund, 2000. Naam, Ramez (2008): “The Distribution of Post-humanity.” H+ 1 (2008): 23. Roco, Mihail C. and William S. Bainbridge, eds (2003): Converging technologies for improving human performance: Nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science. Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic. Singer, Natasha (2010): “Johnson & Johnson Recalls Hip Implants.” New York Times. 26 Aug. 2010. 30 Sep. 2011.

Vita-More, Natasha (2002): “Radical Body Design ‘Primo Posthuman’.” Kurzweil AI Network. 25 Feb. 2002. 30 Sep. 2011.

Warrick, Kevin. “My Life as a Cyborg.” Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland. 21 Apr. 2011. Wells, H. G. (1901): Anticipations. New York, Harper & Brothers. —. (1984): The Time Machine and the Invisible Man. New York: Penguin. —. (1896): The Island of Dr Moreau. London, Heinemann, Stone & Kimball. Wolfe, Cary (2010): What is Posthumanism? Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press. Zylinska, Joanna (2009): Bioethics in the Age of New Media. Cambridge, MIT Press.

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CHAPTER FOUR FROM HUMANS TO PERSONS: NIKLAS LUHMANN’S POSTHUMANISM THOMAS MAVROFIDES

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Introduction Niklas Luhmann was a prolific author and is considered by many sociologists and systems theorists to be one of the most influential thinkers of the late 20th century. But, as might be expected in cases like this, his theory has also attracted a lot of criticism, mainly because his work was not fully understood by many scholars and academics; it is only now, as studies around his work are proliferating, that criticism is giving way to admiration and adaptation of his theory in many fields, including social anthropology, social networks theory, cultural studies, communication theory etc., not to mention, of course, sociology itself. That criticism of Luhmann’s theory can be ascribed to the following reasons: 1. It is a theory about conservation, thus a conservative theory. Luhmann is criticized for using biological and mechanical paradigms in sociological theory, thus overlooking the phenomenon of social change. 2. Furthermore, Luhmann’s theory sets the human (in Luhmann’s own terms: “psychic system”) explicitly apart from society, thus reducing the importance of humans as individuals and, therefore, implicitly suggesting a political theory that is anti-human, in the sense that the functions of society do not take into consideration the needs of the humans. 3. The adaptation of the biological theory of autopoiesis to the social context reduces the human to a mere (and, even worse, replaceable) component of society. 4. His theory is over-complicated and highly abstract and, therefore, difficult to grasp and use as a social analysis tool.

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Admittedly, all these arguments could be considered justified in their basic approach; the only problem is that – as we intend to argue in this paper – all these concepts led to a theory that deconstructs and subsequently reconstructs the importance of the individual, and re-establishes the need to preserve otherness as a sine qua non of any kind of societal organization. In doing that, Niklas Luhmann elaborated on the grounds of a very rigorous version of systems theory based on a basal and minimal background, leaving “...no place for opinions or beliefs of any kind” (Spencer-Brown G., 2008, xiii), proceeding to construct a theory “...of what we know of what we have defined” (ibid). So, instead of fiddling around with the problems of ethics, making hopeless efforts to justify scientifically any humanitarian ethical claims, he opted for a “hard” approach, which eventually resulted in a coherent theoretical framework in which there was no place for anti-humanism. This is Niklas Luhmann’s true legacy.

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On autopoiesis In order to understand the core of Niklas Luhmann’s theory (hereafter referred to simply as “systems theory”) one has first to gain an insight into the theory of autopoiesis. The latter was introduced in the 1970s by the Chilean biologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. The theory of autopoiesis tries to tackle the problem of the definition of the living, that is, to define what can legitimately (in a biological sense) be considered a living machine. According to Maturana and Varela (1980, 78–79): “An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components that produces the components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in the space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network.”

It follows that an autopoietic machine continuously generates and specifies its own organization through its operation as a system of production of its own components, and does this in an endless turnover of components under conditions of continuous perturbations and compensations of perturbations. Therefore, “an autopoietic machine is a homeostatic (or rather relations-static) system which has its own organization (defining

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network of relations) as the fundamental variable which it maintains constant”.1 As the authors emphasize, the unity of autopoietic machines should be understood in terms of continuously reconstituted relations, rather than a property of their components or static relations. This definition has profound consequences, for it outlines the concept of autonomy and self-recreation as the constituting properties of living machines and leaves no place for hetero-constitution of the living: either a living machine is self-reproduced in every meaning – i.e. in every selection made in each and every aspect of its operations – or it is not classified as living. Therefore, autopoietic machines are operationally closed, and all feedback is internal to them. Their environment provides them with energy and perturbations, but the transformation of energy into action and of perturbation into information only takes place inside the autopoietic machine; this is also to say that the autopoietic machines are in full control of their components and can destroy and regenerate them at will. The endeavour to adapt the theory of autopoiesis in a sociological context faced a basic problem: if social systems are made up of humans, then the idea of an autopoietic society that creates and destroys humans at will, would be counter-intuitive and scientifically unacceptable, not to mention grotesque; such an approach would oppose all of the achievements of the Enlightenment and could contingently justify authoritarian and brutal regimes.

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The autopoiesis of social systems Niklas Luhmann was aware of this problem. And he defined social systems as unities consisting of (and reconstituted by) communications rather than humans. For Luhmann, an aggregation of humans is not a social system: only a network of interdependent communicative actions, that are connected to each other with meaning and regulated (the network) by rules set and transformed continuously by the network itself, is a social system. The social system then, produces communicative actions, catalyses them, connects them together with its own means (i.e. producing meaning by communication), and pushes communication onward, thus reproducing itself. This is not to say that a social system could exist without humans (i.e. psychic systems), for the same reason a nervous system could not exist without nervous cells. But it is the continuously reconstructed regulative system that guarantees communication,

1

Emphasis in the original.

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without which communication (meaning production) would be improbable. Let’s try to elaborate on this. The psychic system is one among three self-referential autopoietic systems, according to Luhmann (1986, 172), with the other two being living systems (that is: alive systems) and social systems. Self-referential systems are categorized according to their selection criterion: living systems select their next state with survival as their main goal, while psychic and social systems select on the basis of meaning reconstruction; they are “[…] sovereign with respect to the constitution of identities and differences” (ibid., 174). To be sure, psychic systems operate through consciousness while social systems operate through communication. Obviously at this point, one could logically assume that psychic systems also operate through communication. But, according to Luhmann (1995), Maturana (2005) and von Foerster (1984; 2003), this would be quite a crude assumption. The psychic system is in fact a constellation of purely internal functions and processes, based on the nervous system (Maturana H. R., Varela F. J., 1992) of the human: if some of those are not communicated in any way, then they are irrelevant for communication and therefore for any social system. That is to say that humans can communicate only through communicative actions. The nervous systems of the living are operationally closed and there cannot be direct interaction between two distinct nervous systems: the only possibility for interaction is communication, and the only manifestation of communication is communication itself. Admittedly, the theoretical distinction between psychic and social systems does not now seem so strange. Furthermore, communication is a select-or-stop process; any communicative action paves the way for the next one. To be sure, communication at every moment realizes a horizon of contingent selections, that is what the next communicative action will be, and whether communication will continue or stop. Even to stop communication is a communicative selection, although a final one. So, communicative actions recreate communication continuously, and – as events – fade away as soon as they are manifested: a certain communicative event cannot repeat itself in a circle and still remain a component of communication. To understand why this is, we have to take into consideration Gregory Bateson’s famous definition of information: “Of this infinitude [of differences], we select a very limited number, which become information. In fact, what we mean by information – the elementary unit of information – is a difference which makes a difference, and it is able to make a difference because the neural pathways along

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which it travels and it is continually transformed are themselves provided with energy. The pathways are ready to be triggered. We may even say that the question is already implicit in them.” (Bateson G., 2000, 459). This definition, which influenced profoundly the contemporary systems thinking, lies at the core of Luhmann’s theory. For now, we will only note that a difference is emerging only if a signal (or an event, a phrase, a gesture etc.) is not repeated continuously: if it results in a repetitive pattern then it is not informative anymore and, therefore, it does not contribute to communication – it becomes irrelevant. Consequently, any communicative action should fade away,2 or else communication becomes impossible. Additionally, communication happens if (and only if) there is a degree of unpredictability inherent in its process: if I know exactly what you are going to say then there’s no meaning in communicating. It is precisely the reduction of improbability that triggers communication and continuously leads it from simpler to more complex forms, that is evolution. And that evolution is inherently social, since the management of complex communicative actions results in more complex meaning-producing structures, i.e. social structures. This is to say that communication destroys communicational structures and replaces them with new structures of the same type, although more complex.

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From humans to persons But how can communication be possible at all? Usually, communication is taken as a given as if it were a sui generis ability of humans. But recent research shows that this is not the case (Maturana H. R., Varela F. J., 1992; Bateson G., 2000); we do have now confirmed reports of humans that were raised without the usual interaction with other human beings, e.g. in the jungle of Midnapore, India in the 1930s (ibid), known as feral girls, or of infants raised in solitude in some orphanages in the USA during the 1950s. In these cases, the humans examined were not considered humans at all, due to a total inability to realize a stable communicational framework with them. The case of the infants raised in orphanages was tragic: the researchers encountered a lag in the development of their nervous systems – and as a consequence a behavioural retardation. In addition, at this point we would like to include another example, namely the one of the total sensory deprivation, i.e. of experiments where the subjects were totally cut off from any kind of 2

That is, the component of the system should be destroyed and replaced by a fresh one, exactly as conjectured by the original definition of autopoiesis.

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stimulus for a prolonged period of time. As Walter Buckley (2001, 52) notes: “Usually the subject was enclosed in an isolation booth or tube with breathing apparatus, sometimes submerged under water such that all of the senses, including touch, were shut off from any inputs. Mental behaviour was about all the subjects could engage in, and this very likely reduced the seriousness of the consequences for them. It provided a substitute kind of interaction with an environment, in this case internal. In a matter of hours or even minutes the subject typically began to experience the disturbance of cognition and consciousness that build up rapidly, such as hallucinations, mental confusion, panic, and loss of consciousness.” All these examples lead to the conclusion that there cannot be such a thing as a disembodied mind – this is the most obvious inference, but there is more to it. The important aspect for our inquiry is that of the construction and reconstruction of persons. That is, humans are not necessarily persons. We are born with an apparatus from which a person can emerge – but unless the newborn child is in interaction with persons (and not just humans) this is not possible. Furthermore, if eventually a person emerges through a human body, its own existence as such is not guaranteed: the person needs to continuously reconstruct itself, and the example of the isolation chamber points out that a person cannot proceed with that operation unless stimulated by an environment. In the context of contemporary systems theory, the preferred term for stimulation is perturbation (Maturana H. R., Varela F. J., 1980); that is the autopoietic system of a biological, psychic or social system is considered to be perturbed by its environment and this triggers the cycle of autopoiesis again. Put differently, a lack of perturbation results in a halt of autopoiesis and a disintegration of the system. The whole phenomenon of personality is based upon these premises. According to Humberto Maturana (2005), the emergence of persons, is due to coordinations of coordinations ad infinitum. Let’s try to exemplify this. A human is a biological apparatus as is; no personality is inherent in its structure no matter how complicated that structure may be. But, as soon as the nervous system starts to function, and it does that in operational closure (ibid.), the human finds out that repetitive actions could (contingently) lead to repetitive results: that is, coordinations of the nervous and muscular systems, as the infant learns to control their limbs, start to trivialize certain perceptions. This creates the infrastructure for learning and, therefore, cognition. To be sure, the child learns that through their own internal coordinations they can achieve certain goals, but there are other entities that they cannot control, no matter how hard they try. The totality of the directly controlled entities becomes a

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whole, known as self. So, a universe of controllable/uncontrollable, or perhaps better expressed as predictable/unpredictable entities, emerges. From that point on, the idea of distinction is taken as given. Concurrently, the child finds out that certain coordinations they select, can trigger corresponding coordinations (which are perceived as inputs) from certain (but not any) entities in their environment. This is to say that the child starts to communicate with persons in their environment, and a second conception emerges, namely that of communication as a contingent state of affairs. To be sure, communication emerges as coordinations of coordinations, that is coordinations between two (or more) autonomous entities where each coordinates itself. And, concurrently again, the distinction between living/non-living humans/non-humans emerges as well. Eventually, we find ourselves living (that is: operating) in a world that is comprised of entities we have the ability to communicate with (and we conceive them to be similar to us), other animals (with a reduced ability to communicate as we conceive of it), and “things”. “If one observes the mother–child relation in early childhood, one can see that the growing baby becomes a languaging being in the flow of its living in the intimate relation of care and play with its mother in the consensual coordinations of emotions and doings that such relation entails. One can see that the flow of doings that an observer may recognize as languaging begins to appear when there are consensual coordinations of doings that become recursive in the play of the mother and child much earlier than the appearance of vocal sounds. As an observer sees that the mother–child interactions of coordinations of doings become recursive consensual coordinations of actions, they see language arising as a domain of living together in a consensual distinction of objects that soon becomes an expanding domain of recursive co-ordination of consensual distinctions of objects and relations between objects. When this happens, the observer sees that the child begins to live with its mother and other people around them, in an ever growing domain of inter-objectivity in which parts of it, and eventually itself as a relational totality and identity, appear as distinguishable operational centres of the realization of his or her living” (Maturana H. R., 2005, 14). The point is that the very moment the child learned that there can be mutual coordinations, and coordinations of coordinations, society achieved its own reproduction once more. As Niklas Luhmann (1995, 127) puts it in a somewhat more sociological manner: “Through the connection between selections and further selections in the course of communication, a domain of what is to be accepted and expected condenses, and its boundaries cut across the world of meaning. Psychic systems thereby become persons,

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namely, collages of expectations, functioning as points of reference [the expectations] for further selections within the system [of communication].” A spectacular distinction, namely I/thou is emerging; it is assimilated by the person (Piaget J., 1977; Spencer-Brown G., 2008), and thereafter functions as the basic operation of the person and of any social system. Despite the fact that psychic systems operate on the basis of selfconsciousness, persons are communicative entities, and – as the isolation booth proves – only through communication can they continue to be such.

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The environment as otherness At this point it would be useful to recall Bateson’s definition of information as “the difference which makes a difference”. That is, not every difference makes a difference and therefore not every event counts as a stimulus. Everything referred to thus far implies something important: the environment is the sine qua non of any self-referential system. Again, this is not to say that the environment controls the system. The system selects its own states calculated upon its own autopoietic operation and preserving its operational closure. Social systems for example develop their own lingo which is not something to overlook: it is a manifestation of the system’s internal cohesion, a realization of its identity as an idiosyncratic system of perception. Each and every social system (and this is also the case with any self-referential system, including psychic ones), develops its own identity. But we need to clarify that that is not a constant: what is viable for the system is to preserve the ability to reconstruct its identity as a clear distinction through the wholeness of the environment. Put more simply, only the ability to reconstruct an identity is crucial, and not the preservation of a certain stable identity, whichever that may be. Of course, through the recursive reconstruction of identity, some variables tend to stabilize so to speak, although in a dynamic equilibrium: this is to say that they too change, but over longer time periods than others. No matter what happens out there, the system primarily reinvents itself and through that operation (and only through it) reinvents its own environment (Foerster von, H., 1984; 2002; 2003). The system thematizes itself in correlation to an environment that is (perceived to be) different from itself. That is, as the system encounters events to whatever it conceives as its environment, it rearranges its own functions, so as to avoid disintegration: the system, therefore, changes so as to avoid a profound (and final) change.

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But Bateson’s definition points out that a trivial environment is a nonenvironment. Since communication cannot continue on repetitive patterns, it follows that identity reconstruction cannot be triggered by the most probable events.3 Therefore, a self-referential system is in a continuous loop through which it tries to defeat complexity by trivializing its environment. The system is always striving to rearrange its environment, so as to ensure an optimal lifeworld around it (Popper K., 2003), that is to construct an environment that favours its own autopoiesis. This is a hopeless task though: its environment consists of other self-referential systems that are reacting exactly the same way in order to preserve their own autopoiesis. So the cycle is triggered anew. Hopefully, at this point, it should come as no surprise to note that selfreferential systems are problem-solvers – and that is exactly what they are. Due to their own self-thematization, they push other psychic or social systems to do the same: and people become individuals, and social systems emerge on the basis of common constructions, be they languages, values, goals, interests etc. It is deduced then that society advances through internal differentiation that is attributed to the individuality of humans as persons and social systems as discrete structures. It is also obvious that any finality (if, for the sake of discussion, we assume that there could be such a thing) introduces a profound danger for the autopoietic operation of any kind of self-referential system for it would reduce the contingency of the environment and therefore deprive the system of its raison d’être: the system would no longer be able to distinguish itself from the other, so it would have either to invent another or collapse. Otherness, then, and its importance, is the key aspect in grasping Niklas Luhmann’s theory. As he notes: “We could take the route of Ferdinand de Saussure and Jacques Derrida or George Spencer-Brown, and follow the injunction to always start with difference and not identity, with distinction and not unity” (Luhmann N., 1992a, 1421), and also: “In fact, the theory of autopoietic systems could bear the title Taking Individuals Seriously, certainly more seriously than our humanistic tradition”4 (ibid., 1422).

3

Interestingly enough, Claude Shannon in his famous technical paper, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” (1948), which is the theoretical basis of the recent technological communication networks, arrives at the exact same conclusion through his formula for the entropy of transmission of information in discrete channels; but the mathematical proof of the importance of the difference, is beyond the scope of this paper. 4 Emphasis in the original.

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Conclusions

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Finally, now that we have clarified the main aspects of Luhmann’s theory, let’s try to review the criticism we presented initially: 1. It is a theory about conservation, thus a conservative theory. Yes, it is a theory about the endeavour of self-referential systems to maintain their self-reference. Through this continuous effort, the systems change and so does their environment. So, it is a theory about change through conservation. 2. Luhmann’s theory sets the human explicitly apart from society and reduces its importance. The answer is that Luhmann does not deal with humans – he deals with persons as individuals. Placing persons in the environment of social systems, he offers plausible explanations on how persons can dramatically influence communication and therefore social systems. 3. The adaptation of the biological theory of autopoiesis is problematic. On the contrary, autopoiesis offers a coherent and fruitful scientific paradigm, to understand social systems as complex communicational systems, rather than aggregations of individuals. 4. His theory is over-complicated and highly abstract and, therefore, difficult to grasp and use as a social analysis tool. This is true in part, and there is nothing we can do about it: Luhmann’s theory is indeed very complex, since it tackles each and every manifestation of social phenomena. But systemic social analysis always starts with some simple questions, namely: Who says it? Who is the observer? What environment does that observer conceive of? Why does he select that particular conception? How does that relate to whatever he reckons to be his identity? What communicational patterns does he select to stabilize and why? “Je suis né plusieurs, et je suis mort un seul. L’enfant qui vient est une foule innombrable, que la vie réduit assez tôt à un seul individu, celui qui se manifeste et meurt” (Born as several, I die as one. The child who comes is an innumerable crowd that life rather early reduces to only one individual, that which appears and dies) (Paul Valéry as cited in Luhmann N., 1990, 116).

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References Bateson, Gregory (2000): Steps to an ecology of mind, University of Chicago Press. Bertalanffy, Ludwig von (1968): General System Theory – Foundations, Development, Applications, Braziller. Buckley, Walter (2001): Mind and Brain: A Dynamic System Model in Sociocybernetics: complexity, autopoiesis, and observation of Social Systems, Geyer Felix, Johannes van der Zouwen, (ed.), Greenwood Press: 41–57. Foerster, Heinz von (1984): Observing Systems, Seaside California, Intersystems Publications. Foerster, Heinz von, Poerksen Bernhard (2002): Understanding systems – Conversation on Epistemology and Ethics, Carl-Auer-Systeme Verlag. Foerster, Heinz von (2003): Understanding understanding – Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition, Springer. Luhmann, Niklas (1986): The Autopoiesis of Social Systems in Sociocybernetic Paradoxes, F. Geyer, J. van der Zouwen, (ed.), London, Sage: 172–192. —. (1990): Essays on Self-Reference, Columbia University Press. —. (1992a): Operational Closure and Structural Coupling: The differentiation of the legal system, Cardozo Law Review, vol. 13: 1419–1441. —. (1995): Social Systems, Stanford University Press. Maturana, H.R., Varela F. J. (1980): Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living, Reidel Publishing Company. Maturana, H. R., Varela F. J., (1992): Tree of Knowledge (Greek translation), Katoptro. Maturana, H. R. (2005): “The Origin and Conservation of Selfconsciousness, Reflections on four questions by Heinz von Foerster”, Kybernetes, vol. 34 (1/2): 54–88. Piaget, Jean (1977): The Principles of Genetic Epistemology, Routledge & Kegan Paul. Popper, Karl, (2003/2002): Alle Menschen sind Philosophen (Greek edition), Athens, Melani editions. Michalis Papanikolaou, (Trans). Spencer-Brown, George (2008): Laws of Form, Bohmeier Verlag.

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CHAPTER FIVE TARGETS AND POSTHUMANISTIC CONSEQUENCES OF HEIDEGGER’S LETTER ON HUMANISM IOANA ZIRRA

1. Four Targets and Ten Quotations

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1.1. Introduction: Why Consider Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism a Topical Subject? The emergence of posthumanism from the phenomenologists’ dialogue between the ontological and the empirical is traced back here to Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism, as one of the first attempts to bridge the separation between the spheres of modernity and culture as inaugurated by Kantian rationalism, recognized and charted, in the 1980s, by Habermas in his theses and treatises on modernity (see the essay Modernity an Unfinished Project and the lectures published as The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity). We seek the origin of today’s posthumanist platforms in the targets and consequences of Heidegger’s Letter. We regard the Letter on Humanism, in general, as a point of origin for the emergence of our familiar, everyday “post-” words: postmodern(ist), poststructuralist, post-colonial and post-communist, and of course, posthumanist, the most recent acquisition in the series. I have in mind postmodernist architecture and postmodernist arts: figurative and performative arts, and what we could jocosely term “the word-arts” (meaning, by this, literature in the postmodernist key, literature grown performative and intertextual, and always adapting various media to each other by the agency of the word). We interrogate this particular text by Heidegger in order to assess the generality of the overriding tendency to go post in order to advance in decisive ways.

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On the path to generality, we encounter first globalization (which is a postmodern world theme) in the reception and circulation of Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism; it influenced French thinking (which was the decisive leader of the postmodern theory on this side of the Atlantic) because it was addressed to Jean Beaufret, though being originally meant to reach Sartre,1 but it took a long time, 52 years actually, for the letter to be answered – in Peter Sloterdijk’s Regeln für den Menschenpark, written right before the beginning of the new millennium. And this last answer and remark constitute our first argument for linking Heidegger to the current posthumanist agenda; the second argument is the fact that Heidegger’s Letter exposed the limitations of mere interpretations supported on the wings of logic and inaugurated a radical critique of the anthropic principle as a foundational centre of Western philosophy. This critique had the effect of releasing philosophy from its indebtedness to the tenets (or should they be called positivities?) of man’s rational or relational superiority. Instead, as a response to humanism, Heidegger’s Letter focused on the pressing need for man to face the more essential, intransitive truths emerging, as he thought, in the clearing of Being (spelt with a reverential capital letter that was retained in the translations into all the languages which do not have capitals for all nouns as the German does).

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1.2. Heidegger’s Position in Post-War Philosophy: The Analysis of Four Targets Heidegger was both an ontological seeker and a critic when he wrote: (1) “Ontology” itself, however....is subject to criticism, not because it thinks the Being of beings and thereby reduces Being to a concept, but because it does not think the truth of Being and so fails to recognize that there is a thinking more rigorous than the conceptual. (258)2

1 Because Heidegger had sought Sartre’s attention but failed, the letter was composed as an alternative answer to Jean Beaufret’s courteous questions and was, consequently, targeted at the French public. It was used in France as the only available Heidegger reader for nearly 20 years after its 1947 publication and the translations into French, which began with it but proliferated only in the 1960s. Heidegger’s thought became global because it sparked the first post-structuralist wave of Foudauldian and Derridean writings. 2 In this paper, all the quotations from the Letter on Humanism come from Martin Heidegger – Basic Writings, edited in 1993 by David Farrell Krell for Harper Collins, in the translation by Frank A. Capuzzi, J. Glenn Gray and the editor.

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In his radical critique of the conceptual and anthropic principle, Heidegger advocated an ontological propaedeutic and the anamnesis of Being, at the same time. (2) We are still far from pondering the essence of action decisively enough. We view action only as causing an effect. The actuality of the effects is valued according to its utility. (217)

And the real (more rigorously thought) accomplishment of thinking is to dwell in the proximity of Being in the region of essences buried in man and ready to be brought forth by more fundamental, ontological thinking. We have tried to capture Heidegger’s doubly radical move, in the Letter, between ontology and the critique of humanist effects, by isolating firstly four targets of his text not in a teleological, but a literary sense. They are targets in literary theory terms, like the targets of satire in ironically dramatized texts. The targets from which Heidegger’s critical thinking would distance itself are:

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x the human subject, whose rationality chose its objects of metaphysical, hypostatized/aestheticized thinking; and x cosmopolitan interpretations made by the culture of humanism throughout its tradition; Talking of Hölderlin, Heidegger says: (3) “Remembrance” is therefore essentially more primordial and thus more significant for the future than the mere cosmopolitanism of Goethe. For the same reason Hölderlin’s relation to Greek civilization is something essentially other than humanism.” (243)

x Materialism and technology; Heidegger saw materialism as the product of (4) a metaphysical determination according to which every being appears as the material of labor... and definable as the self-establishing process of unconditioned production, which is the objectification of the actual through man experienced as subjectivity. (243)

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x Nationalism – Heidegger was now philosophically denying his own Nazi commitments; he was actually moving towards the communist extreme in politics – which goes to prove his ingrained tendency to embrace what philologists, again, identify as “the Romantic love of contraries” ... (5) Every nationalism is metaphysically an anthropologism, and as such a subjectivism. Nationalism is not overcome through mere internationalism; it is rather expanded and elevated thereby into a system. Nationalism is as little brought and raised to humanitas by internationalism as individualism is by an ahistorical collectivism. The latter is the subjectivity of man in totality. It completes subjectivity’s unconditioned self-assertion, which refuses to yield. (244–245)

And the related quotation:

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(6) Whoever takes “communism” only as a “party” or a “Weltanchauung” is thinking too shallowly, just as those who by the term “Americanism” mean, and mean derogatorily, nothing more than a particular lifestyle... (244)

With the initial focus on anamnesis and the reference to Hölderlin’s “Remembrance”, and with its alternative readiness to be seduced by communism after National Socialism, Heidegger’s thinking in the Letter describes his stance as that of a very well-informed classicist’s countertraditional attitude, in short a genuine post-traditionalist critic or enemy of the modern: a postmodern thinker avant la lettre. As such, his attitude is radically critical and youthful and, indeed, akin to posthumanism as a new form of ethical action bent on curing the creatures in, and of, the Menschenpark, to judge by Peter Sloterdijk’s statements in the Regeln für den Menschenpark.3 But at the same time, Heidegger’s practical attitude is ambiguous. While admiring Hölderlin’s and the Young Germans’ militant investment in nostalgia, their fully autonomous and personalized 3

Sloterdijk explicitly called “the deep chasm of post-war crisis” the dark period after 1945, in which Heidegger subjected humanism to his hard-core critique and enabled us to see in historical perspective Heidegger’s trans-humanist, posthumanist address to a dirempted humanity whom he invited to shed humanism as an ideology of civilization applied to an age of barbarism. Heidegger’s posthumanist constructive lucidity was the 20th century application/version of Nietzsche’s active nihilism.

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relationship with tradition, their critique of the bourgeois present, and their striving to discover a presentness capable of choosing its own terms from the tradition so as to fashion itself, Heidegger was also reluctant to embrace technology, as today’s posthumanism does. As such, he was definitely a precursor of the enhancement techniques of posthumanism. The four bones of contention (or satirical targets) in Heidegger’s relation with humanism presented above indicate that Heidegger despised and feared the material basis for the emancipation of the up-and-coming generations. As can be seen in the second part of quotation (6) above, Heidegger denounced materialism and technology while also acknowledging the material power of communism as being more than a party or a doctrine or more than a “lifestyle”. He was also averse to the material basis of production that Marxians regarded as a domain open to progress. Consequently, were Heidegger to act as a genuine projector rather than an anarchist and a dreamer, his philosophy would have had disastrous practical effects. Had his thinking been allowed to penetrate as far as the communist world, which was anyway very unlikely, Heidegger would have deprived of hope the proletarian labour force with its potential for emancipation and agenthood theorized by Marxist, communist doctrines and ideologies always ready to put any utopian technology of progress into practice. In this, the Letter on Humanism can in no way act as the predecessor of any posthumanism ethical manifesto, for example, Stefan Lorenz Sorgner’s 2010 Metahumanist Manifesto or, earlier, Nick Bostrom’s 2005 Defence of Posthuman Dignity.

1.3. Posthumanist Projections of Heidegger’s Text: From Straight Negation to Nihilation Being an informal text, Heidegger’s Letter moved between, on the one hand, the targets of the one tradition that he indicted, just as irony and satire indict their targets, and, on the other hand, the projective targets of the kind of radically new thinking that he himself was trying to implement. For assessing the consequences of Heidegger’s thought, which we believe to have spurred posthumanism, as well as, and more directly, French poststructuralism, we shall follow the path indicated by Heidegger for reaching what, in quotation (3) above, was highlighted as “something essentially other than humanism”. While he addressed the same topic tackled by Freud after Nietzsche in a long line of suspicious hermeneutical thinking about the illusions of civilization and its discontents, and while he was in this way trying to apply the Hegelian positivity-caveat, Heidegger pointed

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the addressee of his Letter and all its later readers to the post-metaphysical enhancement of the thinking man since: (7) thinking, propriated by Being belongs to Being. At the same time thinking is of Being insofar as thinking, belonging to Being, listens to Being. (220) And he made the converse empirical restatement of this as follows: For every apprehending of beings in their Being, Being itself is already illumined and propriated in its truth. (227)

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At this point, after comparing the notes made so far, we must put together and confront the negative, critical meanings of the humanist “targets” (in the literary, satirical sense) with the affirmative, projective meaning of Heidegger’s own targets, especially as deducible from the last quote above, (7). We need to posit the essential question of Heidegger’s situation in respect to negation (and to Hegelian positivity) in Letter on Humanism so as to situate his thought and verify the hypothesis that it should be taken as the precursor of posthumanism. At the end of the Letter, Heidegger answered and illumined nihilation, and, in this way, remained within the scope of the “active” adjective of active nihilism in the practical aspect of Nietzsche’s meditation. (8) Every “no” that does not mistake itself as wilful assertion of the positing power of subjectivity, but rather remains a letting-be of eksistence, answers to the claim of the nihilation illumined. Every “no” is simply the affirmation of the “not”. Every affirmation consists in acknowledgement. Acknowledgement lets that toward which it goes come toward it. It is believed that nihilation is nowhere to be found in beings themselves… (260)

How does Heidegger arrive at his most categorical expository propositions? We were puzzled to see, in this last quotation, that Heidegger made copious use of syllogisms, which are another strong point of Greek logic – still in use today; on the other hand, his campaign demonstrably ran counter to the cause-effect logical relationship. As a follower of Nietzsche, Heidegger could not help but be engaged in the campaign against the hypostatized cause-effect platform of all utilitarian thinking (already indicted, as observable in quotation (2) above). This does

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not make Heidegger’s paradoxical ontology, which may also lie at the root of his ambivalent politics any less rich in consequences for the radical, emancipatory liberalism (an idealism, really) that he was championing. It was an emancipatory platform ready to leave all the positivities of the rational subject of philosophy behind. It advocated progress along completely different lines than any market liberalism boosted by technology had ever promised. As such, Heidegger’s ontology rejected the laws of rational, materialistic and technological common sense; there was a decisive turn away from these laws in the anti-theoretical drive of poststructuralist developments (in Foucauldian archaeologies that rejected anthropic fabling and in the Derridean deconstruction which inspired the posthumanist de-structuration enacted in today’s visual and visionary arts). While he left materialism behind, thus generating the discussion on technology, in Letter on Humanism Heidegger did not go as far as he did later, in The Question Concerning Technology, with its rejection of the utilitarian and materialistic extension of man’s powers; rather, in the text in focus here, he granted to technology its own place in the destiny and history of Being:

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(9) Technology is in its essence a destiny within the history of Being and of the truth of Being, a truth that lies in oblivion. (244)

In the frame of the posthumanistic debates,4 it is fair to say that technology is no special or isolated culprit in Heidegger’s general exposure of the oblivion of Being in Letter on Humanism. It is not technology per se but metaphysical ontology that was to blame if mankind was sick, suffering from the oblivion of essence and Being. This is why Heidegger resorted to nihilation, which is an affirmation and an acknowledgement that calls everything to itself and, as quotation (8) above puts it, “lets that toward which it goes come toward it”. The Letter on Humanism stressed the double need to put an end to “the positing power of subjectivity” (which was, in Hegelian language, a pressing contemporary positivity) and to answer “to the claim of the nihilation illumined”. The Letter launched a welcoming call to wisdom and to “the letting-be of ex-sistence”. In view of the four targets analysed in the second sub-chapter and of quotation (8) above, because humanism rather than technology is the prime culprit, the Letter leaves humanism behind only after a very pertinent, severe, radical 4

And the reference is here to Nick Bostrom (2005) “In Defence of Posthuman Dignity” Bioethics, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 202-214 (electronic edition of www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/dignity, sighted on June 2010).

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and ontological critique of its rational premises and irrational consequences; this critique returned the readers with a frisson, as they say in French, to the pre-modern, pristine roots of thinking. If it were not for the actual coordinates of his ontology, which undertook to transcend logic and to disengage thinking from anthropic metaphysics (but not in order to seek any “higher” level of meditation than that of the ultimate words of metaphysics included in the series: “humanism”, “logic”, “values”, “world” and “God” – cf. 249–250), we could refer to Heidegger as a radical anti-humanist before being a transhumanist making ready for transvaluation. His intentions were clearly explained when he said, in loc. cit: (10) People hear talk about “humanism”, “logic”, “values”, “world”, and “God”. They hear something about opposition to these. They recognize and accept these things as positive. But with hearsay – in a way that is not strictly deliberate – they immediately assume that what speaks against something is automatically its negation and that this is “negative” in the sense of destructive. And somewhere in Being and Time there is explicit talk of “the phenomenological destructuring”. With the assistance of logic and ratio – so often invoked – people come to believe that whatever is not positive is negative and thus that it seeks to degrade reason – and therefore deserved to be branded as depravity....But does this “against” which a thinking advances against ordinary opinion necessarily point toward pure negation and the negative?.......By continually appealing to the logical one conjures up the illusion that one is entering straightforwardly into thinking when in fact one has disavowed it. It ought to be somewhat clearer now (....) that opposition to “humanism” in no way implies a defense of the inhuman but rather opens other vistas. (249–250)

It is through his paving the way for these “other vistas” that Heidegger opened the way to so many posthumanist endeavours meant to enhance humanity. In the Letter textually analysed here, he tried to deflect the movement of humanitas (the essence of man) and humanism (“which means to take the essence of man essentially”, 244). By dwelling on humanitas (the essence of man) and humanism (the series of interpretations that took the essence of man essentially) as targets of criticism first and starting points for the projection of new targets, Heidegger acknowledged the inevitable encounter with the limit (negation) and prepared for nihilation illumined. He showed how the central metaphysical predications, traditional existentia and actualitas, stopped

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short when encountering their others. Going beyond the limitations of subjectivity and objectivity and of possibility (versus actuality), which were key terms of the logico-metaphysical meditation, Heidegger extricated thought from whatever kept man’s essence in bondage. After illuminating the negative targets of meditation inherent in the series of the last long quotation above (“humanism”, “logic”, “values”, “world” and “God”), Heidegger bequeathed to posthumanistic philosophers his own positive targets for further meditation:

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x a phenomenologically conceived existence in time, which he called ek-sistence; x ek-stasis thought by him to be the medium of man’s thrownness (Entworfenness) or ek-static projection; and x a series of non-systematic, non-conceptual determinations of Dasein’s clearing for “a thinking that is to come”. These new targets of philosophy resurface in the agenda of posthumanist endeavours which start from here. In posthumanism, radical criticism leaves behind the headings of traditional philosophy (existentia conceived as objectivity of experience, in Kant or as absolute subjectivity and self-knowing in Hegel). Thrownness spawns inherently relational thinking which is headed for a multiple-value logic and creates fuzzy conceptions about existentia/ek-sistence and actualitas as futurity. Ultimately and practically, this prepares thought to build adequate, flexible platforms for new movements. But the platforms other than the bioconservative have proved that Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism has been perused otherwise than blindly, as a source for posthumanist choices in view of the enhancement of the person.

2. Case Study: Following the Consequences/ Posterity of Heidegger’s Targets in the Letter on Humanism in Trans- and Metahumanism after 2000 Sixty years later, the bioethics archive on the internet features a debate between bioconservative and metahumanistic positions regarding the principles and techniques for the enhancement of the person, which revolves around the issue of posthuman dignity (see Nick Bostrom’s text “In Defence of Posthuman Dignity”, published in Bioethics, Vol. 19, No. 3/2005). This debate calls attention to the problems and limitations of posthumanist enhancement as implicitly advocated by the anthropic

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critique and projective targets of Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism. In fact, it should be parenthetically added that Bostrom’s critique is more far reaching than Heidegger’s since the former’s critique is targeted higher than the anthropic object of criticism, at nature, since he makes the more general claim that the bestowals of nature on/to man are not the best, in being ambivalent: “Nature’s gifts are sometimes poisoned and should not always be accepted.” He made this statement while analysing, in the section of his paper titled: “Two fears about the posthuman.” Leon Kass has made a case against the dehumanization and violence inherent in posthuman enhancement platforms and techniques. Another five years later, the text of the Metahuman Manifesto, drawn up by Stefan Lorenz Sorgner and Jaime del Val, who also enacted it at the 2nd Beyond Humanism Conference held on the Greek Island of Lesvos, permitted us to sound the consequences and posterity of Heidegger’s targets in the Letter on Humanism. The first stipulation in the Manifesto was a declaration about its being “a critique of some of humanism’s foundational premises such as the free will, autonomy and superiority of anthropoi due to their rationality”: there is no more Heideggerian application than this! Part of the second stipulation in the del Val-Sorgner Manifesto is also very much in the spirit of Heidegger’s targets/critique of humanism, for we read about the metahumanist “attempt to finally overcome the Cartesian split between body and mind, object and subject, by proposing a view of the mind as an embodied relational process, and of the body as relational movement”. This sounds very much like the fulfilment of the desire to speak on behalf of “the engagement by Being and for Being” expressed in the following quote from Heidegger’s Basic Writings volume already referred to: “Thinking is l’engagement par l’Être pour l’Être [engagement by Being for Being]. I do not know whether it is linguistically possible to say both of these (“par” and “pour”) at once, in this way penser, c’est l’engagement de l’Être (thinking is the engagement of Being]. Here the possessive form “de l’....” is supposed to express both subjective and objective genitives. In this regard “subject” and “object” are inappropriate terms of metaphysics....”

(Heidegger, 1993, 218) (And the authors of the Metahuman Manifesto return to this point, when they state, as part of their 5th stipulation, that they “challenge the Cartesian split that situates us as subjects external to an objective reality and to other subjects”.)

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Apparently, Stipulations 3 and 4 clearly deviate from Heidegger’s ontological thinking in Letter on Humanism because in the del ValSorgner Manifesto it is not Being that appropriates truth and thinking (over against interpretation), as we read on Heidegger’s Basic Writings volume, on page 220, “thinking, propriated by Being belongs to Being” and “Being propriated in its truth” because the focus of metahumanism is on the “biopolitical meta-system of control in which metabodies are being preemptively appropriated” while it launches an urbane call for reappropriation and the discovery of “possibilities to reappropriate and redefine technologies of becoming need to get shown”. But the injunction to seek relationality over any pre-emptory or paternalist specification, in clauses 3 and 4 is very much in the spirit of Heidegger’s insistence on giving up any definite, metaphysical interpretation of Being by thought under the dominance of “logic” and “metaphysics” (for which see p. 220 in the Letter on Humanism). More specifically, in clause 4, what the Metahuman Manifesto wishes to avoid is “the retotalitarianisation of politics”. It does not aim at an ideal final state but stresses the need to permanently overcome contemporary challenges which arise by necessity through combining the immanentism proposed by the metahuman with the perspectivism of the posthuman, stressing the importance of movement versus identity”. This idea is continued on a more practical level, in clause 7, explicitly dedicated to introducing “immanence into knowledge production” with a view to revising what the authors call “encrusted structures”. Clause 7 is also more analytical in respect of the metabody as it defines perspectives as “contingent nodes within stratified intensities of the metabody”. We can find here a perfect new expression of social curing in the Menschenpark, as Peter Sloterdijk defined social enhancement in his answer to Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism. In its strategic cultivation of the posthumanist park, the Manifesto gives equal weight to principle and practical arguments for metahumanism. Consequently, metahumanism “enables” the Heideggerian meditation about Being by maintaining it in its element. It is fair to say that metahumanism preserves this meditative essence and enables it to bear fruit in very recent domains of activity and meditation: in the post-queer metasexual domain (in the Manifesto’s clause 6); in the relational ecology domain (in clause 8); in the amorphogenetic domain (clause 9). Metahumanist thought is relegated to its elemental, pre-logical roots and allowed to challenge several distinctions and categories. In the metasexual domain, desire “challenges categories of sex-gender identity and sexual orientation”, “redefines sexual norms into open fields of relationality” and allows new modalities of affect to “reconfigure the limits of kinship,

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family and the community”. Relational ecology or metabody ethics focuses on recursive, non-violent equilibrium achieved on an ongoing basis by articulating and reinstating new forms of interaction that avoid the permanent superiority of a force over the others. The amorphogenetic domain envisages a continuum that transcends the distinction between the procedures of genetic enhancement and classical education and implements in the relational body metahuman flowing types (of amorphogenesis). In the open amorphogenetic continuum, just as in the metabody, all processes are equally subject to ongoing critique. It can be stated that all the projective targets stipulated in the Manifesto cooperate to maintain the ongoing critique because, to use a Heideggerian predication, they embrace and are dedicated to introducing the revision of encrusted structures. To achieve this goal, as stated at the end of clause 7, metahumanists propose “both to explode and dissolve existing strata” and “to move through the existing nodes” by “reconfiguring perspectives as well as immanence”. This is what enables them, ultimately, to recommend the metahuman as “neither a stable reality, essence or identity, nor a utopia, but an open set of strategies and movements in the present”. This fluid relational projection would definitely have been saluted as a satisfactory intransitive formation by the Heidegger of the Letter on Humanism.

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References Heidegger, Martin (1977, 1993): Letter on Humanism in Martin Heidegger – Basic Writings, David Farrell Krell (ed.), translated by Frank A. Capuzzi, J. Glenn Gray and the editor. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Habermas, Jürgen (1990, 1999): Modernity an Unfinished Project, reprinted as Modernity versus Postmodernity, in Waters, Malcolm (ed.) (1999) Modernity: Critical Concepts (vol. II). London and New York: Routledge. —. (1984, 1990): The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought), translation by Thomas McCarthy. Boston, Mass.: the MIT Press Sloterdijk, Peter (1999, 2003): Regeln für den Menschenpark, in Romanian translation by Ion Nasta Reguli pentru parcul uman. Bucureúti: Humanitas. Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz, del Val, Jaime (2010): A Metahumanist Manifesto, delivered at the AudioVisual Posthumanism, 2nd Beyond Humanism Conference, Lesvos-Mytilini, September 23–27, 2010. Also, in this volume, pages 9 – 11.

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CHAPTER SIX DUNE: THE BIRTH OF A MESSIAH. ENHANCEMENT VS. ENLIGHTENMENT GEORGE VOREAS MELAS

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Introduction The 7th Art has always been influenced in great measure on a narrative and on an ideological level,1 along with the formation of visual results, by Postmodernism. Cinema has evolved as one of the most important vessels for the innovations which digital technology provides. And digital reality offers a variety of potential for character building and for the creation of meaning and message. Simultaneously the continuously evolving DNA2 of the 7th Art’s expression provoked the expansion of the field of study, just as the identity of its characters, meaning and narrative process are realized in new ways through innovative approaches. Cyber Punk literature, along with technological and digital progress, created several dilemmas and fields of study on human behaviour and on the relationship between humanity and technology of any kind. These facts are also imprinted in films. The search for superiority, our attempt to prevail over our weak flesh, the need to extinguish sadness and illness have always been ‘all-time classic’ themes, simply dressed in the clothes of technological and digital evolution.

1

As we know, cinema also affected Postmodernism in a radical way. Cinema engulfed theatrical creation, giving it novel narrative, the art of perspective, frame terminologies (as they were perfected by photography and painting), and visual tricks. With every addition to its DNA, cinematography has evolved into something completely different, apart from its base elements. See Kawa 2002, 150.

2

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The purpose of this paper is to approach the following points as we analyse David Lynch’s DUNE: first, to examine the relationship between the human and technology in the movie’s mythology, as we intend to analyse the symbolisms that contribute during the extraction of meaning and, secondly, to analyse the development of the subject’s identity and conscience within a postmodern world and a postmodern narrative approach, as the hero negotiates the dilemmas and overcomes the obstacles that refer to the collision of a metahumanistic way of thinking. The reason I chose this specific film is that DUNE maintains all those characteristics which can be listed in the sphere of Postmodernism and in the tug of war between Posthumanism and Transhumanism. DUNE also is imbued with the features of virtual reality, timespace excesses and the subculture of biomechanoids and cyborgs. Those are elements which can be easily found in Cyber Punk and in cyber novels of the digital era.

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World of DUNE DUNE’s admirable world is set within the borders of an enormously huge intergalactic empire which lies in an unknown-to-us universe, in a supposedly distant future. The drama is set in an unlimited world where the only geographical locations we see are the three clan planets and the planet of Arrakis (aka The Dune).3 That, along with the given date of 10191, does not clear up anything more for us as we do not know when this time sequence started to be counted, or the length of a year.4 This cleverly created absence of time and space produces an abstract cyberspace environment. Within this special scenery we observe the protagonist being transformed into Messiah, while Houses, Sisterhoods and Guilds collide to take control of the planet Arrakis, the only place where spice is excavated. As we will soon realize, spice plays a fundamental role in the story’s progress, not only in meaning but also in the narrative structure of the film.

Spice, Bene Gesserit and Navigators In DUNE’s mythology the spice melange plays the role of the universal medium. It is an essence made by species of colossal sandworms, which inhabit the hostile deserts of Arrakis. By consuming spice, the subject 3 4

Planet locations are also not specified. Applied sciences also imply that Time is created within the universe.

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acquires advanced abilities of perception such as insight, foresight and, among others, the power of Voice. The subject, when under the influence of spice, can abolish every bound of Timespace, enabling distant space travel in no time. The entire culture, technology, social structure and thinking in this world are based on the exploitation of spice. The fact that spice is excavated only on Arrakis makes it the most precious good in all the empire, such that taking control of the planet, in order to take control of spice, is a top priority. The one who controls and protects the flow of spice5 in the empire is the real ruler. Spice’s flow must not be stopped for the members of the Navigators’ Guild, beings who were once humans, but the exposure of whose bodies to spice fumes for over 4 millennia totally altered their physiology, turning them into monstrosities, incapable of living without inhaling spice fumes.6 Navigators are in charge of intergalactic travel and transportation within the borders of the imperial dominion. To achieve this, spaceships ready to travel enter the colossal arcs of the Navigators’ Guild. The Navigators then project universe into the spice gases in which they float and, having the source and the destination marked, they swim and simultaneously transport their arcs throughout hyperspace to the desired location. Spice must not stop flowing for the priestesses-witches of the Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit who, in addition to their religious obligations as female priests of the global religion, also have the task of creating their apprentices through selective matching and manipulating the messianic super being the Kwisatz Haderach.7 Finally the Bene Gesserit are also the seers and the hyperaesthetic spies of the imperial throne. When the Bene Gesserit are initiated, they receive the consciences, memories, knowledge and super powers of their ancestors as they place their spirits in the hyperspace of collective consciousness and universal secrets, following the rituals of an ancient trance-ceremony. Ecstasy is caused by drinking the Water of Life, a poisonous narcotic which is taken from newborn sandworms; its synthesis is based on spice. Another distinctive power achieved by consuming spice is the power of Voice. Voice is an ability to use simple words as commands to cause telekinesis, to enforce the speaker’s will, or to achieve destruction, telecommunication and many other extraordinary acts. Practically, Voice projects the 5

“The spice must flow” is said by almost every character as a proverb. Navigators literally live inside gas fumes. 7 The Kwisatz Haderach is the super being that will travel spiritually and physically beyond the point that the Bene Gesserit are capable of travelling, in order to seize the ultimate conscience of the universe. 6

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speaker’s will, as it is dragged out of the depths of subconsciousness into the material world, tuned with the surroundings, subjects and objects. The will and its thoughts transform spontaneously in an accomplished action. Based on the aforementioned data we can easily distinguish the fundamental influence of Postmodernism on spice’s symbolism and on spice technology. According to Postmodernism’s guru, Marshall McLuhan,8 spice represents the universal medium, the very reality of this cosmos, while retaining its universal meaning. Spice is indeed the ultimate medium and without it nothing is set in motion, material or immaterial. The realities of the empire, hyperspace and the hidden universal truth are built on spice’s existence. Its message as a medium is nothing less than the projection of the secret of everything. The one who possesses this secret, this power, can explain everything, solve any cipher and create or restore anything as a superior being, as a deity. To be more specific, we observe that the deformities (the enhancements) which spice (seen as technology) causes to human nature, drive us towards different mixtures and types of biotechnological manifestations, something that is the pillar of Postmodernism and probably the basis or the starting point of Metahumanism. Navigators, as they travel in hyperspace and the Bene Gesserit, as they dive in hyperconsciousness, behave as terminal flesh,9 merging worlds and personas, as a result of the deformities (or improvements) of their flesh and identity caused by spice technology turning them into biomechanoids. Thanks to the use of spice, space and time expand and contract at will.

Corrino, Harkonnen, Atreides and Fremen In DUNE’s mythology, the House of Corrino possesses imperial authority. For many centuries, the Corrinos do not appear to be mentally or technologically evolved, although they do appear to be the stronger House of Empire in technological, military and spiritual terms. This lies in the fact that the Corrinos maintain a traditional alliance with the other two powers of authority: the Bene Gesserit and the Navigators’ Guild, the main spice users and the most technologically enhanced beings. This alliance provides the Corrinos, on one hand, with the proper spiritual superiority and religious independence given by the Bene Gesserit and, on the other hand, with spice technology as developed by the Navigators’ Guild, which 8

The medium is the message and the reality. See McLuhan, 1962. Subject consisting of a terminal of a variety of nets, according to Jean Baudrillard. For the term, see Bukatman, 1993 and Gordon, 1993.

9

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gives the Corrinos an invincible, terrifying army of Sardaukars, biomechanoid warriors enclosed in suits that allow them to inhale the gases of spice, thus increasing their strength, ferocity and ruthlessness. The Corrinos are the embodiment of promethean Kratos (authority) which is the exemplification of ruthless tyranny. Although the Corrinos believe that they possess the ultimate dominion, they are simply puppets, serving the agenda of both the Bene Gesserit (who are the obsolete dogmatic authority of religion) and the Navigators (who are the biomechanical form of technocratic power). The Corrinos neither preserve the security of the just distribution of the universal good of spice, nor the goods of technological and spiritual evolution. As a matter of fact, the Corrinos protect the monopolistic use of spice in the interests of the established ruling classes. Obviously, the critique that the author stresses is aimed at our world, our reality and our current global condition. Even the fact that the system forms a secret alliance and collaborates with outlaws in order to renew the mechanisms of suppression and violent enforcement is a theme that is raised as a crucial point. The Corrinos use the piratical House of Harkonnen as the tool of their outlaw activities, only to preserve the balance of power they possess. In promethean symbolism, the Harkonnen are the manifestation of violence (Via=brutality). They are the vessels of the baser instincts of the alienated Human, they are the voracity of our weak flesh. This correspondence is achieved in several symbols and examples. Harkonnen perversion and immorality are shown in a variety of prominent ways. Their planet, Giedi Prime, is a monstrous biomechanical abomination, drowned in pollution, contaminated, and drained dry by hyperexploitation and without any natural environment left. Harkonnen deformities caused by bad use of technology are clearly shown.10 The monstrousness of the Harkonnen is also symbolized in the physiology of their own weather-beaten bodies. The Harkonnen try to conquer their afflictions, caused by their diseases, self-contamination and poisoning, by transplanting mechanical parts onto their bodies. For example, all Harkonnen have a throttle on their heart; it is implied that their troops share characteristics of cyborgs. The Baron’s nephew is equipped with poisonous blades, combined within his body and, last but not least, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen himself is obese and his heavily

10 In one scene, the Baron kills one of his subjects who is decorating the room with plastic flowers (!).

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afflicted body is enclosed within a biosuit allowing him to float rather than walk. Harkonnen depravity is also illuminated by narcissism,11 voraciousness, and the tension of incestuous homosexuality and sadism, attributes which come as a result of the aberrant relations between humans and technology. Those attributes symbolize the nightmare of extreme industrialization and the loss of human identity. On the other side, opposing the Harkonnen, stand the chivalrous Atreides who represent the face of healthy government. Their site is the beautiful, water-filled planet of Caladan, on which the ecosystem is totally protected from exploitation and pollution – something that shows us that their relationship with technology is characterized by their sense of balance and respect for life. Also important is the performance of an altruistic, self-sacrificial ethic that, for example, Duke Leto Atreides displays in the scene where he tries to save the spice excavation workers instead of saving a serious amount of excavated spice. Although the Atreides are seeking strength, they avoid sacrificing everything in the name of superiority. As a matter of fact, the military technology they have developed (called Wirdy) is based on the transformation of thought and sound into a lethal superweapon. This ecological armoury uses the very power of nature. Wirdy technology is nothing more or less than the mechanical attempt of the Atreides to use the superpower of Voice. On a deeper level, the Atreides are trying to reach the truth and the power that sets the universe in motion through research and science. The Atreidean way of thinking is a project of the model of the renaissance Human who, through science, art and a non-dogmatic approach to the divine and supernatural, tries to elevate his nature and his identity to a higher level, reinventing them simultaneously.12 Nevertheless, the Atreides are trying to somehow rediscover the human essence that DUNE implies. The Atreides are in search of an identity to arouse during their terminal voyage. Finally, their exemplification of the proverbial lamb, sacrificed on the altar of tyranny, and their reference to the symbol of the phoenix, clarify the involvement of Christian, promethean and sacrificial myths in their quest to restore cosmic and inner equilibrium. Lytrosis (salvation) and anastasis (resurrection) are also the prizes sought after by the Fremen, as they aspire to the coming of their Messiah. 11

Feyd Rautha Harkonnen is a typical example. The Atreides are referring to the discovery of hyperconscience as the awakening of the Sleeper. Also, Paul Atreides is raised according to the ways of the Bene Gesserit, using the Litany against Fear. 12

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The Fremen are the suppressed folk of Arrakis who live, hunted by imperial power and the iron fist of the Harkonnen. They are isolated from technological evolution and tested by hardship and a lack of material goods. The lack of technological benefits and comforts, apart from the fact that it protects them from succumbing to the techno-perversions of the Harkonnen, builds for the Fremen an identity of asceticism.13 The Fremen do not attempt to subjugate their environment, rather they try to fit in. To achieve this, they develop an enterprise of desert technology. The use of a desert suit that the Fremen invented to preserve their life functions in the desert environment is characteristic. The suit filters all the body’s liquid waste, even from the dead, in order to produce drinkable water. This suit, this way of life, demonstrates the preservation of an ascetic life in a quest for independence and self-consciousness, in a contradiction of the technological enhancements of the Harkonnen which reinforce desire, dependence and voraciousness, trying to overwhelm the consequences those practices have for human nature and identity. The Fremen’s constant exposure to spice, consumed in both cleaner and rougher forms, transforms them somehow and gives them the ability to have a purer approach to universal truths. The Fremen are the only case of human beings who are actually fed with spice. The blue-eye effect (an attribute which the Fremen acquire by the saturation of spice in their blood) is their main racial trait in terms of physiology and also symbolizes their belief that one day the desert will be fertile and that rain will finally fall. Finally, it is interesting that the Fremen have a custom of taming the huge sandworms, calling them makers or Shai Hulud. Through this practice, the Fremen represent a dual symbolism: on the one hand, the lack of fear they show while facing such a dangerous task brings them closer to the anthropocentric messianic tradition and perception of Atreidean culture; on the other hand, we drag out another piece of renaissance ecumenical symbolism, based on the esoteric story of a fallen creature named Astaroth, who, during the rebellion in heaven, left both sides riding a dragon (probably Leviathan). Astaroth symbolizes in a romantic way the freed human who, fully knowing his nature and universal secrets, tames and rides the power of destruction and creation and, why not, the power of technological and mental evolution. So the hunted anchorites, the knowers of nature and their species, bear the supreme power as humans.14 13

Paul Atreides says at the end of the film, that god created the desert to test righteous ones. 14 Ride as Leader of Men! Says Stilgar when Paul is attempting to tame a sandworm.

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Paul Atreides, Usul Muad’dib, Messiah-Kwisatz Haderach The adventure of Paul Atreides is the main story in DUNE. His story is actually an epic quest in search of the subject’s identity and it is developed in three stages:

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a. the period before the fall of the House of Atreides; b. the period where Paul lives among the Fremen in the desert; and c. his triumph over his enemies. Young Paul is a charismatic figure. He is the child of a righteous governor and a Bene Gesserit. His blood-line combines the traits of a wise dynasty and the blood powers of the imperial priestesses.15 Paul shows quite early on a mature perception of current situations16 and he also has the urge to seek truth and meaning. He possesses powers of foresight,17 of Voice, and he also has a unique ability to feel sound, something which allows him to use Wirdy technology with admirable ease. These powers are a red flag for the Navigators and the Bene Gesserit who fear that Paul could be a threat to their authority.18 Paul’s heightened perception will induce him to consume spice just after the Atreides conquer Arrakis, as he wants to learn its secret meaning and powers. Consuming spice leads Paul to an awakening of his insight and coincides with the fall of the House of Atreides and Paul taking refuge in the desert. During this first period, young Atreides is the embodiment of an inexperienced traveller of the infinite, in search of Truth. His accidental entrance into hyperspace, where, until now, only Navigators and the Bene Gesserit could go, seems to be fragmentary and clumsy. This is due to Paul’s lack of knowledge as to how hyperspace works and also his ignorance of the potential of nature (knowledge which simply tends to be the same). The functions of his terminal flesh are still limited and Paul’s quest for the discovery of ego and existence begins. During the second period, the visions of our hero tend to be stronger and more specific thanks to his first self-verification and his achievement of confidence. Paul slowly becomes a Fremen and starts solving the 15

Paul possesses a small amount of the ability of the Voice. He already senses the conspiracy that the Emperor plotted against the House of Atreides. 17 His dreams are full of visions, referring to the future. 18 The Navigators ask for his death and the Bene Gesserit leader puts him under a lethal test. 16

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riddles that occur by discovering a part of his self-consciousness. This period is an ascesis which starts to strengthen the hero. Things start to make sense. In the material world, Paul discovers the complete meaning of spice and tames the sandworms. Paul also meets his human limits in the sphere of hyperspace, the point where the Bene Gesserit never trespass, and his visions stop. This is the achievement of the first stage of equilibrium. Paul meets his end and also acquires the knowledge of how the game should be played and how someone can always be the winner. However, the real triumph and the deepest truth are not found here. Catharsis is delivered by someone’s claim to the prize to be the mastergod of the game. So Paul risks everything as he drinks the Water of Life attempting to travel beyond the limits of collective consciousness, seeking the original enlightenment, the very essence and meaning of the world, seeking the way to create or destroy, as he combines his subconscience, conscience and ego into one. Choosing this path, Paul enters divinity and divination. Paul’s decision fulfils the messianic prophesy. Paul’s quest ends where everything has started where all his flesh and realities combine into one. As the Kwisatz Haderach is the lord of everything, Paul possesses the power to change everything whenever he wishes. Finally, the rain falls in Arrakis. Paul has become the ruler of hyperspace reality. But the most important thing is that he is the keeper of his originality, the knower of his true identity. He is the awoken Anthropos!

To sum up a. DUNE implies that humans cannot ignore the fact that technology is affecting their lives in so many ways. Humans should not try to avoid the benefits that could occur through technological innovation in order to improve, not to extend, life. An ethical framework, based on humanitarian and anti-ethnocentric beliefs, should also be set to ensure that liberty, balance and humanity are preserved. As the author of this chapter, I am terrified about what will happen to humankind and the natural environment if enhancements are used for military purposes. I worry about people downloading into their brains information or knowledge which can be easily adapted or distorted for the purposes of global tyranny. Virtues such as love, respect, honour, self-sacrifice and companionship should be somehow preserved in any manifesto, artistic expression, civil or social law etc., as humankind enters this Brave New World.

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b. The fact that we are imperfect is the primary reason for us always moving forward, looking higher and evolving, mentally, socially and technologically. Achieving physical immortality, body perfection and artificially created wisdom or perception will only create a decadent generation of “undead” gods who will suppress upcoming generations, falling further and further into obsolescence and excess. Besides, who really wants to live forever? c. Finally, I believe that our technology, our mental activity and our scientific efforts should focus on exploring the infinite capabilities of our psyche, our bodies and our brains. Instead of becoming cyborgs, we could simply learn to stimulate on our own, our self-healing mechanisms, our hyperaesthetic abilities. We should try to explore the endless space of our cerebrum, the limitless universal consciousness.

Filmography Lynch, David (1984): DUNE, Dino de Laurentis [prod.].

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References Bukatman, Scott (1993): Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction, Durham: Duke University Press. Gordon, Andrew (1993): “Posthuman Identity Crisis”, Science Fiction Studies # 61, Volume 20, Part 3, November 1993 (book review, available online: www.depauw.edu/sfs/review_essays/gord61.html). Horkheimer, Max und Adorno, Theodor (1947): Dialektic der Aufklaerung. Philosophische Fragmente, Querido, Amsterdam. Kawa, Abraham (2002): Virtual Sights: A Postmodern Narrative on Comics, Cinema and Literature, Futura, Athens [in Greek]. McLuhan, Marshall (1962): “The Galaxy Reconfigured Or The Plight Of Mass Man In An Individualistic Society”, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making Of Typographic Man, University Of Toronto Press, Toronto.

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CHAPTER SEVEN MOVING BEYOND (HUMANIST) SOCIOLOGY: THE COMPLEXITY TURN IN SOCIAL THEORY PANAYIOTA GEORGOPOULOU

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1. Introduction Complexity sciences have brought about a noteworthy shift in the scientific assumptions and models used to interpret and comprehend natural phenomena, opening up a new chapter in the history of natural sciences. The Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm, with its mechanistic and deterministic worldview, its emphasis on stability and order, and its positivist and reductionist methodology, gives way to an evolutionary, open-ended, dynamic understanding of nature, where complexity, instability, randomness and non-predictability are considered fundamental features of nature itself. Thus, while these characteristics of natural processes were interpreted as insignificant exceptions in the past (due to our ignorance or the imperfection of our scientific ‘‘tools”), they now play a significant role in the natural world, are at the core of scientific thought, and deserve an “objective” description (Prigogine, 1997, 9–56). It is also important to note that, while there is no doubt that the Newtonian world view has contributed immensely to the advance of science, it cannot be denied that it has also contributed to a partial view of reality. Natural sciences were founded on the belief of orderly physical phenomena, devoid of chance and disorder, and thus the contemporary approach to natural reality using terms of complexity is something of an innovation. However, the recognition of complexity within social life is not new in the field of social sciences: classic thinkers such as Emile Durkheim (1965, 31) and Georg Simmel (1890) acknowledged the “messy” nature of the social as the object matter of sociology right from its outset as a science, and the hermeneutical and phenomenological traditions remained insistently and constantly critical of the deterministic approach to society. Today, mainly under the influence of postmodern

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thinking, the study of the social world as open-ended and complex is common ground in contemporary social theory. In short, the complex and unstable nature of social reality has been brought to the fore of sociological analysis. Why, then, is the demand from a substantial number of social scientists from the 1990s onwards to establish a new approach to both social sciences and the analysis of social reality in the light of complexity and chaos theories any different? Where is the originality in this turn towards complexity (Urry, 2005) in the field of contemporary social thought? Complexity science – or complexity theory – forms neither a single science nor a single coherent theory (Thrift, 1999), and is generally considered to comprise the various approaches that simultaneously cross disciplinary boundaries within sciences such as non-linear dynamic system theory, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, dissipative structures, the theory of self-organization, catastrophe theory, the theory of self-organized criticality and chaos theory. Central to these transdisciplinary theoretical developments is a set of concepts such as non-linearity, attractors, selforganization, path-dependency, bifurcation points, positive feedback loops etc. As for the complexity turn in social sciences, it refers to the study of society through the lens of complexity concepts from the late 1990s onwards. This reworking of the social is not represented by a unified body of theory but contains several different readings and interpretations within social theory. For example, Niklas Luhmann’s theory of autopoietic systems (1995), John Urry’s sociology on mobilities (2000), Manuel DeLanda’s assemblage theory (2006) and a wide range of multiple attempts from others including Paul Cilliers (1998), David Byrne (1998), Michael Reed and David Harvey (1992, 1996), Sylvia Walby (2004, 2007), John Smith and Chris Jenks (2006) etc. As Sylvia Walby (2007, 456) points out, when dealing with this multitude of variants there are two kinds of differences: those “within complexity theory itself; as well as differences in the interpretation of the implications of complexity theory within social theory”. While complexity theory itself, as well the complexity turn within social theory, is not a unified body of theory suggesting its fluid nature, our specific concern is to move beyond the variations and outline an explicit account of complexity theory as a conceptual model of the world. In this respect, besides the different theories, concepts, methods, techniques and interpretations, our purpose is to address complexity theory as a broad conceptual scheme connected to a non-essentialist and dynamic ontology concerned with the understanding of the world in terms of temporal-relational processes rather than independent entities.

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In this article, we argue that the key insight for the redefinition of social thought through the lens of complexity science is the break with humancentred conceptions of the complex and open-ended character of the (natural and social) world. Our understanding takes its inspiration from Panayiotis Kondylis’s work (2000) {1991} and his commitment to Ernst Cassirer’s thesis (1923) regarding the inversion, at the turn of the 20th century, of the broader conceptual perspective and worldview from the metaphysics of substance to that of relationalism. Focusing on this conceptual shift which puts the emphasis on relationships and connections, we suggest that by taking the relational approach to its extreme, the complexity turn shifts sociology from human-centred relationality towards posthuman concerns. In this respect, in contrast to the modern and postmodern conception of nature as passive stuff governed by mechanical relations of cause and effect, complexity theory detects a creative potential of nature, itself characterized by discontinuities and unpredictable bifurcations. From this point of view, the open-ended, dynamic and complex nature of social life is not limited to the domain of the human but also includes non-human entities.

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2. The worldview shift: From essentialism to relationalism In his book, The Decline of Bourgeois Thought and Life Forms. The Liberal Modern and the mass-democratic Postmodern (2000) {1991}, Panayiotis Kondylis claims that the transition, from the end of the 19th century onwards, from bourgeois-liberal hierarchy to mass-democratic society’s reality of living is articulated in the gradual formation of a new conceptual model of the world whose central feature was the dissolution of “substance” and the breaking down of its hierarchy. In keeping with Cassirer’s work (1923), Kondylis explains the developments in physics, literature, art, philosophy and social sciences during the 20th century – despite the differences in content and the internal diversity – as the expressions of the inversion of the wider conceptual perspective from essentialism to relationalism. In other words, a common underlying principle of this relationalism or combinational game gradually becomes discernible in all fields of cultural production, laying the foundation for what Kondylis calls “analytic-combinatory thought form’’. With the principle of relationality as the point of departure, a theory of reality is developed wherein entities are not defined by an inner kernel of essence but are constituted entirely by their relationships with other entities. The treatment of questions and answers does not take place defined by fixed and static essences, ultimate elements or stable properties

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and structures, but gives way to combinational operations defined by multiple relationships between simple elements devoid of any ontological status. Every entity is a form, not a substance in itself, and is exclusively understood by the rules governing combinational relationships. Essences are destroyed and transformed into relational systems of a loose, transient unity. In the context of the relational framework, the quest for an ultimate essence or a final stratum of reality is not relevant, since substance is abolished in favour of a complex mesh of relationships. The relational arrangement is that which constitutes the meanings, substance or form of things. In other words, there are no pre-given properties; but rather properties are a question of “combination”, not of essence. This shift from essentialism to a relational-constructional perspective led away from the modern binary logic of dichotomies (between, for example, nature and society, living and non-living or mind and matter) towards a monistic view of perpetual relational constructions. Whereas dualisms, under the regime of essentialism or substantialism, appeared irreconcilable since they clashed on the question of the intrinsic nature or ultimate goals of things, combinational thinking lays bridges between them presenting everything as a matter of combination. In this way it distances itself from the forceful trend towards polarization and the tension of deep distinctions characteristic of modern western thinking – from the “art of separation” as Michael Walzer (1992, 45) terms it – and abolishes boundaries and dividing lines, even those between the human and nonhuman worlds. A clear establishment of distinct “kingdoms” – in the human as well as the non-human world – is rendered problematic. If, then, any “essence” remains it is the monism of relational interactions. In contrast to the static, hierarchically structured world of essentialist reasoning, “reality” now appears as an open-ended, dynamic and interactive relational whole that is in constant motion and flow. Relations are never completed but always in process. If the emphasis falls on relations and processes, the world now becomes the loose sum of transient and constantly changing relationships, without having any special or foundational ontological privilege. The world is more fluid than previously presumed. Order, rules, laws and systems, breaking away from the fundamental conceptions of essence and the hierarchy of substances, cease to possess a fixed ontological status with a rigid normative charge. The combinational game is that which generates the change or stability of forms, without a priori principles and static frames. This relational way of thinking brings to the fore a dynamic view of the world as a fluid reality open to possibilities previously disregarded by the essentialist approach. From this perspective the qualitative diversity, complexity, disorder and

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instability of the world is acknowledged and, as a relational effect this recognition, free of normative and ontological status, ceases to seem so threatening and irreconcilable with the idea of cosmic order and consistency.

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2.1 The humanist direction of relationalism: The social constructivist turn in social theory This shift towards an anti-essentialist theoretical framework significantly affected the way in which the reality of both the natural and social worlds was understood. In the field of natural sciences, the “desubstantialization of matter” and the relativization of causality at the beginning of the 20th century, through the theory of relativity and quantum physics, played a decisive role regarding the shift from the metaphysics of substance to the reasoning of relational construction. Based on the givens of the new theories, the transition from solid and massy matter as the bedrock of reality reigning in combination with a deterministic view of the laws of nature to the weird quantum world of the splitting of matter in a “shadowy and paradoxical conjunction of waves and particles” (Davies & Gribbin, 1992, 14) is accomplished with statistical-probabilistic descriptions. In fact, quantum physics does not allow one to speak of any properties of quantum objects and their behaviour as such. The analytic expression “composed of” does not have exact meaning. “An extension of the quantum theory, known as quantum field theory (…) paints a picture in which solid matter dissolves away to be replaced by weird excitations and vibrations of invisible field energy” (Davies & Gribbin, 1992, 14). Thus, in sub-atomic physics, isolated particles – electrons, photons, quarks – can be replaced with groups, collections and complex webs of relationships and transformations. The obscure, vague world of the atom constitutes a world of probabilities or possibilities, not one of “objects” and “facts”: it cannot be theorized as consisting of multitudes of distinct autonomous entities; it is probably a network of relationships, “like an elusive, ephemeral cloak; a cloud of ghost-bees circling the central hive” (Davies, 1988, 270). According to Kondylis (2000, 202), this replacement by relationships and forms on the microphysics level of solid, massy, hard matter “literally delivers the death-blow to the concept of essence”. In the field of social sciences, relationalism as a mode of thought is developed within a series of theoretical directions which, despite their significant differences, contribute to the turn towards a social theory of construction that moves away from foundationalist-essentialist reasoning. The linguistic turn in the field of philosophy from the beginning of the 20th

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century and the later methodological influence of modern linguistics in social thought played decisive roles in this conceptual inversion (Kondylis, 2000, 194). Thus, in the context of humanist sociologies, such as the theory of symbolic interactionism, phenomenological sociology or ethnomethodology, society is considered a combinational effect of symbols and meanings produced by human individuals. Within the framework of structuralism, post-structuralism and postmodern approaches, the social is woven within the articulation of signs, signifiers, discursive practices or texts. This abandonment of every reference to essence led to the language games. The linguistic model of analysis is upgraded in general theory: just as the state of language relies on relationships between simple elements (signs) without essence, so every entity or phenomenon is uncovered as a web of relationships and defined exclusively by their internal rules. The adoption of relational reasoning in the context of the constructivist turn and, especially, in post-structuralism/postmodernism projects, constitutes a significant step in the turn of contemporary social thought towards complexity. While in the past, social sciences oscillated between the recognition of the complexity of social life and the quest for a stable social order, in the context of the social constructivist turn, and especially in the context of post-structuralism and postmodernism, the fluidity, uncertainty and complexity of the social world are now at the forefront of sociological analysis. Because of linguistic fabrication – rich in meanings, unpredictable and dynamic in nature – the vision of society outstrips its static character and is enriched with dynamic properties as a continuous creation. The symbolic-linguistic dimension, as a benchmark in relational thinking, carries the advantage of being able to acknowledge the fluidity and open-ended, complex character of the social world. At the same time, however, relational reasoning in the field of social sciences is grounded in the fundamentally anthropocentric base of the symbolic-linguistic dimension, remaining chained to the metaphysical position of the superiority of Man as the sole locus of value and meaning in the world. In fact, social constructivism places relationalism on signs, signifiers, narratives, discursive practices all of which pertain to the human. The monistic perspective of relationalism expressed with the social constructivist turn marked the collapse of the dualisms nature/society and non-human/human world, and benefitted the symbolic-linguistic order – and, consequently, human elements – as the exclusively constitutional dimension of natural or social “reality” and as the main explanatory tool in dominant contemporary social thinking. From the moment social

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phenomena do not consist of “substances” and self-existent entities, but only of sociolinguistic constructions of human agents, their fluid, openended character originates in the world of meaning and is the product of human intervention or properties. In the case of structuralism, poststructuralism and postmodernism, the death of the Subject as creator with its dismantling into relational webs did not signal the end of the anthropocentric version of the world, but rather its indirect reinforcement: this time the reality surrounding us need not be the direct creation of human activity, but it does constitute the exclusive consequence of symbolic, linguistic, and, therefore, human properties. Paradoxically, as Kondylis (2000, 133) notes, the human subject becomes omnipotent at its weakest moment. What causes the placement of relational reasoning exclusively in the field of the symbolic-linguistic dimension? In the heart of this human superiority lies the humanist persistence in the essentialist conception of matter as passive and inert (DeLanda, 1998a, 1998b). Although the constructivist turn in the context of social thinking goes against essentialism, it shares precisely the same essentialist view of matter as inert and submissive. As soon as matter is understood as passive, the constructionist, complex, open-ended character of natural and social reality is entirely attributed to human inventiveness. If the matter is tacit, it is seen as an inert receptacle awaiting the imprint of human intentions. Materiality now stagnates and human intervention dominates, forming an anthropocentric version of the world with absolute terms. Certainly, whereas within the modern conceptual framework of the essentialist distinction between human and non-human, Man’s superiority is limited through the “existence” of the material dimension, in the postmodernist scheme, the collapse of dualities to the benefit of the symbolic/linguistic and the related disregard for the material/real dimension render Man’s superiority unlimited. Thus from the viewpoint of the dogmatic conception of matter as passive, inert stuff, even the poststructural/postmodern version of the combinational game remains tied to the modern framework of essentialism and, ultimately, the superiority of Man.

3. The posthumanist direction of relationalism: The complexity turn in social theory Within the broad conceptual scheme of the collapse of essentialism and its replacement by the principles of the combinational or relational game

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during the 20th century, complexity sciences validate the passage towards anti-essentialist thinking. However, the complexity turn within social sciences differs in the main from a social constructivist approach in that it takes the idea of relationalism beyond the human dimension. The relational perspective does not only unfold within the human domain, but also aims at the non-human world, finalizing the break with the last remnants of essentialist logic. In contrast to the western modern and postmodern conception of the physical material world as inert and meaningless in itself, but governed by mechanical relations of cause and effect, complexity theory detects creative potential in nature characterized by discontinuities and unpredictable bifurcations. Here, novelty, creativity and the unexpectedness of change are phenomena related not only to the human point of view but to nature itself. Liberating relational thinking from the philosophical bias decreeing man as the sole source of “creativity’’ and “freedom”, the turn towards complexity in the field of social thinking acknowledges an active role for the open-ended, full of possibility, historical character of the world and in the non-human dimension. While complexity theory itself, as well as the complexity turn within social theory, do not represent a unified body of theory suggesting a fluid nature, the complexity framework is consistent with a non-essentialist, dynamic ontology (Dillon, 2000; Gell-Mann, 1995/1996). As such, it is concerned with the understanding of the world in terms of relational processes rather than independent entities. The latter are defined entirely by their relations, rejecting substance and identity as fundamental principles of reality. What becomes important is the relational order of complex systems, the continuous shifting of these relationships and the resulting creative potentials. Clearly, a complex system is composed of a large number of interacting individual components, and these might be anything from atoms, germs and neurons to people, machines and organizations. The collective interactions over time of this vast population of individual components give rise to the complex, hard-to-predict, global, changing patterns of a system’s behaviour. Examples of such complex systems are insect colonies, the brain, immune systems and economies. The key question is how the individual actions of myriad simple players, ants, neurons, different cells, people and companies collectively give rise to very complex, structured and sophisticated behaviour, for instance nests with strength and stability, thought and consciousness, the body’s immunity to pathogens, or hard-to-predict patterns of market bubbles and crashes. In this context, the “essential” is seen as the interactions between the populations of individual entities and their combinatorial productivity,

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while humans are not granted any ontological privilege. As Manuel DeLanda (2001) put it, “the population, not individual entities, is the matrix for the production of form”. Therefore, the power lies in connections. The dynamic view of reality in which motion and change form the mode of existence, brings us to the heart of the issue in complexity sciences. Complexity theory provides for the study of the unexpectedness of change and the discontinuity that takes place in chemical, biological or human organizations. It refers to ceaseless “creativity” and uncertainty or, in scientific terms, the “unpredictability” of the complex, messy world in which we live. This “nature of emergence, perpetual novelty, learning and adaptation’’ is the object of complexity science as defined by the Santa Fe Institute (Waldrop, 1992, 9–13). Weight is put on exploring the process of how change actually happens, since the importance lies in the processes of formation, change and creativity by which nature and society are constantly reconfigured. Drawing from the unified theme of an open-ended future shaping the human and non-human worlds, non-linearity and emergence are very important insights of complexity theory, since those systems presenting unstable dynamical behaviour, characterized by “feedback loops’’ and “non-linear dynamics”, form the object of complexity sciences (Nicolis and Prigogine, 1989). Complex systems change in a non-linear fashion, i.e. with strong mutual interactions and feedback between components, in this case not implying a strictly deterministic chain of causality in terms of linear cause and effect. Furthermore, the phenomena are “emergent” in the sense that their unintended properties, order or change cannot be deduced from knowledge of the individual components, nor are they a result of a central organizing principle. Instead, they can emerge spontaneously: they are products from non-linear relationships through a process of selforganization or self-modification. In this respect, complexity provides a new way to address the problem of openness of the human and non-human worlds, achieved by the incorporation of non-linearity and emergence as explanatory tools. Those concepts referring to novelty, change and creativity are committed to rational investigation and exemplified further by a wide range of different positions such as self-organization, deterministic chaos, self-organized criticality, feedback loops, dissipative structures etc. that are developed across a series of disciplines from ecology to mathematics. As complexity provides for the study of unpredictability, indeterminacy, instability or the open-ended future that shapes not only the human but also the non-human worlds, it is consequentially routed as an

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interdisciplinary movement transgressing the boundaries between the two. Instead of a clear establishment of distinct “kingdoms”, complexity and its relationship to unpredictability and uncertainty establish a continuum between the two worlds. Humans and non-humans should not be understood as separate realms, but as part of the same relational process of transformation that produces the diversity and complexity of the world. Herein lies the radicalism of the relational principle that goes further to act within the physical material world, finalizing the breach with essentialist reasoning. Whereas the principle of relationalism in (post-) modern conception had been restricted to the human dimension, the complexity turn draws inspiration from and applies the combinational principle to the non-human. In the context of complexity, creation and novelty are taken as central to the natural world. The crucial idea is the dynamic concept of “matter” as a continual creation, with emphasis on its potential for “selforganization”. While the laws of physics traditionally describe an idealized, stable world with matter passively subject to deterministic laws, in the branch of “far-from-equilibrium” thermodynamics, matter acquires evolutionary potentials, self-organizes and generates complex structures from spontaneous internal fluctuations; when the matter is in a “far-fromequilibrium” state, it unleashes various transformational possibilities through which new formations emerge, assuming a historical perspective. According to the relationalist viewpoint based on “collective circumstances”, and especially on the dynamic internal connections of huge populations (atoms, molecules, particles and so on), the “matter” exhibits complex behaviour under unstable conditions, and one of these concerns dissipative structures (Prigogine & Allen, 1982, 7). More specifically, bifurcation points appear far from equilibrium, points at which the system “makes a choice” between one of two or more developmental paths that are suddenly open to it. Self-organization, that is the spontaneous development of a new organization or structure, can take place at such a point. Instability, then, “activates possibilities” and can in fact create new forms of substance organization (Prigogine, 2003, 22). Matter, from passive and unchanging, can, in unstable conditions, become the active “agent” imprinting on the physical world the clear distinction between past and present, the arrow of time of evolution. As Prigogine puts it (1997, 64): “We therefore have to perceive the origin of variety in nature we observe around us. Matter acquires new properties when far from equilibrium in that fluctuations and instabilities become the norm.” Matter becomes more “active”, but nevertheless it is not “alive” as a static, inflexible substance or status, but rather, in line with relational thinking, it

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comes to life as a collective phenomenon when multiple components interact in the course of time. On the basis of the dynamic description of nature where complexity, instability, chance and non-predictability appear as its fundamental manifestations, borders and dividing lines between nature as a mechanical automaton and the human kingdom of freedom are dispensed with. In the light of complexity, the quest for the difference between nature and society is now unclear. As an object for research, complex phenomena and their dynamic properties transgress between the borders of the natural and social worlds. Thus the unit of reality is re-established at the base of the monism of becoming. In other words, a unified terrain is outlined, a unique existential field which, ignoring the difference between human and non-human components, is none other than incessant transformation, creativity and change. These perpetual features make up the common denominator, the “common logos” between the two worlds, and are the result of the powerful force of connectivity or relational assembly of human and non-human entities. With the focus on this transformational, creative dimension, which permeates the natural as well as the human world, the reconstruction of social thinking with terms of complexity is put into motion. Social analysis is guided by the above-mentioned “common ground” of naturesociety and turns its attention towards understanding the dynamics of natural-social processes. Within this context, natural and social entities begin to be defined as dynamic systems “far from equilibrium”. This does not mean that the latter are “natural”, but that they share the same nonlinear dynamics, the same “patterns of change” which follow the morphogenetic history of the non-human world. From this standpoint, complexity and the open-ended character of social processes are cut off from the anthropocentric context: they are neither chiefly interwoven with the unpredictable character of human activity nor are they exclusively engaged within a symbolic-linguistic dimension, but they are defined as products of non-linear relationships between heterogeneous human and non-human materials with feedback effects. They are clarified from within the schema of self-organization, deterministic chaos, bifurcations, pathdependency, attractors and so on. As dynamic systems, human culture and society share almost the same processes of self-organization as the natural world. Thus, for example, institutions, norms and hierarchies constitute self-organized structures that do not originate from some worldwide regulator or via a consciously rational design, but appear spontaneously and without purpose in the accumulation of activities of many isolated individuals or in dynamic co-

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operations and conflicts. Order emerges internally from the accumulation and interaction of “entities”; the assemblages and groupings play a morphogenetic role, there is no intentional plan or central organizing principle to this assembly and, insomuch as the world is shaped by nonlinear dynamics, total prediction and control are rendered impossible. Because the element of self-organization is involved in the sphere of instability new behaviours and order structures are allowed to emerge. At the point known as “bifurcation”, the system “chooses” between multiple alternative possibilities and proceeds to a new state of equilibrium or a new form of organization. This transition or phase of change is neither causal nor directional, nor is it a dialectical reconciliation, but it is seen as a self-organized activity or dynamic assemblage where, as a process, the unpredictable or random element is involved. From this viewpoint, whether in nature or society, the same self-organized principle is applied so as to produce a novel structure with specific properties. The “game of life”, or of creativity, operates in the critical state of instability. According to complexity theorists, every significant change takes place between “much” and “little” order. When there is “much” order, systems freeze and all transition is suspended; when there is “little” order, systems become disorganized and are unable to function. Thus “perpetual novelty is about moving at the edge of chaos” (Waldrop, 1992, 356). Focusing on the question of unpredictability and an open-ended future (where linear causality and prediction are undermined), the turn to complexity as a general condition for framing social inquiry moves beyond the bounds of anthropocentrism. As a conceptual model of the world that puts the emphasis on relationships, the complexity framework comes into very close proximity with social constructivism. However, while social constructivism places relationalism on signs, signifiers, narratives, norms and discursive practices (all that pertains to the human), this is not the case with complexity theory which understands the complex and open-ended behaviour of natural and social systems in terms of nonlinear dynamics, emergence and self-organization. Along this path, the displacement of the importance of humans from the centre of sociological reasoning takes precedence, bringing to the fore a naturalist perspective modified in relation to the past. Sociology enters a new, but singular naturalist phase thought of as a non-linear “social physics” (Urry, 2005, 236). This naturalist approach to human relationships and practices escapes the dualism of the human/non-human world and thus the underlying terms of the naturalist position change. The investigation of society from this position does not identify with the delegation of nature as an explanatory

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principle. On the contrary, it is treated from the “common ground” of nature-society, which is in fact the physics of entity populations and their emergent dynamic and self-organizing systemic properties – irrespective of the differences between human and non-human components (Prigogine, 1997, 35; Urry, 2003, 17). The goal consists of the formation of a pragmatics of transformational processes or creativity, attaching importance to the dynamic patterns of change that define the genesis and developmental processes of forms. This “physical’’ dynamic provides the basis for a scientific approach to social life and paves the way for the “mathematical experimentation’’ of the social (Axelrod, 1997; Epstein, 2007; Gilbert, 1995) through computer simulation technology, a new methodology which distances itself from positivistic and quantitative mathematics as well as from the reductive, linear logic of the mechanistic approach. It employs the qualitative mathematics of non-linear dynamic systems that describe how a system moves and is transformed as it evolves, and compares, not quantitative, but morphologic characteristics. In this way, the radicalism of social thinking’s turn to complexity theories is placed in a non-human-centred understanding of the complex, open-ended, dynamic character of processes in the social world – an understanding that is based on an alternative theoretical arsenal, disconnected from determinism and reductionism as well as from the phenomenological/hermeneuticallinguistic framework.

4. Conclusion In the (post-)modern widespread and profound shift in the “structure of feeling” (Harvey, 1990, 9; Thrift, 1999, 53; Urry, 2005, 236) towards the recognition of the fluidity, uncertainty and complex character of the contemporary social world, dealing with the social as an open-ended, complex system constitutes common ground in contemporary social theory. This viewpoint opens up two different strategies for the approach towards the open future, which simultaneously go deep into antiessentialist and relational thinking. Within the framework of the social constructivist turn, the concept of an open-ended, complex social world is dealt with from the symbolic-linguistic dimension, i.e. it arises from the instability of language and meaning and is committed to the metaphysical bias that sees man as the sole source of “creativity” and “freedom”. In the context of the complexity turn in social thinking, the issue of complexity and open-ended possibility is distanced from the human framework and exemplified within the theory of non-linear dynamic systems.

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In conclusion, the crucial point in social thinking’s turn towards complexity as a general condition for framing the inquiry constitutes the shift from the “humanist complexity” of the social constructivist turn towards a non-anthropocentric treatment of the world’s open-ended, complex character. The new social theory puts forward a dynamic conception of reality, defined by movement and change, simultaneously displacing the human subject and human components from the heart of social analysis. This posthumanist perspective impels the scientific study of the social world in the 21st century “beyond humanist sociology” (modern and postmodern) and gives priority to an original scientific programme, opening up new horizons and orientations.

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References Axelrod, R. (1997): Complexity of Cooperation, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Byrne, D. (1998): Complexity Theory and the Social Sciences. An Introduction. London & New York: Routledge. Cassirer, E. (1923): Substance and Function. And Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company. Cilliers, P. (1998): Complexity and post-modernism. London: Routledge. Davies, P. (1988) {1984}: The God and the New Physics, Athens: Katoptro (in Greek). In English, The God and the New Physics, New York – London: Simon & Schuster. Davies, P. & J. Gribbin (1992): The Matter Myth. Dramatic Discoveries that Challenge our Understanding of Physical Reality, New York & London: Simon & Schuster. DeLanda, M. (1998a): “Deleuze and the open-ended Becoming of the world”, presented at Chaos/Control: Complexity Conference, University of Bielefeld, Germany, and at Stockholm University, Sweden. http://www.diss.sense.uni-konstanz.de/virtulitaet/delanda.htm —. (1998b): “Deleuze and the genesis of form”, presented at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 1997 and published in Art Orbit, No 1, Stockholm: Art Node, March, 1998. http://www.artnode.se/artorbit/issue1/f_deleuze_delanda.html —. (2001): “Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture”, http://crisisfronts.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/deluze_geneticalgorithm.pdf —. (2006): A New Philosophy of Society. Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. London and New York: Continuum.

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Dillon, M. (2000): “Post-structuralism, Complexity and Poetics”, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol.17(5): 1–26. Durkheim, E. (1965) {1912}: The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, New York: Free Press. Epstein, J. M. (2007): Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Gell-Mann, M. (1995/1996): “Let’s Call it Plectics”, Complexity Journal, Vol. 1(5): 3–6. http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/~mgm/Site/Publications_files/MGM%20118. pdf Gilbert, N. (1995): “Emergence in social simulation”, Artificial Societies: the computer simulation of social life, N. Gilbert & R. Conte (eds). London: UCL Press, 144–156. Harvey, D. (1990): The Condition of Postmodernity, Oxford: Blackwell. Kondylis, P. (2000) {1991}: The Decline of Bourgeois Thought and Life Forms. The Liberal Modern and the mass-democratic Postmodern, Athens: Themelio (in Greek). In German: Der Niedergang der bürgerlichen Denk- und Lebensformen. Die liberale Moderne und die massendemokratische Postmoderne, Weinheim: Acta humaniora. Luhmann, N. (1995): Social Systems, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Nicolis, G. & I. Prigogine (1989): Exploring Complexity. An Introduction, New York: W.H. Freeman & Co. Prigogine, I. & P. M. Allen (1982): “The challenge of Complexity” in William C. Schieve & P. M. Allen (eds.) Self-organization and dissipative structures: Applications in the physical and social sciences, Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. Prigogine, I. (2003): The Laws of Chaos, Athens: Travlos. The original edition: Le leggi del Caos, Roma-Bari: Gius. Laterza & Figli Spa. —. (1997): The End of Certainty. Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature, New York: Free Press. Reed, M. & D. Harvey (1992): “The New Science and the Old: Complexity and Realism in the Social Sciences”, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 22 (4): 353–380. Reed, M. & D. Harvey (1996): “Social Science and the Study of Complex Systems”. Keil L. D. & E. Elliot (eds), Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences. Foundations and Applications. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 295–324. Simmel, G. (1890): Über soziale Differenzierung Soziologische und psychologische Untersuchungen, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot. Smith, J. & C. Jenks (2006): Qualitative Complexity. Ecology, Cognitive

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Processes and the Re-emergence of Structures in Posthumanist Social Theory. London & New York: Routledge. Thrift, N. (1999): “The place of complexity”. Theory, Culture & Society, Vol.16(3): 31–69. Urry, J. (2000): Sociology beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-first Century, London: Routledge. —. (2003): Global Complexity, Cambridge: Polity Press. —. (2005): “The Complexity Turn”, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol.22(5): 1–14. —. (2005): “The Complexities of the Global”, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol.22(5): 235–254. Walby, S. (2004): “Complexity theory, Globalisation and Diversity”, Paper presented to conference of the British Sociological Association, University of York, April 2004. —. (2007): “Complexity Theory, Systems Theory, and Multiple Intersecting Social Inequalities”, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol.37(4): 449–470. Waldrop, M. (1992): Complexity. The emerging Science at the edge of order and chaos, New York: Simon & Schuster. Walzer, M. (1992): Zivile Gesellschaft und amerikanische Demokratie, Berlin: Rotbuch Verlag.

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PART TWO:

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LITERARY AND SOCIAL THEORY, ARCHAEOLOGY, AESTHETICS AND POSTHUMANISM

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CHAPTER ONE SIMULACRUM AND ART AS SELFTRANSFORMATION AFTER NIETZSCHE

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YUNUS TUNCEL

Many of the events, ideas, artistic and poetic movements of the 19th century have shaped the way we experience and theorize about art and spectacle today. Among them, we can count the invention of the camera, which constitutes a dividing line according to Benjamin in his famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, the rise of impressionism, the call for a re-vitalization of all arts in their organic unity according to the “total” artwork of ancient Greek theatre (as in Wagner and early Nietzsche), symbolism, the re-discovery of the Dionysian (in Nietzsche), and the invention of cinematographic camera and phonograph. All these developments contributed to the demise of the classical notion of art as representation and prepared the way for the subsequent art movements. With this demise and, in the broader context of the death of God as presented by Nietzsche, came the collapse of the humanistic conception of art that was centred on the human, and separated the human from nature. This was also the collapse of a conception of art that treated art as static and isolated from the continuous activity of its creator and viewer and with no critical reflection on its own medium or on its perspectival and interpretive position vis-à-vis its own world. The loss of the aura, as Benjamin diagnosed, was a doom but also a new beginning. In this essay I will focus on a cross-section of this shift to our era, as I reflect on the theory of simulacrum in French post-Nietzschean literature (I will focus on Klossowski, Foucault and Lyotard) and how it is related to the post-modern, post-humanistic conception of art of singulars and art as an exercise of cross-disciplinary self-transformation.

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I. Simulacrum in a Post-Nietzschean Context Phantasm and simulacrum are two important and related terms that appear in Klossowski’s1 writings. Phantasm comes from the Greek phantasia, which means ‘appearance’ or ‘imagination’, while simulacrum stems from the Latin verb simulare, which means to copy, represent or feign. During late Roman times, simulacrum was used to refer to the statues of the gods that lined the entrance to a city. In Klossowski, as Daniel Smith defines it in his introduction to Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, “…phantasm refers to an obsessional image produced instinctively from the life of the impulses”,2 like images that repetitively appear in dreams or apparitions, which make themselves present frequently. On the other hand, a simulacrum is a willed re-creation of a phantasm in a literary, pictoral, or plastic form that simulates the invisible agitation of the soul, immediately connected with the demonic, as Klossowski argues in Such a Deathly Desire.3 In both senses, the simulacrum is connected to myth insofar as myth is the narrative manifestation of unconscious, primordial forces. In this area, Klossowski was influenced by Jung, Kerenyi and others who tried to understand myth in the post-Nietzschean world. Here a digression into Nietzsche’s myth and epoch-making notion of eternal return is necessary, because Klossowski owes much of his theory of simulacrum to this notion. The eternal return of the same conjoins all beings together according to the laws of repetition; what repeats is not the actual being but rather the cycle of repetition itself. There is no transcendental principle, no otherworldly Being, outside existence. The universe runs according to the cycles of creation and destruction that are interwoven with one another. What is eternal lives in the moment, and the moment is eternal; overhumanliness is the striving of the human to reach towards the higher states and as such forms the ground of earth-bound production of simulacra. Life and death are conjoined for all living beings that are 1 Pierre Klossowski (1905–2001) is one of the most seminal 20th century thinkers on art theory in which his theory of simulacrum remains central. His ideas have influenced many post-war French thinkers. 2 Klossowski, 1997, X. 3 Klossowski, 2007. The demonic is that place where the eternal is intimately linked to the mortal; it is the hub of the eternal return of the same. In Diane at her Bath, a fictional work by Klossowski, the demon gives the image to the goddess and at the same time provokes Acteon’s desire for her. And in this capacity, the demon becomes the middle simulacrum that positions itself between a mortal simulacrum and an immortal one. The demon is the spirit of animation.

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ultimately singular; this is why there is no after-life that is outside earthly existence and the fact that there is death does not negate the preciousness of life. Just like Nietzsche’s theory of eternal reoccurrence dictates, the simulacra are the willed reproductions of phantasms, “born from the life of the impulses”. Each simulacrum is unique, but can form a series with other simulacra in their own context and according to their own principles of gathering (these principles are immanent to the series, and not superimposed on them). According to Klossowski, as he presents it in his Tableaux Vivants: “…simulacrum in its imitative sense is the actualization of something incommunicable in itself or of the irrepresentable: properly the phantasm in its obsessional constraint.”4 Phantasm in Klossowski is more like ‘illusion’ or ‘Schein’ in Nietzsche. Therefore, far from being representational as classical thought had conceived it since, at least, Aristotle and his theory of mimesis, spectacle is about simulacra. It is an attempt to exorcise this obsession by way of simulation; art is, purely and simply, a deception and not a representation of nature or reality. A spectacle of a work of art makes present what cannot be shown according to the stereotype or the social censure, and it does so by way of a phantasm that lays itself over the myth, the source of the myth, and the spectator. Thereby, the spectacle repeats itself within its own medium and within the spectators, forming a series of simulacra within a spectacular event. Although the simulacrum presupposes the rule of the prevailing stereotype (which is the code of everyday signs), in spectacle it destroys the stereotype. A stereotype is an inversion or falsification of singularity of being; an artistic spectacle is often an attempt to invert the stereotype and thereby restore this singularity. Klossowksi does this in his own prose by having invented a science of stereotypes in which the stereotype brings about a critique of its own gregarious5 interpretation of the phantasm. Having made some preliminary observations on Klossowski’s theory of simulacrum, I will now expand it into four related areas to show how this theory stands in a destructive relationship to representational theory of art and how it reflects the Zeitgeist of the twentieth century art and culture. Phantasm, impulses and the demonic. The theory of simulacrum takes into account the non-rational forces, what Nietzsche calls ‘Dionysian’ in an overarching way (analogous to the id in Freud). Simulacrum, as the field of the life of phantasms and impulses, cannot be understood within the 4 5

Klossowski, 2001, 131. Translation is mine. Gregariousness in Klossowski is similar to what Heidegger calls “idle chatter”.

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limits of everyday communication, since “singular experience is …incommunicable and inexchangeable”.6 It rather exceeds the limits of such communication and lays itself over the collective unconscious. “Beyond the discursive communication, simulacrum creates the conditions of another communication, an oblique communication, a communication by silence.”7 What Jean-Pol Madou calls ‘silence’ in his Démons et simulacres dans l’oeuvre de Pierre Klossowski, can be named ‘collective unconscious’ (although of course they are not the same), but one can speak specifically of silence regarding its role in artistic and spectacular experiences.

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Origin/copy. There is no origin outside the copy. There is no transcendental foundation, which is outside existence, which is the generative principle and which thus gives meaning to life. This is not to say that all things have equal status, but rather that all things, whether high or low, are no longer predetermined and affixed according to one absolute foundation. The theory of simulacrum is an anarchic theory in the field of arts. Immanence. There is no outside to a spectacular unity. A spectacle is an immanent whole, which, with all its forces, completes its own circle. A spectacle does not represent anything, is not a unitary entity, and does not send out only one true meaning. It is multiplistic, that is, it consists of a series of simulacra, and emanates multiple signs. Furthermore, the simulacra that it presents are kinetic within their own dynamic relations, as Lyotard observes: “A simulacrum, understood in the sense Klossowski gives it, should not be conceived primarily as belonging to the category of representation, like the representations which imitate pleasure; rather, it is to be conceived as a kinetic problematic, as the paradoxical product of the disorder of the drives, as a composite of decompositions.”8 Here Lyotard connects the theory of simulacrum to the conception of eternal return by way of Freud’s theory of drives. Unity and archetypes. Since there is no transcendental reference point and since art does not operate with classical notions of representation, how then does a work of art or an artistic spectacle “cohere”? This has been an objection to post-classical and post-modern art. But the objection is often 6

Madou, 1987, 86 (translation is mine). Ibid., 87 (emphasis is mine). 8 Benjamin, 1989, 171. 7

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made through a cognitive model of coherence, according to which a work of art must appeal to the intellect first to be a work of art. However, according to the theory of simulacrum, we must seek “coherence” below the level of consciousness, as Klossowski argues in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle:

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In order to exercise its constraint, the simulacrum must correspond to the necessity of the phantasm. If the impulse already ‘interprets’ something for itself, the phantasm remains unintelligible, below the level of consciousness: it is merely the intellect’s ossified incomprehension of a state of life. Because of this, the intellect once again represents the most malicious caricature of ‘unreason,’ that is, a caricature of the life of the impulses; moreover, the intellect deforms what the phantasm wants to ‘say.’9

As Klossowski suggests in this passage, the phantasm is deeply rooted in the unconscious and operates according to the life of drives, instincts, and impulses. The intellect, insofar as it operates with concepts that are worn out, cannot comprehend such a state of life, but when it does try to comprehend, it deforms the phantasm, that is to say, what the life forces stand for. According to this paradigm, an artwork is an expression of the inner states of its creator and must be approached as such. The spectator too is bound to open up his or her inner states before the work of art so that it can un-conceal itself and create a bond of authenticity through an artistic medium. This has been one common thread in postrepresentational art since impressionism. I will end my discussion of Klossowski’s theory of simulacrum with reflections on two works. Firstly, Klossowski illustrates the spatial presence of simulacra in his fictional works, as, for instance, in Diane at her Bath. Here the phantasm operates at the level of form-giving and production of desire. The daimon, which is the in-between figure, gives a beautiful form to goddess Diane and, at the same time, provokes Acteon’s desire for her. There is no ontological separation between Diane and Acteon, only a separation of their simulacra that are connected via the third term, the daimon; in Greek tragedies the satyr played, in a similar way, the role of an in-between simulacrum, as Nietzsche discusses it in The Birth of Tragedy. To put it simply, divinity is not a grossly separate form from human reality as Abrahamic religions believe, but is rather a myth that is given a shape in its heightened state, as Greek polytheism upheld. For Klossowski, all simulacra, in this case those of Diane, the 9

Klossowski, 1997, 133.

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daemon, and Acteon, are conjoined through the archetypes and impulses that reside in the unconscious. My second reflection is on Raul Ruiz’s film, “The Portrait of the Stolen Painting”, which was made in collaboration with Klossowski. This work also illustrates Klossowski’s theory of simulacrum, this time in a cinematographic medium by way of his idea of tableaux vivants.10 There are altogether seven paintings presented in the film; one of the paintings is stolen and has created a conspiracy. Each painting opens up to a living reality of its simulacra where actors play the roles depicted in the painting itself. As a painting becomes a tableau vivant, it creates simulacra that become links to the next painting. Through these simulacra and the absence but yet the mysterious presence of the stolen painting, the seven paintings form a series or a spectacle. What is also important to note is the fluidity and the unspoken, unmediated connectedness of all the simulacra, which is maintained by absence or by silence.

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II. Foucault, Simulacrum and Similitude In his aesthetic works, Michel Foucault expands on the theory of simulacrum as he reflects on post-classical art (specifically abstract art, surrealism, and expressionism); in his book, This is Not a Pipe, in addition to Magritte who is the main artist, he discusses Klee and Kandinsky. In these reflections, he opposes ‘similitude’ (which describes the relationship between simulacra) to ‘resemblance’. While he sees the former as the modus operandi of the post-classical art, he considers the latter to be operative in the classical art. “Resemblance has a “model,” an original element that orders and hierarchizes the increasingly less faithful copies that can be struck from it...”11 According to Foucault, it presupposes a primary reference that prescribes and classes, serves representation which rules over it, and predicates itself upon a model it must return to and reveal. Similitude, on the other hand, “circulates the simulacrum [the so-called copy] as an indefinite and reversible relation of the similar to the similar.” It serves repetition, which ranges over it. The similar 10 Lyotard explains Klossowski’s tableau vivant as “…the near perfect simulacrum of fantasy in all its paradoxical intensity” and warns against seeing it as a simple voyeurism. “We must note…that the tableau vivant in general, if it holds a certain libidinal potential, does so because it brings the theatrical and economic orders into communication; because it uses ‘whole persons’ as detached erotic regions to which the spectator’s impulses are connected.” Benjamin, 77. 11 Foucault, 1983, 44.

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(unlike that which resembles according a prior model) “…develops in series that have neither beginning nor end, that can be followed in one direction as easily as another, that obey no hierarchy, but propagate themselves from small differences among small differences.” 12

Exploring the relationship between different types of simulacra, Foucault observes: “Magritte brings pure similitudes and non-affirmative verbal statements into play within the instability of a disoriented volume and an unmapped space.”13 Each figure or each text is singular in Magritte’s paintings – they do not owe their origin to a preceding model that dictates over them, and all of them form a series together, a whole that we call a painting. Foucault makes the following five observations regarding Magritte’s work, most of which apply to post-representational art. First, wherever there are images and texts, Magritte uses calligrams and thereby shows their playful interaction, displacement, transference, and substitution in their common ground. Second, this calligram opens up and then disappears, leaving its own absence as a trace, which then leaves open the many possibilities for other calligrams to form (each time the spectator re-creates a different calligram when viewing a painting of Magritte). Third, letters enter into an uncertain, indefinite relationship with the drawing, thereby letting discourse (the body of statements made about that drawing) collapse; this then allows a singular relationship to form between the viewer and the work. Fourth, similitudes multiply themselves as they refer only to themselves (not to an already existing prior form that may determine them), and among those that are similar they establish their own independent relationships with each other. Fifth, mimetic representation in Magritte turns into circulating similitudes, as the affirmative statement becomes a non-affirmative one. In a similar way, according to Foucault, Klee and Kandinsky also overcame the limitations of representational art that separated the text from the image and imposed a pre-conditioned resemblance on the artistic experience. According to Foucault, Klee broke away from the principle in classical art that asserts a separation between plastic representation and linguistic reference. Klee did this by juxtaposing shapes and syntax of lines in an uncertain, reversible, floating space; in other words, elements of writing are no longer excluded from the canvas, and figures that are drawn may invoke elements of writing. On the other hand, Kandinsky displaced the principle that “posits an equivalence between the fact of resemblance 12 13

Ibid. Ibid., 54–55.

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and the affirmation of a representative bond”.14 Kandinsky treats colours as objects, placing colour in the chain of simulacra of images, and moves beyond a discourse that dictates to the spectator what should be experienced in an artwork. In Kandinsky’s abstract paintings, nothing resembles nothing; there can only be suggestive similitudes, as one simulacrum may be similar to the next one. Foucault ends This is Not a Pipe with a reference to Andy Warhol’s Campbell piece, which, for him, exemplifies similitude, because each Campbell can, though similar to the next one, is unique in itself. All pieces in an artwork form a chain of similitudes, as they come from different sources but also cohere within the artwork. Installation art, which brings pieces from everyday life into art, shocks our classical sensibility, because it operates with the idea of simulacra of small and big differences between objects and also with the idea that eternity permeates all being as implicated by Nietzsche’s eternal return. On the other hand, performance art15 inserts the artist and the spectator into the artwork, treating human

14

Ibid., 34. In an analogous way we can expand the definition of simulacrum onto spectacle and consider performance art from the perspective of the post-modern theory of simulacrum. To make it more concrete, I will give examples from a recent show of Marina Abramoviü that I saw at MOMA in 2010 in New York; in this show her previous works were also displayed. The human body as simulacrum. In Abramoviü’s works the human body is treated as simulacrum in many different ways. Two naked performers, a man and a woman, who stand still seem as though they walked out of a painting of nudes. But they form an inextricable link between human beings as subjects of works of art and as their observers; spectators are expected to pass through the narrow passage that they created so as to be ushered into the world of art. Another area where the body appears in her works is the testing of human capacity to handle pain, blood, weight, etc. The play with a knife as the performer injures herself, bloody scenes in a performance that invokes sacrifice (not in the degree of Herman Nitzsch’s performances), and playing with weights to see how much weight a human being can possibly endure. Limit experiences as the expression of the demonic and the life of the impulses. Limit experiences are those when we try to go beyond our ordinary, everyday experiences and become ecstatic, become another person as in acting, become something else, or test our society-imposed limits, all of which can be understood as different forms of being-towards-death. Abramoviü presents a variety of limit experiences in her performances: in Rhythm 10 (1973), she explores the physical and mental limitations of the body; in Rhythm 5 (1974), she lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen inside the star she burnt; and in Rhythm 2 (1974), she experimented with a medication that controls muscle movements (a pill prescribed

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15

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beings as part of the chain of simulacra.

III. Art as Self-Transformation

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Both Klossowski’s theory of simulacrum and Foucault’s theory of similitude presuppose a theory of art that sees the world in flux and is based on self-transformation, as foreseen by Nietzsche. Art is no longer understood strictly as the mimetic production of works of art in specific media, which are governed by rigid rules and detached from life forces (from the creative process itself), but rather broadly as the making of one’s self which is articulated as “giving style to one’s character” by Nietzsche in The Gay Science16 and as “care of the self” by Foucault.17 Therefore, what we see as works of art in spectacle are either the self-transformed artist or the extension of such an artist in and through their immediate objects. In Nietzsche, the art of self-transformation is understood almost always as the striving for higher states, or what can be called ‘overhumanliness’. There is no intrinsic value in being human, as the transhumanists upheld

for catatonia). One last example is her “Artist is Present” performance where she sits still for hours on end in front of a spectator. 16 In Aphorism 290, Nietzsche discusses the art of self-transformation and links it to human self-satisfaction and self-empowerment. Although this type of art is rare, he admits, it is necessary for the creation of a “satisfied human being” who is worthy of being beheld. Concepts such as extropic art and automorphing that have emerged in transhumanistic art movements are imbibed with Nietzsche’s conception of art as self-transformation (See Natasha Vita-More’s Transhumanist Arts Statement, Extropic Art Manifesto, 1997). 17 In his last major project, as volumes gathered under The History of Sexuality, Foucault was interested in understanding the making of the self for which he used different expressions such as the “care of the self” and “technologies of the self”. These are the forms and strategies that “…permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality” (Martin, 1988, 18). As Nietzsche and Foucault would concur, technology and art should not be construed as intrinsically distinct; they both belong to the economies of making as Heidegger shows in his “The Question Concerning Technology”. To revert back to the theory of simulacra, it can be said that one can create simulacra by means of any type of technology, advanced or primitive.

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(see Citizen Cyborg,18 for instance), but rather there is value insofar as human beings overcome themselves towards higher states, towards dynamic, ever-changing overhumanly states in the form of production of simulacra. Understood in this way, the overhuman is not a final goal or a final destination19 – otherwise, the overhuman would be a teleological construct – but rather a process of the self-overcoming of the creator and the projections of this self-overcoming in any form and through any medium. Overhumanliness is that going under (as one lets a part of oneself decay), that crossing over, that going beyond the established limits (as one becomes ecstatic), and that throwing oneself into the unknown. The production of new simulacra is such an uncanny process; everything that is new waits for its place in the order of things, where it can find reception and be honoured or be sent into the oblivion of history. But what remains, what cannot be effaced, is the struggle, the overcoming of the singular being whose traces often remain in the dark.

Epilogue

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The aspects of post-modern art theory as discussed above can be seen in recent art forms such as installation art, performance art and digital art. They all question traditional forms of medium in art and move away from them towards new media; any material, bodily, and electronic/digital medium is now possible. In this way they test the limits of human creation, overcome traditional boundaries, and question the essence of technology from within technology (Heidegger’s call). Today the problems of mass 18

This is James Hughes’ summary from the founding documents of the World Transhumanist Association: “There is no intrinsic value in being human, just as there is no intrinsic value in being a rock, a frog or a posthuman. The value resides in who we are as individuals, and what we do with our lives.” (Hughes, 2004, 106) Although there is an agreement between this transhumanistic definition of human and that of Nietzsche, Nietzsche is more radical in his emphasis on strife for higher states and his hierarchical ordering of humans according to this strife. 19 Therefore, the argument whether the overhuman can come into existence or not is a mute argument. Hibbard claims that this is not possible since there is an “infinite distance” between human beings and overhumans (Journal of Evolution & Technology, 2010, 9), as he reads Nietsche’s passage too narrowly. That “infinite distance” can exist within an indivudal, between his/her highest and lowest states. Sorgner disagrees with this and suggests that “…there is nothing in Nietzsche’s writings which renders plausible the judgment that it is impossible for Nietzsche’s overhumans to come into existence.” (Journal of Evolution & Technology, 2010, 13) Both arguments, however, treat the overhuman as a final goal that is unattainable or out there in the future.

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media are paramount. The problem, however, does not reside in the medium, but rather in its disposition that ontologically separates making from the making of the self and that reduces making to the making of automata. What must be heeded are the recent art movements. All these art movements and genres of recent times, whether they are abstract art, surrealism, expressionism, or installation art (Duchamp, Warhol), or performance art (Abramoviü, Jaime del Val), or even the most recent digital art, operate within the framework of posthumanistic/postmodern art theory, as manifest in the theories of simulacrum and similitude. They all present art within a matrix of singulars (art no longer represents an idea or an ideal that is metaphysical), they all aim at an active audience where the spectacle is seen in its immanent unity (spectators are not outsiders who come and simply watch the spectacle) and artistic creativity can take place in a variety of media (not confined to traditional forms), and finally the distinction between human and non-human is no longer considered valid. On the other hand, they aim to overcome themselves as they test the limits of art. Art-making is now viewed as a form of making of the self.

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References Abramoviü, M. Rhythm 2 (1974); Rhythm 5 (1974); and Rhythm 10 (1973). Del Val, J. http://www.reverso.org/jaimedelval.htm. Foucault, M. (1978): The History of Sexuality, Volume 1, tr. by R. Hurley, New York: Vintage Books. —. This is Not a Pipe, tr. and ed. by J. Harkness, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Heidegger, M. (1977): “The Question Concerning Technology” in Basic Writings, ed. by D. F. Krell, tr. by W. Lovitt, New York: Harper & Row. Hibbard, (2010): “Nietzsche’s Overhuman is an Ideal Whereas Posthumans Will be Real,” Journal of Evolution & Technology, 2010, 9. Klossowski, P. (1998): Diane at her Bath, tr. by S. Hawkes and S. Sarterelli, New York: Marsilio Publishers. —. (1997): Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, tr. by D. W. Smith, Chicago: Chicago University Press. —. (2007): Such a Deathly Desire, tr. by R. Ford, Albany: SUNY Press. Madou, J.-P. (1987): Démons et simulacres dans l’oeuvre de Pierre Klossowski, Méridiens/Klincksieck, Connaissance du 20e siècle.

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Nietzsche, F. (1967): The Birth of Tragedy, tr. by W. Kaufmann, New York: Vintage Books. —. (1974): The Gay Science, tr. by W. Kaufmann, New York: Vintage Books. Sorgner, S. L. (2010): “Beyond Humanism: Reflections on Trans- and Posthumanism,” Journal of Evolution & Technology, 2010, 13. Vita-More, N. (1997): Transhumanist Arts Statement, Extropic Art Manifesto, http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/contemporary/ExtropicArt-Manifesto.html.

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CHAPTER TWO POSTHUMANISM IN THE WORK OF MARCEL-LÍ ANTÚNEZ ROCA: PHENOMENOLOGY OF NEW AESTHETICS RESISTANCE STRATEGIES AND ARTIFICIALIZATION OF THE LIVING BEING

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ANNA SARA D’AVERSA

In the last twenty years of history of art and aesthetics, of scientific, productive, economic and didactic thought, an historical mutation has been engendered by the trauma of the present, by the fall of the exclusivity of human intelligence and the infiltration of technology. The “posthumanist” dimension is the new philosophical instance that systematizes and develops a new tool of analysis about this historical moment of sociocultural diversification. In the transitional valence of posthumanism is found the need to give oneself, as a sentient body, to the shock caused by the umpteenth narcissistic wound: the autopoiesis of machines, the pulverization of identity, the need for redefinition of the body and the hermeneutic shifting of the concepts of “procreation” and “death”. Contemporary awareness dwells in being in-between, in the disturbing zones, expanded, where homo technologicus acts to influence the transformations of the mind affected by contemporary culture of catastrophes. Towards a linguistic and semiotic opening, the fetishism of the machine grafts in the perishable human flesh giving life to a new substantiated and altered result: the techno-social body, which elevates the technology from the rank of “useful” instrument to the higher status of “techno-magic”, “technoculture”1.

1

Bardainne, C., Susca, V., Ricreazioni. Galassie dell'immaginario postmoderno, Bevivino Editore, Milano 2008, 36.

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This new expanded and liminal biotechnological space is the nomad dimension where the contemporary body changes its ontological statute and creates new synaesthesiae and where the form of difference establishes itself over the amorphousness of identity. The posthuman or postorganic body does not crystallize in a new ontological statute on a theoretical angle, but presents itself as a heuristic category, as an infinitely variable and rectifiable unknown. This new bio-techno-polymorphic and polysemic entity goes beyond its own humanity, is problematized and fluctuating, its own geographies are diasporic and protean. This is the theoretical dimension where the heretical phalanx of techno-art inserts itself. One of its most representative contemporary militants is the Catalan Marcel-lí Antúnez Roca (born in Moia, 1959), known internationally for his mechanotronic performances and installations. The engaged work of Marcel-lí, founder of the Catalan group “La Fura Dels Baus” in 1979 and of other artistic collectives like “Error Genético” and “Los Rinos”, triggers a peculiar phenomenological approach to the discipline of posthumanism as a contemporary phase in the field of Humanities. The flesh and the nerves of Antúnez Roca’s work mix with the alterations produced by micro-technologies, genetic engineering, media saturation, and sexual alienations. The result is a fall of conventional ontological dichotomies such as in/out, mind/body, organic/inorganic, natural/artificial, male/female, etc. This is the only condition for liberation from cultural models, against the ideology of mass production and for the beginning of a new “sensualization” of signifiers and signified today. The body of Antúnez Roca is the body of the singularity shared and coextended on the planet, the new dimensions where posthuman alterations are traced, where art camouflages on the skin and on the instruments that activate the transformation of the languages, the bodies, and the era. Marcel-lí Antúnez Roca is the paradigm of posthuman contamination, of the amplification of possibilities, of the dilatability of conscience, of body and simulation, body and technological optimization, body and extensive prosthesis. Until 1989, with La Fura dels Baus, as artistic coordinator, musician and actor, he follows a punk-funambulist sensibility and patterns in his performances (Accions, 1984; Suz/O/Suz, 1985; Tier Mon, 1988), conferring to the body the role of main character. In the 1990s, he starts his solo work frenetically, aiming at the contemporary gesamkunstwerk. Focused on the physical possibilities of the human body, his performances entail the cannibalization and mutilation of the flesh as a last hallucination of the end of millennium.

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Joan, l’hombre de carne (1992) is his first cybernetic operation and resolution of the irreversible hybridization of the natural and the artificial. Joan, the materialization of a real recurrent nightmare of Marcel-lí, son of a butcher, is a life-size man, a proto-cyborg in polyester, covered with real sewed pork skin that, through an audio-computer subsystem, moves in response to external sound stimuli. With Joan, Marcel-lí opens the road to the new flesh, to the mutant and gore reality, to the resistance against the micro-physic of power carried out by ordinary concepts of death, of disease, of accident. With the installation La vida sin amor no tiene sentido (1993), he works deeply on the details of the body, making it a bio-techno-political body, fragmenting it, dismissing it, and rebuilding it, condensing its own symbolizations. Epizoo (1994) is the first and one of the most important works of Marcel-lí. The performance consists of a range of pneumatic devices linked to Marcel-lí’s erogenous zones (nipples, bottom, and facial openings) as he stands on a platform. These devices are able to deform his body when activated by the audience through a mechatronic system, a computer interface, while infographics (digital images created and manipulated by computer algorithms) are projected on a wide screen behind him. Epizoo (contraction of epizootia, the Spanish word for epizooty, the zoological equivalent of epidemic) is the codification of contemporary relational reality. Referring to Susan Sontag’s speculations, one can define Epizoo as a sensible phenomenon about the metaphor of “disease” as a social disorder, of the AIDS pandemic as an ideal projection of the political paranoia in the so-called “first world”, of corruption, of decadence, contamination, anomy, debility. Teresa Macrì, Italian writer and thinker, defines Epizoo as: “a tele-directed act of torture, the audience touch the artist without getting their hands dirty. In Epizoo Antúnez made a breakthrough, he gave birth to a perverted mechanism full of disturbing meanings. Epizoo is a metaphor for physical relations in contemporary life. With the appearance of AIDS, the mentality about sexual relations has largely changed. This performance activates a mechanism that allows the artist to move just the parts of the body considered erotic by books on sexuality, without moving limbs, an idea that makes the body resemble a puppet. This is a form of erotic intervention: an anonymous partner above an inert lover.”2

Afterwards, Teresa Macrì introduces the theme of “virus”: 2 Macrì, T., Il corpo postorganico. Sconfinamenti della performance, Costa & Nolan, Milano 1996, 41–42.

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“Epizoo is a performant innovative epitome, cruelly contemporary, an actual in flagrante delicto. It develops the theme of the “virus”, analysing

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the fear about viral contaminations: the new collective psychosis, the finde-siècle crawling monstrosities, the obsessions of death between diseases and apocalyptic visions. […] The viral contamination is a fundamental concept in his works. His phenomenology is about the virus that crosses the existent: a word-virus, a sex-virus, a death-virus.”3

The bacteriological and viral phenomenology and the electronic cruelty that characterize Epizoo struggle against the plastic contemporary tragedy substantiated in the disease. Marcel-lí draws his sensory remapping, his plastic poetry, his cybernetic semiosis where the bourgeois self and collective being pass through a catastrophic moment where they elaborate the feeling of death and of morbid destruction on which socio-cultural industry feeds itself. Afasia (1998) anticipates the introduction of the first prototype of a metallic exoskeleton, the “dreskeleton”. Marcel-lí will work on it for a long time and in different performances and installations. The term afasia, in addition to signifying, clinically, a brain damage that causes a language dysfunction, refers to the artist’s narrative non-verbal attempt: the dramatization of Homer’s Odyssey. Through an ensemble of images and sounds, generated and controlled by the human–machine interaction, the idiomatic fixity and the rational language are broken and surpassed: in doing so, Marcel-lí gives life to an unusual signifying chain, to synaesthetic, pluralizing and non-verbal phenomena. With Transpermia (2003), Marcel-lí introduces the biometry (the quantitative study of the living being through statistical instruments). He formalizes and systematizes the “Mechatronic” and the “Systematurgy”, neologisms that explain his particular system of performative actions. The Mechatronic is the science that makes possible the interaction of mechanics, electronics and computer science, in order to automatize the production systems simplifying human work. Systematurgy is, instead, the germination of new dramaturgical and narrative contexts through computer systems. Transpermia is a term opposed to “panspermia” and is referred to the possible mechanism of transfer of the so-called seeds of life from planet to planet, from solar system to solar system, travelling by means of comet or asteroidal debris). With this work, Marcel-lí begins the aesthetic phase of research about the possible results of a techno-bio3

Ibid., 45.

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micro-logical evolution. He develops his performance in different performative modules (performance, conference, concert), among which some micro-performances run at zero gravity, for the Dedalus Project (the conceptual generator of Transpermia) developed in 2003 in the Aerospace Center Yuri Gagarin in the former Soviet Union. The utopian place where Marcel-lí concentrates his performative delirium is the deep space from which bacteria and complex organisms arrived. Transpermia is the posthuman theory for which some bio-evolutionist prosthesis could take mankind out of earth’s ecosystem, de-fragmented in his signifying and signified and rebuilt in a spermic, primordial way towards the space, intelligible by technologies. Ultra-terrestrial orbit is the meeting of the natural and the artificial, the place of the utopian, posthuman longing. The last phenomenological focus of Marcel-lí’s performances and installations concerns Membrana, a trilogy that consists of Protomembrana (a mechatronic lesson of 2006), Hipermembrana (a creative investigation of 2007) and Metamembrana (a dynamic installation of 2008). This saga plays on the interactive scenic polysemy and on the involvement of the audience that, through several interfaces, acquires ephemeral and grotesque identities. The audience is so involved in this posthuman mythic and mythological social interaction. Membrana is a trilogy of transperformative actions that develop in a pulverized space and in a pure topography free from empiric and chrono-sedimented causality. It is an attempt at the trans-humanization of experience that, bringing into play all senses, supports the posthuman dream of crossing intellect and death, of surpassing the imposing mass of human affections and intellect. The mental play space is a virtual transitory and multi-perceptive space, a dramaturgical dimension blown up in a multiplicity of planes where one acts performatively. This ludic experience happens in a liquid mental place, deconstructed and polyvalent, where the human being makes himself as an autonomic world, ruled by a new spatial pragmatics. This is meant as a relation sphere in which to create dialectic objects, wide apart, away from the hegemonic traditional coordination and from the logos order, that is exceeded. The ludic tension movement, then, is a porous passing, running through towards the alterity, otherness, towards a transubstantial zone composed by more interlinked parts so that the result is different from the simple addition of these parts. This overtaking movement can fulfil itself by the multiplication and contamination of languages and bodies, in order to create a new sensory universe. The time of the shock, then, becomes the deformed time where the whole perceptive system is redefined and the suspended and fantastic space (and also a strongly ludic place) becomes a sphere of relations where

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dialectic objects are to be created. The exploration of the shadow areas at the time of the shock, and the feeling of “deepness” created by human affection and intellect, encourage, according to the Italian philosopher Mario Perniola, “the discovery of enigmatic glimmers, breaks, jagged orifices, obscene cavity, arrogant convexity, transparent sections, flat angles, bond unbuttoning”.4 The space of the Membrana saga is a virtual transitory and multiperceptive space. Here, the cosmogony of the fabula is de-mythologized, disintegrated and rebuilt in a hyper-dramaturgical way thanks to the intersection of mille plateau.5 “The body in construction is a fantastic crossbreeding between organic and inorganic, between particle substance and silicium chip. […] The body approaches these alterations that dethrone its identity and draw a new mutant subjectivity. At the end of the millennium, the videodromic flesh assumes a technological embodiment and a technologized corporeality. The rebuilding of the phenomenology of this interpenetration between body and technology is necessary to clarify its own sense within the contemporary culture. It is the mutant body, then, that marks the passage from an obsolete identity to a fibrillating metamorphosis. A different willingness of the being is possible thanks to new techniques of genetic manipulation, neural deterritorialization, schizoanalytical overcoming of the biological being. The contemporary body is, by now, the map where different synaesthesias and driving sensibilities converge, it is the topography where inorganic cross-breeds could insert. […] The technomutant corporeality takes on, in this moment, a very important cultural and political centrality, from this centrality starts a process of identitary redefinition, of repositioning of infospheric systems, of overturning of ‘driving life of thought’. In this sense, the body is a libidinal surface, a nomadic passing, a Web of imaginary differentiation, a postorganic entity. From this different body ontology derives a new economy of pleasure, an extreme sexuality, since the subject transformation needs a libido mutation. […] The escape in the erotic immateriality, the cybersex translation, the refuge in virtual sexuality represent an opening towards a mutated technological perception, a form of artificial and intensified excitation, an interpenetration between skin and neurons, an orgasmic powerup.”6 As homo technologicus and homo ludens, Marcel-lí lives rapturously in his ludic world, decomposing and recomposing himself in elementals, creating 4

Perniola, M., L'arte e la sua ombra, Einaudi, Torino 2000. Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., Mille Plateaux, Éditions de Minuit, Paris 1980. 6 Macrì, T., op. cit. (1996), 7–8. 5

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and re-creating himself in a real alternative dimension, in the paidia (the turbulence, the uncontrolled fantasy, the improvization, the discard, the surprise, the novelty, the excess, the inebriation). About this concept, an author belonging to a field far from a posthumanism dimension, J.R.R. Tolkien, has brought forward some interesting considerations about a potential “secondary world”, an alternative and virtual space, as we would say today. In his theoretical work The monsters and the critics and other essays, J.R.R. Tolkien, in the chapter “Fantasy”, says:

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“The human mind is capable of forming mental images of things not actually present. The faculty of conceiving the images is (or was) naturally called Imagination. But in recent times, in technical not normal language, Imagination has often been held to be something higher than the mere image-making, ascribed to the operation of Fancy (a reduced and deprecatory form of the older word Fantasy); an attempt is thus made to restrict, I should say misapply, Imagination to the ‘power of giving to ideal creations the inner consistency of reality’. Ridiculous though it may be for one so ill-instructed to have an opinion on this critical matter, I venture to think the verbal distinction philologically inappropriate, and the analysis inaccurate. The mental power of image-making is one thing, or aspect; and it should appropriately be called Imagination. The perception of the image, the grasp of its implications, and the control, which are necessary to a successful expression, may vary in vividness and strength: but this is a difference of degree in Imagination, not a difference in kind. The achievement of the expression, which gives (or seems to give) ‘the inner consistency of reality’, is indeed another thing, or aspect, needing another name: Art, the operative link between imagination and the final result, Sub-creation. For my present purpose I require a word which shall embrace both the Subcreative Art in itself and a quality of strangeness and wonder in the Expression, derived from the Image: a quality essential to fairy-story. I propose, therefore, to arrogate myself the power of Humpty-Dumpty, and to use Fantasy for this purpose: in a sense, that is, which combines with its older and higher use as an equivalent of Imagination the derived notion of ‘unreality’ (that is, of unlikeness to the Primary World), of freedom from the domination of observed ‘fact’, in short of the fantastic. I am thus not only aware but glad of the etymological and semantic connections of fantasy with fantastic: with images of things that are not only ‘not actually present’, but which are indeed not to be found in our primary world at all, or are generally believed not to be found there. But while admitting that, I do not assent to the depreciative tone. That the images are of things not in the primary world (if that indeed is possible) is a virtue not a vice. Fantasy

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(in this sense) is, I think, not a lower but a higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure form, and so (when achieved) the most potent.”7

The techno-mythological fantasy of Marcel-lí, then, even if significantly more observable than Tolkien expected some years ago, creates a worrying secondary cosmogony, a posthuman germination, an expanse of contradictions that multiply the perception in favour of a more conscientious and anti-identity research. The aim is the liberation of the body from his cage of productive and subjected body, from the prison of the bourgeois self and its moral restrictions. By doing so, the postorganic body can, fantastically, abandon itself to the orgy, parading around its neutral sexuality.

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Francesca Alfano Miglietti, one of the most important Italian theorists of mutations connected with visual languages, in her book Identità mutanti, describes: “Contamination and mutation, these are the “places” that define the new art alterations, a kind of art that camouflages itself on the skin and on the mechanisms of instruments that activate the language, the body and the era transformations. The art is structured as the place of anti-specialism, a place where data and tensions flow into, as horizons of passions and utopia, […] refusal of separation, place of unicity where neo-situationist tensions meet and cross themselves, new age mysticism, self-management alternatives, a plural universe where political extreme instances can find their place, the juvenile rebellion, technological horizons, […]. The art, in this sense, as the practice of technological alterations, is like a battlefield where the control problem and the practices of a radical creation clash. The art means to teach practices able to neutralize the control methodologies, since a new kind of utilisation of senses, sight, feel, touch ... Starting from a new use of the mind, in relation to the expansion of the body in the prosthesis that expand it in the cosmos, a way to destroy the culture of defeat, of war, of catastrophes imminence, a way to break the culture of survivors, revealing the secret and the apparatus that safeguard its values.”8 Marcel-lí’s work is the planning of a biopolitical action, designed to giving birth to new strategies of Aesthetic Resistance. An action that took place 7

Tolkien, J.R.R., (1983): The monsters and the critics and other essays, George Allen & Unwin, London, 138–139. 8 Alfano Miglietti, F. (FAM), (2004): Identità mutanti. Dalla piega alla piaga: esseri delle contaminazioni contemporanee, Bruno Mondadori Editore, Milano, 73–75.

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on the battlefield where there is a collision between the micro-fascist obsolescence of a disciplined and punished human body and the attempt at the production of a new resistant collective intelligence. His transludic and posthuman work is a great world multiplicity legitimation act. Marcel-lí’s phenomenology is not an image, a reflection of something, but it is an unceasing creation of a social imaginative world that follows a founding function, that is to say it explodes and breaks in the scene, revealing the discard, the novelty, the doubt, the critics that build up in the changing movements. The founding function resists the founded function, already petrified and of a safeguarding/manipulative and passive-passivizing world. Thus, the aberration caused by the dehumanization of the society of control is directed beyond the human, through the mutant multiplication that strives for the revolutionary perseverance, for the renunciation to imitation and to the molecularization of the peripheral experiences. Marcel-lí persists with the difficult materialization of contemporaneousness demonstrating with new post-linguistic instruments that the aesthetics-revolutionary principle: “exagérer, c’est commencer d’inventer”9 is still valid.

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References Alfano Miglietti, F. (FAM) (2004): Identità mutanti. Dalla piega alla piaga: esseri delle contaminazioni contemporanee, Bruno Mondadori Editore, Milano. Bardainne, C., Susca, V. (2008): Ricreazioni. Galassie dell’immaginario postmoderno, Bevivino Editore, Milano. Deleuze, G., Guattari, F. (1980): Mille Plateaux, Éditions de Minuit, Paris. Macrì, T. (1996): Il corpo postorganico. Sconfinamenti della performance, Costa & Nolan, Milano. Perniola, M. (2000): L’arte e la sua ombra, Einaudi, Torino. Tolkien, J.R.R. (1983): The monsters and the critics and other essays, George Allen & Unwin, London.

9 Le parole del maggio. Le scritte sui muri nel Sessantotto parigino, Mimesis, Milano 2008, 14.

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CHAPTER THREE PROBING THE POSTHUMAN: BODY MODIFICATION IN ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT’S LORSQUE J’ÉTAIS UNE OEUVRE D’ART TITIKA KARAVIA

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The posthuman body as an evolving process In the early 21st century, posthumanism is certainly no longer a “dubious neologism”, as Ihab Hassan presumed in 1977.1 Nevertheless, it remains a confusing term, susceptible to diverse and apparently incompatible definitions.2 A chronological account of the different possible posthumanisms is beyond the scope of this paper. We confine ourselves to noticing that what is at stake in all these different meanings the term has acquired over the last four decades is subjectivity. The subject’s conventional formulations often associated in the postmodern society with an exploration of human corporeal limits has become, as Simon Malpas eloquently explains, “a site of conflict between competing theories and practices” (2005, 56). Under the impact of what we commonly mean by biotechnological engineering, the oscillation, or even the tension, between humanist and anti-humanist approaches to the technobody’s ontology has been accentuated. To give a typical example, while Jean Baudrillard imputes the metastasis of individuals into potential

1

See Badmington 2000, 2. Cf. “Posthumanism […] generates different and even irreconcilable definitions” (Wolfe, 2010, xi); “a similar tension between inflections of the same term is evident in the discourse of the posthuman that […] has dominated debates in science, culture and ethics since the early 1990s” (Halliwell/ Mousley, 2003: 187).

2

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mutants to the cybernetic peripeteia (péripétie) [adventure] of the body,3 Donna Haraway places her faith in the late 20th century cyborg world in an attempt to “skip the step of original unity, of identification with nature in the Western sense” (Haraway, 1991, 151). Against organic holism, cyborg imagery, implying “theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organisms” (Haraway, 1991, 150), is seen by the feminist theorist as a promising way towards the reconstruction of the boundaries of daily life.4 The clue we try to pursue through these postmodern theoretical tribulations of subjectivity leads to Robert Pepperell’s posthuman manifesto, according to which the belief in human beings is a redundant one: indeed, they have lost both their preponderance in the universe and their ability to delimit their own borders. 1. It is now clear that humans are no longer the most important things in the universe. […] 3. In the posthuman era, man’s beliefs become redundant – not least the belief in human beings. 4. Human beings, like gods, only exist inasmuch as we believe them to exist. […] 7. Human bodies have no boundaries.

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8. No finite division can be drawn between the environment, the body and the brain. […] 10. There is nothing external to a human, because the extent of a human cannot be fixed. (2003, 178; 2005)

What Pepperell’s manifesto means to emphasize is that the human body, though identifiable, ceases to be definable; that is, it is no longer regarded as a threshold between the human and its environment, constituting rather a link with what had previously been held as separate or external to the human. This idea of porousness between bodies and the world equally pervades N. Katherine Hayles’s How We Became Posthuman: The posthuman subject is an amalgam, a collection of heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction. (1999, 3)

3

For his view on body metastasis due to biology, genetics and cybernetics, see his essay ‘Métamorphose, métaphore, métastase’ in Baudrillard, 1987: esp. 45–47. 4 Cf. Haraway, 1991, 173–181

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Following Hayles’s wording, it can be suggested that hybridity is what characterizes par excellence the posthuman techno-scientific body. Nevertheless, it is not an accomplished one; it is subject to “continuous reconstructions”. Rather than a definite alteration, posthuman hybridity is to be seen as a work in progress, an evolving process turning the body into a field of possibilities. An epiphenomenon of the postmodern affinity to “shifts and irrevocable changes in the representation of things and of the way they change” (Jameson, 1991, ix), the posthuman techno-scientific body exemplifies and problematizes its tendency to modification, reconstruction and mutation. It is in terms of this posthuman hybrid impulse5 that the present paper aims to examine body modification in EricEmmanuel Schmitt’s Lorsque j’étais une œuvre d’art (When I Was a Work of Art).

Living sculpture as prosthetic monstrousness

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Schmitt’s novel may come under diverse, though not incongruent, literary genres. It may be seen either as a philosophical tale implying, parodying or simply entering into dialogue with several myths of the Western tradition (such as Pygmalion, Faust and Frankenstein)6 or as a 21st century Bildungsroman adapted to a postmodern setting (Hseih, 2006, 163). From a posthumanist perspective, it is a narrative of bodily metamorphosis. Tazio Firelli is a twenty-year-old man who lives in the shadow of his elder brothers, the twins Enzo and Rienzi, famous fashion models, well-known for their extreme beauty. Since childhood, I have not wanted anybody to cohabit with beauty. When we get a rare glimpse of it, beauty illuminates the world. When we live daily by its side, it hurts, it corrodes, and its wounds never heal. (p. 19, my translation)

Convinced that his life is a mistake, originating in his expulsion from his mother’s body and pursued due to genetic planning (cf. pp. 5–6), he decides to put an end to his daily martyrdom. After successive failed suicide attempts, through which he is strengthened in his conviction that he is useless,7 he finally yields to an eccentric artist’s proposal, taking him 5

Here we paraphrase Marquard Smith’s and Joanne Morra’s prosthetic impulse (Smith/Morra, 2006). 6 See Hseih, 2006, 155–156. 7 “Incapable d’entrer dans la vie et pas fichu d’en sortir, je me suis inutile, je ne me dois rien.” (p. 5).

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by surprise at the very moment of his latest suicide attempt on the Palomba Sol cliff. Tazio consents to his becoming a work of art, counterbalancing his insignificance with a modified body.8 His pact with the artist proves him to be a posthuman Faust: instead of promising his immortal soul to the destructive tempting spirit, he signs his human being over to the megalomaniac sculptor, Zeus-Peter Lama. The latter, opposed to any sense of natural symmetry, probes exorbitant artistic pathways, seeking extravagance, singularity, and surprise:

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On everything lifeless I have already impressed the power of my inspiration. I have violated dead bodies to inscribe my living thought on them. Without me, humanity wouldn’t be what it is. What to do then? How to surprise you? And, above all, how to surprise myself? (p. 75, my translation)

Zeus-Peter Lama reaches the summit of his ambition through the modification of Tazio’s body into a living sculpture: “You are… my masterpiece, my triumph. […] You are my atomic bomb. Nothing, ever, will be the same after you” (p. 75. My translation). He claims his right to create an archetype, superior to any known original. In this respect, there is nothing outrageous in the prosthetic surgical operations Tazio has to undergo in order to embody Adam bis’s posthuman hypostasis: an amalgam of silicone implants, strengthening-pieces, liquid enhancements, metallic blades and artificial substitutes. From his posthuman perspective, Zeus-Peter Lama does not condemn Tazio’s humanity to obsolescence;9 he is rather impressed by the malleability and the metamorphic potential Adam bis implies. Zeus-Peter Lama as a posthumanist Mephistopheles confuses reality and appearance10 through the relativization of corporeal borders and succeeds in disrupting received ideas as to what is human and what is inhuman. What matters for the spectators of his sculpture is that Adam bis is something extraordinary, innovatory (“We enter a new era.” p. 78. My translation), great. As for Tazio himself, his embodied posthumanity is simply paradoxical: something hideous in appearance, but all the same, extraordinarily great; in other words, monstrous.

8

“Que pouvait-on souhaiter de mieux qu’une belle apparence? Moi, c’est parce que j’en étais privé que je m’étais résolu à devenir bizarre.” (p. 81) 9 Following Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston, it may be suggested that “the posthuman does not necessitate the obsolescence of the human; it does not represent an evolution or devolution of the human. Rather it participates in redistributions of difference and identity” (Halberstam/Livingston, 1995, 10). 10 Cf. Meyer, 2004, 121.

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Towards a new humanization: the posthuman sublime reconsidered In Schmitt’s narrative of bodily metamorphosis, Tazio’s embodied posthumanity in Adam bis certainly constitutes a crucial point where all the possible evaluating instances of the novel get involved: Zeus-Peter Lama exposing his chef-d’œuvre and praising his artistic genius, the other artists (Carlos Hannibal and Rolanda) criticizing Adam bis, the spectators and, last but not least, Tazio himself presenting, in his analeptic narrative, the identity of living sculpture he had once embodied. In terms of Philippe Hamon’s ideological effect (l’effet idéologie) of the novel,11 Adam bis may be seen as a nexus where the normative competences of the evaluating instances í Zeus-Peter Lama, Carlos Hannibal, Rolanda, the spectators either having elective affinities with the art (Carlos Hannibal’s daughter, Fiona) or not (the visitors of the Body Art Exhibition in Tokyo), and Tazio í distribute “positivities or negativities, successes or failures, conformities or deviances, excesses or lacks”; as an ideological point where they validate or undermine “dominants or hierarchical subordinations” by expressing their opinion on the acceptable and the unacceptable, on the canonical and the deviant and so forth.12 In those parts of the novel where different evaluating instances coexist – evaluating one another either directly, as Zeus-Peter Lama and Carlos Hannibal do in the courtroom, where the case for the rehabilitation of Tazio’s human hypostasis is heard, or indirectly, i.e. Zeus-Peter Lama criticizing Rolanda to Tazio in the Body Art Exhibition in Tokyo í it can be argued that the ideological effect of the novel concerning Tazio’s posthuman monstrousness as Adam bis is reinforced. A thorough examination of these parts of the novel leads to the conclusion that the Body Art Exhibition in Tokyo, where Zeus-Peter Lama evaluates the mutant artist Rolanda, clearly merits our attention. Right in front of the sixth hall he solemnly announced to me. -

Here is your only rival.

Merely baptized “Rolanda, the Metamorphic Body”, the hall was consecrated to Rolanda and her operations. Several photos reminded how the artist had gradually evolved as her inspirations developed. Although 11

See the article ‘Texte et idéologie: pour une poétique de la norme’ in Hamon, 1984, 5-41 (and Hamon, 2004). 12 Cf. Hamon, 1984, 22 (and 2004, 198).

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Part Two Chapter Three she was not the one who had actually performed the operation, since she was anaesthetized, Rolanda guided the surgeons with her sketches and her simulations on the computer. She had had various periods: she had presented The Greek Rolanda, The Inca Rolanda, The Mesopotamian Rolanda, The Quattrocento Rolanda, The symbolist Rolanda, Marylin Rolanda. While in the act of being incised by a medical team in the operating theatre right in the middle of the hall, she always permitted her admirers to be present at her transformations. Before falling into unconsciousness, she had announced to everybody a new Rolanda, The expressionist Rolanda.

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Poor woman, murmured Zeus without compassion, she has been so deformed that she will end up growing into a cubist Rolanda. (127–128, my translation).

Rolanda, for whom Zeus-Peter Lama has no compassion, is the only appreciable rival both to him as a creator and to Adam bis as a living sculpture. Under her name, one may easily decipher an anagram of Orlan, the French performance artist who “appropriates cultural signs from other civilizations, in order to embody, in the literal sense of the word, a metaphor of revolt” (Benezit, 2006, 641). Using her body as the very subject of her work, Orlan has undergone several cosmetic surgical operations, filmed as a series entitled The Reincarnation of St Orlan in the 1990s, through which she celebrates the modified ready-made body as well as the opened-up one during surgery, initiating the audience into her carnal art. Rolanda’s metamorphic vicissitudes are doubled by the implicit reference to Orlando, the main character in Virginia Woolf’s homonymous novel, beginning his life as a young Elizabethan nobleman and ending it, three hundred years later, as an equally passionate and able woman poet. Evoking Woolf’s belief that women are men’s intellectual equals, the intertextual reference to Orlando recalls Orlan’s feminist aesthetic approach; nevertheless, it may also be regarded as a positive evaluation of the auctorial instance with respect to Orlan’s creative power. The description of “Rolanda, the Metamorphic Body”, echoing Orlan’s manifesto of carnal art may be said to swing between defiguration and refiguration just as Zeus-Peter Lama’s masterpiece does. The fact that the process of surgery is exposed as a spectacle in its own right certainly removes all guilt from the desire for posthuman corporeal metamorphoses and valorizes their potential. However, since the spectacle of the modified body is ironically evaluated by Zeus-Peter Lama (“Poor woman […] she will end up growing into a cubist Rolanda”), it may be suggested that the viability of posthuman metamorphic potential is questioned even by the evaluating instance of the novel which would have been reasonably

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expected to support it. Rolanda’s metamorphic body ends by problematizing the nobility of the desire for metamorphosis revealing the regression into the inhuman that such a metamorphosis may entail. Adam bis enriches this problematization through the rejection of ZeusPeter Lama’s implants: In spite of the medical treatment the male nurse was administering to me, fever was no longer abandoning me; empyemas, pustules and tumefactions were devouring my flesh. It appeared that my body wanted to get rid of itself slowly. (205–206, my translation)

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His gradual decomposition13 illustrates the degree to which a fluid, structurally malleable and changeable body entails risk and loss. Created as a hybrid anti-model, Zeus-Peter Lama’s living sculpture exemplifies the posthuman bizarre, resulting from the postmodern allure with “radical Alterity”. Adam bis is the radical other “which destroys form and finality and […] puts into question the absolute power of cognition, intellect, and reason itself” (Parret, 2).14 His disintegration may then be regarded as an act of physical resistance to monstrousness, to a metamorphosis challenging the concepts of the biological body that grounded the Enlightenment subject.15 If Tazio endorses Adam bis’s prosthetic selfhood16 in order to overcome his unheroic nature and become a recognizable other, he ends by restraining himself to an uncanny synthesis that maintains transgressive

13 “L’infirmier avait remarqué mes étranges suppurations aux coutures. En me soignant, il me signala d’autres phénomènes alarmants sur mon corps: les implants de collagène se déplaçaient, les renforts s’affaissaient, les liquides destinés à gonfler tel membre se répandaient de manière anarchique sous ma peau, des œdèmes se formaient là où le docteur Fichet avait soudé des prothèses. […] J’acceptai ses médicaments mais je savais qu’il se produisait quelque chose de plus grave que ce qu’il imaginait: le corps d’Adam bis était en train de se decomposer.” (p. 200) 14 Cf. also “The ‘value’ of contemporary arts consists in infringing upon our imagination, raping it, and so that the violent effect of the contemporary object of art brings about an immediate axiological-moral reflex regarding the identity, the authenticity, the integrity of being human.” (Parret, 2011, 33) 15 In a similar perspective, Orlan’s work emphasizes the degree to which the fluid postmodern body, potentially susceptible to new shapes and forms, defies any return to biological bodies and, as a result, jeopardizes human nature. Cf. Sturken/ Cartwright2 2009, 326–327. 16 See in Blackman 2008, 117.

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stigmata and proves to be unsusceptible to a thorough renaturalization.17 At the end of the novel, twenty years after the reappropriation of his human hypostasis in the courtroom, he points out:

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Although my appearance is not monstrous anymore, I don’t look like an ordinary man. I admit it. My body narrates the story of my errors. […] I was reborn for the third time […] when I found out that the universe would be beautiful, plentiful, rich, if only I accepted myself as mediocre, empty, poor. (252, my translation)

In contradiction with the sense of taking control over one’s body and of transgressing the oppression of habitus formation, which occurs in many narratives of body modification (Featherstone, 2000, 2),18 Tazio avows his becoming a public spectacle as well as his failure to maintain self-identity through his alienated body. His statement indicates that his social visibility as a living sculpture was the outcome of a profaned demiurgic impulse,19 intrinsically associated with the tribulations of a homo sacer, rather than the prestige of a masterpiece. Loyal to the enigma of human specificity as well as the singularity of each individual, what it implies is that “the human being is not something to be overcome, but undergone” (Critchley, 2005, xvii). It insists on the uniqueness of human nature and problematizes humanity’s metamorphic integration into an evolutionary synthesis20 by illustrating how unviable such a symbiosis could be. In this sense, the ideological effect of the novel – accentuated and highlighted by Tazio’s statement at the end of the novel – may be said to exemplify Dominique Janicaud’s doctrine on the human condition, according to which “the utopia of an overcoming of the human is fraught with inhumanity” (2005, 50). Beyond the overcoming of the human in the posthuman, it seems then to suggest a new form of humanization, “a

17

See Clarke 2008, 2. In the context of high modernity or postmodernity, we must take into consideration that “what might appear as a wholesale movement towards the narcissistic cultivation of bodily appearance is in fact an expression of a concern lying much deeper actively to ƍconstructƍ and control the body” (Giddens, 1991, 7). 19 According to Paul Virilio, whom our analysis echoes here: “The demiurgic impulse today is no longer sacred, it is profane. And ultimately the demiurgic impulse has been profaned. The problem is no longer the profane body, it is the body, which has been profaned” (Lotringer/Virilio, 2005, 53). 20 According to Bruce Clarke: “The neocybernetic posthuman is the human metamorphosed by reconnection to the worldly and systemic conditions of its evolutionary possibility” (2008, 196). 18

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cautious humanism, warning against the inhuman or the subhuman” (ibid., 58), conscious all the same of humanity’s complexity and limits.

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References Badmington, Neil (2000): ‘Introduction: Approaching Posthumanism’, in Neil Badmington (ed.), Posthumanism, New York: Palgrave, pp. 1–10. Baudrillard, Jean (1987) : L’autre par lui-même. Habilitation, Paris: Galilée. Blackman, Lisa (2008): The Body: The Key Concepts, Oxford/ New York: Berg. Benezit (2006): ‘Orlan’, in Dictionary of Artists, vol. 10, Gründ, pp. 641– 642. Clarke, Bruce (2008): Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems, New York: Fordham University Press. Critchley, Simon (2005): ‘Introduction: The Overcoming of Overcoming. On Dominique Janicaud’ in Dominique Janicaud, On the Human Condition, trans. Eileen Brennan, London and New York: Routledge, pp. vii–xxiv. Featherstone, Mike (2000): ‘Body Modification: an Introduction’ in Mike Featherstone (ed.) Body Modification, London/ Thousand Oaks/ New Delhi: Sage Publications, pp. 1–13. Giddens, Anthony (1991): Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in Late Modern Age, Cambridge: Polity. Halberstam, Judith/ Livingston, Ira (1995): ‘Introduction: Posthuman Bodies’, in Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston (eds), Posthuman Bodies, Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, pp. 1–19. Halliwell, Martin/ Mousley, Andy (2003): Critical Humanisms: Humanist/Anti-humanist Dialogues, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Hamon, Philippe (1984): Texte et idéologie, Paris: PUF. —. (2004): ‘Text and Ideology: for a poetics of the norm’ [1983], trans. Susan H. Legér [sic] in Mieke Bal (ed.), Narrative Theory. Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, vol. III, London/ New York: Routledge, pp. 191–218. Haraway, Donna J. (1991): ‘A cyborg manifesto: Science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century’, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, New York: Routledge, pp. 149–181.

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Hayles, Katherine N. (1999): How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press. Hsieh, Yvonne Y. (2006): Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt ou la philosophie de l’ouverture, Birmingham, Alabama: Summa Publications, Inc. Jameson, Fredric (1991): Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, London/New York: Verso. Janicaud, Dominique (2005): On the Human Condition [2002], trans. Eileen Brennan, London/ New York: Routledge. Lafargue, Bernard (1998): ‘«Artistes-mutants». À l’aube du XXIe siècle (Matthew Barney, Stelarc, Orlan)’, in Lydie Pearl, Patrick Baudry et Jean-Marc Lachaud (eds), Corps, art et société. Chimères et utopies, Paris: L’Harmattant, pp. 129–156. Lotringer, Sylvère, Virilio, Paul (2005): The Accident of Art, trans. Michael Taormina, New York: Semiotext(e). Malpas, Simon (2005): The Postmodern, London/New York: Routledge. Meyer, Michel (2004) Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt ou les identités bouleversées, Paris: Albin Michel. Parret, Herman (2011): ‘On the Beautiful and the Ugly’, Trans/Form/Ação 34 (s2), 21–34. —. (forthcoming): ‘The Ugly as the Beyond of the Sublime’, in Christian Madelein, Jan Pieters and Bart Vandenabeele (eds), Histories of the Sublime, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, http://www.hermanparret.be/media/articles-in-print/21_The-Ugly-asthe-Beyond. pdf. Pepperell, Robert (2003): The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness Beyond the Brain, Bristol: Intellect Books. —. (2005): ‘The Posthuman manifesto’, Kritikos 2, http://intertheory.org/pepperell.htm. Schmitt, Eric-Emmanuel (2002): Lorsque j’étais une œuvre d’art, Paris: Albin Michel; Le Livre de poche 2004. Smith, Marquard/Morra, Joanne, eds. (2006): The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future, Cambridge, Mass./ London: The MIT Press. Sturken, Marita/Cartwright, Lisa (22009): Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, New York/ Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wolfe, Cary (2010) What Is Posthumanism?, Minneapolis/ London: University of Minnesota Press.

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CHAPTER FOUR LETTER, NUMBER, CUP, FEMALE: V, ALAN MOORE AND POSTHUMANISM

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ABRAHAM KAWA

Alan Moore has made his mark as an author of comics by tackling the narrative paradoxes of the ‘superhero’ genre – such as its uneasy status as a popular idiom with authoritarian overtones. His narratives, dominated by an almost perverse rationality, are also replete with a postmodern aesthetic symbolism which highlights the notion of evolution beyond the human in ways that are both startlingly new and connected to the most ancient of belief systems. Moreover, the hidden connections between the post-human protagonists and motifs of some of his most representative works are evidence of this, as this paper attempts to show. In Watchmen (1986–1987) Moore and artist Dave Gibbons take what is ostensibly a superhero murder mystery and interweave within it a series of, strictly speaking, ‘unrelated’ incidents, images, texts, quotations from poems, books, and songs, connecting them in lateral ways and pairing visual details in mirror images and formations reminiscent of Rorschach blots, filled with intangible patterns. This technique, which has become a staple in Moore’s works, alludes to the non-linear, chaotic, but implicate interconnectedness of the universe, its nature as an often unfathomable cluster of resonating patterns. This is a universe of Story made manifest, with events “so intricately interrelated that they question the idea of free will and hint at the simultaneity of history” (Hwang, 1997, 34). This web of intersecting causalities does not point towards a sense of unity and oneness that counterindicates postmodernism’s trait of fragmentation, but to an implicate order resembling that of chaos theory, a universe that is actually a dynamic system composed of self-similar, but far from ordered components. Most pages in Watchmen are composed in a strict 9 (3 x 3) panel grid. The effect this has is similar to watching a play, a film, even television,

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making it easier to let readers be carried away by the image and fully enter the fictional world. Yet Moore and Gibbons also take notice of the fact that comics readers may look at comics diagonally, or glance through an entire page or sequence before, during or after reading it, which makes comics both a sequential and a simultaneous medium. It can be argued that Watchmen is such an intricately constructed narrative that a lateral rereading of the series divulges associations and meanings that resonate with each other to comment on Watchmen and the reading process itself. Chapter V in particular follows an elaborate pattern as to its panel structure: its opening page is patterned on reflection and reversal, with an upside-down club sign reflected in a pool of water, while its graphics are composed of reversed images. Moreover, as analysed thoroughly by Jessica Furé and Stuart Moulthrop in their essay, ‘The Book in the Mirror’, each panel in this chapter corresponds to a panel on another page, such that the entire 28-page chapter can be folded up along its axis or spine, with page 1 folding against page 28; panel 1 of page 1 (on the top left of the page) corresponds to panel 3 of page 28 (on the top right). Page 2 pairs with page 27, 3 with 26, and so forth. For instance, in the pairing of pages 4 and 25 (where the layout switches to a seven-panel page featuring one large panel at the top of each page), panel 1 holds an unpleasant surprise, first for Jacobi, then for Rorschach. Panels 2–4 on both pages juxtapose the gun in Jacobi’s hand with the bullet wound in his head. Panels 5–7 juxtapose Rorschach putting Jacobi into the fridge (on page 4) against him removing the can of Veidt hairspray from Jacobi’s cupboard (page 25) to use as an improvised weapon. The chapter title, “Fearful Symmetry” comes directly under the picture of Jacobi and Rorschach. Their faces, one masked and the other unmasked, underscore a basic division in the book. Jacobi represents not only the former costumed adventurers (or their adversaries), but also the public who ask: “Who Watches the Watchmen?” Rorschach’s presence suggests that the “masks” police their own society; though given the reversed context of page 25, where he is the target of the police, it also suggests that the categories of hero and villain are prone to reversal. In the pairing of pages 7 and 22, we have the only pages where the two detectives have a main role, and since detectives are concerned with finding patterns, the visual symbols are laid on pretty heavily. The triangle motif on the Buddha poster alludes laterally to the logo of the Pyramid corporation, which is connected to Veidt Industries. References to multimillionaire and former superhero Adrian Veidt, as well as to the other superheroes of Watchmen, crowd into the final panels of page 22, and the panel of the Buddha poster, alluding to inspiration, corresponds with the

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detectives’ realization that, thanks to an ‘anonymous tip’, they are about to capture the rogue vigilante Rorschach. The pairing of pages 10 and 19 contains images of mirrors. Dan’s and Laurie’s poses mirror one another across these pages, especially in the fourth panels, where on page 10 Laurie gets up and walks away from Dan, with her back visible in the mirror behind him. On page 19, Dan is standing so that his reflection faces the reader, looking towards the mirror that Laurie faces. In both cases Dan is looking at Laurie but she is not looking at him – we are seeing the couple from two separate, composite perspectives. They are continually speaking through the mirror images, suggesting a lack of direct communication. Does she really see him? The corresponding empty space next to Dan in page 19, panel 7 suggests that she doesn’t. The detective-story element in Watchmen comes into play here: Laurie, like the reader, fails to see what is right in front of her. Again, this is a main theme of the text, asking readers to be on the lookout (Furé and Moulthrop, 1999). These pairings continue until the middle of the structure, pages 14 and 15. There the two corresponding strands meet, as a big (and retrospectively important) splash panel spills over page 14 and into 15, depicting the scene where Adrian Veidt beats the man who has tried to kill him. These pages come together in a pair of linked four-panel layouts, with the giant V logo of the Veidt Corporation formed by the large panels in the centre, two slanted lines converging on Veidt. Note that Veidt and the assassin combine with the “V” to make an “X”; the centre spread is designed to make quite an impact, but also functions as an X marking the spot, just like in treasure maps. Veidt is at the centre of this spread, as he is at the centre of this issue and the centre of the plot. Later, in chapter 10 (X), Veidt is revealed as the mastermind behind the conspiracy and the murder mystery. Veidt, a superhero, is also the villain. It is no coincidence that in chapter X we also see Veidt’s “wall of TV screens mainly tuned in to advertisements [which he] regards a more reliable source of information than the babble of news commentary” for understanding society’s trends and mores (Reynolds, 1992, 97). He sees every screen at once, interprets their chaotic meaning, and acts, accordingly and ruthlessly. Of all the characters, he is the one who resembles both Watchmen’s readers and its author, in the sense of being superior to the other characters, able to create lateral interpretations and to write the plot that determines their actions. His motivation for his crimes (wanting to save the world), as well as his reliance on a combination of intellect, will and power points to him being the actual Nietzschean Superman of Watchmen, rather than the superpowered Dr. Manhattan character.

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The subtlety of these causalities being presented visually rather than verbally is one of the most effective uses of the graphic elements of the comic, and connotes a sense of self-reflexivity and of paranoia that tells the story of the superheroes, but also tells the history of their cultural significance. It is left to the reader to decide whether the repercussions of Veidt’s actions will result in world peace based on an enormous deception and conspiracy or in the total annihilation of the human race. In the character of Veidt, Watchmen reveals the price humanity pays to selfappointed saviours, the cultural context of superhero stories as part of an immense, manipulable mediasphere and the non-linear complexity of reality. Another V, just as important as Veidt, features in Moore’s V for Vendetta (1988), a political tale about a Guy Fawkes-garbed terrorist opposed to a fascist British government. Moore’s intentions here are decidedly Orwellian, since he based a lot of the fascist state’s powers on ever-present TV screens and camera surveillance, reminiscent of Veidt’s modus operandi while simultaneously projecting the oppressive, antilibertarian regime of Margaret Thatcher into a futuristic – at that time – technological age. Moore and artist David Lloyd create a typical web of allusions around the V character, adding and interweaving multiple meanings to his initial. All the chapter titles begin with the letter; his Guy Fawkes mask, marking him as a cipher, an unknown, is V-shaped; and perhaps most tellingly, V operates out of Victoria station, which is symbolically closed, and not just for repairs, but for good: no victory is possible, then, nor will it be, which could also be an askance allusion the Sex Pistols’ iconic cry of “No Future”. (Moore himself, as well as characters in his œuvre such as the occultist John Constantine, have connections to the punk movement.) Vox Populi, The Voice of the People, is particularly important, since this is the chapter where the people realize that V has sabotaged the CCTV cameras, and that they can now swear (like the nice little girl who says “bollocks”), break the law and act freely for the first time in years, unpunished. The results of V’s actions, like Veidt’s, are cataclysmic, though ideologically, these two protagonists are opposed. Just as the Pyramid Corporation is a slanted version of the Veidt Company, V’s symbol, graffitied on the walls by the people, is a slanted version of the symbol for anarchy, stressing the fact that V is actually the post-human version of an anarchist. This, of course, paints the Voice of the People in a very specific way.

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Interestingly enough, Moore, Lloyd and V himself toy with the concept that V also stands for villain, as well as the fact that, by blowing up the houses of Parliament, killing officials and hiding behind a mask modelled on a historical and much-maligned bomber, V can be defined as a terrorist. Again, it is the fluidity of definitions, meanings and moral stances that comes into play. The protagonist’s unabashed theatricality points to the fact that V for Vendetta is also a postmodern humorous text about a society that has become so matter-of-fact, literal, power-mad and oppressive that it has lost its humanity. It is to this double-edged, ambivalent existence that V refers when he says that he is going to take this world that has been withered in the glare of the nuclear footlights and remind it about melodrama, about how the world may be a stage, but everything else is vaudeville and vicious cabaret, to note two more inspired uses of the V initial. Moore and Lloyd highlight the apocalyptic darkness co-existing with the redemptive light in their tale when they reveal V as not only a name or an initial, but a number. Like Chapter V in Watchmen, the number V in V for Vendetta hides the essence of its protagonist, since it is the number of the cell in which he was jailed, tortured and experimented on by the fascist state, and the symbolic birth place of both his vendetta and his posthuman, anonymous self. When he destroyed the facility and escaped, the man in room V became V. The fact that, in a visually and conceptually bold sequence, the policeman who hunts V takes hallucinogens and relives V’s escape from the camp, with himself in his quarry’s stead, points to the fluidity of human identity. Anyone can become V, at any time. It is not who he is that matters, or the anarchic rage he represents, but the fact that V is a vision that leads to “la voie, la verité, la vie”, the way, the truth, life (Moore and Lloyd, 1990, 216). V is the post-human as Everyman. Miracleman (1982–1993), a reinterpretation of an obscure British superhero, was less overtly political, but still scathing in its subtle indictment of a brutally materialistic and cruel sociopolitical milieu. Working with a variety of artists over the space of a decade, Moore created an intricate and speculative science fiction story about a genetically engineered Nietzschean superhuman whose very existence changes the course of human history as he is inexorably led into assuming absolute control of the Earth. Like Watchmen, Miracleman challenged perceptions of the Saviour figure prominent in Western literature. In order to tell the story of how post-World War II British (and implicitly Western) society’s ‘childhood’ dream of the future turned into a nightmarish ‘grown-up’ reality of the Reaganist and Thatcherite 1980s, Moore revises a lot of the mainstays of the superhero genre and popular

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culture in general. Miracleman’s original 1950s stories are revealed to be artificial memories used to manipulate him and implanted by his creator, a comics-reading scientist (who had been the villain in Miracleman’s ‘old adventures’); the reawakened Miracleman has to use comic books as reference for understanding his powers; and the experiment that created him was called project Zarathustra, after the Nietzschean prophet who first foretold the coming of the Superman. The new Miracleman became the first overtly metafictional approach to the superhero. Questions pertaining to his purpose, his humanity – or lack thereof – and his morality, are not answered by suspending disbelief and ironing out the gaps in the logic of the narrative, but are explored and taken to their logical extremes. Miracleman’s ultimate battle with his super-powered adversary completely devastates London: the result is a disaster of such monstrous scope that it is fittingly and ironically filmed as a documentary titled Veneer by none other than Stanley Kubrick, who, in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr Strangelove and Clockwork Orange visualized the potential of human society for both disintegration and evolutionary transcendence. Moore followed the carnage of the hero’s ultimate battle with Miracleman’s establishment of a Utopia under his godlike rule. As ruler of the Earth, Miracleman leads humanity into a golden age of prosperity, peace and progress, uninhibited by oppressive social mores. This is a complex and controversial issue, given the Nietzschean associations of the figure of the superhero. Neither Moore nor his successor as writer of the Miracleman series, Neil Gaiman, let us forget that Miracleman, even as a benign dictator, places himself above mortals. The character suffers the loss of his humanity, even as the terms ‘normality’, ‘adjustment’, and ‘convention’ are made obsolete in the utopian society he engenders. What is of particular interest to us is the fact that the story takes this turn after the introduction of Miraclewoman. It is this character who first realizes the possibilities of the superhero to move beyond Manichean conflict. She is the first to grow beyond Moore’s story of the exploitation and political manipulation inherent in the superhero paradigm, as she realizes she is a pawn in a larger game and breaks free of her captors and of the dead end of superhero violence. To Miracleman, she is a muse, an Aphrodite, a Venus – and this makes her another incarnation of the V motif. By becoming a post-superhero figure through her conciliatory actions and especially through her pantheistic philosophy, she eventually takes Miracleman and his world back to where the superhero originates from: mythology.

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This is not an uncomplicated Utopia. But a Utopia it is, and the omnipotent Miracleman and his family are elevated by an awed population from celebrity to literal godhood, a quality that, together with other religious and cultural components, is retrofitted and redefined in the series to acquire an added resonance. In doing so, Moore and Gaiman transcend the structure of the superhero narrative, as subsequent issues of the series abandon traditional storylines in favour of a fragmented tour of Miracleman’s problematic wonderland. As multicultural gods, working to remodel humanity in their own image and encourage it forward into its future, Miracleman and Miraclewoman inhabit a towering palace named Olympus. It is depicted as a chaotic melange of architectural styles, filled with artefacts from dinosaurs to World War I biplanes to otherwordly human-plant hybrids: a three-dimensional picture of history and evolution. It is a post-human theatre of memory, a visualization and narrativization of the act of anamnesis, the remembrance of the old to make the new. Miracleworld is not a monotheistic culture, since various new Miracle cults emerge, including one worshipping his monstrous adversary, and there are even designated days to remember dead gods and lost mythologies. Ensuring the rapid growth and biological evolution of humanity, Miracleman, at the request of childless couples, has donated his sperm to father many children, who grow up to resemble the superbeings of traditional comics. Both super and normal children are empowered to run the world on their own once a year, with the adults charged only to keep an eye on them and ‘pick them up when they fall’, a process that mirrors Miracleman’s own limited role in human affairs. It is perhaps in Moore’s concept of a Miracleman-founded community, peopled with android copies of dead artists and scientists, that the interactive relationship between comics, cultural recycling and post-human evolution is most fully expressed. Gaiman elaborates on it most thoroughly in his story ‘Notes from the Underground’, in which an Andy Warhol replica (one of eighteen copies, as Moore and Gaiman playfully note), has a conversation with the resurrected scientist creator of Miracleman. While the scientist despairs of his predicament, Andy, reflecting his attitude while alive, relishes his post-human, cyborg status. He delights in having evolved into a living camera and tape recorder, and in living in a comic-book world where nothing is impossible. The art enhances the effect of the text by creating a sophisticated pastiche of Warhol’s serial lithography, while the creators also acknowledge the irony of having Warhol’s techniques reincorporated into the repertoire of the ‘lowbrow’ cultural art form that originally inspired them.

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The protagonist of Promethea (1999–2005), one of Moore’s most ambitious projects and perhaps the culmination of the V motif, is a magical being with ties to doctrines like Gnosticism, Hermeticism and the Qabbalah. Rather than emulate the adventure format of Wonder Woman and treat Promethea as a supernatural heroine, Moore uses her mystical origins to craft a tale about the secret nature and implicate order of the universe. He boldly posits Promethea as nothing less than the female principle, the personification of humanity’s ideals and imaginative power, an idea that is incarnated at various times through various hosts and worldviews. Thrust into the role of Promethea, the current host, a teenager named Sophie, is given the tour of the Immateria, the land of ideas where Promethea comes from, by the former hosts of the Promethea principle. There, they teach her to use the holy artifacts of her position: the cup of compassion, the sword of reason, the pentacle of worldly knowledge, and the wand of will. It is the cup that concerns us here. As a mystical concept, the cup stands for many things. It is a symbol of woman, of the vagina (another V) that accepts, loves and gives birth, both literal and symbolic. It is the source and epicentre of life and ideas. Throughout her tour of the outer planes of existence, the novice Promethea is taught about various incarnations of the cup: it is there as the Art card in the Tarot, a symbol of will and imagination pouring into consciousness, as well as in the Whore of Babylon, whose much-maligned foulness is nothing but the result of the seed of Wisdom running from her Womb and turning very easily to madness when “contaminated” by other, less pure ideas. Moore and artist J. H. Williams reconcile the Manichean aspects of opposing philosophies and religions to point to the common thread behind them, man’s imagination. The Whore of Babylon and the Divine Madonna are both incarnations of the female principle, of humanity’s potential for spiritual growth and psychic evolution. This principle, at its purest in protoreligions and matriarchal societies, has been gradually tarnished, becoming the fear of being burned and maddened by truth, incarnated in the Whore, and the icon of persecuted, compassionate humanity incarnated by the Virgin Mary. Degradation, suffering and apocalypse are merely the stages that the female principle must pass through before being restored to its status of Wisdom. Humanity is part of the tantric struggle between the male and female principles, between the chaotic animal force, visualized in icons ranging from the satyr to the beast of the Revelation, and the goddess, the force of creation. It is a combinatory, conciliatory vision of the universe as primal scene, copulation leading to evolution.

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A particularly important sequence has Promethea stepping into a different plane of reality; in that plane, the art is no longer composed of pencil and ink drawings, but photographs and computer-manipulated imagery, crystallizing the concept of reality levels as different registers of representation, different stages of evolution. Yet Promethea does not fall back into a Platonic or Hegelian hierarchy of ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ reality levels predicated on mimesis and verisimilitude discourses. Although Promethea changes from drawing to photographed woman as she enters the material levels, both the Immateria (the ‘higher’ domain Promethea comes from) and the ‘lower’, ‘real’ world are drawn in the same degree of ‘realistic’ representational detail and style. It is only the passage from one to the other that is highlighted by the different representation register. More than just offering a parallel of the relationship of the lower fictional world of Promethea to our higher real world, thus emphasizing its artificiality, this confusing presentation subverts the dominance of a ‘Platonic’ model and nullifies the very concept of a hierarchy. Despite the fact that the overtones of the story seem to point towards a value-addled sense of hierarchy of reality levels/registers of representation, the subversive visual treatment of these registers equalizes them and at the same time, aided by the juxtaposition of different styles of representation, maintains and highlights their differences. In a multivalent way, Moore’s work seems to be about posthuman characters escaping the dimensional boundaries of their narratives: they escape their definition as pulp and comics characters, they inhabit narratives that subvert or altogether eschew formulas. But in the end, by embracing the concept of spiritual evolution and pursuing it the postmodern way, through recapitulating and adapting older spiritual and aesthetic disciplines, these characters become deeply, overwhelmingly human.

References Furé, Jessica, and Moulthrop, Stuart. (1999): ‘The Book in the Mirror: Reading Chapter V of Watchmen’. Online. Available: < https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/moulthro/hypertexts/wm/readings.htm> (last accessed: 21 September 2015). Gaiman, Neil, and Buckingham, Mark. (1993): Miracleman: Book 4. New York: Eclipse Books. Hwang, Fran. (1997): ‘Watchmen’, The Comics Journal, 200, December: 34

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Moore, Alan, and Gibbons, Dave. (1988): Watchmen. New York: DC Comics. Moore, Alan, and Beckum, Chuck; Bryant, Rick; Davis, Alan; Leach, Gary; Totleben, John; Veitch, Rick. (1990): Miracleman: Books 1–3. New York: Eclipse Books. Moore, Alan, and Lloyd, David (1990): V for Vendetta. New York: DC Comics. Moore, Alan, and Williams, J.H.; Villarubia, José. (1999–2005): Promethea. New York: America’s Best Comics. Reynolds, Richard. (1992): Superheroes: A Modern Mythology, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

CHAPTER FIVE PRESERVATION OF MEDIA INSTALLATION ART IN THE POSTHUMAN ERA: POSTHUMANISM AND THE ARTWORK, “HUMAN TRACES” GEORGIA TZIROU

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Today, more than ever, means discovered by science are used to create art, to activate or “understand” the senses through energy fields that create the images produced by computers. Media art (video, computer graphics and animation) and digital art (net-art, interactive art, virtual art and augmented reality art) are the development and modern versions of conceptual art and they dominate the modern theories of image and art in the posthuman era, creating new spatial visual representations and sensory spheres, which artists want to express and communicate.

Posthumanism and the narrative artistic intervention “Human Traces” In 2008, Marios Spiliopoulos created the project “Human Traces” in the context of Aeschylia, a cultural event in the city of Eleusis that took place at an abandoned soap factory of 17,000 sq. m. The canvas on which Marios Spiliopoulos worked for the creation of the project was the religious and industrial dipole encountered in Eleusis. “Human Traces” is a multidimensional, multimedia and multisensory work created with video, pictures, sound documents, material traces and in situ structures of everyday objects. Spiliopoulos created a kind of travelogue through time-revealing layers of personal and collective memory of Eleusis. The artist used for his creation modern technology as a means of expression and urged visitors to take part in a modern “virtual”

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Eleusinian procession along the visible and invisible traces of the shoes of thousands of city residents. The project “Human Traces” is a typical expression of a posthumanistic work of art. According to Sampanikou (2010b, 215):

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“Undoubtedly this is a posthumanistic project referring to the tools that were used, but with deeply humanist content, proving that the postmodern digital vehicle may open horizons [...] to the eternal panhuman questions involving identity issues such as the origin and continuity, or the very existence, through the perpetual cycle of life and death.” (My translation) Using posthumanistic tools in “Human Traces”, Spiliopoulos created a huge file. A file that is not digital, as the visionaries of transhumanism would suggest, but a file intangible yet almost tangible in its metaphysical dimension (Sampanikou, 2010, 2014). The explorer–visitor of this collective memory file is characterized by three concepts, components of posthumanism according to Hayles and Harraway: a new sense of perception and/or a new understanding of subjectivity; a trip without the body (telepresence); and interaction. Spiliopoulos modifies the concept of identity, constructing an ‘archaeological dig’ of his own inspiration in the abandoned architectural project, an “experiential memory excavation”. In the virtual spaces of the work one can see the pervasive fragmented subjectivity to which Hayles is referring. The role of the artist has been replaced by the Eleusinians themselves with their participation and their omnipresence, mainly through videos and photos. The scattered self of posthumanism, the amalgam of various selves, is widespread and, as the artist has stated (Spiliopoulos: Interview, 2008): “I am just the facilitator in this project. We are all, after all, many people’s voices.” One key element identifying the posthuman, according to Hayles, was the interaction between people through interactive engineering systems. The artwork of Spiliopoulos at Eleusis was the quintessence of interactivity in art. True interactivity was created with the spontaneous participation of the Eleusinians in the project. When he set up the memory outpost, “The Paths of the Refugees”, he placed bare iron beds there to bring back the image the refugees saw when they arrived in Eleusis from Asia Minor. Some women brought linen and made the beds, they also brought old pots, relics and icons from their homes, for “at that time they used to do so” (Spiliopoulos, 2008c). Using the technology of the 21st century, alongside everyday objects made with poor materials, he left the residents to fill in the memory outposts with their personal stories and

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memories, urging them to co-create the virtual worlds of the project, and by doing so, the only thing he built was the iron skeletons of beds.

Spiliopoulos’ virtual worlds, in some parts of the installation remind us of contemporary films like The Matrix. In The Matrix, where the virtual is part of everyday digital life (Sampanikou & Vlachakis, 2005), escaping is defined through the transition of the human body in alternative parallel ‘realities’, while posthuman beings penetrate walls because of their digital nature. In the last memory outpost or virtual space of Spiliopoulos’ work, modern Hierophant of the project, Kir-Stelios, labourer for 40 years in the soap factory, and the modern Eleusinian procession of 400 children from the schools of Eleusis are lost in a huge video projection on a wall 6.5 metres high which is thus transformed into sea. The wall-boundary between worlds invites us to do the same and walk through it. It is the threshold that Persephone crossed and the sea is the diving into the world

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of spirits, the essence and the sanctuary of the Eleusinian mysteries. The visitor to the exhibition goes beyond the limits of space and time, not through expansion and coexistence with ingenious machines but through emotion caused, and memory recalled by video, digital photos and sounds, all creations of modern technology tools (Tzirou, 2015). Through his work, Spiliopoulos invites us to become ecstatic supermen, not through prosthetic technology but through the almost organic experience created by the memory traps that he places for us.

Requirements and Challenges of Installation for Art Documentation and Conservation Although there is no single definition of installation art, the characteristics of these projects are “probably part of the reason why there are no conservators trained for the category of installation art” (DeBuck, 2008, 34). One answer to this question could perhaps be that: “The contemporary art preservation field is acknowledging the need to explore the more well-developed methods of documenting the intangible that are practiced in the broader arena of the social sciences. In a sense, conservators are discovering the need to adopt techniques that enable an approach to artworks as ‘living’ pieces that are evolving throughout their lifetimes and in response to a myriad of social forces in a very real way.”

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(Ryan, 2011, 108) Documentation and preservation of installation art projects that are above all an experience, make us think that: “Conservators working with this medium will need to look beyond the material and consider that the ‘heart’ of a work might lie primarily in its less-tangible qualities” (Real, 2001, 221). Gaby Wijers (2007, 4) suggests that any conservator specialized in new media art and visual installations in the Netherlands Media Art Institute faces the challenge of, “how to understand, capture, define and transmit the ‘heart’ of the art work”. She adds: “Do we concentrate, as in traditional art, on detailed descriptions of objects, artefacts, the physical material or do we describe the experience, the mediation of the sensory perception?” A fundamental characteristic of such artworks is the rendering of different meanings to the concept of space through pictorial activation with many different kinds of art. They require active participation from visitors and they are connected to their perceptions and actions. They create mechanisms influencing the perception and the potential action of the visitor and sometimes they function as narrative

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mainly through video installations (Tzirou, 2005, 2015; Wijers et al., 2007). An integral part of installation artworks is the way they are integrated and their link with the overall framework and related expressions of space in which they have been created (Bachtsetzis, 2006). The documentation of installation artworks leads to unknown territory due to the fact that many areas that characterize this art are not specifically determined. An installation art work can be seen by the artists as an integrated project or as a work in progress, subject to continued future review. If the project is complete, it may be unique or may be a part of a series. When the installation is taken down at the end of the exhibition, the fate of the project remains uncertain, since it may or may not be recreated at some point in the future. Also, it may or may not be installed in new locations outside the one in which it was first created. It may or may not come with specific instructions or orders by the artist. It may or may not be subject to a sale agreement (Real, 2001). To maintain installation art works in the future, one should consider critical factors such as the protection, maintenance and documentation of the physical components of the project (space, natural ingredients, conceptual connections proposed by the artist) as well as the capture of the experience of the visitor through the element of movement and participation. To recreate such a work of art (Ippolito, 2003, 51) “is not to store digital files on disc or physical artifacts in a warehouse, but to create a facsimile of them in a totally different medium”. Summarizing all of the above, we see that there are three core elements relating to the maintenance of installation art projects: the documentation of natural components (materials, space and relationships between them), the approach to the artistic experience, and the recording of the view of the artist. The use of a metadata schema covers the entire recording and documentation of the site and the components of the various environments through exploration, description, collection and sorting of all the information and documents relating to the particular installation. The experience, however, as well as the relations resulting from the composition of the components of the artwork cannot be captured with this method. Photographic documentation can provide valuable information for a realistic representation of the project and describe accurately the space and physical objects that it comprises. But it cannot give the spatial and temporal relationship required by an installation artwork. Filming as a documentation method offers essential information about the relationship of the components to space and architecture, captures sound and aspects

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related to time, and the presence and experience of the public. But filming cannot capture the “internal” relations between space, material objects, and the perception and experience of the visitor. The threedimensional representation of the installation as a documentation method provides movement, decomposition and re-composition of objects and a more complete view of the project. But the relationship and interaction/“experience” with the project cannot be captured. Documentation by creating a Virtual Reality environment offers “immersiveness” to the user–visitor, who can “experience” it as it would be if the project was real. But it has the major disadvantage of isolating the user from the real world and the space that hosted the project. The documentation with the creation of an augmented reality environment can deliver accurate reconstruction of the installation in three dimensions without it being prohibitively demanding in terms of labour and money. The approach of the original experience is done without intervention in space and is detached from personal interpretations. Because it works by overlaying the project through the camera of everyday smart devices the application “recommends” the work to new groups of people who are not considered classical museum or art exhibitions visitors. Therefore, the proposed documentation for installation artworks suggests the combining of different methods in order to meet the different needs arising from the maintenance/preservation and reconstruction/ rebuilding of installation art. At the same time, the need to record the artist’s intent through an interview is stressed. Specifically, for recording and saving installation artwork, we propose the documentation of the site and the project’s component materials such as sculptures, paintings and videos using a metadata schema, photographing and videotaping. For the “re-experiencing” of the project we recommend the construction of a three-dimensional model of the entire artwork and the integration of it in a mobile augmented reality environment. At the same time, we stress the need for an interview with the artist outlining their intentions with regard to future representation of the work.

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Experience Design for Mobile Augmented Reality Environment “Experience” is a term to which many interpretations have been given by different theorists and philosophers. However, all theories converge on the human being who is the subject of the experience. In installation artworks experience is so meaningful that according to Claire Bishop, Professor of Contemporary Art at the City University of New York, installation artworks must be viewed through four different types of visitor experience (Bishop, 2005, 102). Experience Design is the process of creating specific experiences. It is a new practice of designing products, processes, services, events and environments, with the emphasis being placed on the quality of the user’s experience of their integration in a specific cultural environment (Marzano & Aarts, 2003). The digital representation of installation art in mobile augmented reality environments should, and is able to, avoid any kind of “translation”, and thus falsification of the work, in order to capture the experience of the original project, following the concept of Platonic “mimesis”. With such an application the natural world is perceived, while created, and the promotion of interconnected forms of artwork affects space-time.

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The application creates an “augmented space” – in the sense attributed to it by Lev Manovich (Manovich, 2006) – focused on the experience of the human subject in that space and the reconstruction of the concept of augmentation as an idea, a cultural and aesthetic practice rather than as technology, hoping that this would place the concept of the augmented space in the historical and cultural sphere, as opposed to the purely technological one. In augmented reality environments physical and virtual space coexist in real-time processes and there is no clear separation between the physical and the virtual. Participants are able to navigate from one location to another and to be transported in time, thus changing their perception. They can also re-live events and situations from the past, even the future. The four-dimensional space created by designers, developers and participants is a place beyond the possible, “where people form their personal experiences and participate actively in the course of events” (Mytilinaiou et al., 2011). In this space, the designers of the application should take into account and explore issues like the narrative representation and the role of the body in the connection between the virtual and reality through an embodied interaction (inactive representation). The integration of virtual elements into the natural environment is taking place through the screen of a smart device on which the combination and consistency of disparate elements is generally problematic, particularly when a three-dimensional space is experienced primarily in a two-dimensional plane. This interaction is not just an interface with the computer but with the artwork itself, encoded in digital form. It is a “cultural interface”, a term introduced by Lev Manovich in 1997, wanting to describe the interfaces used by designers of digital cultural objects (Manovich, 1997). The mobile augmented reality application, by detecting and positioning the user with digital positioning data (GPS), allows the user to enable a digital hyperplane in the location of the real space and time. Creating a human-computer interaction environment in a mobile augmented reality application also involves the transfer of biological data (motion detection) in a mixed reality space, in which the user intervenes digitally (Stadon, 2011). The theorist of performance technology, Gabriella Giannachi, has called this area “hypersurface”: “The hypersurface is where the real and the virtual meet each other. It is materiality and textuality, real and representation. It is also the site of virtual performance. Through the hypersurface the viewer can enter the work of art, be part of it, as well as interact with it. [...] In performing

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through the hypersurface, the viewer enters the world of simulation while maintaining a direct rapport with its own environment. The theatre of the hypersurface is not immersive but simulates immersiveness. As the multiplicity of perspectives generated by the encounter of the real and the virtual becomes apparent, the viewer may experience and experiment with them – being present and at work and verfremdet estranged from it.” (Giannachi, 2008, 95)

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Epilogue Nowadays, technology is developing at an alarming rate, affecting not only the space and time in our lives but also human existence itself. We are at a historic turning point as we define again the meaning of human and humanity. Installation art requires an immediate spatial and temporal relationship with the project and its unique quality of immersion. It can only be interpreted within the context of a subjective individual experience when meeting with artwork. The documentation of such a project with posthumanistic tools like mobile augmented reality applications will always be a less authentic experience but will always be a real and sufficient project experience through other means. Through the monitors of the everyday smart devices of the posthuman era, the “aura” of a work can be transmitted, evolving through art the spiritual consciousness of man in the 21st century, of the being who lives on Earth and continues to evolve in perpetuity, a century and a half since the last sentence was written in Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species (Darwin, 1866): “Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

References Bachtsetzis, Sotiris. Theories of Space and Artistic Installation. Available at: http://ars-historia.blogspot.gr/2008/10/blog-post_21.html, last visited: 7/1/2015. (in Greek) Bishop, C. (2005): Installation art: A critical history: Routledge. Darwin, C. (1866): On the origin of species by means of natural selection: or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin: John Murray, Albemarle Street. DeBuck, A. (2008): “Becoming a chief of objects”. Objects Specialty Group Postprints, 15, 33–42.

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Giannachi, G. (2004): Virtual theatres: an introduction. Routledge. Ippolito, J. (1998): “The museum of the future: A contradiction in terms”. Cross Talk Artbyte (New York), 1(2), 18–19. Manovich, L. (2006): “The poetics of augmented space”. Visual Communication, 5(2), 219–240. —. (1997): “Cinema as a Cultural Interface”. Lev Manovich Official Website. Available at: http://manovich.net/index.php/projects/cinemaas-a-cultural-interface, last visited: 1/3/2015. Marzano, S. & Aarts, E. (2003): The new everyday: Views on ambient intelligence: 010 Publishers. Mytilinaiou, S., Cham, K., & Hutchison, C. (2011): “Experience design, interactive art environments and the sense of becoming”. Paper presented at the Mixed and Augmented Reality-Arts, Media, and Humanities (ISMAR-AMH), 2011 IEEE International Symposium, 91–98. Real, W. (2001): “Toward guidelines for practice in the preservation and documentation of technology-based installation art”. Journal of the American Institute for conservation, 40(3), 211–231. Ryan, G. (2011): “Variable Materials, Variable Roles: The Shifting Skills Required in Contemporary Art Conservation”. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Objects Specialty Group Postprints, 18, 105–112. Sampanikou Ǽ. & Vlachakis, V. (2005): “Art and Technology”. In: Vernikos, ȃ., Dasclopoulos S., Bantimaroudis, Ph., & Boubaris, ȃ., (eds.), Cultural Industries. Proccesses, Services, Products. Athens: Kritiki Publishers, 249–276. (in Greek) Sampanikou, Ǽ. (2010): “From the Digital to the Virtual. Art and Technology at the Dawn of the 21st Century” In: Kokkonis, M., Paschalidis, G., Bantimaroudis, Ph., (eds), Digital Media. The Culture of Sound and Spectacle. Athens: Kritiki Publishers, 401–428. (in Greek) —. (2010b): “Steps in Time”, In: Marios Spiliopoulos: Human Traces. Exhibition Catalogue. Athens: Metaichmio, 249. (Greek–English) —. (2014): “New Media Art”. Post- and Transhumanism, An Introduction. Beyond Humanism: Trans- and Posthumanism / Jenseits des Humanismus: Trans- und Posthumanismus): Peter Lang GmbH, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 38–45. Stadon, J. (2011): Post-Biological Agency in Real-Time Mixed Reality Data Transfer. Augmented Reality - Some Emerging Application Areas: INTECH Open Access Publisher.

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Tzirou, G. (2005): Marios Spiliopoulos: a virtual exhibition. Msc Thesis, University of Aegean, Department of Cultural Technology and Communication —. (2015): Digital preservation of modern cultural projects with new media: The case of the project “Ǿuman ȉraces”. PhD Thesis, University of Aegean, Department of Cultural Technology and Communication Wijers, G., Coelho, R., Kallinen, S., ten Voorde, W., & Scholte, T. (2007): “Video Documentation of Installations”. Inside Installations: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art, Amsterdam, Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage: The Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art.

CHAPTER SIX 3D GRAPHICS AND POST-PROCESSUAL ARCHAEOLOGY: A POSTHUMANIST APPROACH YIANNIS KOURTZELLIS AND EVI D. SAMPANIKOU

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Introduction The aim of this chapter is to record and analyse the ways in which the representation of the past has been constructed by large groups of specialists or laymen, from Renaissance Humanism to the Posthumanist digital present, when contemporary technological developments and capabilities have opened new directions for archaeological research, turning digital creators and new scientific experts into administrators of archaeological images. We are therefore going to compare the analogic and the three-dimensional images as archaeological tools and also as humanistic (New Archaeology) and postmodern/posthumanistic (PostProcessual Archaeology) media beginning from virtual archaeology. “Virtual archaeology” is a developing scientific area using the capabilities of computers to concentrate, catalogue, group and promote archaeological material in a range of different ways and media for a wide spectrum of applications. Virtual archaeology substantially rehabilitates the geometric relationship between archaeological and architectural data and describes in visual language the researcher’s verbal descriptions and theories (Reilly, 1992, 147; Higgins, Main & Lang, 1996; Forte, Siliotti, 1997). The digital image, static or animated, is the final result of the research and interpretative procedure in the theoretical framework of PostProcessual Archaeology.

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The Theoretical Frame

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Post-Processual theory, which is still in development, has been influenced by other theoretical frames like Marxism, Structuralism, Feministic critique and Public Archaeology (Renfrew & Bahn, 2001, 490–493). PostProcessual Archaeology has been based not only on award-winning researchers’ pioneering theories for new ways of recording and interpreting archaeological work, but also on the new possibilities provided by computers in archaeology (Hodder, 1999; Shanks & Hodder, 1995, 3–29). Since the 1960s major changes in archaeological science have been observed, in the relation between archaeology and the other sciences, and principally in accepting theory as crucial for archaeological practice (excavations, interpretation, communication etc.). It is said that from the middle of the 1960s archaeological science has been transformed from a clearly historic science into an autonomous pragmatic science (Renfrew & Bahn, 2001, 30–34 and 483–487). The use of models and the general idea of modelling archaeological data was mostly due to Processual Archaeology. Also, in this case, models previously used in other sciences have been confirming theories rather than visualizing complicated views and hypotheses (Frischer et al., 2002, 9). The need for data to be quantified led to the use of computers in all sciences and in archaeology too.

Figure 1. Temple of Messa on the island of Lesvos. Digital three-dimensional reconstruction.

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Models were thought essential in order to reduce the typical human procedure of early conclusions and reactions based on earlier or previous knowledge, or a formal intelligence system based on rules (Bloomfield, 1986). Already in 1980, Braudel became the centre of the procedure of historical analysis saying that models were “interpretation systems” especially useful in science. By saying this, he put models at the centre of the historical process. Models as “interpretation systems” can be extremely useful within a structuralist frame, where “laws” are elements of cultural theory, expressed in a mathematical way. Additionally, Braudel attempted a categorization of the model types which could contribute to archaeological science, as follows: plain (simple), complicated (complex), quantitative or qualitative, static or dynamic, mechanic, statistic etc. (Braudel, 1980).

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The Analogic Representation as Humanistic Experience For many centuries archaeological study also produced analogical images and drawings. During the centuries of the first stages of the configuration of archaeological science (14th to the mid-19th century), and from 1875 until today, when archaeology has been operating as an autonomous science with specific scientific rules and principles, reshaped by theoretical directions and influenced by developments in other domains like physical science, anthropology, computer science etc. (Kourtzellis, 2012, 16–31). The first period of the excavations of the German Archeological Institute of Athens in Olympia (1875–1881) can be seen as a milestone in the beginning of scientific excavations with the introduction of specific excavation practices such as photographing, detailed sketching of the findings, excavation diaries and official publications on the results of the research (Dinsmoor, 1950, xxi–xxii). Descriptions and representations of ancient monuments are forms of visual presentation of architectural data; they can be accomplished and eloquent. These representations usually encompass deep knowledge of the ancient civilizations and their creations. In many cases a monument has become familiar to both the scientists (archaeologists, architects, researchers) and the general public through its visual representations. From the decades of examples that could be mentioned here, we highlight in particular the Odeion of Agrippa (Thompson, 1950, 31–141, plate 59) and the Pantainos Library in the Athenian Agora (Travlos, 1971, 432–438; Travlos, 1993, 108). For image theorists like Stephanie Moser, the representation of the ancient world is part of the research and interpretational procedure. In

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many cases, representation is used, even by the experts, to create a public image of the knowledge on a subject. Therefore, representations can often be just a popular academic (?) depiction of the ancient world or a “construction” of the past simply because they contain some true references to the monument and the topography of a region (Moser, 2001, 280–281). In our opinion, representations could be better described as “frames of the ancient reality”. Fortunately, a series of important studies have thoroughly investigated the conquest of the image of the ancient world with the help of analogical representations and depictions during the discovery of ancient cities and sites (Stoneman, 2008; Schnapp, 2007; Dinsmoor, 1950, 342 with bibliography).

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A Comparative Approach to Analogical and Digital Representations as Posthumanistic Experience During the 20th century, archaeology achieved paramount importance within the spectrum of humanistic studies. Being recognized as a science, it went through miscellaneous stages of development. The changes and theoretical modifications brought about by New and Post-Processual Archaeology contributed to this recognition. Recently, archaeology has started being ‘mutated’ and inspired by Posthumanist theoretical perspectives. Additionally, the outbreak of new technologies and their implementation in traditional fields of research is nowadays adapting archaeological theory to Trans- and Posthumanist research. Since the 1980s and the 1990s, when scholars like Christopher Tilley, Daniel Miller and Ian Hodder claimed that every archaeologist was prejudiced by their personal experiences and cultural predispositions towards antiquity, post-processual archaeology – the inclusion of Postmodernism in archaeological theory and its later development to Posthumanism – has posed a big challenge to the usage of new technologies for cultural documentation. Therefore, a real ‘scientific’ archaeological field is difficult – if not impossible – to develop. In fact, anyone can interpret the past and thus create images of it (Tilley, 1997, 30–55; Hodder, 2012, 43–60; Braidotti, 2013, 31–50), thus sharing a Posthuman experience with everyone. The use of 3D programs has had a predominant role within the cultural domain since the beginning of the 1990s. Many groups of experts, universities, laboratories and production companies undertake digital representations of monuments, not always with the same success. In

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reality, and despite the different voices heard for the need for 3D graphics or for virtual archaeology, primarily during the different stages of archaeological research (excavation and topographical research), what we see happening is mainly the visualization of conventional archaeological studies of the past in a digital environment. Theatres of virtual reality, cultural organizations and other institutions use virtual representations for the creation of archaeological ‘experience’. Young people nowadays tend to know the ancient world through virtual representations created by professional graphic designers. In the past, writers, monks, travellers, antiquarians, architects and archaeologists did the same thing for their contemporaries by creating sketches, designs and paintings. The possibility of ubiquity in the way Paul Valéry first introduced it in the first quarter of the 20th century (Sampanikou, 2010, 401–410) is now applicable to the past. In Transhumanist terms, it would not be an exaggeration to say that, 100 years from now, nobody will remember the original ‘visualizers’ of antiquity, as their place will be taken by the digital converters. The digital representation is here, brand-new, splendid and above all electronically widespread in Posthumanist terms. However, issues and problems related to the digitalization of the past are recognized by international organizations, such as ENAME, who attempt to impose norms and publish directions (like The London Charter) in their effort to apply a number of theoretical ‘rules’ to the documentation of digital archaeological representation. The Posthuman beholder accepts digital images easily, just as they accept the digital environment in Tomb Raider. It is true, however, that, sometimes, the difficulties resulting from the need for the creation of a representation are disregarded. Therefore, it is our belief that the future of archaeology in the age of Posthumanism, the age of technological superiority, is the creation of experiences (Mytilinaiou et al., 2011). The subject matter of recent research is the formation of digital virtual archaeological worlds and, at the same time, the experience of emotions. We wonder how far away we are from the creation of the Avatars of Ancient Athens, of the route of Alexander the Great, or the image of the ancient agora in Rome, where digital navigation systems are called upon to play the role of important figures of the past. Will the visitor be able to participate in the progress of a story, to sacrifice along with the ‘ancients’, to battle, to share their happiness, and to take pride in the inauguration of an ancient temple, such as the Parthenon, as co-creators of the ancient glory and not just as simple communicants of the image? On the other hand, matters and priorities that have always been essential to archaeological science, such as the conservation of findings and

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architectural remains, or the management of the objects themselves could be relegated to only secondary importance. We could, therefore, say that the creation of the image of the ancient world is, from a Posthumanist perspective, a highly complicated procedure of study and research by adept scientists over many centuries, who had earlier acquired a humanistic education. Nowadays, and maybe for the very first time, the balance is about to collapse and new groups of scientists, the experts of new technologies, seem to keep the sceptres of the cultural past. The Posthumanist expert in antiquity is not an archaeologist any more, but a scientist with strong technological training. The humanist adorer of the ancient world, who laid the foundations of archaeological science, the one who inspired Stuart and Revett, the English architects of British Eclecticism (18th–19th centuries) and the hundreds of people, who from their cities in Europe were inspired to visit the ancient cities of Athens and Rome as a kind of pilgrimage, has to step aside and cede his place to a new person. The procedure of creation of the archaeological image, in the centuries that followed Renaissance Humanism, was the result of an individual procedure: a) knowledge of history and the study of the physical materials/remains, and b) visualization of the scientific thought by specialized scientists. Our present image of the past is the result of the digital conversion of existing knowledge. Creating virtual worlds and augmented digital environments is the Postmodern/Posthuman truth. But how ‘new’ is the idea of visualization of monuments in two or three dimensions in archaeological science? In our research we have tried to identify the relationships between the traditional ways of representation (like architectural perspective drawings, orthographic projections, plaster models) (Amerikanou, 1997, 119–150), of analogical photographs of monuments and architectural models and digital 3D models. For our research we indexed four important handbooks for ancient Art and Architecture which have been taught for decades in universities in Greece and elsewhere. These books are: 1) The Architecture of Ancient Greece by William Bell Dinsmoor, 2) The Art of Ancient Greece by Georgia Kokkorou-Aleuras [in Greek], 3) From Phidias to Praxiteles by George Ǻakalakis [in Greek], and 4) Gottfried Gruben’s Heiligtümer und Tempel der Griechen. In order to visualize their information, these well-known authors used many architectural drawings such as orthographic projections (ground plans, views, cross-sections), perspectives and maps but also many restorations and analogical representations of the ancient monuments as

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they were in antiquity. The majority of the analogical representations come from the official publications of the monument being described and constitute the dominant interpretation of its initial form.

Photographs 38%; Architectural plans 37%; Representations 24%, Plaster models 1%

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Figure 2. Analysis of the visual material in Dinsmoor’s handbook.

In a few cases, some imaginary representations or representations less acceptable to the international scientific community are used. Furthermore, in other cases only one or two proposals from researchers for a monument are presented, especially for monuments which preserve minimum elements of their architectural form (Kourtzellis, 2012, 274–282 with examples). The views of G. Bakalakis for the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus are characteristic: “Having for reference the information from the (ancient) sources and the debris, the experts try to represent the monument, but the representations are, of course, impossible to verify completely. Besides, there are so many representations that at least one monograph has already been written about them. Every era confronts a different aspect of the problem” (Bakalakis, 1990, 85–86, our translation).

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Photographs 5%; Architectural plans 64%; Representations 28%, Plaster models 3%

Figure 3. Analysis of the visual material in Alevras’ handbook.

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The conclusion of our research is that analogical representations account for a major percentage of the procedure of comprehension and visualization of ancient monuments (Dinsmoor 24%, Aleuras 28%, Bakalakis 29% and Gruben 35%).

Photographs 29%; Architectural plans 41%; Representations 29%, Plaster models 1%

Figure 4. Analysis of the visual material in Bakalakis’ handbook.

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The majority of them are purely scientific, some have many imaginary details, but all guide the viewer critically to the subject and finally reflect creative images of the Past.

Photographs 28%; Architectural plans 33%; Representations 35%, Plaster models 4%

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Figure 5. Analysis of the visual material in Gruben’s handbook.

Crucial is Dinsmoor’s view of the value of analogical representations: “It is obvious that no comprehensive set of illustrations can be correct in all details; drawings and restorations are necessarily subjective, and it could be hopeless to attempt to revise all the minor faults of interpretation wherein drawings have been shown by later research to be in error” (Dinsmoor, 1950, vii–viii). This confession is very important for the power of the drawbacks which are recognized in our way of visualizing the image of the ancient world. Apart from that, in some cases the description and the analysis of a monument are accompanied by outdated representations like the one of the Siphnian Treasury in Delphi in Gruben’s handbook (Gruben, 2000, 373, figure 285).

The Procedure of the Construction of Analogical Representations Also impressive are the results from the study of books which describe the procedure of the scientific analogical visualization of monuments. In the publication by the famous German architect Friedriech Adler in 1892, with the title “Perspective Representation of the monuments of the Sanctuary of Olympia”, the intellectual process of architects and

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delineators (experts of content) for the creation of an analogical representation is quite clear. It is a sophisticated process in which the architect has to study in detail the visual angle, the height of the buildings, the quantity of the objects, the distances and their projections etc., data which are now calculated with modern 3D modelling software (Curtius & Adler, 1892, 208–210).

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Figure 6. Adler’s analogical representation of a part of the Sanctuary of Olympia with the Metroon as the central building (from Curtius & Adler, 1896, plate 130).

On the one hand, Adler describes the characteristics of the analogical representation: static, one viewer’s angle, every study generates only one analogical image, non-perennial result, specific lighting. On the other hand, the main element of digital representation is motion in space and time. Moreover, every study creates unlimited digital images, offers the opportunity for dynamic renewal of data (geometry, materials and textures, supplemental elements like plants, trees, humans in a scene etc.), reality-effect lighting, and rendering. Finally, a very important feature of the digital representations is the easier diffusion of the information among new digital applications and capabilities (Kourtzellis, 2012, 266–274).

Plaster and Digital Models: A Comparative Approach The comparison between plaster and digital models is also of great interest. Plaster models have a long history in museums and specialized research centres like the Centre for the Acropolis Studies. The beginning of their use can be detected in the 15th century, when the architect Philippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) used models to convince the Church of the innovative manner in which he had designed the dome of Florence

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Cathedral. In the same period, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) had seen the models as the perfect tools for the verification of his plans in structural and aesthetic levels (Amerikanou, 1997, 284–301; Riga, 1996, 56–68). The models’ basic function is the rendering of individual structures or groups of buildings, even entire cities. They become the tangible proofs for matters like the size of a cluster of buildings, the measures of structural elements, the initial or more recent form of damage to an ancient building. A plaster model adds information which cannot be viewed by other analogical means. In general terms, plaster models are considered a very useful way of presenting data optically in comparison with architectural projections (ground plans, cross-sections) and archaeological photographs. Models can interpose information from the interior or from the exterior of a building (leaving blank spaces). However, the simultaneous rendering of details from the indoor and outdoor spaces is seen as a serious drawback of plaster models. The degree of detail is determined first of all by the skills of the designer–constructor and, of course, by the scale of the plaster model (Ryan, 1996, 96). In our opinion, plaster models – especially those of the 19th century – have contributed enormously to the study and promotion of archaeological material as well as to the preservation of details that are not visible today. We have to mention here the example of the plaster model of Pompeii, constructed most probably during the second half of the 19th century, in connection with the latest reports on the damage to the archaeological site (Cassanelli, De Caro 2002, 52–53; Capelli, Lo Monaco, 2009). Plaster models are mostly used in museums in connection with their exhibits, especially in cases where the real monument is located far away and the museum has only a part of it (for example the monumental construction of the Pergamon Altar in Berlin). Some famous plaster models are: the model of ancient Rome created during the era of Constantine the Great; the archaeological site of Olympia created by A. Mallwitz; the Sanctuary of Delphi; the acropolis of Pergamon; or the model of city of Priene (Gruben, 2000, with examples).

Digital Models: Advantages and Disadvantages Trying to understand the procedure for creating a plaster model, we studied the text of the American architect Gorham P. Stevens about the plaster model of Acropolis (scale 1:200). The model depicts the Acropolis and its restoration at the end of the 1st century B.C. (Stevens, 1946, 557– 559; Stevens, 1958). Currently the model is housed in the Stoa of Attalos

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in Athens. This study, which reveals the limitations of plaster models, gives us the opportunity to come to a variety of conclusions on the advantages of digital models, which are: 1. Relatively less time demanded for the creation of digital models. 2. Greater flexibility in the presentation of archaeological and architectural data. 3. No need for real space for their display. 4. Possibility to study the monument from all angles in a digital environment, without any restrictions concerning the inner and external details, through the computer monitor or a projection system. 5. Perennial and dynamic results (dynamic and interactive digital models). 6. The possibility of internet distribution (Kourtzellis, 2012, 272– 274).

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There are also disadvantages of digital models such as: 1. The need to be familiar with the software. 2. The dependence on the evolution of technology, as software often changes. 3. The need for expensive and demanding computer power. 4. The need for collaboration of many different professionals (though this can also be a great advantage). 5. On many occasions, the overall cost. However, the most important defect of digital representations is that they most probably are not accepted by a number of traditional archaeologists as interpretative research tools (Kourtzellis, 2009, 11–14; Ryan, 1996, 95–108; Ryan, 2001, 245–73).

Analogical Representation as a Guide for Digital Representation The comparison between analogical and digital representation is very useful, because in many cases, specialists of New Media transform the old knowledge derived from drawings, photographs and descriptions into digital three-dimensional models (Hermon, 2006, 146; Hermon, 2008, 40, image 4).

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The presentation of all patterns used for creating an analogical image of the ancient world, from the 14th century to the end of the 19th century, has acquired great interest for two main reasons: Firstly, because, in our attempt to understand ancient monuments, analogical representations constitute the crowning of a long-lasting procedure. We have to know how the western world constructed the image of Greek antiquity going back to the representations of ancient buildings in the early 14th century, like the representations of the humanist Giovanni Mansionario, the drawings of Giovanni Dondi, or the sketches of Italian antiquarians and sightseers of the 15th century, like Ciriaco d’ Ancona, Christophoro Buodelmondi and the drawings of architects like Leon Battista Alberti, Flavio Biondo, Pirro Ligorio. In this long-lasting search for the gnosis (knowledge) of the image of antiquity, we should include the drawings of most ancient sites by Renaissance travellers, archaeological expeditions, architects and archaeological research institutions. Moreover, analogical representations may be further grouped in special categories and types according to their adherence to the facts and scientific achievements of their age (Kourtzellis, 2012, 120–188):

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a. Imaginary representations (William Miller, Julien David Le Roy Cockerell, Leo von Klenze, Le Chevalier, Gottfried Semper etc.), b. Idealistic representations (Benoir Loviot, Louis-François Cassas etc.), c. Scientific representations (Paccard, Garnier, Hittorff, Pernose, Hector d’ Espouy et al.). Even in the cases of scientific representations and restorations, a series of factors like the passage of time, new studies and, principally, new excavations could overcome the “dominant” theory or offer a shift towards a more scientific reconstruction of the category of the imaginary representations All these analogical representations would be the groundwork for the creation of new, scientific, simplified or imaginary reconstructions. Whatever the case, reconstructions show the diachronical wish of every era and society to reflect their own thoughts and aesthetics onto the images of the past (Moser, 2001, 280–281). Secondly, analogical representations constitute the basic stem and fundamental supportive material for the creation of digital representations with ‘passive’ modelling techniques. These techniques are based mostly on the traditional science of archaeology and the use of previous archaeological knowledge. In brief, these are: archaeological data,

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architectural drawings of archaeological monuments and sites, photographs, analogical representations, original objects and their representations on other ancient materials, descriptions of ancient writers (like Vitruvius and Pausanias), comparisons with parallel monuments, and, finally, information that can be extracted from inscriptions (Barceló, 2000, 17). Something that should be transparent to the specialists of the New Media is that the simple ‘transmission’ of the analogical images to a digital environment does not change the quality of the archaeological information that has been used for its creation. For example, if a digital representation of a monument is exclusively based on an imaginary analogical representation, it still remains an imaginary digital representation, without any other context. Thus, what is necessary is the recording of all information, data and stages for the synthesis of a digital archaeological image (Forte, 2000; The London Charter, 2009; Beacham et al., 2006, 263–269; Kourtzellis, 2012, 301–304)

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Conclusions In conclusion, the image as a simple record of an archaeological entity or as a reconstruction, has for many centuries been the result of the archaeological interpretive procedure. Analogical representation can by all means be an excellent mentor to digital technology as a form of ‘virtual archaeology’ of previous centuries. Every era claims the right to represent antiquity through its own media and technological capabilities, but the groundwork of this specific procedure is always the knowledge and persistent study of the archaeological material. Traditional representational media constitute, in many cases, the cornerstone of digital representations. Modern scholars are challenged to interpret data and decide whether ‘virtual archaeology’ is going to be of benefit to the scholarly achievements of architects and archaeologists in their centuries-long research or whether it will just exploit the technical support of computer science and confine itself to creating ‘pleasant’ and ‘attractive’ pictures of the ancient world. It seems that there are no limits to the technological directions open to archaeology. This phenomenon could lead to experimentation that could bring archaeology back to its early ‘entrepreneurial’ origins. Images of the past will from now on be created by experts in new technologies. However, unless it encompasses historical and archaeological knowledge, philosophy and social sciences, the emerging ‘digital archaeology’ will just play the role the old

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‘antiquarians’ had limited it to, leading to the production of images that are of high definition, but unfortunately low fidelity and scientific value.

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References Amerikanou, E. (1997): Representation in Architecture: The physiognomy and function of the representational media in architecture. Ph.D. Thesis, School of Architecture, N.T.U.A., Greece [in Greek]. Bakalakis, G. (1990): From Phidias to Praxiteles, Publishing House Kyriakidis Brothers s.a., Thessaloniki [in Greek]. Barceló, J.A. (2000): Visualizing what might be: an introduction to Virtual Reality techniques in Archaeology in J.A. Barceló, M. Forte and D. H. Sanders (eds.), Virtual Reality in Archaeology, Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (Int. Series, S 843): 2000, 9–35. Beacham, R., Denard, H. & Niccolucci, F. (2006): An Introduction to the London Charter, in M. Ioannides et al. (eds), The eǦvolution of Information Communication and Technology in Cultural Heritage, Where Hi-Tech Touches the Past: Risks and Challenges for the 21st Century, Proceedings of VAST 2006, (Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2006): 263–269. Bloomfield, B. (1986): Modelling the World: The social construction of Systems Analysts, Oxford: Blackwell. Braidotti, R. (2013): The Posthuman, Polity Press. Braudel, F. (1980): On History (Translated by Sarah Mathews). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Capelli, R. & Lo Monaco, A. (2009): Museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli, Electa Publishing House, Napoli. Cassanelli, R. & De Caro, St. (2002): Houses and monuments of Pompeii: the works of Fausto and Felice Niccolini, Getty Publications. Curtius, E., Adler, Fr. (eds.) (1892): Olympia: die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung (Textband II): Die Baudenkmäler, Berlin, 208–210. Curtius, E. & Adler, F., (eds) (1896): Olympia: die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung: Die Baudenkmäler, (Tafelband II), Berlin. Dinsmoor, W. B. (1950): The architecture of Ancient Greece, 3rd edition, Ǻ.ȉ. Batsford LTD, London. Forte, M. & Siliotti, Alb. (1997): Virtual Archaeology. Re-creating Ancient Worlds, Harry n. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York.

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Forte, M. (2000): About Virtual Archaeology: Disorders, Cognitive Interactions and Virtuality, in J.A. Barceló, M. Forte, D. Sanders (eds.). Virtual Reality in Archaeology, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (Int. Series, S 843), 247–263. Frischer, B., Niccolucci, F., Ryan, N.S., Barceló, J. A. (2002): From CVR to CVRO: the Past, Present and Future of Cultural Virtual Reality in Virtual Archaeology. Proceedings of the VAST Euroconference, Arezzo 24–25 November 2000, Franco Niccolucci (ed), Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (Int. Series, S 1075), 7– 18. Gruben, G. (2000): Sanctuaries and Temples of the Greek, Translation in Greek: Aktseli Dimitra, First publishing in German: Heiligtümer und Tempel der Griechen, Kardamitsa Publications, Athens. Hermon, S. (2006): Three-Dimensional Visualization and Virtual Reality in the Research and Interpretation of Archaeological Data 2006, in Archaeological, Within the Light of New Technologies, Selected papers from the joint Archaeolingua-EPOCH workshop, 27 September–2 October 2004, Százhalombatta, Hungary and Cultural Heritage Preservation Erzsébet Jerem, Zsolt Mester and Réka Benczes (eds.), ARCHAEOLINGUA/ Epoch, Budapest 2006, 143–151. Hermon, S. (2008): Reasoning in 3D: A critical approach of the role of 3D modeling and virtual reconstruction in Archaeology. Beyond Illustration: 2D and 3D Digital Technologies as Tools for Discovery in Archaeology, edited by Bernard Frischer and Anastasia Dakouri-Hild, BAR International Series 1805 (Oxford) 36–45. Higgins, P. Main & Lang, J., (eds) (1996): Imaging the Past, Electronic Imaging and Computer Graphics in Museum and Archaeology, British Museum, Occasional Paper, Number 114, British Museum Press, London. Hodder, I. (1999): The Archaeological Process. An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. —. (2012): Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things. Wiley-Blackwell. Kokkorou-Alevras, G. (1995): The Art of Ancient Greece. Brief History (1050–50 BC), 3rd edition, ȑțįȠıȘ, Kardamitsa Publications, Athens [in Greek]. Kourtzellis, Y. (2009): A Critical Approach to Digital Three-Dimensional Representation of Monuments, Archaeology and Arts, issue 113, Supplement (12th/2009), 11–16 [in Greek]. —. (2012): Past and its image: Representation of archaeological sites and monuments with digital media: Theoretical issues and case-studies.

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Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean [in Greek]. Mytilinaiou, S. Cham, K. & Hutchison, C. (2011): “Experience design, interactive art environments and the sense of becoming”. Paper presented at the Mixed and Augmented Reality-Arts, Media, and Humanities (ISMAR-AMH), 2011 IEEE International Symposium, 91–98. Moser, S. (2001): Archaeological Representation, The Visual Conventions for constructing knowledge about the past. Archaeological Theory Today, I. Hodder (ed), Policy Press in association with Blackwell Publishers LtD, 262–283. Reilly, P. (1992): Three-dimensional modeling and primary archaeological data. Archaeology and the Information Age, a global perspective, P. Reilly & S. Rahtz (eds), Routledge, London and New York, 147–173. Renfrew C. & Bahn P. (2004): Archaeology. Theories, Methods and Practice, Thames & Hudson. Riga, C. (1996): Storia dei modelli dal tempio di Salamone alla realtà virtuale, Seriate (Bergamo), ISMES 56, 60, 68. Ryan, N. (1996): Computer based visualization of the past: technical “realism” and historical credibility’, ıIJȠ Imaging the Past. Electronic Imaging and Computer Graphics in museums and archaeology. Edited by T. Higgins, P. Main and J. Lang. British Museum Occasional Paper, num. 114, 95–108. —. (2001): Documenting and Validating Virtual Archaeology, Archeologia e Calcolatori, 12, (November 2001), 245–73. Sampanikou, Ǽ. (2010): “From the Digital to the Virtual. Art and Technology at the Dawn of the 21st Century” In: Kokkonis, M., Paschalidis, G., Bantimaroudis, Ph., (Eds), Digital Media. The Culture of Sound and Spectacle. Athens: Kritiki Publishers, 401–428 [in Greek]. Schnapp, A. (2007): The Conquest of the Past. The Origins of Archaeology, Translation in Greek: Delouka, Katerina, University Press of Crete, Heraklion, (original title: La conquête du passé. Aux origins de l’archéologie, 1993). Shanks, M. & Hodder, I. (1995): Processual, postprocessual and interpretive archaeologies. Interpreting Archaeology: Finding Meaning in the Past, I. Hodder et al. (eds), Routledge, London, 3–29. Stevens, G. P. (1958): Restoration of Classical Buildings, Princeton, 1958, plate ǿǿǿ.

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—. (1946): Plaster Model of the Acropolis of Athens: restoration of the end of the first century BC BCH. Volume 70, 1946, 557–559, plates XXVII-XXVIII. Stoneman, R. (2010): Lands of lost Gods, The search for Classical Greece, I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd. ȉhe London Charter (2009): (draft 2.1, February 2009) http://www.londoncharter.org (last visited:10 Nov. 2013). Thompson, H. (1950): The Odeion in the Athenian Agora, Hesperia, XIX 1950, 31–141, plate 59). Tilley, Chr. (1997): A Phenomenology of Landscape: Places, Paths and Monuments (Explorations in Anthropology), Bloomsbury Academic Publisher. ȉravlos, J. (1993): The Urban Development of Athens, Kapon Editions (2nd edition), Athens [in Greek]. ȉravlos, J. (1971): Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens, Princeton, 432– 438.

CHAPTER SEVEN DANGEROUS ALLIES: ARTISTIC TRANSGRESSION AND POSTHUMANISM

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KONSTANTINOS VASSILIOU

From a cultural point of view, posthumanism is not necessarily reduced to the physiological transformation of the human body. In so far as man is always entangled with specific cultural and social relations, every abrupt shift in these relations entails a deep change in our human character, that is to say, in our humanity. If this kind of abrupt shift is a feature of modernity, it has been clearly echoed in the arts. Thus, a subtle but constant preoccupation lies in 19th century literature, but more outward and direct discourses on this transformation were articulated in the avant-gardes of visual arts. It would be difficult to suggest that historical avant-garde movements developed a common view on the ‘new man’ or the posthuman. No clear portrait of a posthuman being can be established when examining the works of these historical avant-gardes. It would be easier to point out the opposite views that the artists held independently or sometimes against each other. If Marinetti alleged that the inspiration for his futurist utopia came to him when he was accidentally electrified by high voltage cables, Duchamp in his work Le Grand Verre conceived some merely playful human machines. If Moholy-Nagy hoped that his quasi-scientific work could bring a “vision in motion”, a new altered perception of relation that would lead to the birth of a new man,1 German painters of the New Objectivity movement have given us the darkest colours of technologization. From technological enthusiasm to a discrediting of modern technology, we see a set of intermediate views. The missionary technophilia of futurists can become a simple fascination for the mechanic 1

Moholy-Nagy, 1993.

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in the work of Fernard Leger or Marcel Duchamp, and the hope for a new man born through audiovisual media in the work of Moholy-Nagy is not easily put alongside the blunt pessimism in the ironic portraits of Otto Dix.2 One of the most puzzling characteristics of the emerging institution of post-war art was that it has made it possible to reconcile all these fundamentally different views on man. Reducing the panorama of the artistic activity of modernity to a monolithic institutionalization of the avant-garde, the artistic values where condensed into a highly fictitious regrouping of the avant-garde movements. Fervent and agitated views were included in new peaceful debates on artistic institutional propositions. Of course, this process seems to be gradual. But its final phase was sealed with the advent of postmodernism, where all previous antagonistic visions coexist in pluralistic production. Indeed, in postmodernism, the subject of posthumanism seems to be a kind of exception. Someone could expect to see a different set of views on posthuman becoming. Nevertheless, a close examination can actually point to the contrary. Thus, if in modernist art a portrait of the posthuman is hardly possible within the same frame, in postmodernism it becomes all too visible and clear. This portrait is a ‘deconstructed man’ where underneath lies the moralistic incitement: posthumanism is good. In many respects, posthumanism was correlated with the main lines of postmodern and French theory in vogue in Anglo-Saxon university establishments. Indeed, the critique of humanism was thematic in many authors that have been nourishing postmodern thinking, from Nietzsche to Heidegger, and from Althusser to Foucault and then to the notorious “Cyborg Manifesto” of Donna Haraway.3 The concept of ‘human’ is relativized, uprooted from its essentialistic foundations, and often openly attacked. The new political agenda that has embraced art since the 1980s, that is to say identity politics, anti-essentialism, critique of the west, but above all critique of the artist’s subjectivity was easily associated with the posthuman demand. Following the words of the postmodern art critic, Hal Foster: “Postmodernism asserts the death of man not only as the creator of original and unique artifacts but also as a centralized subject of representation and history.”4

2

For a historical perspective on the posthuman vision of the historical avant-gardes cf. Slavkova, 2006. 3 Cf. Haraway, 1981. 4 Foster, 1985, 121.

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The preoccupation with the posthuman in postmodernity has a double perspective. On a theoretical level, humanity could be considered a relative quality and value that could be altered and eventually surpassed through major social and cultural evolutions. But on a more practical level, humanity could also be thought of as a special biological configuration that could and should be modelled technologically, like a work of art. It was this second tendency that was mostly singled out as a distinct artistic practice. The “Foreign Body” exhibition in the Whitney Museum in 1995 and the itinerant exhibition “Posthuman” in 1992 have been among the most significant manifestations of this artistic activity. The latter’s curator, Jeffrey, Deitch outlined this activity stating: “While geneticists concentrating on a concept of the body, redefine the sense of being human, the artists themselves create a whole new concept of Man.”5 Of course someone could point out that the works of the artists, such as those of Matthew Barney or Mariko Mori, can be read in an ambiguous way and have not openly embraced or condemned the posthuman. Since irony and ambiguity have constituted one of the main tactics of postmodern art this is hardly surprising. But what is significant is that the theoretical support for those works that deal with the posthuman is not ambiguous. It clearly underlines posthuman as a means of transgression, thus an institutional legitimization for the artistic activity as a revolutionary act. This is even stressed when artistic practice is translated literally in scientific experimentation. The progress made in this respect is surprising. In 1988 the Czech-Brazilian media and art theorist Vilém Flusser was considering the following question: “Why are dogs not blue with red spots? Why do bunnies not shine?” To pose the question differently: “Why have we only considered breeding in economic and not in artistic terms.”6 Sixteen years later, his compatriot the Brazilian artist Eduardo Kac would present the art work “FC Bunny” – a phosphorescent rabbit. And while in 2001 the French artist Orlan stated that “the future of the avant-garde lies not in art but in genetics”,7 in 2007 the Australian-Cypriot artist Stelarc, one of the pioneers in the use of technological prosthetics for the human body, managed successfully to implant – through cell cultivation – an ear on his arm.

5

Deitch, 1994. Flusser, 1988, 9. 7 Interview with Philippe Dagen, Le Monde, 22 March 2001. 6

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There is no doubt that posthumanism is a most compelling question. But what appears to be an emerging strong social debate, if not a conflict, on this matter, that is probably still in its very dormant and primal stages, it seems paradoxically to have been totally settled in the domain of art. Indeed, someone could observe that there are few, if any, examples of opposing views on posthumanism in the arts. What seems more important, however, is that no critical or arduous debate is being held for the subject of posthumanism within the art institutions. What we see is a plethora of projects that engage posthuman themes that are being comfortably disseminated throughout the gigantism of contemporary art. Why and how this legitimization of posthumanism took place within art institutions is not clear yet. The answer to this question may lie in a process that appears to be a kind of self-mutilation: the artist, first cutting off their res extensa, that is to say ‘art’, continued in contesting the subjectivity of the artist, to finally reach the most inner stage of transgressing the concept of ‘human’ altogether. I do not wish to argue here that this process has been a general historical condition, but that the contemporary art institutions have conceived very little of its existing discourses. The result is static. Either the artist has reached the ultimate thing to transgress, the very basis of art which is human, now only reenacting old transgressions; either they are left to a kind of ‘hypertrophic ludism” – to use the eloquent phrase of Gilles Lipovetsky8 – even playing with his/her self-discovery. In any case, the steady inflation of contemporary artistic production and the easiness with which artists and theorists engage with posthumanism seem to be two interconnected facts. But identifying posthumanism with the idea of artistic transgression becomes much more dynamic outside the very limits of the art institutions. The idea of artistic transgression that fills the common representations of art – progress, liberty, charismatic individualism, self-expression – is by no means a marginal social stereotype. As French sociologists, Boltanski and Chiapello, have demonstrated, the transgressive values of art have been clearly used for the extension and expansion of capitalistic democracies.9 We could hardly dissociate the contemporary artistic norms for self-expression from the ubiquitous values, goals, sensitivities and beliefs of the contemporary context of capitalism. It is thus logical to conclude that the legitimization of posthumanism in the arts can have an active role for the legitimization of posthumanism in society. 8 9

Lipovetsky, 1983. Boltanski and Chiapello, 1999.

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It is highly possible, as has been happening for decades now, that the most boisterous artistic discourses and most artistic endeavours have finally a far lesser role than the quiet work being done in numerous scientific laboratories. It is even possible that departing from centuries of human culture is finally a process that we cannot really analyse nor control. But where the art institution has an impact on the contemporary individual, the answer is clear: human represents an obsolete sensitivity and sensibility, whereas posthuman is the future’s self-expression and selfcompletion. But someone, faced with the unproblematic and affluent proliferation of contemporary art institutions, can think of Kojeve. Back in the 1940s, he foresaw a society of abundance in which humanity has returned to a more natural state, which he dares to qualify as an animal one: “If humanity becomes once again an animal, the arts, love and games must become purely ‘natural’ […] We would have to admit that people would build their buildings and would accomplish their works of art, just as birds build their nests and the spiders weave their webs, they would execute their musical concerts just as the frogs and the cicada, they would play just as the young animals and would give their selves to love just as the adult beasts.”10

Indeed, the dilemma between animal and posthuman may already seem more worthy of discussion.

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References Boltanski, Luc & Chiapello (1999): Eve, Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme. Paris, Gallimard. Deitch, J. (1994): in: Carnet n. 9, Revue Virtuelle. Paris, Centre Pompidou. Flusser, Vilém (1988): in: Art Forum, vol. 29, no. 2, 9. Foster, Hal (1985): Recodings, New York, New Press, 121. Haraway, Donna (1981): Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, London and New York, Routledge. Kojeve, Alexandre (1979 [1947]): Introduction à la lecture de Hegel 2e édition. Paris, Gallimard, note p.436. Lipovetsky, Gilles (1983): L’ère du vide. Paris, Gallimard. Moholy-Nagy, László (1993): Peinture, Film, Photographie, et autres écrits sur la photographie, Nîmes, Jacqueline Chambon. 10

Kojeve, 1979, note p. 436.

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Slavkova-Montexier, Iveta (2006): L’homme n’est peut être pas le centre de l’univers: la crise de l’humanisme et l’homme nouveau des avantgardes (1909–1930), thesis defended in the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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PART THREE:

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POSTHUMANISM, POSTMODERNISM AND THE ESSENCE OF TRANSHUMANISM IN GRAPHIC AND AUDIOVISUAL ART

CHAPTER ONE POSTMODERNISM, POSTHUMANISM AND TRANSHUMANISM IN SCIENCE FICTION: GRAPHIC NOVELS. ENKI BILAL AND THE ‘HATZFELD TETRALOGY’ EVI D. SAMPANIKOU

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Introduction According to Fredric Jameson, the Cold War complicated the issue of the representation of Utopia by bringing forth the double meaning of the contemporary State, in ways that have so far transformed the dialectics of Identity and Difference in the era of Postmodernity (Jameson, 2007, 353). This statement is verified across the whole range of postmodern or contemporary arts, but can be identified clearly in the case of the artistic production of the 1980s and later, especially in graphic novels and cinema. Among the clearly politicized, radical or alternative European (mainly Franco-Belgian and Italian) production of comics and graphic novels, the work of the famous French artist Enki Bilal (b.1951, Serbia) (Sabin, 1996, 222–224; Thevenet Jean-Marc, 1999; Sampanikou, 2004, 193–216; Sampanikou, 2010, 103–120; Mazur & Daner, 2014, 134–135) is one of the most exceptional in style and highly intriguing for a case study. Bilal first appeared during the 1970s, but the bulk of his most well-known work was done during the 1980s. Later on, during the 1990s, his art was opened to multimedia experimentation and cinema (Le Sarcophage exhibition, a movie based on his ‘Nikopol Trilogy’, among others), while his graphic novels gradually became more painterly and abstract. He is so far the only European graphic artist that has exhibited in the Louvre (Les Phantomes du Louvre exhibition), while many others are, falsely, still categorized as ‘pop culture’.

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The topic of this essay is Bilal’s most recent and ambiguous graphic novels series, four graphic novels from 1999 to 2007, the so-called ‘Hatzfeld Tetralogy’. The ideology and context of this latest work, bridge the gap between postmodernity and posthumanism in ways other (media) arts also do, thus denoting this period as the dawn of posthuman thought. We have to take into serious consideration that this has also been the period between the Cold War and 9/11, where a ‘new world order’ started to emerge. This is the key to understanding how the main trends of posthuman thought are built. I will therefore try to discuss the ways Bilal’s illustrated political novel expresses, on one hand, the collective memory of the post-Cold War period, with an emphasis on the Balkan crisis in 2000 (the war associated with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia) and, on the other hand, the essence of Posthuman Identity as well as versions of the Transhuman through the eyes of a French artist of Serbo-Croatian origin. Bilal’s graphic novels can be classified in three series of thematic cycles that denote the stages of his ideological adventure. They are: 1. His first two political fiction graphic novels based on Pierre Christin’s script The Black Order Brigade (1979) and The Hunting Party (1983) plus a former work, The City that Didn’t Exist (1979). These works discuss the death of the ideologies of both the western world and the former eastern bloc, plus the transformation of utopias into dystopias, works that denote Bilal’s denial of the socialist vision and his first turn to anarchist utopianism. 2. His first science fiction political allegory, the Nikopol Trilogy, was composed of three books: The Carnival of the Immortals (1980), The Woman Trap (1986) and Equator Cold (1992), denoting irony, political scepticism and existential nihilism. 3. Finally, the Hatzfeld Tetralogy that is going to be discussed further here: The Sleep of the Monster (1998), 32 December (2003), Rendez-Vous in Paris (2006) and Four? (2007) starting with a radical peak (1998) and ending up with scepticism and finally unpolitical conservatism (2003–2007), through the description of a dystopia for which human beings bear no responsibility at all (Sampanikou, 2001, 2010). What we could call Posthumanism in European science fiction comics after Bilal and several other equally famous French and Belgian artists of his generation – Philippe Druillet, Moebius and Tardi among others (in the magazines PILOTE initially, METAL HURLANT later) or even Francois

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Schuiteen with Benoit Peeters a little later – is the idiomatic, multicultural, mannerist language they created. Common characteristics of this generation’s artwork and scripts are: a. Intense references to European art of the 15th century and later. b. Sagas with direct references, in content and plot, to ancient drama, in futuristic allegoric versions1 and radical political discourse (Sampanikou, 2004, 193–216). The above-mentioned characteristics made a whole group of artists popular with the progressive European intelligentsia of recent decades, despite their variety of personal artistic styles. In the case of Bilal, his images turn more and more ‘misty’ from 1998 to the Louvre exhibition. Yet, his scripts always have a realistic base, as he has repeatedly stated. He supports the view that the origin of his ‘misty’ style is his childhood memories of the ruined Belgrade during World War II.

The ‘Nike Hatzfeld Tetralogy’: from political scepticism to the parody of art

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a. The Sleep of the Monster (Le Sommeil du Monstre, 1998): Goya’s Countdown (Figure 01) The title is an adaptation of Goya’s well-known statement: “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” The monster on this occasion is the one humanity keeps buried deep inside until it explodes as war or conflict. The work can be perceived as the deeply humanistic reaction of collective memory to all wars. The work uses the example of the war that led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia as an illustration of human absurdity and finally how meaningless things like national identity or religion can become. The main character constantly refuses to answer the question: “Are you Serbian, Croatian or Muslim?” There is indeed no answer. Bilal’s family had left Belgrade for Paris when he was about ten years old. Nike Hatzfeld, the Tetralogy’s main character, bears characteristics that can be seen as part of Bilal’s refusal of any form of dichotomy that he would be supposed to have. He is a citizen of the world that has to discover not only his, but humanity’s real past.

1

The equivalent in literature and cinema could be the Dune series and also Star Wars.

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The action takes place in 2026. Nike is a hypermnesic (an “illness” of memory that makes someone remember everything in detail since the time of their birth). Nike, now an American citizen, is a very important person for the American government as he is one of the key people in the Central Memory Bank in New York. Born in 1993 in Sarajevo, and soon a war orphan, he received his first name from the shoe trademark of the dead warrior next to whom he was found as a newborn (his father) and his last name, Hatzfeld, from the American journalist that took him to the orphanage. Having retired from the Memory Bank and remembering everything since the tenth day after his birth, seeking his past, Nike travels to both Belgrade and Sarajevo, and all over the world, from North Africa to Siberia, seeking a family he has to clarify in his memory, trying to remember even the first moments after his birth and what happened in the urban battleground in which he was found. The cities are depicted in grim sorrowful colours, unwelcome, inhuman and hypertechnological. Nike has to count down to remember the day of his birth. And he will. He starts to remember two other infants, Amir and Leyla put next to him in the bombed orphanage, the three heads of the babies touching each other around an invisible centre, each looking up at the night sky through a huge hole on the bombed roof. To his unconscious, they are his brother and sister and he has to find them to put the pieces of this multinational family back together. He remembers that on the day of his birth, his father was killed by Amir’s father. The war played strange games thereafter. Leyla has been adopted by a Jewish pacifist astrophysicist and is now an astrophysicist herself. She lives in a base – important for international security – located in the Nefud desert in North Africa. Her mission is related to secret research on a huge relic found there. Amir, who was never adopted and had a very difficult life that has turned him into a minor lawbreaker, lives in infamous neighbourhoods in a heavily polluted Moscow. He and his girlfriend Sasha are recruited by a fundamentalist terrorist group to destroy the aerial and subwater targets supervised by Leyla from a satellite above. Nike is also a target of this terrorist group. Behind all the evil things in the story is one single person, Optus Warhole, a symbolic name used as a connotation for both Andy Warhol’s doubtful legacy and a reference to the real hole the three orphans used to look at. Warhole is initially perceived as a mean tycoon playing god.2 He 2

There are many resemblances to one of the most influential sci-fi movies of the 1980s, Blade Runner by Ridley Scott, based on Philip K. Dick’s famous novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968).

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uses clones that serve as human bombs sent to destroy human or other targets. He also takes over human minds by sending electronic flies to occupy people’s brains. After they enter through the nose or the ear, these flies permit immediate communication of commands from Warhole, or even dialogue with him. Leyla’s boyfriend is being killed by these flies, while Nike’s girlfriend Pamela is actually not one but many replicas, a different one each time they meet, under Warhole’s control. Resistance is possible but painful, as when Kobea, a prisoner of Warhole, who has a very resistant brain, and with the help of the real (i.e. human) Pamela who has also been freed from her fly, sends messages into Nike’s brain to help him escape death. Amir is, however, continually escaping the flies because as an infant he had practised catching flies, something that Nike remembers well. By the end of this book, Nike has finally managed to find Leyla and discovers that their bond is really strong; they are now about to begin a long journey across the continents to locate the missing part of their ‘family’, Amir. They also start a real war against Warhole. Unlike most of the humans or replicas that surround him, Warhole is a ubiquitous presence all over the world as a series of clones, each made from his own skin cells. He is the creature behind every war or catastrophe, he is the master of all tycoons, bankers and politicians in the world. He is the personification of every conspiracy theory ever heard. One of his clones is, for example, responsible for a building blast similar to 9/11. Warhole is the personification of Evil. In one of his interviews on the novel (Liberation, 23 September 1998), Bilal stresses the meaning of identity in the story: “The lack of identity is crucial in this album. In Yugoslavia, all hatred is concentrated around the name, the origin… denial of identity is Nike’s power… and mine… the war in Yugoslavia is an absurdity, as well as our century… a paralogue produced in a lab and controlled by others…”

“While drawing I was thinking of Goya”, he declares. Everything in the novel: the story, the style and the design technique, broadly share posthumanist values. Bilal creates big paintings and scans each one separately. Then the process becomes a real montage. “There is full cooperation between the creation that takes advantage of the technological revolution and the story I want to narrate…” he says. The notion of the end of postmodernism is also present. Le Sommeil du Monstre thus becomes a powerful political fiction and a posthumanist reading –or, rather, a novel that attempts to discuss posthuman ethics as

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humane, while convicting at the same time the transhuman condition in the face of Optus Warhole. Warhole destroys his original body little by little, cutting little cell pieces to add to his copies: “I want them all to have something of the real me,” he says. Warhole is not in any form or condition that one can call human: no feelings, almost no pain at all and, of course, no traces of moral dilemmas. Bilal stresses the importance of being human, even in a posthuman world, by creating a group of characters opposing Warhole’s paradigm, no matter how ambivalent or controversial they are. Finally, Amir turns out to be the most humane and authentic character in the story: he makes serious mistakes and he admits it, he hates authority, he is fit and healthy without any prosthetics or any form of enhancement, he is a hedonist, he believes in love and in being in a couple with only one special person in this world. The condition of being part of a couple is, according to Bilal, the most effective way of remaining human. The author says this novel is, among other things, a hymn to the senses and to couples: Leyla-Finch, Nike-Pamela, Sasha-Amir, perhaps Nike-Leyla… “Love”, he says “is the only thing difficult to get… the only real utopia” (interviews in Le Matin, 28 June 1983 and L’Humanité, 3 February 2001).

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b. 32 December (2003). ‘Art for art’s sake’ and collective memory as an archaeological mystery (Figure 02) Le Sommeil du Monstre is undoubtedly one of the best graphic novels in all Bilal’s work and one of the best of all time. Despite its autonomy, it was intended to be a part of a trilogy that later became a tetralogy. Unfortunately, what started as a promising masterpiece with deep posthumanist connotations, developed into a series of artistic devices that investigate the condition of being Transhuman in a series of chaotic arguments. The second volume of the series opens the door to the absurd and the abstract. The design becomes more and more narcissistic and mannerist, as the plot becomes weaker and weaker. Bilal seems to enjoy painterly style and the absence of meaning becomes more intense volume by volume. Under the title 32 December (32 Decembre, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 2003), the story continues in unexpected ways. What started as a description of a utopia, suddenly becomes a narcissistic game, dealing with the impressive entrance of the paralogue to the collective unconscious. It is clear that from now on the main and most important character is the tycoon, formerly known as Optus Warhole who has now become an absolutely mutated creature: the anagrammed, very handsome

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artist and patron of the arts Jepherson Holeraw that, in this version of his personality, really looks like a combination of Andy Warhol and David Bowie as the ‘thin white duke’! Holeraw is himself a real postmodern palimpsest, recycling at the same time art, personality and identity. Holeraw no longer represents Evil or the ‘sleep of reason’. He has turned into the catholic reflection of everything. Bilal is now reconsidering the meaning of Art. Art, in this second graphic novel of the series, becomes a paradoxical interpretation of collective memory, while the sense of an unpolitical, rather naïve ‘evil’ is present everywhere. This kind of approach, together with the free painterly style we have already mentioned, is in a sense very close to Bahtin’s carnivalesque, also describing in vivid colours, parameters and new dimensions the posthuman condition (Bahtin, 1984, 274–277 and Jameson, 2008, 353–355, 374). An extreme transhuman (actually non-human) condition is the one expressed by Holeraw who has now transformed the world into a circus comprised of events that declare that art is a meaningless reflection, while life is completely unimportant. Art, football and religion are the keystones of this world. Holeraw creates extreme artistic events, owns football teams and controls the political and religious leaders of the world. There is a strong irony in this book aiming mostly at the artistic spectacle, media and critics. Holeraw controls events like ‘the all-white party’, where people are invited by accepting blasting neo-nuclear invitations, a party that turns into a massacre of replicas. The massacre itself is an artistic event called ‘red on white’. There are other events too, such as the ‘Decompression of Burping Death’. This is a live performance in open air with thousands of spectators that are actually being killed on the spot. Ironically, the performance is enthusiastically welcomed by art critics! Another event is the sudden disappearance of the political and religious leaders of this world. Holeraw has kidnaped them and holds them in a time gap, a day that does not exist, the 32nd of December. The time lapse, that is another dimension, immediately kills most of them. By the end of this graphic novel we have learned that Warhole/Holeraw is in fact the actual, eternally living, prehistoric relic guarded at the Nefud desert. He is in fact a deformed alien placoderm creature that is actually… god, as he has created every form of life and is responsible for the course of all humanity throughout history. Warhole/Holeraw is the eternal, immortal and immoral, inhuman ancestor of all… Moreover, Nike is told by Holeraw that there are two replicas of him that serve Holeraw and even when he has

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destroyed Holeraw, but never Warhole who is now a head in a jar, he is not in a position to know whether he is a replicant or not.3 A new art form is introduced in 32 December, ‘Wild Art’ with products indifferent to the preservation of life, as now life, in the original, authentic, form, has lost its value. On the occasion of the ‘Decompression of Burping Death’, for example, the viewers are exposed to fatal acid rain, itself composed of “two millions of soldiers and civilians killed in the field of bullshit (!)” as it is exactly described on p. 44 of the novel. Holeraw has moreover achieved full ubiquity4 through 18 selves/replicas serving the ǹǼǹ (Absolut Evil Art). The dialogue on p. 48 of the graphic novel is quite characteristic: Nike: ‘Warhole, you are a lunatic!’ Warhole: ‘No, I’m an artist.’ The secret of the story lies in the date: the 32nd of December happens after the New Year’s Eve of 2026, when the leaders of the world, the ten most important political and religious leaders, state and corporation leaders, among them the Dalai Lama, the Pope and Nike, are invited to visit the relic that turns out to be Warhole. They disappear as they are transported to Mars, where their bodies are decomposed. Nike escapes death because he has sent a replica of himself.

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c. Rendez-vous in Paris (2006). The future as an ironic dystopia (Figure 03) In this album, the postmodern/posthuman parody goes on. Art is now defined by academies bearing names like ‘Iconic Neo-Yugoslavic AntiObscurantic Fine Arts of Sarajevo’(!). Religion and Football have become one and even the team names remind us of this: ‘Orthodox Partizan of Belgrade’, or ‘Atheist’. The future turns out to be a real dystopia. Players are of both sexes, Amir and Sasha for example, who play for Partizan, while Nike watches the game nostalgically recalling the old times and

3

Another resemblance to Blade Runner by Ridley Scott (1983), where the viewer also keeps wondering whether Deckart, the replicants’ exterminator, is a replicant himself. 4 A condition first discussed by Paul Valéry in 1924 visualizing the notion of the technological accomplishment of Virtual Reality.

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Tito.5 Warhole is behind everything again, while the volume ends with an undefined rendez-vouz of Nike, Anir, Leeyla and Warhole in Paris.

d. Four? (2007): It’s the Aliens’ fault… (Figure 04) Four? is a thoroughly disappointing album. The Parisian dinner ends with Warhol revealing to Nike that: 1) he likes him; 2) he is an alien; 3) his age is immense, hundreds of millions of years; 4) he has created life on Earth; and 5) he is now going to leave for good. Is it the reverse of the typical postmodern Messianic vision? Are we the toys of a deranged hyper-aged Messiah? Are the games of an alien responsible for everything? In this Tetralogy it seems that Warhole is the real keystone of Always, representing the Art, Power and Ideology of the 21st century as well as their transfigurations. The album turns out to be a real glorification of Transhumanism, where utopias tend to be transformed into dystopias and Authority is not only Almighty but also easily forgiven as an alien mentality.

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5. The end of Postmodernism. Epilogue for Posthumanism too? The Hatzfeld Tetralogy ends in an apolitical, neo-conservative way. It seems to be a suicidal point of the notion of the postmodern that could indeed be the end of the road for posthumanism too. However, posthumanist thought has still not gone completely and is more than vivid in the first volume of the series. The second volume can be interpreted as a transgression to Transhumanism. Volumes 3 and 4 are however nothing but a lamenting stylistic device in which the excessive style gradually replaces an already distant, almost deceased, ideology; at the same time art functions as a vain out-of-date self-reflection. Both volumes serve the moto ‘art for art’s sake’, following the social media spirit of our times. However, they produce nothing but the feeling of an absence and the void itself. Therefore, if the official dystopia of postmodernism has, according to Fredric Jameson, been George Orwell’s 1984 (Jameson, 2007, 357) as a sense of the loss of the past and the insecurity of memory, Bilal’s ‘Nike Hatzfeld Tetralogy’ could, from the same point of view, be recognized as one of the un-political nihilistic versions of the postmodern vision and the 5

Bilal’s father had been Tito’s tailor for years.

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transformation of posthumanist values into transhumanist thought. They therefore denote the end of the postmodern and the denial of the posthuman; they also denote a preliminary announcement for ‘the end of the human’ according to the transhumanist vision and, maybe, the last part of the era of ‘postmodern capitalism’ (Jameson, 2007, 291).

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Figure 1: Bilal, The Sleep of the Monster, cover. Available at: http://bilal.enki.free.fr/image.php3?nom_image=le_sommeil_du_monstre/extraits/le_sommei l_du_monstre_ecran_2.jpg

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Figure 2: Bilal, 32 December, cover. Available at: http://bilal.enki.free.fr/image.php3?nom_image=trentedeux_decembre/extraits/couverture_1024_768.jpg

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Figure 3: Bilal, Rendezvous in Paris, cover. Available at: http://bilal.enki.free.fr/image.php3?nom_image=rendez_vous_a_paris/extraits/grand_1.jpg

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Figure 4: Bilal, Quatre? Cover. Available at: http://bilal.enki.free.fr/details_oeuvre.php3?nom_oeuvre=quatre&quelles_oeuvres=albums&s pecial=20

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References A. Enki Bilal’s Graphic Novels (mentioned in the essay) La Ville qui n’existait pas, script: Pierre Christin, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1977 Les Phalanges de l’Ordre Noir, script: Pierre Christin, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1979 La Foire aux Immortels (Trilogie Nikopol, / Nikopol Trilogy, vol. 1), Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1980. Partie de Chasse, script: Pierre Christin, Dargaud, 1983 and Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1990, enriched. La Femme Piège, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1986 (Trilogie Nikopol / Nikopol ȉrilogy, vol. 2). Froid Équateur, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1992 (Trilogie Nikopol / Nikopol ȉrilogy, vol.3) La Trilogie Nikopol, édition intégrale, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1995. Le Sommeil du Monstre, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1998/1999 (Nike Hatzfeld Tetralogy, vol 1). 32 decembre, Les Humanoïdes Associés, 2003 (Nike Hatzfeld Tetralogy, vol 2). Rendez-vouz a Paris, Casterman 2006 (Nike Hatzfeld Tetralogy, vol 3). Quattre?, Casterman 2007 (Nike Hatzfeld Tetralogy, vol 4).

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Ǻ. Theoretical Works Bakhtin, Mikhail (1984): Rabelais and His World, Bloomington. Mazur, Dan & Danner, Alexander (2014): Comics. A Global History, 1968 to the Present, Thames & Hudson, Sabin, Roger (1996): Comics, Comix and Graphic Novels, Phaidon Press Ltd. Sampanikou, Evi (2004): « Enki Bilal, Sarcophage. A Museum of the Future », Proceedings of the First International Conference of Museology: Museum, Communication and new Technologies (Mytilini 31 May–2 June 2002), Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean, Mytilini-Lesvos, 193–216 (in Greek). Sampanikou, Evi (2010): «Memory, Utopia, Dystopia: The Case of Enki Bilal», Utopia, vol. 89, Athens, 103–120 (in Greek). Thevenet Jean-Marc (1999): Bilal, Les auteurs par la bande, Le club des Stars, Seghers.

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Jameson, Fredrick (2007): Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, Verso.

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Enki Bilal’s Images: http://bilal.enki.free.fr Enki Bilal’s interviews: http://bilal.enki.fre.fr/interviews

CHAPTER TWO A FEMINIST GENEALOGY OF POSTHUMAN AESTHETICS IN THE VISUAL ARTS

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FRANCESCA FERRANDO

This chapter seeks to emphasize the extraordinary number of (selfidentified) women who have contributed, with their radical imagination, to the shaping of posthuman aesthetics, featuring techno-mythologies, cyborg embodiments and rhizomatic bodily performativity, even before the birth of the cyborg as a theoretical framework was conceived, and the term “posthuman” popularized. In this endeavour to reassemble a feminist genealogy of the posthuman in the arts, this text will specifically focus on the visual works conceived by female artists after the rise of what has been retrospectively defined as first-wave Feminism, which took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Starting with the main avant-garde movements of the first half of the 20th century – specifically Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism – this genealogy will analyse the second-wave Feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, with its integral exploration of the body highlighted by performance art. This article will then take into account the third-wave Feminism of the 1990s and its radical re-elaboration of the self: from Cyberfeminism and its revisitation of technology, to the artistic insights offered, on one hand, by critical Techno-Orientalist readings of the futures, and on the other, by the political and social articulations of Afrofuturism and Chicanafuturism. Lastly, it will assess the ways contemporary female artists are dealing with gender, social media and the notion of embodiment, touching upon elements which will become of key importance in fourth-wave Feminism. Starting with an overview of bioart by presenting ORLAN’s1 body reshaped by pro-technological ethics and aesthetics, this article will explore Lee Bul’s cyborgs, Mariko Mori’s androids and Cao Fei’s avatars, to conclude with a presentation of Natasha 1 On ORLAN’s website, under “Frequently Asked Questions and Common Mistakes”, it is stated that ORLAN is written in capital letters.

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Vita-More, the transhuman philosopher and multimedia artist who is engaged with the idea of redesigning the human body itself as a work of art. The ways in which female artists have been addressing the notion of human embodiments and gender identities throughout spaces and times will offer precious insights about the possibilities inscribed in the shaping of our posthuman futures.

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1. Methodological Premises In the posthuman2 era, the decision to focus strictly on works produced by (self-identified) female artists could be criticized as essentialist, for it suggests the possibility of pursuing an analysis based on a set of biocultural characteristics. I shall thus clarify that such a move is currently needed for strategic reasons in order to re-establish an inclusive genealogy of the posthuman itself. Posthumanism is becoming a highly fashionable trend. By going mainstream, the hierarchical schemata that (Critical, Cultural and Philosophical) Posthumanism (cfr. Braidotti, 2013; Wolfe, 2010) wishes to deconstruct are reappearing, affected by what may be defined as hegemonic essentialism, that is, the historiographical tendency and methodological habit of quoting “thinkers, artists or theorists who belong to the cultural hegemony”3 who usually are, in the current episteme, white and male. In line with a posthumanist methodology (Ferrando, 2012), this genealogy wishes to maintain a comprehensive and inclusive way of recognizing the large variety of artists who have contributed to the development of Posthuman Studies. Given such premises, I will adopt a strategic essentialist standpoint (Spivak, 1987) in order to emphasize the centrality of female artists in the development of posthuman aesthetics. And still, it is important to remark that there is no specific type of woman who can symbolize every woman ever born, but there are women (in the plural form) with different social and individual characteristics. The postmodern feminist shift offered controversial interpretations of the concept of “woman” itself, presenting it as a cultural construct (Butler, 1990) to the extent of what has been criticized as a

2

Posthuman is an umbrella term for different types of movements, including Posthumanism, Transhumanism, New Materialism, Antihumanism and Metahumanism. On the differences and relations between all these movements, see Ferrando 2014a. On the specific differences between Posthumanism and Transhumanism, see Ranisch and Sorgner 2014. 3 Ferrando, 2012, 13.

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“Feminism without women”.4 I should mention that I will only address in what follows artists who were born after the first wave of Feminism, although not all of them defined themselves as feminist. From a queer perspective, it shall be noted that a considerable number of them shared an open view on sexuality, which did not fit into heterosexual normativity. Another important aspect to highlight is that this genealogy will focus only on the visual arts, and not include artists who have expressed posthuman intentions in other forms, such as science fiction (i.e. Octavia Butler, Marge Piercy and Kathy Acker), electronic music (such as Pauline Oliveros, Laurie Anderson and Pamela Z) or dance (Pina Bausch, Anna Halprin and Tai Lihua, among others). There are different reasons why I have chosen this type of analysis. Visual culture has played an increasing role in the development of Western civilization, becoming central in the elaboration of Modernity, as Michel Foucault pointed out in his articulation of Panopticism (Foucault, 1975); it has replaced logocentrism, turning into a distinctive feature of Postmodernism, to the extent that Jean Baudrillard saw the simulacrum not as a copy of the real, but as a reality of its own, the hyperreal (Baudrillard, 1994). Cybernetics has only augmented the power of representation. Programmers have developed codes which mostly relate to one sense, the sight, leaving other senses such as taste, smell and, to a lesser extent, touch, in a marginal position. In the words of Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston: “The posthuman body is a technology, a screen, a projected image.”5 Our posthuman present is visual, interactive and linkable; the power of representation in knowledge production is becoming less and less innocent, if it has ever been.6

2. A Radical Genealogy Let’s now focus on the artists and explain why I will not be able to offer each of them the space they deserve. More than glorifying the individual genius, my point is to emphasize the great variety of women who have visualized the posthuman shift through their art works, generating original perspectives on areas of representation commonly associated with white male imagination (women’s skills were traditionally confined to fields which, for being women’s activities, were not considered “art” but “craft,” 4 Such criticism is emphasized in the title of Tania Modleski's homonymous essay, 1991. 5 Halberstam/Livingston, 1995, 3 6 In Rosi Braidotti's words: “To see is the primary act of knowledge and the gaze the basis of all epistemic awareness” (Braidotti, 1994, 80).

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such as textiles and pottery).7 As Eileen B. Leonard has pointed out: “Science and technology are themselves generally viewed as masculine pursuits.”8 But science and technology are first imagined, before they are performed. In Albert Einstein’s words: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”9 With this genealogy, I would like to share the contribution brought by female artists’ radical imagination to the settings of the forthcoming times. I will then focus first on paintings and collages representative of some of the main avant-garde movements of the first half of the 20th century; I will then move on to consider the visual power of documented performances within the rise of second-wave Feminism. Lastly, following third-wave Feminism, I will present different types of visual arts in the contemporary art scene, stressing their hybrid and multimedia approaches which will give rise to fourth-wave Feminism.

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2.1 Futurist, Dada and Surrealist Grandmothers Futurism In order to reassemble a map of posthuman grandmotherhood, I will focus on the three main avant-garde movements which arose in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century: Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Let’s begin with Futurism – the term was coined by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in “The Futurist Manifesto” (1909), not to be confused with the contemporary use of the word to refer to scientists and social theorists engaged in the attempt to predict the future of humankind and life in general. There are many reasons why Futurism should be listed in this genealogy, including the fact that it has been regarded as one of its sources by Transhumanism, especially in Europe and, particularly, Italy.10 First of all, I would like to emphasize its drive towards the future, which was not 7

It is also important to stress that the notion of “art” is based on ethnocentric canons. It emerged from post-colonial critiques that only the artistic production of Western civilization has been counted in the discipline broadly defined as “History of Art”, while art that originated in other parts of the world, when not regarded as “craft”, has been generically labelled as “ethnic art”. 8 Leonard, 2003, 19. 9 Viereck, 1929, 117. 10 Roberto Campa, the President of the Italian Transhumanist Association, has stated: “Siamo gli eredi del futurismo italiano e russo, siamo neofuturisti, anche se il prefisso 'neo' non dovrebbe nemmeno essere necessario. Il futurismo è per definizione un movimento di idee e d’azione che rinnova perennemente se stesso, guardando sempre avanti” (Guerra, n. d.).

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perceived as something chronological, but was welcomed in a “here and now” mode, and it relied on accepting the new possibilities offered by the present. Futurism was about dynamism; its artistic research was not aimed at expressing objects in movement, but movement itself, creating an aesthetic of simultaneity. In order to generate a space for dynamic imagination, Futurism wished to pose a symbolic break from the past. This is one of the crucial differences with Posthumanism, which, to fully embrace the future, does not disregard the past. On the contrary, Posthumanism draws on many different sources, histories and herstories,11 in an academic attempt at inclusiveness which is open to other species and hypothetical life forms: from non-human animals to artificial intelligence, from aliens to the possibilities related to the physic notion of a multiverse. As I have stated in a previous article: “Posthumanism offers a theoretical invitation to think inclusively, in a genealogical relocation of humanity within universality (“Posthumanism” as a criticism of humanism, anthropocentrism and universe-centrism), and alterity within the self (“Posthumanism” as a recognition of those aspects which are constitutively human, and still, beyond human comprehension).”12 Another important difference between Futurism and Posthumanism regards life. In its attempt to decentre the human from the centre of the discourse, Posthumanism opens to environmentalism and animal rights; if it embraces technology as essentially human (Gehlen, 1957; Stiegler, 1994), it still warns about its destructive side, already experienced through many catastrophes, such as the dropping of the atomic bomb or the ecological impact of industrialization. By contrast, the futurist exaltation of contemporary challenges included the fascination with war, defined by Marinetti as “the only world’s hygiene”,13 and with machines, as we can read in his “Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature” (1912): “We are 11

In the late 1960s, the neologism “herstory” was coined as a revisitation of “history” which, even though it originally derives from ancient Greek ੆ıIJȦȡ (“witness”) and so does not embed the masculine form in its signifier, perfectly suited its signified, in a sort of semiotic freudian slip. In their work “Words & Women”, Casey Miller and Kate Swift wrote: “When women in the movement use herstory, their purpose is to emphasize that women's lives, deeds, and participation in human affairs have been neglected or undervalued in standard histories” (Miller et al., 1991, 146). In this passage, I am using the term “herstory” to refer specifically to the historical experiences of women, which were mostly left unrecorded, but have been traced using alternative means, such as oral history, private diaries and handcrafts. 12 Ferrando, 2014b, 220. 13 Marinetti, 2006, 14.

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preparing for the creation of mechanical man, one who will have parts that can be changed.”14 Even though the term “cyborg” was articulated much later by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline (1960), we can trace in Futurism the fatherhood of such conceptualization. Marinetti also foresaw its militaristic developments; in “Extended Man and the Kingdom of the Machine”15 he wrote: “This non-human, mechanical species, built for constant speed, will quite naturally be cruel, omniscient and war-like.”16 The fascination with speed, machinery and war was shared within the movement by men and women alike, as remarked in the “Manifesto of Futurist Woman” (1912).17 Despite the chauvinist and contradictory value of the futurist discourse,18 a high number of female artists joined the movement, as an act of challenge and criticism towards the female stereotypes of self-denial and sacrifice that had previously been theorized for women. There are many futurist painters we can recall, such as Rougena Zátková (1885–1923), Benedetta Cappa Marinetti (1897–1977), Marisa Mori (1900–1985), Olga Rozanova (1886–1918) and Alexandra Exter (1882–1949), but I will focus in particular on two specific artists for different reasons: the Russian painter Natalia Goncharova (1881–1962), and the Italian painter Olga Biglieri Scurto (1916–2002). Natalia Goncharova19 was not only one of the main contributors to Russian Futurism, but also one of the founders of Rayonism, a style of abstract art that she developed in 1911 with her companion, painter Mikhail Larionov (1881–1964), after hearing a series of lectures about Futurism by Marinetti. Rayonism focused on representing the rays of light reflected from objects, rather than objects themselves, in a pre-intuition of the central role of light in virtual reality and the consequent electrical 14

Ibid., 113–14. Written in 1910, it was first published in “Guerra sola igiene del mondo” (1915). Ibidem, 85–88. 16 Ibid., 87. 17 Written in 1912 by Valentine de Saint-Point as a response to Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto (1909), it states: “Women are Furies, Amazons, Semiramis, Joans of Arc, Jeanne Hachettes, Judith and Charlotte Cordays, Cleopatras, and Messalinas: combative women who fight more ferociously than males, lovers who arouse, destroyers who break down the weakest and help select through pride or despair” (de Saint-Point, 2011, 214). 18 In “The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism”, Marinetti wrote: “We wish to glorify war—the sole cleanser of the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive act of the libertarian, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for women” (Marinetti, 2006, 14). 19 In 2007, she became the world's most expensive female painter: her painting “Picking Apples” (1909) was sold for £4.9 million. 15

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infrastructure of cyberspace. Our other posthuman futurist grandmother is Olga Biglieri Scurto, Barbara,20 who I will present not only for her futuristic paintings and attitude (she became a licensed pilot at only 18 years of age, before she even encountered Futurism), but also for the fascinating twist in her own poetics. Her life crosses the 20th century, starting with her adherence to Futurism, passing through World War II and the death of her husband; she then encountered Feminism and the philosophy of Luce Irigaray, which she elaborated in her “noetic paintings”; she finally became a strong supporter of the peace movement and donated her piece “L’Albero della Pace” (1986) to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Dada If Futurism sustained the war and the Fascist drive to colonization, Dada arose at the outbreak of War World I as a cultural movement of protest against such expansionist policies. Henry Ball, author of the first Dada Manifesto (1916), stated: “For us, art is not an end in itself (...) but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”21 22 Before presenting our dada grandmothers, I would like to mention the prosthetic work of US artist Anna Coleman Ladd (1878–1939), who produced masks of thin copper for soldiers who were disfigured in World War I; such masks were sculpted and painted to resemble the portraits of the soldiers before their disfigurement. The connection between war mutilations and dada aesthetics has been widely remarked. As Stanton B. Garner has stated: “To place (...) the body-object hybrids of Dada collage and photomontage next to war-time prosthetic devices, (...) is to glimpse the wider cultural field where the modern body was fragmented, altered, and re-imagined.”23 Anti-bourgeois and anarchistic in nature, dadaism strongly repudiated the war, as we can read in Ball’s words: “The war is based on a crass error. Men have been mistaken for machines. Machines, not men, should be decimated.”24 More than ludditism, what characterized Dadaism was a cynical approach towards ideas of progress and control. 20

I have discovered Barbara and her interest for Luce Irigaray thanks to Prof. Francesca Brezzi, author of the exhaustive essay: “Quando il futurismo è donna. Barbara dei colori” (2009). 21 Ball, 1974, 58. 22 It is interesting to note that, in the view of German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk: “Dada is basically neither an art movement nor an anti-art movement, but a radical ‘philosophical action’. It practices the art of a militant irony” (1987, 391). 23 Garner, 2007, 507. 24 Ball, 1974, 22.

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Dada artists did not reject the machine, they actually embedded the mechanic in their aesthetics. Some of them, such as Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) and Francis Picabia (1879–1953), went so far as to develop a dada machine art. But the specificity of such machines can be found in their futility and nonsense, in an interpretation of the new which radically differed from Futurism: the advances of technology were recognized by Dadaism as part of a larger reality, chaotic and existentially unstable, anticipating the uncanny feelings often associated with cyborgism.25 Even if there are many dada artists whose artworks have contributed to creating a posthuman canon, such as Sophie Tauber-Arp (1889–1943), Sonia Delaunay (1885–1979) and Beatrice Wood (1893–1998), in this visual genealogy I will focus on German artist Hannah Höch (1889–1978), following Matthew Biro’s suggestion, who places the motherhood of the cyborg in the Dada movement,26 27 and specifically, in her collages. Extending the origins of the cyborg to Dadaism offers not only the possibility of an alternative genealogy to the functional definition articulated by Clynes and Kline of cyborgs as “self-regulating manmachine systems”28 conceived “to meet the requirements of extraterrestrial environments”,29 but also to the militaristic one foreseen by Marinetti. Such re-rooting, as Biro has stated, “expands the concept beyond its traditional definition (...) including the cyborg as representing hybrid identity in a broad sense.”30 The art form adopted by Dadaism to visualize such synthesis was collage; Höch developed this technique far more than any other Berlin dada artist. The cyborgian nature of many of her photomontage’s figures blends genders as well as colours, ethnicities and ages, eventually suggesting that these traits are not immutable. Höch was deeply aware of the changes women were facing on a social and individual level in the post-war period,31 and one of her central concerns

25 For an articulated presentation of the cyborg and the uncanny, see Grenville, 2002. 26 Although such roots were already pointed out by Jennifer González in the article “Envisioning Cyborg Bodies: Notes from Current Research” (1995). 27 “The cyborg was, paradoxically, also a creature on which many Weimar artists and other cultural producers could project their utopian hopes and fantasies” (Biro, 2009, 1). 28 Clynes/Kline, 1960, 31. 29 Ibid., 29. 30 Biro, 2009, 1. 31 On the other side, sexism was not affected by dada’s anti-conventional attitude. As Maria Makela has underlined: “Despite the lip service they all paid to women's

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was to visually represent such a shift: female cyborgs ultimately became much more prevalent in her art. The dada roots of the posthuman are not only traceable in its aesthetics, but specifically, in the use of techniques such as the collage, as presented, and the assemblage, that is, the artistic process of putting together found objects in two- or three-dimensional compositions, which found in dada artist Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874–1927) and in sculptor Louise Nevelson (1899–1988) some of its pioneers. On one side, due to biotechnology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology, life itself has become more and more of a “biotechnological assemblage” (Waldby, 2000); on the other, the environmental concerns of posthuman ethics, which invest in recycling policies and sustainability, spontaneously delve into such traditions. Posthumanism also shares with Dadaism the acceptance of the nonsense, which is embedded in its own meta-narratives: in its attempt to decentre the human, Posthumanism is still thought and theorized by humans, in a human-centric system of signs. Surrealism Surrealism spread internationally from the 1920s onwards, becoming one of the most influential movements of the period. It developed out of Dadaism, and it elaborated the nonsense in evocative juxtapositions and non sequiturs. In the footsteps of Freud, Surrealism gave full recognition to the unconscious, dream symbolism and free associations. Surrealist aesthetics bent the laws of physics in order to provoke surprise and mystery, which replaced the dada uncanny; to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, surrealists adopted techniques such as automatic writing and drawing, defined as “automatism”.32 Surrealism, though, did not aim to express a transcendence of the real; its intent was to deepen the understandings of the world perceived by the senses, extending its foundations over what had been historically confined to “the reign of

emancipation, most of the male dadaists ultimately accorded Höch’s professional achievements little if any genuine respect” (Makela, 1997, 119). 32 It is worth noticing that nowadays, in the era of the intelligent machines, the use of the word “automata” has been related to the capability of operating without external control, while this other meaning – the activity of processing without conscious thought – has been largely dismissed. The question, “Can a machine have a consciousness?” which has been at the centre of debate in the Philosophy of AI, could be interestingly reformulated, in a surreal mode, as: Since AI is free from the conscious mind, can it access a different kind of knowledge?

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logic”,33 as Breton defined it in the First Surrealist Manifesto (1924). In his words: “I believe in the future resolution of these two states – dream and reality – which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.”34 In its attempts to avoid dualisms, Posthumanism owes to Surrealism the retrieving of such aspects of life: the dream world can offer a unique space of visualization; the possibilities opened by the future are already embedded in the mystery of the present; the conscious becomes the unconscious, in a fluid view from which the field of posthuman psychology is currently emerging. Surrealism also brought attention to the environment, which, as previously stated, characterizes critical Posthumanism. As Rosemont notes: “Always implicit in surrealist thought, a radical ecological awareness is increasingly explicit in movement publications after 1945.”35 Such awareness merged, for instance, in the paintings of US artists Katherine Linn Sage (1898–1963), whose large, surreal sights recall futuristic landscapes and science fiction movies. Both aesthetically and content-wise, posthuman evocations can be found in the works of Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012) and Leonora Carrington (1917–2011), whose interest in animal imagery, world mythologies and occult symbolism deepened after meeting the Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter Remedios Varo Uranga (1908–1963), who was influenced by a wide range of mystic and hermetic traditions, both Western and non-Western: from Carl Jung’s archetypal psychology to Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophy, George Gurdjieff’s spiritual teachings and the Sufi tradition. In this section, I would also like to mention Lois Mailou Jones (1905–1998). Born in the US, Jones spent a long time in Paris. Some of her paintings recall surrealist suggestions, such as “The Fetishes” (1938). What deeply inspired Jones’s work was the Harlem Renaissance, which was flowering at the time, the African-American experience and African traditions. Her masks trespassed the traditional divide between the human realm and the divine, while “The Ascent of Ethiopia” (1932) re-inscribed the African diaspora within a spiritual time and space, visualized through symbolic imaginary, technological artifacts and the human arts. Two other artists to consider in this connection are Argentine-born artist Leonor Fini (1907–1996), and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907– 1954); interestingly enough, neither of these artists claimed an affiliation with the surrealist movement, even if their works have been labelled as 33

Breton, 1972, 9. Ibid., 14. 35 Rosemont, 1998, LI. 34

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such. I have decided to focus on Fini, not only for the excellence of her work, but also for her intriguing personality, and in particular, for her taste for the masquerade, which actually derived from a curious biographical experience. When Leonor was a child, after her parents had divorced, her father tried on various occasions to kidnap her, so her mother ingeniously started to disguise her as a boy to hide her identity. In this repeated act of cross-dressing, Leonor fully experienced not only the social mimicry of gender performativity (Butler, 1990), but also its fascinating theatrical side. The idea of metamorphosis became central in her work, which featured female sphinxes, androgynous figures, cats and powerful women (see Figures 1 and 2). Carnevalesque aesthetics were embedded in her everyday life, as she later stated: “Only the inevitable theatricality of life interests me.”36 Her use of the mask and costumes was not aimed at misleading individual recognition (there was no mystery about who was wearing them, and Leonor sincerely enjoyed such attention),37 but was meant to represent the different identities inhabiting the persona: “With costumes and masks I feel I become an extension of myself.”38 Fini’s posthuman sensitivity drove her work and her life, as she recalled: “I experience an erotic world where there is no divergence, no hostility, where everything mixes together (…) I like to feel myself in a state of metamorphosis like certain animals and certain plants.”39 Frida Kahlo could be included in such a genealogy for many different reasons, but I will focus on a specific aspect of her work, which is rarely debated in enthusiastic transhuman accounts of techno-bodies: pain. Frida contracted polio at age six; when she was 18 she almost died in a tragic bus accident, her body was seriously damaged and she never fully recovered. Her condition led to more than 30 operations; the impossibility of a healthy pregnancy, with consequent miscarriages and therapeutic abortions; the amputation of three toes and, some years later, of her right leg below the knee. Her paintings depict a complex symbolism, where self-portraits and autobiographical references cohabit with pre-Columbian gods, Christian imagery and animal-human hybrids. Frida’s dark surrealism is “without hope” (to mention the title of one of her paintings, 1945); it is not rooted in the dream world, but in the embodied experience – personal, social and political. In her own words: “They thought I was a 36

Webb, 2009, 127. I thank Neil Zukerman and the CFM Gallery for the precious insights into Leonor's work, art and personality. 38 Webb, 2009, 127. 39 Ibidem, 105. 37

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Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”40 A reality which has been physically and emotionally challenging: “my paintings (...) have a message of pain in them.”41 Her damaged naked body stands as “a socialized body, a body that is open by instruments, technologized, wounded” – as Jean Franco pointed out – “its organs displayed to the outside world”. In a diary she kept towards the end of her life, next to a drawing of her body, Frida wrote: “I am disintegration.”42 This female body, subject and object of an autobiographical public narrative, never turns into a fetish nor into an impersonal site of “mechanical eroticism”,43 to borrow Baudrillard’s term, which he used in the essay “Crash”44 on J. G. Ballard’s homonymous novel.45 This essay actually provoked a strong response, which I found useful in analysing Kahlo’s poetics. Specifically, Vivian Sobchack’s criticism suits the purpose very well: “There’s nothing like a little pain to bring us (back) to our senses and to reveal Baudrillard’s apocalyptic descriptions of the postmodern technobody as dangerously partial.”46 Frida’s technologized bodies do not leave space for naïve celebrations of prosthetic futures, in which the flesh is dismissed as an old-fashioned element which can (and will) be easily substituted; her paintings carry all the grief related to such techno-reconfigurations.

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2.2 Our Feminist Mothers: from the Seventies to the Nineties After presenting the three main artistic avant-garde movements of the first half of the 20th century, in this section I will focus on the artistic scene connected to the second wave of Feminism, which began in the 1960s and flourished through the 1970s. The theoretical contribution of Feminism to Posthumanism is crucial. The fact that Feminism brought into question male symbolism as universal, has been fundamental to the posthuman effort of decentring the human and its anthropocentric logos from the centre of the discourse. On the claim that “the personal is political”, the body became the first space to be reclaimed from patriarchal ontological 40

Kettenmann, 1999, 48. Tibol, 1993, 67. 42 Fuentes/Kahlo, 1995, 225. 43 Baudrillard, 1991, 119. 44 First published in 1976, this essay was reprinted in a special issue of “Science Fiction Studies” in November 1991, together with the critical responses to it by other theorists, including N. Katherine Hayles. 45 “Crash” is a novel about symphorophilia and mechanophilia (Ballard, 1973). 46 Sobchack, 1991, 328. 41

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constriction; performative art seemed an appropriate tool for such a purpose. As performer Cheri Gaulke pointed out: “In performance we found an art form that was young, without the tradition of painting or sculpture. Without the traditions governed by men.”47 Since many of the artists of the time shared the postmodern criticism of strong ideologies and distantiated themselves from strict labels, in this section I will present our posthuman feminist mothers by subject of interest. Let’s start with the problematization of the inner and external boundaries of the human body, which, as previously mentioned for Kahlo’s work, cannot be simplified by the superhero iconography common in transhuman accounts,48 but it is also marked by blood and pain. As Pastourmatzi recalls: “Only in fiction are the magical transmutations from flesh to text and text to flesh ubiquitous and painless.”49 Many artists could be listed here, starting with French performer Gina Pane (1935– 1990), the mother of Body Art, whose self-mutilations represented, in the words of Michel Thevoz, a “profanation of humanistic values”.50 In the 1960s, US artist Hannah Wilke (1940–1993) developed her vaginal imagery, which included tiny vulval sculptures made of chewing gum and then stuck to her naked body, achieving a grotesque confusion of lines between the flesh and the gum. Her last work, “Intra-Venus” (1992–1993), published posthumously, consisted of a photographic record of her body changing as a result of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Another posthuman mother to be mentioned here is Serbian-born Marina Abramoviü (1946) who, in an interview given in 1990, said of her previous work: “It had a lot to do with pain and injuriousness in order to push the body to its border, even to the border between life and death.”51 In “Rhythm 0” (1974), she placed on a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use on her, including a gun and a single bullet. Still an active artist, Abramoviü is constantly questioning boundaries on a personal and cultural level. In her own words: “I don’t have any feeling of nationality. I travelled so much that I really took the whole planet as a studio. And in a way I even think it’s too small.”52 One of her ongoing series of sculptures 47

Goldberg, 1998, 129. For instance, in the cover of the book “Human Enhancement” (Bostrom/Savulescu, 2009), a series of hyper-muscular men is portrayed in every position of canonical weight lifting, in an over-simplification of the topic and a universalization of specifically male characteristics as universal symbols of enhancement. 49 Pastourmatzi, 2009, 214. 50 Thevoz, 1984, 119. 51 Goy, 1990, n. pag. 52 Ibid. 48

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entitled “Transitory Objects for Non-Human Use” (1993–present) includes a “Chair For Non-Human Use” (1995), whose legs are so high no human being could possibly sit on it. There are some artists whose works are crucial to this genealogy for the challenges they raised to the anthropocentric perception of the human in confronting their own identity. I would like to mention Japanese-born Yoko Ono (b. 1933), Cuban-born Ana Mendieta (1948–1985) and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929). Ono was part of the Fluxus group which, inspired by movements such as Dadaism and the Gutai, used an intermedia approach and highlighted the connection between art and everyday objects, focusing more on the artistic process than on the final product itself. In such a spirit, Ono identified the common housefly as an alter ego (“Fly”, 1970), in a video portraying interspecies connection. Mendieta’s environmental art, on the other hand, features her body merging with the earth and other natural objects found in loco, including grass growing through her body. The minimal intervention of her performances contrasts with the monumental alterations of some of her male contemporaries, such as Robert Smithson (1938–1973), whose work depended upon heavy machinery to be completed. In Mendieta’s performances “Siluetas” (1973–1980), the human figure – sometimes reproduced in fire or blood – is not separated from the environment, in a holistic approach which resonates with posthuman environmental awareness and an overcoming of dualistic ontologies. The human becomes an ephemeral concept, in an organic vision of life, as a force constantly shaping and evolving. Yayoi Kusama will act as a bridge to the next section on technology. Kusama has developed through her live performances and environmental installations characterized by obsessive repetitions and accumulation, based on dreams and hallucinations occurring since her childhood. Her “infinity nets” and polka dots seem to pre-announce computer-generated visual patterns: in a subversion of perspectives, the dots are the subjects, while the humans become part of their infinite tendency to multiply, one more layer of repetition (see Figures 5 and 6). Her series of “Mirror/Infinity rooms”, produced since 1963, recalls the universe in expansion. It is worth mentioning that Kusama, who was very active in the New York avant-garde movement of the 1960s, staged the first “homosexual wedding” to be performed in the US: the happening took place in 1968, one year before the Stonewall riots. Let me conclude this section by mentioning the work of other artists who, in different ways, elaborated on the interaction between humanity and technology. First, there is the work of Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka (1932–2005). Her “Electric Dress”, which dates back as far as 1956, was

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simultaneously a sculpture and a performance; it not only became one of the iconic images of the Gutai, but it also represented an important antecedent to the feminist tradition of wearable art. German artist Rebecca Horn (b. 1944) began her body-extension series in 1968. In her performance “Unicorn” (1972), she wore a long horn on her head and, in order to hold it, white straps on her naked body, which strongly resembled the ones portrayed in Frida Kahlo’s painting “Broken Column” (1944). Horn produced sculptures designed to be attached like prostheses to the bodies of performers in order to lengthen their fingers and arms, resonating with Marshall McLuhan’s theory of new media technologies as “extensions of man”.53 In her artistic investigation, she foregrounded the relationship between technology, power and gender, creating “extensions of women”. In the 1980s, she worked on a series of art machines, such as the “Painting Machine” (1988), about which she stated: “My machines are not washing machines or cars. They have a human quality and they must change,”54 enacting an overcoming of the traditional binary opposition between the human and the mechanical. Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920–1988) did not directly explore the possibilities offered by advanced technologies, and still, as Simone Osthoff has remarked: “She opened conceptual ground for practices similar to those of electronic performance and telecommunications art, with their emphasis on fluid, intangible exchanges.”55 Clark’s emphasis on interactivity, marked by the necessary manipulation of objects by the viewer in order to unfold different shapes and forms (Bichos, c. 1960), largely preceded the development of interactive media. Her multisensory devices, such as the “Sensorial Hoods” (1967) and the “Abyss-Masks” (1967), offered new perceptive experiences, which anticipated virtual reality simulations. Before passing to the third and final part of this genealogy, I would like to pay homage to many more artists who have contributed to the posthuman imaginary, among others: Joan Jonas (b. 1936), Adrian Piper (b. 1948) and Linda Montano (b. 1942) for their performative works; Ulrike Ottinger (b. 1942), Dara Birnbaum (b. 1946) and Steina Vasulka (b. 1944) for their video works; Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), Nancy Grossman (b. 1940) and Senga Nengudi (b. 1943) for their sculptural works; Francesca Woodman (1958–1981) and Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) for their photography.

53

McLuhan, 1964. Horn, 1993, 27. 55 Osthoff, n. pag. 54

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2.3 Our digital sisters: from the Nineties till today The early 1990s marked the birth of Cyberfeminism. The unexpected success of Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” (1985) strongly contributed to its popularization at a historical moment when cyberculture was establishing its narratives and art was reshaping into new forms, such as cyberart, web art, new media art, electronic art, software art, digital art and telematic art. The tremendous possibilities opened by virtual reality, which included computer-simulated environments in which one could experience different gender identities (whose effects actually proved to be less revolutionary than expected),56 were theoretically inscribed within CyberFeminism, which stressed multiplicity, nomadicity and connectivity. Its practices were participatory and decentred; its goals were mainly concerned with making the digital realm a woman-friendly space, which would not perpetuate patriarchal agendas. CyberFeminism represents an important antecedent of Posthumanism. Although the term “posthuman” had first appeared a decade earlier within the frame of postmodern literature, and specifically, in the writings of Ihab Hassan,57 it started to be popularized in the writings of the time.58 Its use became familiar within academia after the publication of “How We Became Posthuman” (1999) by Katherine Hayles, who already in 1995 was writing: “Standing at the threshold separating the human and the posthuman, the cyborg looks to the past as well as the future.”59 The historical and herstorical passage between the human and the posthuman is the cyborg. In this section, I will present the artists in three areas, which could be referred to as “Bioart”, critical “Techno-Orientalism” and “Afrofuturism”. Bioart, in the strict sense, is a very young and ethically controversial form of art, which works with live tissues, bacteria and living organisms; in the broad sense, it might include artists who address biotechnology merely from a symbolic or conceptual perspective. The connection between

56

As Sandy Stone phrased it in her essay: “Will The Real Body Please Stand Up?”: “No matter how virtual the subject may become, there is always a body attached” (Stone, 1991, 524). 57 Literary theorist Ihab Hassan (1925–2015) was among the first to use the term “posthuman” in the article “Prometheus as Performer: Toward a Posthumanist Culture?” (1977), to then develop it in “The Postmodern Turn” (1987). 58 For instance, in Braidotti’s essay “CyberFeminism with a Difference” (1996), which also focusses one of its subchapters on “Posthuman Bodies”. 59 Hayles 1995, 322.

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Posthumanism and bioart60 is complex. On one hand, the posthuman attempt to decentre the human species by placing it among any other species and forms of life, seems to be shared by bioartists, as Ionat Zurr, one its very pioneers, warns: “We have to be careful of human arrogance. We need to be posthumanist. For us, species is not important.”61 On the other hand, removing boundaries can serve as a theoretical strategy for unconditional human dominance, as Vandana Shiva remarks: “Boundaries have been an important construct for ecological restraint. ‘Removing boundaries’ has been an important metaphor for removing restraints on human actions, and allowing limitless exploitation of natural resources.”62 Bioart is too often concerned strictly with the artist’s vision, a human in a godlike position for life to be used in the name of art; in so doing, it ontologically separates the concept of creating life from care-giving.63 In this genealogy of posthuman sisterhood, let us introduce the work of Kathy High (b. 1954), who actually reverses such a tendency: in “Embracing animals” (2004–2006), she exhibited three live transgenic lab rats she adopted after purchasing them from a science research facility, where they had been microinjected with human DNA as part of autoimmune disease research into illnesses similar to High’s own medical condition. Her live installation emphasized the exchanges between human animals and other species. ORLAN64 (b. 1947) is one of the few artists whose importance in the growing field of posthuman art has been unanimously recognized. She has a large body of work, which began in the early 1960s, but in this genealogy I will only focus on the art she has produced after the 1990s. ORLAN’s work symbolically marks the passage between the 1970s and 60

From a feminist perspective, it is surprising how bioart does not acknowledge any of its roots to women’s history of motherhood. The female body has been the site of creation of life since the beginning of humankind. More generally: “Women’s bodily experiences of menstruation, coitus, pregnancy, and childbirth challenge the boundaries between the body and the external world” (Nicholson, 1997, 150). 61 Solon, 2011, n. pag. 62 Shiva, 1995, 281. 63 Since it does not hold an immunitary system, the tissue produced will die as soon as it is touched to be displayed. Another example of such an approach is the case of the transgenic rabbit “Alba” (designed by bioartist Eduardo Kac in 2007), whose life and death remains undocumented. 64 It is important to note that ORLAN does not classify her work as Body Art: “As distinct from 'Body Art', Carnal Art does not conceive of pain as redemptive or as a source of purification. (…) Carnal Art is not self-mutilation” (ORLAN 1989, 28). On the use of capital letters, see note 1.

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the cyberfeminist 1990s, fully embracing the possibilities opened by advanced technologies. In her digital photographic series, “SelfHybridizations” (started in 1994), she merged her facial features with nonwestern iconographies; her bioart project “The Harlequin’s Coat” (2007) featured a biotechnological coat made of coloured diamond-shaped petri dishes, containing pieces of skin of different origins. More specifically, I will now focus on her work with plastic surgery, for the strong impact it had on the elaboration of posthuman artistic domains. ORLAN was the first artist to use cosmetic surgery as a medium of artistic enquiry, but she deviated its normative purpose of realigning bodies to specific aesthetic canons. As she stated in her Carnal Art Manifesto (1989): “Carnal Art is not against aesthetic surgery, but against the standards that pervade it, particularly, in relation to the female body, but also to the male body. Carnal Art must be feminist.”65 “The Reincarnation of Saint-Orlan” (1990–1993) involved a series of plastic surgeries in the course of which the artist started to morph herself with respect to ideal features of the feminine as depicted by male artists in the history of art; exaggerating some of these features, she turned such bodily reconfiguration into an antiaesthetic process. ORLAN’s operations were staged as mediatic performances and screened live in different locations. The focus was, in her own words, “the spectacle and discourse of the modified body which has become the place of a public debate”.66 Her perception of the flesh as a public stage for disruption of social normativities resonates with Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of the grotesque:67 “Contrary to modern canons, the grotesque body is not separated from the rest of the world. It is not a closed, completed unit; it is unfinished, outgrows itself, transgresses its own limits.”68 ORLAN has not only offered a feminist switch to plastic surgery; constantly challenging fixed notions of identity, her research has extended the nomadic subjectivity (Braidotti, 1994) to the biological self (see Figures 3 and 4). US artist Natasha Vita-More is also redesigning the human body, but if ORLAN’s work is rooted in a materialist feminist perspective, Vita-More is a futurist and one of the main theorists of Transhumanism. Her “Primo Post-human” is the prototype of the “new human genre”, a media design and a conceptual work (see Figure 7). Her redesigned human body 65

Ibid., 29. Ibid., 28. 67 ORLAN herself uses this term in her Manifesto: “Carnal Art loves parody and the baroque, the grotesque and the extreme” (Ibid., 29). 68 Bakthin, 1984, 26. 66

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features “a sensorial mix, assured performance, motion in concert with physique, seamless fusion of body and technology, equilibrium of logic and passion”.69 The role of the artist in the visualization of the future is central in Vita-More’s poetics, as she resumes: “Artistic options will expand in creating new practices for designing biosynthetic bodies, sensorial extension, cognitive enrichment, gender diversity, identity transfer, and radical life extension.”70 In her view, art, science and philosophy go hand in hand, supporting and inspiring each other. I would like to end this part on bioart by mentioning one more artist: Australian artist Patrizia Piccinini (b. 1965). Piccinini does not work directly with live material, but she uses her artistic practice as a site to reflect on the possibilities opened by biotechnology, and on its impact upon life. In her anthropomorphic sculpture, “The young family” (2003), a hybrid humanpig mother is portrayed with her babies in a very informal pose, provoking a sense of normality and familiarity through a cross-species representation. She is one of Donna Haraway’s favourite artists, she recalls: “When I first saw Patricia Piccinini’s work a few years ago, I recognized a sister in technoculture. I experienced her as a compelling storyteller in the radical experimental lineage of feminist science fiction.”71 Moving now to the second area mentioned earlier, critical TechnoOrientalism,72 73 I will present the work of Lee Bul (b. 1964, South Korea), Cao Fei (b. 1978, China) and Mariko Mori (b. 1967, Japan), but I would also like to mention Shu Lea-Cheang (b. 1954) and Hiromi Ozaki (b. 1985). Let us start with Lee Bul. Her series of “Cyborg” sculptures (1997– 98) have no face; their female bodies are missing parts, they are disabled. Far from the glamorization of the female body in Japanese manga and Korean anime culture, Bul’s cyborgs provoke uneasiness. In her words: “All I’ve done is push the logic of male fantasy to its darkest extremities.”74 On the other side, video and photographic artist Mariko Mori, a former fashion model, casts herself precisely in the role of the animated heroines of mainstream iconographies, calling into question, as Makiko Hara has recalled, “the borderline between the subject and the 69

Vita-More, 2005, n. pag. Vita-More, 2011, 78–9. 71 Haraway, 2007, n. pag. 72 The term was first coined by Morley and Robins, 1995. 73 I would like to note that these artists do not generally label themselves “Technoorientalist”. Here, the term is employed to focus critically both on technology and on the construction of the “Orient” (Said, 1978) from specific Asian standpoints, thus promoting a greater cross-cultural awareness. 74 Wetterwald, 2003, 179. 70

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Other”,75 between the real and the fantasy, the physical and the digital. It is also worth noticing that Mori’s futuristic, iconic, post-feminist characters share a transcendental sensitivity specific to her Japanese religious background. As Naho Kitano has explained about Japanese Animism and Robotics: “In Japan, there is a traditional belief of the existence of spiritual life in objects or natural phenomena (...). I strongly believe that, in Japan, autonomous or intelligent robots are easily accepted socially because of the belief in its spirit.”76 Another artist who blends the line between physical reality and virtual reality is net artist Cao Fei. Her documentary, “Imirror” (2007), was filmed entirely in Second Life (SL), and the direction of the movie was credited to her SL avatar China Tracy. Fei explored the effects of an immersive use of online identities on the self, questioning what is real and what is fantasy not only in the narratives of the movie, but in its meta-narratives as well. Her work, focused on the potential of online personas, harmoniously bridges third- and fourth-wave Feminism. It is important to note that, if the internet is one of the main fields of interest for fourth-wave Feminism, intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) is one of its fundamental analytical tools. Let us now consider Afrofuturism, a term coined by Mark Dery in 199377 to refer to the contribution of the Black experience to the settings of the upcoming times. Afrofuturism and Posthumanism share common theoretical ground and a crucial difference with Futurism in their recognition of the importance of acknowledging the past, based on the same premises: “human” is not a neutral term, and carries a history of privileges. For instance, women, people of colours other than white, disabled people etc. have been repeatedly deprived of such status. In particular, the African-American diaspora, which caused a forced erasing of private and public histories, makes it crucial to keep the past present in the visualization of desirable futures. Many artists have contributed to such narratives. Let’s start with Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972), a Kenyan-born artist whose collages melt together the aesthetics of traditional African crafts with science fiction imaginary, bionic prosthetics and surrealism. Her visionary cyborgism is fully aware of the sexual and racial difference. In an interview for CNN, she stated: “What I’ve been trying to sort of do is (…) give the women a kind of strength that the machine supposedly represents for the man. It’s like they’re taking it back and they become 75

Hara, 2001, 242. Kitano, 2007, 1–4. 77 Dery introduced it in his essay “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose” (Dery, 1993). 76

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these cyborgs, these fierce female cyborgs.”78 US artist Denenge Akpem is both an artist and an academic theorist. She has done extensive work on divulging the concept of Afrofuturism, which she defines as “an exploration and methodology of liberation, simultaneously both a location and a journey”.79 In her performative installation, “Rapunzel Revisited: An Afri-Sci-Fi Space Sea Siren Tale” (2006), she transforms herself into a hybrid human-jellyfish, with lighted fibre-optic tentacles. Her work redefines concepts of race, gender and humanity with a holistic approach. Jamaican-born Renée Cox (b. 1960) is a photographer who stages her own body in self-portraits which deconstruct racist and sexist stereotypes. In the series “Raje” (1998), she poses as her alter ego, Raje, a superheroine who fights for racial justice. Between the many other afrofuturist posthuman sisters, I would like to mention: Kara Walker (b. 1969), Fatimah Tuggar (b. 1967) and Tanekeya Word (b. 1983). Related to Afrofuturism is Chicanafuturism, a term coined in 2002 by Catherine S. Ramírez to explore the relation between the Chicana experience and the future, with a special emphasis on its technological and scientific developments. Chicanafuturism also explores a redefinition of the human through Latin American history and exploitation: “Chicanafuturism articulates colonial and post-colonial histories of indigenismo, mestizaje, hegemony, and survival.”80 Some of the artists who delve into this area of investigation are: Alma Lopez, Marion C. Martinez (b. 1954), Coco Fusco (b. 1960) and Laura Molina (b. 1957), whose character “Cihualyaomiquiz, The Jaguar”, created in 1994, represents an avenging Mexican-American superheroine ready to die for social justice (see Figure 8). Before ending the third and last section of this genealogy on cyberfeminist posthuman artists, I would like to mention some of the many whose works, for reasons of space, I could not present. Among others: media theorist and artist Sandy Stone (b. 1936), digital artist Linda Dement (b. 1959); video game artist Mary Flanagan (b. 1969), video-artist Shirin Neshat (b. 1957); photographer Shadi Ghadirian (b. 1974) and her work Ctrl + Alt + Del (2006); US performer Narcissister and her revisitation of the masquerade.

78

Mutu, 2011, n. pag. Akpem, 2011, n. pag. 80 Ramirez, 2008, 187. 79

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Concluding Remarks This genealogy elaborates on the richness and variety of the artists presented, emphasizing the contribution of female radical imagination to the present and to forthcoming times. Starting with the main avant-garde movement of the first half of the 20th century – Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism –this genealogy passes through the 1960s and 1970s, with the feminist exploration of the body opened by performance art. Lastly, it takes into account the 1990s and the radical re-elaboration of the self: from Cyberfeminism and its revisitation of technology, to the insights of bioart; from critical Techno-Orientalist readings of the future, to its political and social articulations, pointed out by Afrofuturism and Chicanafuturism. The great variety of works, inputs and perspectives presented, demonstrates the need to maintain a comprehensive methodological approach to the posthuman, avoiding cultural appropriations and discriminatory erasures. I would like to think of this article as an attempt to pay homage to all of these visionary artists, whose works have radically contributed to the configuration of posthuman aesthetics and, more generally, to the manifestation of the posthuman turn.

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Acknowledgements This article is based on a talk I delivered at the Conference “Audiovisual Posthumanism” (University of the Aegean, Greece 2010). I would like to thank the organizers and participants for their constructive feedback. My gratitude goes to Prof. Achille Varzi, Prof. Evi Sampanikou, Ellen Delahunty Roby, Isabel De Lorenzo, Natasha Vita-More, ORLAN and Maëva Gomez, Laura Molina, Neil Zukerman and the CFM Gallery.

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Figures 1 and 2: Leonor Fini

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Figures 3 and 4: ORLAN Figure 3 released by copyright owner under Option n.D (copyrighted material) Figure 4 image found in internet under Creative Commons Images: By Fabrice Lévêque - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36619853

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A Feminist Genealogy of Posthuman Aesthetics in the Visual Arts

Figure 5 and 6: Yayoi Kusama Images found in internet under Creative Commons Images: By Vagner Carvalheiro – https://www.flickr.com/photos/vagnercarvalheiro/7516459444, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38789947 By User:Sengkang - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1297624

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Figure 7: Natasha Vita-More

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Figure 8: Laura Molina Released by copyright owner under Option n.D (copyrighted material)

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References Akpem, D. (2011): Are you ready to alter your destiny? Chicago and AfroFuturism, Part 1 of 2. Chicago Art Magazine online publication July 2, 2011: Chicagoartmagazine.com Bakhtin, M. {1941} [1965] (1984): Rabelais and His World. Indiana University Press: Bloomington. Ball, H. (1974): Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary. Viking Press: New York. Ballard, J. G. (1973): Crash. Jonathan Cape: London. Baudrillard, J. [1981] (1994): Simulacra and Simulation. The University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor. —. (1991): Ballard’s Crash. Science Fiction Studies, 55 (18): 313–320. Berghaus, G. (ed.) (2006): Critical Writings: F. T. Marinetti. Farrar, Straus & Giroux: New York. Biro, S. (2009): The Dada Cyborg: Visions of the New Human in Weimar Berlin. The University of Minnesota: Minneapolis. Bostrom, N. and Savulescu, J. (2009): Human Enhancement. Oxford University Press: Oxford. Braidotti, R. (1994): Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. Columbia University Press: Cambridge. —. (1996): Cyberfeminism with a difference. New Formations, 29: 9–25. —. (2013): The Posthuman. Polity: Cambridge. Breton, A. (1972): Manifestoes of Surrealism. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor. Brezzi, F. (2009): Quando il Futurismo è Donna: Barbara dei Colori. Mimesis: Milano. Butler, J. [1990] (1999): Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge: New York et al. Clynes, M. E. and Kline, N. S. (1960): Cyborgs and Space. Astronautics, 26–27 (74–76). Reprinted in: Hables Gray, C. and Figueroa-Sarriera, H. J. (eds.) (1995), 29–34. Crenshaw, K. (1989): Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. In: U. Chi. Legal Forum (1989), University of Chicago: Chicago, 139–167. De Saint-Point, V. (1912): Manifesto of Futurist Woman. In: Caws, M A (2001) Manifesto: a Century of Isms. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, 213–216. Dery, M. (1993): Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany,

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Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose. In: Dery, M. (ed.) Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture. Duke University Press: Durham, 179–222. Ferrando, F. (2012): Towards a Posthumanist Methodology. A Statement. Frame Journal For Literary Studies, 25 (1): 9–18. —. (2014a): Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms: Differences and Relations. Existenz, 8 (2): 26– 32. —. (2014b): The body. In: Ranisch, R and Sorgner, S L (eds.) (2014), 213–226. Firestone, S. (1970): The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. Quill William Morrow: New York. Foucault, M. [1975] (1995): Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison. Vintage Books: New York. Fuentes, C. and Kahlo, F. (1995): The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait. Abrams: New York. Garner, S. B. (2007): The Gas Heart: Disfigurement and the Dada Body. Modern Drama, 4 (50): 500–516. Gehlen, A. [1957] (1980): Man in the Age of Technology (European Perspectives). Columbia University Press: New York. Goldberg, R. (1998): Performance: Live Art since the ’60s. Thames and Hudson: London et al. González, J. (1995): Envisioning Cyborg Bodies: Notes From Current Research. In: Hables Gray, C. and Figueroa-Sarriera, H. J. (eds.) (1995), 267–279. Goy, B. (1990): Marina Abramoviü. Journal of Contemporary Art online publication June 1990: Jca-online.com Grenville, B. (ed.) (2001): The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture. Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver. Guerra, R. (n.d.): Tutto il Potere ai Cyborg! Intervista a Riccardo Campa. Associazione Italiana Transumanisti online publication 26 January 2012: Transumanisti.it Hables Gray, C. and Figueroa-Sarriera, H. J. (eds.) (1995): The Cyborg Handbook, Routledge: New York. Halberstam, J. and Livingston, I. (eds.) (1995): Posthuman Bodies. Indiana University Press: Bloomington et al. Hara, M. (2001): Others in the Third Millennium. In: Grenville, B. (ed.) (2001), 237–247. Haraway, D. (2007): Speculative Fabulations for Technoculture’s Generations: Taking Care of Unexpected Country. In: Piccinini, P. (tender) creature exhibition catalogue. Artium; online publication 2007: Patriziapiccinini.net

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Hassan, I. (1977): Prometheus as Performer: Toward a Posthumanist Culture? The Georgia Review, 31 (4): 830–850. —. (1987): The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture. Ohio State University Press: Columbus, OH. Hayles, N. K. (1995): The Life Cycles of Cyborgs: Writing the Posthuman. In: Hables Gray, C. and Figueroa-Sarriera, H. J. (eds.) (1995), 321–335. —. (1999): How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago et al. hooks, B. (1984): Feminist Theory: from Margin to Center. South End Press: Boston. Horn, R. and Celant, G. et al. (1993): Rebecca Horn. Guggenheim Museum: New York. Kettenmann, A. (1993): Frida Kahlo, 1907–1954: Pain and Passion. Taschen: Köln. Kitano, N. (2007): Animism, Rinri, Modernization: the Base of Japanese Robotics. Roboethics, ICRA’07 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Rome (Italy); online publication April 2007. Web: Roboethics.org Leonard, E. B. (2003): Women, Technology, and the Myth of Progress. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River: New Jersey. Makela, M. (1997): The Misogynist Machine: Images of Technology in the Work of Hannah Höch. In: Von Ankum, K. (ed.) Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture. University of California Press: Berkeley, 106–27. Marinetti, F. T. (1909): The Futurist Manifesto. In: Berghaus, G. (ed.) (2006), 13–16. —. (1912): Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature. In: Berghaus, G. (ed.) (2006), 107–119. —. (1915): Extended Man and the Kingdom of the Machine. In: Berghaus, G. (ed.) (2006), 85–88. —. (1915): War, the Sole Cleanser of the World. In: Berghaus, G. (ed.) (2006), 53–54. McLuhan, M. (1964): Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Signet Books: New York. Miller, C. and Swift, K. [1976] (1991): Words & Women: New Language in New Times. Harper Collins Publishers, New York. Minh-ha, T. (2003): Difference: A Special Third World Women Issue. In: Jones, A. (ed.) The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. Routledge: New York, 151–174.

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Modleski, T. (1991): Feminism Without Women: Culture and Criticism in a Postfeminist Age. Routledge: New York. Morgan, R. (1970): Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement. Vintage: New York. —. (1984): Sisterhood is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology. Anchor Press: New York. Morley, D. and Robins, K. (1995): Spaces of Identity: Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries. Routledge: London. Mutu, W. (2011): Artist Wangechi Mutu: My Lab is the Female Body. CNN. African Voices; online publication July 19, 2011: Cnn.com Nicholls, P. (1989): Futurism, Gender and Theories of Postmodernity. In: Textual Practice, 2 (3): 201–218. Nicholson, L. (1997): Gynocentrism, Women’s Oppression, Women’s Identity and Women’s Standpoint. In: Nicholson, L. (ed.) The Second Wave: A reader in Feminist Theory. Routledge: New York et al., 147– 151. ORLAN (1989): Carnal Art Manifesto. In: Donger, S et al. (2010): ORLAN: A Hybrid Body of Artworks. Routledge: Oxon, 28–29. Osthoff, S. (1997): Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica: A Legacy of Interactivity and Participation for a Telematic Future. In: Leonardo, 4 (30): 279–289. Pastourmatzi, D. (2009): Flesh Encounters Biotechnology: Speculations on the Future of the Biological Machine. In: Detsi-Diamanti, Z. and Kitsi-Mitakou, K. et al. (eds.) The Future of the Flesh: A Cultural Survey of the Body. Palgrave/Macmillan, New York, 199–219. Ramírez, C. (2002): Deus ex Machina: Tradition, Technology, and the Chicanafuturist Art of Marion C. Martinez. Aztlán, A Journal of Chicano Studies, 2 (29): 55–92. —. (2008): Afrofuturism/Chicanafuturism: Fictive Kin. Aztlán, A Journal of Chicano Studies, 1 (33): 185–194. Ranisch, R. and Sorgner, S. L. (eds.) (2014): Post- and Transhumanism: An Introduction. Peter Lang Publisher: New York et al. Rosemont, P. (1998): All My Names Know Your Leap: Surrealist Women and Their Challenge. In: Rosemont, P. (ed.) Surrealist Women: An International Anthology. The University of Texas Press, Austin, XXIX–LII. Said, E. (1978): Orientalism, Random House: New York. Shiva, V. (1995): Beyond Reductionism. In: Shiva, V. and Moser, I. (eds). Biopolitics: A Feminist and Ecological Reader on Biotechnology. Zed Books: London et al., 267–284. Sloterdijk, P. [1983] (1987): Critique of Cynical Reason. University of

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Minnesota Press: Minneapolis et al. Sobchack, V. (1991): Baudrillard’s Obscenity. Science Fiction Studies, 55 (18), online publication November 1991: Depauw.edu Solon, O. (2011): Bioart: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Using Living Tissue as a Medium. Wired Magazine; online publication July 28, 2011: Wired.com Spivak, G. (1987): In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. Routledge: London. Stiegler, B. (1998): Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. Stanford University Press: Stanford. Stone, A. R. (1991): Will The Real Body Please Stand Up? Boundary Stories About Virtual Cultures. In: Bell, D. and Kennedy, B. M. (eds.) (2000) The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge, London et al, 504–528. Thevoz, M. (1984): The Painted Body. Rizzoli: New York. Tibol, R. (1993): Frida Kahlo: An Open Life. University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque. Ueno, T. (2001): Japanimation and Techno-Orientalism. In: Grenville, B. (ed.) (2001), 223–31. Viereck, G. S. (1929): What Life Means to Einstein: an Interview. The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 202, 26 October 1929, 117, online publication: Saturdayeveningpost.com Vita-More, N. (2005): Primo Posthuman. Posthuman Guide, online publication 2005: Natasha.cc —. (2011): Bringing Art/Design into the Discussion of Transhumanism. In: Hansell, G R and Grassie, W. (eds.) Transhumanism and Its Critics. Metanexus: Philadelphia, 70–83. Waldby, C. (2000): The Visible Human Project: Informatic Bodies and Posthuman Medicine. Routledge: London et al. Webb, P. (2009): Sphinx: The Life and Art of Leonor Fini. Vendome: New York. Wetterwald, E. (2003): Vestiges of the Future. In: Bul, L. Monsters. Les Presses du réel, Dijon-Quetigny, 177–179. Wolfe, C. (2010): What is Posthumanism? Posthumanities Series, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis et al.

CHAPTER THREE MUSICAL POSTHUMAN AESTHETICS: THE NOMAD TECHNOBODY OF THE DJ

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ALESSANDRO GIOVANNUCI

It is interesting to notice how some categories of historical aesthetics, established in several artistic fields, have not yet found a practical methodology in the musical disciplines. To study the reasons for these missing links implies a penetration into aspects that concern the ontological status of music and, in this case, of posthumanism as applied to arts. A fine test-bed for the interface of music and posthuman aesthetics is the man/machine interaction, a concept into which posthumanism has delved at length while, on the contrary, studies on music have not managed to confront organically. Historically, the musician’s body has always had a particular relationship with the tools he manipulates in order to create sound, since every type of music, to exist, requires the use of instruments. In the final analysis, as all musical instruments are technical apparatuses, one might say that every musical performance is actually a technological procedure where man and machine have interacted equally since the dawn of music. Additionally, the relevance of musical instruments is witnessed by the existence of a specific branch of musicology, organology, which was born with the precise task of studying and classifying instruments. From the first records of the Etymologiae1 by Isidore from Seville to the speculations of André Schæffner,2 the history and description of musical instruments has always represented, even if with alternating fortunes, a source of analysis of the reality of music. In recent times, with the

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Barney, S. A., Beach, J. A., Berghof, O., Lewis, W. J., (trans.) (2006): The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 2 Schæffner, A. (1936): Origine des instruments de musique - introduction ethnologique à l'histoire de la musique instrumentale, Paris, Payot.

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introduction of the category of electrophone musical instruments,3 the interest in methods of sound production has provided some insights into the comprehension and analysis of the musical repertory of the 20th century. However, the concern and scrupulous study that were bestowed on musical instruments were not granted to the other protagonists of musical practice: musicians. Apart from biographies of famous virtuosos and anecdotal accounts, in fact, few attempts have been made to research and define circumstantially the ontological status of the musician. One of these attempts is the work Membres fantômes. Des corps musiciens by Peter Szendy, French philosopher and musicologist. According to Szendy:

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“Music invents, builds, makes bodies which are not only technical – prosthesis and artifacts that compose the instruments – but also existing bodies that live a strange life, phantomatic and residual.”4

In the case in point, the ghost members are the musicians. Actually, most of the revolutions that concerned the artist’s body, although involving the musicians, were not taken into consideration on aesthetic and musical levels. Even in treatises on instrumental practice, the body of the musician appears only episodically. The graphocentrism of well-learned European musical tradition has consigned the instrumentalist’s physical existence to necessary gestures and to the respect of the authorial wish. The indications on the score represent the only point of contact between composer and performer. The conception that sees the “idea” as the real content of music, while the musician represents only the form, is problematized when music from a non-written tradition asserts itself on a large scale. In these repertories, in fact, the notion of authoriality begins to fade away until at times it disappears completely. Thus, the moment of the performance becomes central and the paternity of a particular musical work is recognized in the person who is interfacing with the instrument in the hic et nunc. This way, musical creativity steps away from its own written form and becomes an inflection of the musician-instrument relationship that has reference to the more general man-machine relation. By the 1940s, with the success of 3

Added to the Hornbostel-Sachs musical instrument classification system by Curt Sachs in 1940. 4 Szendy, P. (2002): Membres fantômes. Des corps musiciens, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 13.

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musique concrète, the employment of technological prosthesis begins to constitute an effective composing strategy. Sound recording and reproducing technologies undergo a process of refunctionalization; the construction of sound is explored through long play records, magnetic tapes and headphones according to a historical practice that will be put alongside studio composition and live performance. Works produced in line with this methodology are the greatest link between music and posthuman aesthetics. Live electronics stands for the synthesis of the biological body and its technological prosthesis; life becomes electronic and electronics becomes alive. This process of mutual exchange is embodied by the figure of the DJ, an atypical musician that expresses most of the values of posthumanism. With the term “atypical”, one points out a series of deviations from the canons of musical creation. Thus, the DJ is presented as an operating machine rather than an instrumentalist in the traditional sense. The interfaces and the cable network that connect the DJ to his machinery symbolize both the dominion over technology and human slavery to it. Rather than a ghost body, one stands in the presence of a technobody, which entertains a relationship of mutual dependence with technology and contributes to creating a new figure of performer. Musical interpretation, in fact, does not consist of following a linear logocentric path, but rather deals with the flow of sound pluralities. The DJ’s operativity is of a rhizomatic type, put in the centre of the action and out of any arborescence that automatizes the relations among musical elements. Rather than playing instruments, this is about piloting machines, incorporating them and partaking of their same logic. Turntables, sound effects and sound mixers are appliances designed for the manipulation of pre-existing sound materials. This manipulation occurs according to an ever-changing combinatory act, which cannot be known in advance. Through the pre-listen in headphones, only the DJ can predict what will come out of the material that is being dismembered, reassembled and recombined in the apparatus he is working on. Such temporal manipulation has consequences, from a musical and an ontological viewpoint. The simultaneous coexistence of different musical materials, which were conceived in separate places and times, and for distinct uses, forcibly opens a debate about identity. To whom does the music I am listening to belong? Who created it? Is it music at all? Certainly, these questions do not offer clear-cut answers, just as issues about identity cannot be investigated in an uncompromising way. It is

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obvious, nevertheless, that so radical a shift in language as that produced by the machinization of music will significantly affect the aesthetics field and, therefore, the ontological. The reassuring dimension of sedentariness, as expressed by musical academism, is destabilized by the transversality of the musical technological body that erodes the anthropocentric vision of the creative act. The DJ is a nomad entity, moving through the boundaries of different existences on which he acts as a diaphragm, opening and closing the channels of communication. This operative logic, in which demarcation lines become ephemeral and the relationship between opposing forces consists of a mutual supply, presents numerous points of contact with the speculations of Gilles Deleuze,5 a thinker very close to posthuman aesthetics. The idea of concatenation between heterogeneous elements that grounds the deleuzian concept of agencement can actually be defined as the fundamental operative logic of the DJ. To delve further into the matter, one may assert that the DJ operates as a full-blown deleuzian abstract machine, namely as an assembling force of single particles. Abstract machines are responsible for the transcodification process, for the infringement of pre-existing codes and the construction of new ones. Each performance that schedules twisting and transcodification of musical agencement moves on a liminal ground, hard to define. This difficulty in the ontological classification of a performance is reproduced on the performer as well. The idea of a musician divested of his archetypical characteristics is not easily accepted in the musical field because of its supposed immediate connection with the emotional and animal spheres. The man-machine hybridization, as in the case of the DJ, compels a new investigation into the historically established role of the musician. Musical action in a posthuman sense opposes the aesthetic anthropocentric conception according to which sound production and reception are processes of exclusive human competence. Since the DJ has technological nerve endings, every possibility of creating an acoustic sound is precluded. The only sound available is electroacoustic, coming from the mediation with the machine. Musical patterning becomes a two-voice counterpoint during which the parts compete for a leading role. Sometimes, the tools of sound production take 5

Cfr. “De la ritournelle” in Mille plateaux. Capitalisme et schizophrénie 2, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980.

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control, leaving the DJ to the simple task of checking up on the appliances of the music factory. At other times, it is man who prevails and ventures towards “erroneous” sounds, generated by mis-manipulations or mechanical malfunctions, as happens in the avant-garde djing performances of the Japanese turntablist Otomo Yoshihide.6 The expertise that the DJ has with technological media prepares him for transmediality and collaboration. A good case in point is the musical performance Archives sauvées des eaux, carried out by French composer Luc Ferrari with Otomo Yoshihide in October 2003. During the performance, Ferrari’s ten-year electroacoustic production is open to a new combinatory game played by the composer himself and a guest DJ. Sound scraps from the Archives are manipulated and redesigned following a new flux of sense.7 In this performance the composer and the DJ, who could be defined as “listeners at work”, are spatially placed one beside the other as they create their sound. The composition takes place through a series of processes that defy the authoriality of the composer. This is supplanted by various procedures so far considered marginal – or utterly negative – in the musical activity: plagiarism, recontextualization and rearrangement. These “minor practices” become the main expressive means in Archives sauvées des eaux and are able to push man closer to sound and to reveal that in its presence we are all alike, composers and listeners. The artistic heritage we draw on is more and more globalized and musical quotations from the status of mere expedients turn into a proper composing technique. In the Archives, references to high tradition, sound effects and urban rhythms merge until they overlap into a new code, a new musical agencement. What made possible the cohabitation of distant sound worlds is the technical manipulation, the combination of different elements in a single sound flux. The technobody of the DJ generates a musical semantics meant to recombine former sound materials rather than create original products. As a result, one can speak about art in deleuzian terms, as an expressive use of pre-existing resources. As regards the theories articulated in Mille plateaux, one witnesses the presence of what is defined as cosmic music, a type of music that makes the change resonant/sonorous. 6

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNgPvVPGyf0&nohtml5=False (upd. 07/09 /2016). 7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhcgm3rdaUY (upd. 07/04/2016).

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The task of cosmic music is not the reproduction of sound, but the reproduction of the reproduction, namely making audible the plurality of elements rather than shrouding them under a deceptive unitarity. The manipulator of sounds has an effective place in this line of action because he is himself a plural entity, an icon of hybridization between human flesh and technology. Such correspondence between the figure of the DJ and some fundamental elements of posthumanism – above all, the tendency to hybridization and identity crossing – represents a positive sign towards a study of the artistic practice that takes into consideration new achievements in the aesthetic field. As difficult as it might seem, tracing connections and interactions between the world of music and the posthuman thought represents a very promising analytical stance.

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References Barney, S. A., Beach, J. A., Berghof, O., Lewis, W. J., (trans.), (2006): The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., (1980): Mille plateaux. Capitalisme et schizophrénie 2, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit. Holmes, T. (2012): Electronic and Experimental Music. Technology, Music and Culture, New York, Routledge. Katz, M. (2010): Capturing Sound. How Technology has changed Music, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, University of California Press. Kelly, C. (2009): Cracked Media. The Sound of Malfunction, Cambridge, The MIT Press. Schæffner, A. (1936): Origine des instruments de musique – introduction ethnologique à l’histoire de la musique instrumentale, Paris, Payot. Smith, S. (2013): Hip-Hop Turntablism, Creativity adn Collaboration, Burlington, Ashgate. Szendy, P. (2002): Membres fantômes. Des corps musiciens, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 13.

CHAPTER FOUR EXPERIENCE DESIGN AND AESTHETICS OF INTERACTION FROM A POSTHUMAN PERSPECTIVE SOFIA MYTILINAIOU

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Experience and interaction in the digital age Experience is directly associated with interactivity and sharing at every level. As Aldous Huxley states: “Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you make of what happens to you” (1972). Our experiences emerge from the integration of our being in a dialogue with the surrounding world at a particular place and time. They involve various forms of linkage between people, objects, and places in time: from esoteric occurrences (e.g. dreams, inner streams of thought), and interpersonal encounters (e.g. conversations), to social events (e.g. going to the movies). The term includes our sensations, emotions and thoughts in the course of life, and thence conveys multidimensional notions, depending on the (scientific) field and the perspective from which we approach it. For example, the German expression erfahren, as well as the Greek term İȝʌİȚȡȓĮ (empeiria), appends a sense of learning, while in English the word shares a common root – per – with experiment and perilous, denoting the passage to the realms of the new and unknown (Ortega y Gasset, 1963, 158–159). The term, experience, in particular, expresses a notion of evolution, as it has a twofold meaning, as being both noun and verb. Experiencing involves a present situation, one that is developing right now. While experiencing a situation, we are in the course of a process: a dynamic process en route. It involves our awareness, that is the flow of our feelings and thoughts, during our involvement in everyday life. On one hand, experiencing is evolving right now; it cannot be described, and communicated, therefore it is not transferable to anyone. On the other

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hand, an experience concerns a whole story, a narrative of a complete event. It describes a course of affairs, which was or may be completed in spheres distant from the present, meaning the past, the future, or even the potential and the imaginary. According to Forlizzi and Battarbee, it comprises “a constant stream of self-talk” (2004, 261–268), indicating our awareness of our attachment to the course of life. Each moment, an activity is completed and another one is evolving as we speak. Our perception involves stimuli we have just perceived in the immediate past, while our next movements are being organized and performed within the flow of time. Our experience of the world is not fragmented, it follows the course of life, by keeping a peripheral vision in the past and the future. Hassenzahl (2010, 9–31) describes the four attributes of experience as: Subjective. People may share common ground, literally and metaphorically, but individual perspectives constitute a sole totality, depended on the self. Holistic. The goals and motivations behind the actual actions, as well as the way they were/will be performed, formulate a holistic approach when designing an experience. Moreover, experience, like interaction, is both perceived and generated in somatic, emotion and cognitive level. Situated. Experiences are space and time sited, as “being is synonymous with being situated” (Merleau-Ponty, 1962, 294).

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Dynamic. Our experiences are not static like photographs; they evolve in the flow of time.

Mixed reality technologies and everyday life are nowadays integrated, contributing to the creation of environments, where physical and virtual space coexist in real-time processes. By blurring and surpassing the line between the physical and the virtual, mixed reality environments cover a whole spectrum extending from physical to virtual environments, including intermediate forms like augmented virtuality, the practice of merging real objects in virtual worlds, and augmented reality, that is real environments whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, shaping a computer-modified reality (Figure 1). Augmentation involves technologies that enhance the physical environment’s affordances, “layer[ing] new control systems and information onto our perception” (Smart et al., no date). In augmented reality, technology enhances the surrounding physical environment for the individual through interactive applications and systems. The notion of reality in mixed reality environments is driven to realms beyond the

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physical restrictions of nature. Mixed reality, therefore, turns into mixing realities: “an ongoing process of human collaboration where individuals experience and express realities, mediated by technology and their collaborations” (Sareika & Schmalstieg, 2008). Experience in this framework, exceeds human capacities and becomes posthuman, as digital media are introduced to enhance our sensation and perception beyond anticipation.

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Figure 1. The spectrum of mixed reality environments.

The disjunctive line between physical world and artificial systems has become indistinct and scholars emphasize the evolving connectedness and interdependency between them. Gradually over recent decades, “we are all becoming, to a greater or lesser extent, bionic”, Moravec detects (1988). According to Lévy, when an entity or an element (a person, an action, a piece of information) is virtualized, meaning introduced into the sphere of the potential, it is set out of place; it is displaced. Body displacement opens up new prospects, by introducing new modes in information searching and information systems management. The potential space of the computer, by affording applications like the neural network of the Web, offers continuity of time without continuity of place (Lévy, 2001, 29), as users communicate co-instantaneously from distant locations. The global broadcasting of information is feasible, on account of the synchronization of transmitters and receivers. Besides, continuity of action despite the discontinuity of duration (ibid., 29) is considered a technological achievement, enabling data transference regardless of the emission time, as in the case of mobile phones. Consequently, people share common stimuli, surpassing the physical limitations of space and time, and mould common experiences, as a result of the amalgamation of physical and virtual worlds and the production of derivative forms of environment.

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Experience design and interactivity In the digital age, design, both as concept and creative process, has been altered. In the past, design involved the synthesis of novel media and techniques, in order to attain desired and expedient outcomes, formed as objects. In the past, the attempt involved mainly the aggregation and configuration of appropriate materials in order to perform certain functionalities. According to Buchanan: “Human beings have an unsurpassed ability to avoid questioning themselves and objectively examining the consequences of their beliefs and actions on others” (2010, 13–27). Contemporary notions on design, also involve fruitful reflection on the impact of the outcomes (objects, services, environments, experiences, etc.) and the conditions created, through the design process. Designers and scholars are more alert to the conditions and affordances of the environment people live and interact within, rather than their actual creation. Emphasis has been put on desirable experiences of those involved, as the result of the design procedure rather than a concrete product. It is essential though to underline that every kind of design organizes the development of potential activities and the occurrence of potential events (for example, in the case of a communication platform like Facebook) coordinating the sequence as well as the timing of particular available actions (e.g. giving a command to be executed, navigating among the virtual places, etc.) In opposition to modernist aesthetic philosophy, according to which artists’ concepts were principally materialized into objects, the contemporary theory and practice of art and design is basically focused on experience. Experience comprises a compound term, involving multiple factors of our living and interacting in the world. A work of art and design is no longer merely an object, but rather a composition that frequently pertains to the borderline between the virtual and the physical worlds. Archer et al. underline, “a shift from art as object to art as process, from art as a ‘thing’ to be addressed, to art as something which occurs in the encounter between the onlooker and a set of stimuli.” (1996, 26)

Design is considered to be a communicative process that evolves among the designer, the work itself and those who interact with it; like any artistic form, it does not comprise any set of values integrated in the artwork itself. Design practices no longer emphasize creating objects and services, but rather centre on experience, and specifically on the aesthetics of

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experience, that engage participants (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, 22), altering our perception regarding form and communication altogether. According to scholars like Aronson, postmodernism has also contributed to this alteration, as:

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“[It] shifts the work of art from the object to the transaction between the spectator and the object and further deconstructs it by negating the presence of a representative objective viewer.” (2008, 14–15)

The role of the people involved has become central, as they contribute to the aesthetic outcome, not merely with their presence, but with their interaction and enactive participation in the course of events, co-creating their experiences. From a contemporary perspective, design philosophy and aesthetics have been moulded out of the contemporary human’s needs and objectives, aided by the development of digital media and the sophistication of communication systems. Designers are no longer restricted to the creation of objects; they stage experiences integrated in space, which are essentially woven by both the designer and the participants. Experience Design (XD) is a discipline so novel that its very definition is in flux, and the spectrum it involves has not been formally defined. It comprises a contemporary, multi-disciplinary field of design, which involves the creation of environments, products, events and services, aiming to set the frame for meaningful and satisfying experiences to take place, in physical and mixed forms of reality. This particular design practice brings into focus the quality of the user’s experience and culturally relevant solutions. It is therefore driven by consideration of ‘moments’ of engagement between people and particular environments as well as their memories of these moments. This innovative field links ideas from various diverse research disciplines, like marketing, psychology, entertainment, computer science, information systems and interaction design, as it requires a thorough cross-discipline perspective to develop a holistic consideration of the user’s experience (Paluch, 2006). By designing frameworks of interaction, it creates ‘moments’ of engagement for the participants, aiming at optimizing the overall impression and creating positive memories. Experience design, although innovative, pertains to a broader field, Interaction Design (ID), which defines the structure and content of interplay among “beings”, studying and suggesting forms of communication and interaction in their everyday lives (Sharp et al., 2007,

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8). Both Interaction and Experience Design are umbrella terms. The first one encompasses various related types of design (like web, software, product, experience, interface, etc.) and it does not coincide with a particular design methodology; it rather probes and supports a range of theories, techniques and frameworks from multiple academic disciplines and design practices, as well as interdisciplinary fields. At its core, Interaction Design is oriented towards “the theory, research, and practice of designing user experiences for all manner of technologies, systems, and products” (Sharp et al., 2007, 8). According to AIGA 2002: “It is now […] about creating relationships with individuals, creating an environment that connects on an emotional or value level” (Quoted in Hassenzahl, 2010, 59). Interaction designers’ basic concern has been reoriented towards the human as a conscious (cognitive, emotional and embodied) self, who interacts within a particular spatio-temporal, social and cultural environment. They strive to create meaningful relationships between people, products, services and environments, aiming to enhance and augment our communication and interaction, by “embedding information technology into the ambient social complexities of the physical world” (McCullough, 2004, ix). The notions of experience and interaction are closely interwoven. Humans interact with their surroundings and most of their communicative processes (verbal or not) are interactive. According to Shedroff, experience involves “the sensation of interaction with a product, service, or event, through all of our senses, over time, and on both physical and cognitive levels”, while interaction “is a response experience in which both actor and reactor are engaged in a mutually affecting experience” as “interactive partners” (Shedroff, no date). Hence, designers that centre on experience are concerned, like architects and movie directors, to set the frame for people to interact with each other and the surrounding environment.

Aesthetic interaction and pragmatism In the context of the contemporary aesthetics of experience and interaction, aesthetics has been seen as a critical aspect of design, extended beyond the field of the arts to embrace the aesthesis of multi-sensorial experiences in the entire spectrum of everyday life and interaction. Dewey reorients aesthetics and defines them “as a particular quality of experience and not as an experience in relation to an aesthetic object. All experiences that constitute a whole can be considered aesthetic” (2005). Shusterman, sharing the shame pragmatic viewpoint, argues that an aesthetic

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experience is an experience that may occur in every dimension of everyday life, not only in artworks, but in a broader context than the narrow context of fine arts (1992). Also, Hileman states that “design today is an increasingly social art” (1998), and accordingly, contemporary and evolving forms of design, like experience design, are not further restricted to any limits between art and design; they overflow those borders to make aesthetic experiences for those participating. Consequently, in terms of contemporary creative practices, it is difficult to draw the disjunctive line between high and commercial forms of art and design. Contemporary notions of aesthetics embrace a pragmatic perspective, supporting the view that aesthetics are emerging from our interaction with the world, rather than being intrinsic to the material dimension of the surrounding objects and environment. While traditional concepts of form are related to static features of an object (colour, texture, etc.) and aesthetics used to comprise a notion synonymous with beauty, pragmatist aesthetics form “a dynamic interaction of elements” (Shusterman, 1992, 7) and redefine aesthetics as aesthetics of interaction. A variety of researchers have emphasized the aesthetics of interaction: Adorno mentions “the processual essence of aesthetic experience and of the art work” and argues that “works of art exist only in actu”, meaning in lived dynamic experience, concluding that “art is a quality that permeates an experience; it is not … the experience itself” (Boyston, 2008, 329). Dewey underlines that “the actual work of art is what the product does with and in experience” (2005, 1), while Nietzsche holds that “in the actual world […] everything is bound to and conditioned by everything else” (1968, 584). Aesthetics is inherent to the way people experience their everyday lives within the world; Löwgren and Stolterman argue that this view is very helpful when we focus on aesthetics of interaction that do not have tangible properties (2004), like virtual entities and environments. The sensual dimension of experience is brought into focus and research, involving human interaction in meaningful and engaging contexts. Engholm emphasizes “how certain sensuous aspects affect our understanding of reality in all sorts of contexts, not only in the particular contexts of art or art-related areas”, while “the aesthetic experience, […] is capable of taking the individual out of his/her life and everyday context while also returning the person to his or her life” (2010). Shusterman, influenced by Dewey’s perspective, introduces the term somaesthetics to define bodily-connected aesthetic experiences, as well as the sensation of inner operations of our body: “The body [...] can provide beautiful sensory perceptions or […] ‘representations’. But there is also

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the beautiful experience of one’s body from within – the endorphinenhanced glow of high-level cardiovascular functioning, the slow savouring awareness of improved, deeper breathing, the tingling thrill of feeling into new parts of one’s spine” (2002, 262). In terms of the aesthetics of interaction, the human body is viewed through Spinoza’s eyes (1997 (1675), 53); it is not considered as form or function but as mode: not just a composite of constitutive bodies (cells, organs etc.) but as a site that spots the trace of the interaction with further bodies and ‘modes of being’. “Spinoza’s, then, is a complex psychology of continual becoming through interaction with other bodies (the environment)” (Earnshaw & Vince, 2001, 81).

Design and experience in the digital age from a posthumanistic perspective I. Posthuman Experience “And life itself confided this secret to me: ‘Behold,’ it said, ‘I am that which must always overcome itself. Indeed, you call it

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a will to procreate or a drive to an end, to something higher, farther, more manifold; but all this is one, and one secret.’” —Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

The emergence and integration of technology in design practice, has contributed to the reassignment of the notion and nature of this creative process, while dynamic patterns of communication and expression have been generated, exploiting interactivity as a medium (Cham, 2007). In the framework of the globalized digital culture, technological implementations have conditioned everyday life and experience, affecting our awareness, and raising issues on aesthetics of experience. Digital innovations, like mixed forms of reality, have been determining the way designers create meaningful and satisfying experiences, inducing the creation of contemporary notions and forms of design, like experience and interaction design. This is how new perspectives have shaped the way we interact within space and time, conceptualizing transformations in somatic, cognitive and emotional levels of human experience, as expressed and approached by contemporary theories like Posthumanism. Posthuman philosophy has influenced the way we perceive and design our physical and potential world. It comprises an umbrella theory for various equivocal ideas that were never allocated definitively:

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“The sciences multiply new definitions of humans without managing to displace the former ones, reduce them to any homogeneous one, or unify them. They add reality; they do not subtract it.” (Latour, 1993, 136–7)

The prefix post- does not indicate the replacement of the term that it is combined with, that is humanism; it rather expresses a new perspective and ideology (Burgin, 1996, 189). The posthuman philosophy aspires to the transcendence of human abilities in the sphere of technological advancement, while at the same time supporting a balance between the virtual and the physical worlds, and alleges that the human’s connection with nature should be maintained. Nietzsche’s contribution is more than clear here in regards to the Overman [Übermensch] and his aspiration to self-overcoming in Thus Spake Zarathustra. On the other hand, in a contemporary text, the Metahuman Manifesto (2010), a thorough “view of the body as field of relational forces in motion and of reality as immanent embodied process of becoming which does not necessarily end up in defined forms or identities, but may unfold into endless amorphogenesis. Monsters are promising strategies for performing this development away from humanism” (del Val & Sorgner, 2010). Katherine Hayles had however already conducted extensive research, analysing her viewpoint on posthumanism, body and experience:

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“First, the posthuman view privileges informational pattern over material instantiation, so that embodiment in a biological substrate is seen as an accident of history rather than an inevitability of life. Second, the posthuman view considers consciousness, regarded as the seat of human identity in the Western tradition long before Descartes thought he was a mind thinking, as an epiphenomenon, as an evolutionary upstart trying to claim that it is the whole show when in actuality it is only a minor sideshow. Third, the posthuman view thinks of the body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate, so that extending or replacing the body with other prostheses becomes a continuation of a process that began before we were born. Fourth, and most important, by these and other means, the posthuman view configures human being so that it can be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines. In the posthuman, there are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot teleology and human goals.” (1999, 2–3)

Nonetheless, the notion of posthumanism is still not crystallized; it remains rather ambiguous as it has been generated in the recent past and various (similar, as well as conflicting) perspectives have, on the one hand, pertained and tended to become more dominant nowadays as

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Transhumanism. On the other hand, metahumanism is considered an evolution and a parallel notion of posthumanism. Posthumanism and metahumanism express similar theories for European scholars, expressing the evolution and concomitance of human experience in the framework of the digital age. In this case, an anthropocentric base is established that is not outrun by technological developments as in the case of transhumanism. Posthuman philosophy puts emphasis on the human dimension and on human nature, and the way we exceed our limits. In contrast, transhumanism focuses on human enhancement, due to the integration of digital applications and media in our everyday lives and communication, and is also defined as a form of metahumanism by other scholars. Posthumanism, as a contemporary perspective of humanism, has been developed in conformity with human experience within the frames of the digital age; as Hayles states: “My reference point for the human is the tradition of liberal humanism; the

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posthuman appears when computation rather than possessive individualism is taken as the ground of being, a move that allows the posthuman to be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines.” (1999, 34)

On the other hand, the American School differentiates metahumanism, centring a condition beyond the human boundaries; a surpassing of physical limitations of space and time, of human gender, of human boundaries to a point where there is no definite figure, identity or concrete identity. According to this viewpoint, metahumanism anticipates a metamorphosis into another entity without determined features, a need for liberation that is discerned in relevant artistic expressions. Despite the previous distinctions, the terms posthumanism and metahumanism are often used without explicit distinction. The role of digital media in enhancing the embodied self may be differently appraised, but scholars foresee in both of them the emergence of a posthuman experience directly associated with technology. For example, as Joel Dinerstein argues: “The posthuman is the dream of bodies of pure potentiality – ones that do not decay but plug into networks of information and pleasure” (Dinerstein, 2006, 588), while, for Gomoll, the posthuman is “a hybrid figure characterized primarily by the merging of human and machine” (2011, 3). Hans Moravec, from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, expresses his view towards posthuman experience and the future:

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“Bit by bit our failing brain may be replaced by superior electronic

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equivalents, leaving our personality and thoughts clearer than ever, though, in time, no vestige of our original body or brain remains. […] Our mind will have been transplanted from our original biological brain into artificial hardware. Transplantation to yet other hardware should be trivial in comparison. [...] The very components of our minds will follow our sense of awareness in shifting from place to place at the speed of communication. We might find ourselves distributed over many locations, one piece of our mind here, another piece there, and our sense of awareness yet elsewhere, in what can no longer be called an out-of-body experience.” (Moravec, 1998, 87)

Posthuman experience is intimately intertwined with technologies, altering our perception and interaction within the world. Du Preez argues that “being is distilled into mere information (data, code, ones and zeroes)”, while the human body becomes “a mere coincidence in the evolutionary trajectory of the superior mind, or rather, it is perceived as a prosthesis which apparently can be easily traded for another that is more durable and suitable for a digital lifestyle” (Du Preez, 2010). In addition, Hayles states that posthumanism “leap[s] from embodied reality to abstract information” by “privileging the abstract as the real and downplaying the importance of material instantiation” (Hayles, 1999, 12–13). Furthermore, posthuman aesthetics are reflected in artistic creation, as in the case of the photographer Oleg Dou (Oleg Duryagin). He digitally manipulates photographs of people against white backgrounds, and creates an almost classless, sexless and raceless universal face of the future. As he stated in CubeMe.com (2009): “The persons presented in my works lack individuality: the eyebrows and the eyelashes are removed, the skin is smoothed.” His human-like creatures resemble life and perception beyond physical boundaries and any sense of ‘otherness’. Posthumanism expresses certain conceptions about the influences and mutation of human experience in multiple levels of interaction within environments that surpass the boundaries of physical reality to embrace the potentialities opened up by mixed reality worlds in everyday life. The diffusion of the boundaries of the physical and the virtual, the speed of contact and interaction on the global level beyond space-time limitations, the structure and reproduction of fractals that fade our sense of scale (Rick et al., 2010), the non-linear method of ‘point and click’ that we use to communicate via the internet, are only a few among the features of posthuman experience and aesthetics that affect our awareness, enabled by technological advancements and raising issues of identity, embodiment and interaction, under an anthropocentric viewpoint.

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Furthermore, scientific fields like biology and neurochemistry share common ambitions with technology to overcome human constraints. Science endeavours to enhance human experience on account of the amalgamation of human and digital media. In this direction, the derivative products (machines, artificial intelligence, networks) become more organic, self-modifying and intelligent, enabling the coexistence of artificial with human. This enhancement is initially introduced in science, as therapeutic and potential consequences are examined through multiple viewpoints (cognitive, sensual, biological, etc.) But several scholars are sceptical about this sense of evolution, like Sandberg who clarifies that “an enhancement is an intervention that improves a subsystem in some way other than repairing something that is broken or remedying a specific dysfunction” (2011, 576). In the next four subchapters, based on Hassenzahl’s view that experience is subjective, holistic, situated and dynamic (2010, 9–31), I will analyse the extension that experience has been transformed through the perspective of posthuman philosophy, conforming with the amalgamation of the physical and artificial body and how design both as practice and conception has been altered to set the frame for meaningful and enjoyable experiences to occur.

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II. Subjectivity During the contemporary era, each person is considered to experience the world subjectively. Although people share common views and conventions in the context of shared cultural, scientific and political schemes, a certain variety in perception is not always disruptive, but rather complementary. The human body, emotions and thoughts, comprise the basis of our encounter with the physical and virtual worlds, perceiving and interpreting messages in a personal manner. O’Dell and Billing state that experiences are personal, subjectively perceived, intangible, continuously ongoing (2005): an activity anchored to the present that moulds our subjective interpretation of the present state of affairs. In terms of subjectivity and experience, both postmodern and posthuman philosophy assert that there is no single point of view or rational objective truth common to all people, but rather subjective versions of it. While, during the Enlightenment, there was a specific need for reason to dominate, in the contemporary era, there is no unique interpretation or design style; a variety of conceptions and perspectives are expressed and promoted. Hence, there is no Grand Narrative, that is a narrative that explains (or perhaps contains) all others. By extension, there

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is no single author; our ideas are a crystallization of various sources we share, multiple readings and corresponding interpretations. Jacques Derrida reached the point of declaring that there is nothing outside the text, meaning that there is not a unique truth to be found when considering a work (poem, painting, music, etc.), no correct interpretation, only our reflection on it. This conception led Roland Barthes to proclaim the “death of the author”, and other extreme maxims, such as suggesting that the purpose of hermeneutics1 was “to understand the author better than he understood himself” (Dilthey, 1976 (1900), 259–260). For the experience in mixed reality environments, Char Davies remarks that she “intended to re-affirm the role of the subjectively-experienced felt body in cyberspace, in direct contrast to its usual absence or objectification in virtual worlds”. Her work OSMOSE reflects her endeavour “to dehabituate our sensibilities and allow for the presensitization of the perception of being … for exploring consciousness as it is experienced subjectively, as it is felt” (Davies, 1998, 144–148). It is essential to stress that, although experiences are designable, designers cannot predetermine the participants’ aesthetic experience. People involved create their personal experience, while participating within a physical or mixed reality environment. As Crabtree et al. remark, interactive environments are not necessarily comprehended and used as designed (2002, 265–275); they are rather appropriated in use. By no means can designing experiences guarantee a meaningful and aesthetically advanced outcome; such dimensions emerge by interacting in the frames of a particular environment. Aesthetics of experience are “emerging in use” being “an integral part of the understanding of an interactive system, and its potential use” (Petersen et al., 2004). As expressed by Shusterman, the designer cannot see through the eyes of another, feel what another feels, or develop meaning as any other person would (2000). According to Sanders, “we cannot design experiences as they are occurring in the inner world of people, we can design for experiences, by realizing a field where people have possibilities to create their personal experiences” (Sanders, 2002). Additionally, Forlizzi and Battarbee share the same view when they say that designers can only design tools and situations that people can interact within (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2005). Subsequently, the contribution of both the designer and the user is essential to co-create meaningful and enjoyable experiences around an 1

The study of interpretation (hermeuneutics), named, according to some authors, after the Greek god Hermes, since the first compound word of hermeneutics derives from Hermes.

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event. Experiences emerge from a variety of potentialities, a significant part of which cannot be organized and predetermined by the design procedure; the outcome is considerably dependent on matters beyond its design, like the personal way people mould their experiences.

III. Holistic approach Human experience and interaction have already surpassed the physical constraints of space and time. Posthumanism offers: “a vision of how we might concretely use technology and other means to

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change what we are – not to replace ourselves with something else, but to realize our potential to become something more than we currently are.” (More, 1994)

For Donna Haraway, the human is not predetermined but rather is created in an evolutionary process of technological and anthropological amalgamation (1991, 149–181). Given this opportunity, matters of identity, gender and race, among other characteristics, could be made more subjectively, properly (quoted in Wolfe, 2010). This new creature, Haraway’s cyborg, is both frightening and potentially liberating, as the attainability of superhuman (or posthuman) intelligence and ability is viewed both with awe and fear, as in the case of Icarus, Frankenstein and the Tower of Babel. Every creative procedure reflects the way people perceive reality, as well as their intrinsic need to reach, through artistic expression, realms of the unknown and the unforeseen, to expand their awareness and experience beyond physical restrictions. Posthumanism shares common ground with this aspiration and declares that “our bodies and brains restrain our capacities. Our creativity struggles within the boundaries of human intelligence, imagination, and concentration” (More, 1994). Since contemporary design tendencies lead towards a holistic consideration of human experience and, in parallel, “human” experience has been enhanced by science and technology, this new dimension should be taken into account while designing for experiences. Posthumanism has rejected a part of the basic ideas of modernism, which derive from the Enlightenment. Among these discarded notions is the position of a stable, coherent, knowable self: a self that is conscious, rational, autonomous, and universal and no physical conditions or differences substantially affect how this self operates. This self knows itself and the world through reason posited as the highest form of mental

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functioning, and the only objective form (Klages, 2006, 167). From a posthumanist perspective, rationalism does not dominate over emotional and bodily factors. Each person moulds their awareness and interaction within the world on emotional, cognitive and physical levels, without any of them prevailing over the other. The pragmatist perspective has influenced the notion of aesthetics, by putting emphasis on the emotional and sensual part of experience. As the source of the term is aesthesis, it includes affective and cognitive aspects of experience over the traditional dominance of art and beauty, as “sensuous refers to the emotions, moods and experiences evoked by a particular impact of certain elements and contexts” (Engholm, 2010). Moreover, McCarthy and Wright analyse four core threads of experience, approaching the aesthetics of experience, in a holistic base: Sensual thread refers to people’s corporeal engagement with a situation; emotional thread indicates “how emotions are intertwined with a situation in which they rise”; compositional thread particularizes in the narrative of the experience (i.e. the way an event unfolds and how our internal thinking during our experience of the particular events); and finally spatio-temporal thread concerns space and time as essential components of experience (McCarthy & Wright, 2004). Contemporary aesthetics focus on the appearance and impact of designed outcomes, as well as the perceptions, moods and behaviours it evokes in cultural contexts overall, reflecting a need to explore how cultural phenomena operate, rather than whether design works possess any artistic qualities. Recent research on experience design, (Monk, 2000; Shusterman, 2000; Russell, 2003; Norman, 2002; Schenkman & Jonsson, 2000; Tractinsky et al., 2000) has also been oriented towards the sensual and emotional dimension of experience. The term core affect is introduced to describe meanings of mood, emotions, and feelings; a fundamental aspect of human perception, interaction and experience (Norman, 2002; Russell, 2003). In extension, affective quality involves the ability of an object or a stimulus, in general, to influence and alter a person’s affect. Besides, perceived affective quality expresses an individual’s perception of the ability of a stimulus (object, interface, environment, etc.) to influence their core affect. It is “normally measured by the same dimensions of core affect: valence and activation” (Russell & Pratt, 1980). This perception determines consequent reactions and interactions this person has to the stimulus, in the frames of a particular environment. In parallel, Pat Jordan (2000) analysed the Four Pleasures, setting a framework for considering different aspects of affect:

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The significance of affect is stressed in the broad field of design, as “pleasing things work better, are more regularly used, are easier to learn, influence future purchase choices, and produce a more harmonious result” (Zhang & Li, 2005). In addition, individuals’ motivations are significantly taken into consideration, studying the causal thread and the motives behind certain activities, shaping a holistic perspective on designing experiences. Hassenzahl bases his position on the Activity Theory of Kaptelinin & Nardi (2006) supporting the view that appropriate Activities fulfil particular motives, activities consist of goals and corresponding actions to fulfil those goals, and finally actions comprise operations, highly dependent on the given conditions. Accordingly, Hassenzahl describes three types of goals regarding people’s (inter)activities: Be-goals [why?] refer to a person’s benefit while accomplishing a goal (being happy, successful, content, famous, rich, etc.) focusing on the individual that interacts, therefore, their nature is self-referential. Be-goals comprise the incentive to strive for a certain scope, making an action meaningful and worthwhile. Do-goals [what?] appertain to a certain goal, a complete action, and desirable effect that a person tries to succeed. Motor-goals [how?] encompass the set of processes and sub-processes required to achieve a particular goal. In essence motor-goals involve the interaction. In contrast to be-goals that are self-referential, motor-goals concern people’s interaction with the surrounding world, under specific standing conditions, and the requisite processes to succeed in a goal.

Understanding the goals and motives that impel people to certain actions provides experience design with a significant insight to set the frame for

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meaningful experiences and interactions within physical and mixed reality environments. Consequently, in order to approach human experience holistically, thorough studies have been made and more will proceed regarding the sensual and emotional dimension of human experience, as well as the motivations that individuals have when interacting in the world. As our experiences emerge from the amalgamation of perception, motivation, and emotion, all being in a dialogue with the world at a particular place and time (Hassenzahl, 2010, 9–31), experience design endeavours to embrace all these factors as well. As Fiore aptly states: “We are drawn towards an understanding of experience that holistically incorporates thinking, feeling, doing and effecting change within an intersubjectively constructed world” (2005).

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IV. Space and time situated Our experiences are space and time situated; our subjective way of perceiving the world holistically has spatial and temporal references. Shedroff, analysing the dimensions of experience, stresses the significance of time, expressed as duration, which involves four features: initiation (start), immersion, conclusion (end), and continuation (repeat) of an experience (Shedroff, no date). Moreover, Philips Design Labs have developed Ambient Intelligence (Philips, no date), a vision of coexistence between people and ‘smart’ electronics, and describe people, space, time and enablers as four major factors, in the occurrence of events and the emergence of experiences. Specifically, space, with its nature, affordances and boundaries, along with the duration of interaction, plays an essential role in designing experiences (Tuan, 2005). Besides, Schmitt uses the term perpetual novelty to suggest that “no two experiences are exactly alike” (Schmitt, 1999, 61), partly because each of our experiences has unique space-time references, even though they may be repeated. In parallel, a significant feature of posthuman experience is the demarcation of signifier and signified, which provokes noteworthy difficulty to import coherent meaning. Lyotard, analysing the terms of postmodernity, states that “lamenting the ‘loss of meaning’ [...] boils down to mourning the fact that knowledge is no longer principally narrative” (1984, 26). This breaking down of the relationship between them is named schizophrenic experience, involving “an experience of isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to link up into coherent sequence” (Jameson, 1985, 119). For example, watching the news on TV may comprise such an experience. When signifier and

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signified lose their correspondence, meaning is lost. In this case, signifier is transformed into mere image, i.e. a picture deprived of any depth of interpretation. Pallasmaa notes that contemporary advertising strategies are essentially based on “instant persuasion”, and, referring to architecture, notices that buildings “have turned into image products detached from existential depth and sincerity” (2007, 30). Harvey also correlates “the loss of temporality and the search for instantaneous impact” (1992, 58) in the frames of experience in the digital age. Therefore, the loss of a continuous meta-narrative – that is a narrative, an interpretation, about narratives – breaks a person’s experience into heterogeneous moments of subjectivity that do not form a coherent story that influences their identity. Moreover, in mixed reality environments, people also experience separate worlds, dissociated places and moments, due to the nature of space and time. Charitos, analysing the intrinsic characteristics of virtual environments, discerns that virtual space is non-contiguous and time is not necessarily continuous either (2000, 113–118). Participants have the option to be transferred to another part of the same virtual place or get dislocated to another through (inter)active points (like links and teleports). However, even if two or more virtual (mixed) reality worlds are connected, they do not have any kind of physical attachment or spatial proximity, as expected in a physical environment, because the material dimension of things is (partly) lost. As a result, knowledge has been transmuted into information, mainly coded messages within a system of transmission and communication (Lyotard, 1984). Interactive media have defined the way we shape our self-awareness, and introduced new ways of experiencing events occurring in mixed reality environments. When a person’s experiences deal with the complete lack of sequence or conceptual coherence of actions and events, there is no narration, no story, no meaning. Since any sense of identity is attached to time (past, present, future), a sense of self is developed over time, involving our personal story connected to a particular physical, social or cultural environment. If we lose these connections, we lose track of time and identity. Jameson stresses that “as temporal continuities break down, the experience of the present becomes powerfully, overwhelmingly vivid and ‘material’” (1985, 120). The “loss of meaning” (Lyotard, 1984, 26) and “the loss of temporality” (Harvey, 1992, 58) are directly associated; just as words are disjointed from meaning, the flow of time (like space continuity) is also disrupted, indicating that we experience an intense present, where appearance dominates meaning. As analysed earlier, experience is moulded in a personal way, and subjectivity is valued and promoted in the context of contemporary design

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strategy. Since there is no single interpretation of things, and since time is not sensed only in a linear, natural way, but is also experienced divided in distinct periods, artists and designers may combine various perspectives, methods and styles, applied in different eras. In this case, the combination of dissimilar views and approaches may comprise more than a mere composition of already existing elements. The interrelation of dissimilar styles and conceptions that flourished in the past with present interpretations and viewpoints, involve the creation of a new artwork, “an art of shifting perspective, of double self-consciousness, of local and extended meaning” (Russell, 1980, 192). Thence, the “enjoyment of difference” leads to a style whose content “is the past seen with irony or displacement … We now have the luxury of inhabiting successive worlds as we tire of each one’s qualities” (Jencks, 1986, 56). This contemporary approach to art and design, is directly associated with another ambiguous philosophical movement, postmodernism, which has influenced the way we experience and design experiences. Postmodernism has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a complicated relationship with any notion of ‘art’. Aronson defines postmodern philosophy on design as “the juxtaposition of seemingly incongruous elements within the unifying structure of the stage frame, the purpose of which is to create a referential network within the mind of the viewer that extends beyond the immediately apparent worlds of play” (2008). In parallel, a phenomenon that Hutcheon considers to be an essential argument of postmodern art is the ‘presence of the past’ (1988, 20). Moreover, the pastiche technique, involving the imitation and composition of several works, reveals a tendency which Jameson among other scholars criticized as “speech in a dead language” (1988, 16). Rejecting the establishment of a single point of view/reader/writer, whose perceptual mechanisms are shared by all people within the society: “Postmodern design virtually reeks with the presence of the past, and it often pastes together a collage of stylistic imitations and function not as style but as semiotic code.” Whether or not this is a ‘dead language’, though, is certainly ‘debatable’ (Aronson, 2008, 14–15). In opposition to this tendency, experience design, like any creative and communicative procedure nowadays, aims at creating meaningful experiences for people, stressing that the most successful experiences are actually “meaningful”. Evoking meaning is considered a principal objective for aesthetic experiences, as, according to designers and researchers, meaning is the deepest connection you can make with participants. Actually, design, at its core, invites people to actively participate in creating sense and meaning. Engholm suggests that aesthetic

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experience occurs when a subject is able to find coherence and meaning in the experience (2010). It is essential to underline that meaning emerges both from the affordances of the objects and the environments involved that imply “the potential for action and construction of meaning” (Fiore at al., 2005), as well as the interactivity of those participating (McCarthy & Wright, 2004; Petersen et al., 2004). Cultural recycling is a characteristic postmodern feature of the postcapitalism era and involves the reapplication and redefinition of forms and notions of the past. In this way, the actual organic nexus with past events and history is repealed. The past is integrated as a material into new works of art and design. Thence, in conformity with posthuman experience, linearity of time is surpassed, putting emphasis on the materiality of things rather than meaning. In contrast, contemporary notions of experience design emphasize the significance of creating meaningful experiences for people, by studying the foundations of meaningful experiences and integrating this knowledge into the design procedure.

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V. Dynamic nature An experience can be a story, a stream of acting, perceiving, thinking and feeling, and hence expresses becoming, meaning a sense of change, transformation, motion and evolution of any kind. This inherent aspect of experience is driven beyond anticipation by posthuman and especially metahuman philosophy, as the human body is conceptualized and developed: “as field of relational forces in motion and of reality as immanent embodied process of becoming which does not necessarily end up in defined forms or identities, but may unfold into endless amorphogenesis […], [an] attempt to finally overcome the Cartesian split between body and mind, object and subject, by proposing a view of the mind as an embodied relational process, and of the body as relational movement, that operates from the molecular and bacterial, through the individual and psychic, to the social, planetary and cosmic levels, and in other dimensions of experience.” (del Val & Sorgner, 2010/2017)

Posthumanism rejects the position of a stable, rational, concrete self, common to all people, since logic and reason dominate awareness. In contrast, this view has been rejected over a sense of continuous progress and evolution, in the context of which any sense of self is not fixed and consistent, just like the environment (physical, social, cultural, etc.) where the human belongs and constantly interacts.

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Metahumanism supports a sense of non-stable identity, which is overcoming human capacities, in the course of technological advancement. Deleuze in A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze et al., 2004) conceived a kind of posthumanist trans-species, based on the idea of ‘becoming-animal, becoming-plant’, according to which the self is not defined through identity but rather through multiplicity. A multiplied entity is defined, not by its centre, but by its outer limits and borders where it enters into relations with other multiplicities and changes nature. In this context, the self is understood as a threshold between multiplicities (Smith, 1997, xi– liii). Therefore, we are no longer talking about mere changes in appearance, but actual metamorphoses.2 As Brown mentions:

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“Living in the culture of the contemporary technological habitat concepts of identity are no longer tethered to the earth but are in freefall as a multiplicity of becomings, hyper-realities and mixed-states” (2011, 91),

thus expressing the variety of opinions, realities, identities and states of being, expressed by postmodernism. By extension, culture is not a consistent scheme, which was completed and established in the past, but rather a dynamic framework that develops in time, in conformity with people’s evolution, perception and activity. Culture is a constitutive element of human reality, “a perpetual becoming. It makes or remakes itself, but it is never something made” (cited in Kwinter, 2001, 3). Buchanan aptly expressed the notion that “culture is what we do individually and together through our intentional operations and projects” (Buchanan, 2010, 13–27). Any type of identity (cultural, personal, etc.) refers to the notion of cultivation and evolution. Therefore, the notions of culture and identity are not actually consistent states, with invariable features, doctrines and ideologies. A sense of activity, progress and friction is inherent in both of them, an everlasting process of ordering, disordering and reordering that is developing in accordance with the unfailing process of researching, setting and redefining the perspectives and values that shape this activity. The role of individuals as well as social groups is significant in moulding dynamic and pliant schemes, like identity, culture, art and design. The future and development of design does not appertain only to designers; it is rather determined by standing social and cultural systems that constantly evolve in time. Design is eminently a communicative process that is not complete in a designer’s office, but reaches common people and conveys multiple messages, influencing them not only on 2

The word derives from the Greek ȝȩȡijȦȝĮ (formation).

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informative levels but in terms of aesthetics as well. On the other hand, people’s perceptions and interactions with the design outcome are essential, as they are welcome to influence the derivative result. As mentioned in the subjective aspect of experience, the role of the people participating in a designed experience is significant to the extent that they are considered co-creators of the event. Such an approach, correlating culture and design with becoming, leads to a totally different perspective on aesthetics and the designing of experiences. The notions of change, transformation, and the unexpected, inhere in the design of experiences, as we cannot allege that we predetermine by designing them, we set the frame for them to unfold. Hence, the role of the designer, like that of the architect, is to instigate interactivity, experiences and events, not to plainly organize the form of objects, products, and places. The media used are mainly digital and they determine with their features and potentialities the design procedure as well as the final outcome. Analytically, the different phases of designing with digital tools (conception, creation, processing, construction, etc.) are no longer distinct and sequential one to the next, they are diffused. Additionally, a different relationship has developed between these phases and the final outcome, a procedural one. At each step of the way, various results may be realized (as further analysed) extricating the design procedure of a specific final result. The whole process may continue as long as the derivative products reach the creators’ standards and criteria. Therefore, various outcomes may emerge, using the Deleuzian meaning of the term, i.e. continuous becoming. Digital phenomena simulate real ones, in the fact that under designed circumstances, they are not static, but always emerging, always changing, always becoming something new, expressing “the incessant movement of life, the always present, changing, becoming now” (Bergson, 1911). Aesthetics of experience, like interaction, emerge in-between people and environments. Therefore, Aesthetics are a dynamic process, according to pragmatism, rather than a value inherent in particular designed, material products. “It is continuously going on and changing over time” (Löwgren & Stolterman, 2004). Numerous artists and researchers (like Davis, 2003; Petersen et al., 2004) meet at this point and emphasize space and time as primary aspects in designing experiences: like Martin who states that: “The properties of space and time are inseparable […] without time and space matter is inconceivable. Space gives form and proportion; time supplies it with life and measure.” (1994)

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Martin discerns space (both physical and virtual), time (dynamic aspect, which combined with the concept of space, e.g. movement, creates an illusion of spatial perception) and information (of the digital kind, offering flexibility, abundance, pervasiveness, and promptness) as three key factors of interaction. Additionally, Hallnäs & Redströmadd state that “time is a central form element for a computational thing in the same sense as time is a central form element in music” (2002, 106–124), and Shedroff (no date) states that the boundaries of an experience can be expansive and include the sensorial, the symbolic, the temporal, and the meaningful. Space and time are fundamental factors of designing interactivities and therefore experiences. Borrowing Eisenman’s remark on architecture, Interaction Design – and every type of design associated with interaction, like Experience Design – is also place-bounded, linked to a condition of experience (2007, 12–18). Hence human behaviour is further studied, enlightening the way people get involved in direct or mediated forms of personal and social interplay. Experiences are not only place-bounded but time-related as well; they are attached to a certain form of space and have duration – they evolve in time. Consequently, Interaction and Experience Design focus on results that are time-based. As aptly expressed by Gitta Salomon, Interaction Design involves “the design of products that reveal themselves over time” (in Sharp et al., 2007, 40–41), while Knight defines Experience Design as “the intentional creation of a time-based activity that includes physical objects, agents and situations” (2006, 204). Experience Design, like any creative procedure, involves a process of studying and proposing experiences and events located at a particular time and place, and therefore comprises a sense of becoming. Creativity, in essence, always seeks development, to reach the unfeasible, the inaccessible. Additionally, a design, i.e. a complete outcome, although associated with the sense of being, may generate static forms of communication and interaction, like graphic design, or dynamic forms, as interaction design. As every experience is characterized by a rate of relativity, nobody can predict the outcome, as it is affected by numerous factors (personal, social, environmental, cultural, etc.) An experience designer actually suggests strings of interaction in space and time; they propose a bundle of potentialities, and the participant decides which ones will (be)come into existence. Nobody can predetermine becoming, as it is constantly evolving in time, but we can be prepared and organize a set of components that contribute to its actualization. We design for becoming; we propose an aggregate of potentialities to be actualized in space and

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time, and participants act and interact respectively. The role of the designer and the participant are not as distinct and fixed as they used to be.

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Conclusions Our experiences involve our entire lives. They are filtered by our subjective way of conceiving and creating the world, and have specific space and time references. Experience, being both a noun and a verb, has a twofold meaning: a complete activity, a story (an experience), as well as a sense of change and evolution (experiencing). It is also holistic; it emerges from the amalgamation of perception, motivation, and emotion, all being in a dialogue with the world at a particular place and time. Experience design is a novel field, conceptualizing the design procedure as the “direction” of experiences, as eventually the final outcome is interwoven by both the designer and the participants. Therefore, it requires a thorough cross-disciplinary perspective to develop a holistic consideration of human experience. In the frame of globalized culture, human experience is driven beyond physical restrictions, and experience design embraces the new potentialities opened up by mixed reality worlds in everyday life, as expressed by posthuman, and metahuman, philosophy and anticipation. Experience design, like interaction design among other related disciplines, has embraced the alterations in the attributes of posthuman experience, and approaches participants holistically, studying the emotional, cognitive and sensual aspect of people’s participation in specific place and time, as well as their motivations, to set the frame for meaningful experience to occur. The notions of change, transformation, and the unexpected, inhere in the design of experiences, as we cannot allege that we predetermine by designing them, we set the frame for them to unfold. In essence a designer suggests strings of interaction in space and time; they propose a bundle of potentialities, and the participant decides which ones will (be)come into existence. Consequently, interactivity is addressed as a feature that encourages an observer to become participant.

References Archer, M., DeOliveira, N., Oxley, N. & Petry, M. (1996): Installation Art. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. Aronson, A. (2008): “Postmodern Design”. In Looking into the Abyss. Essays on Scenography. 4th edition. USA: The University of Michigan Press.

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Ascott, R. (2007): Telematice Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness. Shanken, E.A. (ed.) Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Bergson, H. (1911): Creative Evolution. A. Mitchell (trans.) New York: Henry Holt. (156th ed., Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1986). Boyston, J. A. (2008): The Later Works, 1925–1953, John Dewey, Vol 10: 1934, Art as Experience. USA: Board of Trustees. Brown, C. (2011): “Learning to Dance with Angelfish: Choreographic Encounters between Virtuality and Reality”. In Performance and Technology. Practices of virtual embodiment and Interactivity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Buchanan, R. (2010): “Branzi’s Dilemma: Design in contemporary culture”. In Buchanan, R., Dorrdan, D. & Margolin, V. (eds.) The Designed World. Images, Objects, Environments. Oxford, New York: Berg. Burgin, V. (1996): In / Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture. Berkeley & California: University of California Press. Cham, K. (2007): Reconstruction theory: Designing the space of possibility in complex media. International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital media, 3 (2&3), 253–267. Charitos, D. & Coti K. (2000): “The space of an audiovisual installation within a real and a virtual environment”. In Ascott, R. (ed.) Art, Technology, Consciousness. [email protected] G. Britain & USA: Intellect Books. Crabtree, A., Hemmings, T. & Rodden, T. (2002): “Pattern-based Support for Interactive Design in Domestic Settings”. In Proceedings of DIS2002. New York: ACM Press. Davies, C. (1998): “Changing space – VR as an arena of being”. In Beckman, J. (ed.) The Virtual Dimension. Boston: Princeton Architectural Press. Royden Hunt, Being @ Installations: the spacetime of technoetics. Davis, M. (2003): “Theoretical foundations for experiential systems design”. In Proceedings of SIGMM03. New York: ACM. del Val, J. & Sorgner, S. L. (2010): “A Metahumanist Manifesto”. Metabody – Journal of Metacultural Critique, 1 (2014). Reprinted as a Text in this volume, pages 9 – 11. Deleuze, G., Guattari, F. & Massumi B. (2004): A Thousand Plateaus. London & New York: Continuum. Dewey, L., 2005 [1934]: Art as Experience. New York: Perigee. Dilthey, W., 1976 (1900): Selected Writings. H.P. Rickman (trans.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Dinerstein, J., (2006): “Technology and its discontents: On the verge of the posthuman”. American Quarterly, 569–595. Du Preez, A. (2010): “The posthuman aesthetic of transcendence: blank canvasses and naked faces”. Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the South African Science and Religion Forum (SASRF). Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, Pretoria. 2–3.09. 2010. Earnshaw, R & Vince, J. (eds.) (2001): Digital Content Creation. G. Britain: Springer – Verlag Limited. Eisenman, P. (2007): “Unfolding events: Frankfurt Rebstock and the possibility of a new urbanism”. In Written into the void: selected writings, 1990–2004. China: World Print, 12–18. Engholm. I. (2010): The Good Enough Revolution – The Role of Aesthetics in User Experiences with Digital Artefacts. Digital Creativity, Vol.21, No.3, 141–154. Fiore, S., Wright. P. & Edwards, A. (2005): “A Pragmatist Aesthetics approach to the design of a technological artifact”. AARHUS’05. 21– 25.8.2005. Århus, Denmark. New York: ACM Press. Forlizzi & Battarbee (2004): “Understanding Experience in interactive systems”. In Proceedings of the 2004 conference on Designing interactive systems (DIS 04): processes, practices, methods, and techniques. New York: ACM. Gomoll, L. (2011): “Posthuman Performance. A Feminist Intervention”. In Total Art Journal, Volume 1. No. 1. Summer 2011. Available online: http://www.totalartjournal.com [last accessed: 10.11.2015]. Hallnäs, L. & Redström, J. (2002): “From Use to Presence: On the Expressions and Aesthetics of Everyday Computational Things”. In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Vol. 9, No. 2, June 2002. Haraway, D. (1991): “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”. In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge. Harvey, D. (1992): The condition of Postmodernity, Blackwell, Cambrigde. Hassenzahl, M. (2010): Experience Design. Technology for all the right reasons. J. C. Carroll (ed.) USA: Morgan & Claypool Publishers. Hayles, K. (1999): How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Hileman, R. (1998): An introductory lecture for digital designers by Rhodes Hileman (c) 1998. Regarding: Jones, J. C., 1970. Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures. New York & Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Available online: www.smsys.com/pub/dsgnmeth.pdf. [last accessed at: 30.3.2015]. Hiller, S. (1996): Thinking about Art – Conversations with Susan Huller. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Hutcheon, L. (1988): A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. New York: Routledge. Huxley, A. (1972): “Visionary Experience”. In The Highest State of Consciousness. White, J. (ed.) New York: Archer. Jameson, J. (1985): “Postmodernism and Consumer Society”. In Foster, H. (ed.) Postmodern Culture. London: Pluto Press. Jencks, C. (1986): What is Postmodernism? New York: St. Martin’s Press. Jordan, P. (2000): Designing Pleasurable Products. New York & London: Taylor and Francis. Kaptelinin, V. & Nardi, B. A. (2006): Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design. Cambridge: MIT Press. Klages, M. (2006): Literary theory: a guide for the perplexed. London & New York: Continuum Interantional Publishing Group. Knight, J. (2006): “Ethics and HCI”. In Ghaoui, C. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Human Computer Interaction. Hershley: Idea Group Reference. Kwinter, S. (2001): Architectures of Time. Toward a Theory of the Event in Modernist Culture. Cambridge & London: The MIT Press. Latour, B. (1993): We Have Never Been Modern. C. Porter (trans.) Cambridge, Massachussets: Harvard University Press. Lévy, P. (2001): Virtual Reality: the Philosophy of Culture and of Cyberspace (Greek edition) Ȃ. Karahalios (trans.) Athens: Kritiki. Löwgren, J. & Stolterman, E. (2004): Thoughtful Interaction Design: A Design Perspective on Information Technology. Cambridge: MIT Press. Lyotard, J. F. (1984): The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. H. R. Garvin (ed.) G. Bennington & B. Massumi (trans.) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Mansfeldt, O. K., Vestager, E. M. & Iversen, M. B. (2008): Experience design in city tourism. Norden: Nordic Innovation Centre. Martin, E. (1994): “Architecture as a translation of music”. In Pamphlet architecture 16. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Marzano, S., Aarts, E. (2003): The New Everyday View on Ambient Intelligence. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.

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McCarthy, J. & Wright, P. (2004): Technology as Experience. Cambridge: MIT Press. McCullough, M. (2004): Digital Ground: architecture, pervasive computing, and environmental knowing. MIT Press. Merleau-Ponty, M., 2005 (1962): Phenomenology of Perception. C. Smith (trans.) London & New York: Routledge. Monk, A. (2000): “User-Centred Design. The Home use challenge”. In Sloane, A. & van Rijn, F. Home Informatics and Telematics. Information, Technology and Society. USA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Moravec, H. P. (1988): Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Moravec, H. (1998): The senses have no future. In J. Beckmann (ed.) The Virtual Dimension: Architecture, Representation, and Crash Culture. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press. More, M. (1994): On Becoming Posthuman. Available online: http://www.maxmore.com/becoming.htm [accessed: 13.11.2011] Nietzsche, F. (1968): The Will to Power. New York: Vintage Press. Norman, D.A. (2002): “Emotion and design: Attractive things work better”. Interactions: New Visions of Human-Computer Interaction IX, 4, 36–42. O’Dell, T. & Billing, P. (eds.) (2005): Experience-scapes. Tourism, Culture and Economy. Denmark: Copenhagen Business School Press. Ortega y Gasset, J. (1963): Man and People. New York: Norton Library. Pallasmaa, J. (2007): The eyes of the skin: Architecture and the Senses. Great Britain: Wiley-Academy. Paluch, K. (2006): Commentary on strategy and design of interactive products. In User Experience Design Blog. Available online: http://www.montparnas.com/articles/what-is-user-experiencedesign/comment-page-5/ [accessed: 12.5.2016]. Petersen, M. G., Iversen, O. S., Krogh, P. G. & Ludvigsen, M. (2004): Aesthetic Interaction - A Pragmatist’s Aesthetics of Interactive Systems. DIS2004, July 18–21, Cambridge, USA. Philips (no date): Available online: http://www.research.philips.com/technologies/ambintel.html [accessed at: 27.9.2015]. Pine, B. J. & Gilmore, J. H. (1999): The experience economy: Work is theatre and every business a stage. Cambridge: Harvard Business School. Rick, D., Lorenzi, M. G. & Francaviglia, M. (2010): “Motion and Dynamism: a Mathematical Journey through the Art of Futurism and

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its future in Digital Photography”. [online] 9th International Conference APLIMAT 2010. Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Available at: http://www.scienar.eu/network/paper/Doble_Lorenzi_Francaviglia.pdf. (last accessed: 15.11.2015). Russell, C. (1980): “The Context of the Concept”. In Romanticism, Modernism, Postmodernism. H. R. Garvin (ed.) Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press. Russell, J.A. & Pratt, G. (1980): “A description of the affective quality attributed to environments”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38, 311–322. Russell, J.A. (2003): “Core Effect and the Psychological construction of Emotion”. Psychological Review, 110, 145–172. Sandberg, A. (2011): “Cognition Enhancement: Upgrading the Brain”. In Savulescu, J., ter Meulen, R. Kahane, G. (eds.) Enhancing Human Capacities. Malden &Oxford: Wiley – Blackwell. Sanders, E. (2002): Scaffolds for Experiencing in the New Design Space. Tokyo, Japan: Graphic-Sha Publishing Co, Ltd. Sareika, M. & Schmalstieg D. (2008): “Urban Sketcher: Mixing Realities in the Urban Planning and Design Process”. CHI2008 Workshop, ACM SIGCHI. In Proceedings: 26th Annual CHI Conference Workshop. Schmitt, B. H. (1999): Experiential marketing. New York: Free Press. Schenkman, B.N. & Jonsson, F.U. (2000): “Aesthetics and preferences of Web pages”. Behaviour & Information Technology 19, 5, 367–377. Sharp, H., Rodgers, Y. & Preece, J. (2007): Interaction Design. Beyond Human-computer Interaction. 2nd edition. England: John Wiley & Sons. Shedroff, N., Available online: http://www.nathan.com/thoughts/index.html#presentations. [last accessed at: 27.9.2015]. Shusterman, R. (2000): Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art. Lanham, Boulder, New York & Oxfird: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Shusterman, R. (2002): Pragmatist Aesthetics. London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Smart, J., Cascio, J. & Paffendorf, J. (no date): Metaverse roadmap overview. Pathways to the 3d web. A Cross-Industry Public Foresight Project. [online] Available online: http://metaverseroadmap.org/overview/index.html. [last accessed: 17.5.2015].

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Smith, D.W. (1997): “Introduction ‘A Life of pure Immanence’: Deleuze’s ‘Critique et Clinique’”. In G. Deleuze (ed.) Essays Critical and Clinical. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Spinoza, B. de, 1997[1675]: “Nature and Origin of the Mind”. In The Ethics. Part II, Postulates I–VI. A. Boyle (trans.) London: Everyman. Tractinsky, N., Shoval,-Katz, A. & Ikar, D. (2000): “What is beautiful is usable”. Interacting with Computers 13(2), 127–14. Tuan, Y. (2005): Space and Place. The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Vergopoulos, s. (2007): In Vergopoulos, S., Kalfopoulos, A. (eds.) Architectural Design and Digital Technologies 2. (Greek edition) Department of aArchitectural Design and Visual Arts, Faculty of Architecture, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki: Ekkremes. Wolfe, C. (2010): Posthumanities. Available online: http://www.carywolfe.com/post_about.html [last accessed: 13.11.2015] Zhang, P. & Li, N. (2005): “The Importance of Affective Quality”. Communications of the ACM. September 2005,Vol. 48, No. 9, 105– 108.

CHAPTER FIVE THE TRANSGENIC ART OF EDUARDO KAC AND THE POSTHUMANISTIC PERCEPTION OF HIS ARTWORK, GENESIS PANAYIOTA POLYMEROPOULOU

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1. Introduction The artworks of each period reflect that period’s way of thinking, playing a significant role in the formation of human aesthetical capability. It is common that artists always work with the forms of technology of their era. Photography, moving images (video, animation) or computer science in general have been successfully adopted by artists as opportunities for artistic exploration (1). In the 21st century, some of the most dynamic artworks have not been produced in the artist’s studio, but in the scientist’s laboratory. Bioart is a new form of contemporary art, and its uniqueness relies on the fact that it brings into contemporary art something that did not exist before; bioart focuses on the procedure of life, genetics, and biotechnological media. In other words, bioart is alive (in vivo). Molecular genetics permit artists to manipulate vegetable and animal genes in order to create new forms of life (2). Thus, artists use living organisms for artistic purposes. This raises a question that is more topical than ever as to whether this is ethically correct (3). This chapter will present the controversy over transgenic art and the dubious ethical issues that arise in the relationship between art and biology, between technology and science. There will be an introduction to the contemporary artist, Eduardo Kac and his artwork, Genesis. His creation may be more than a decade old now, but it is considered an up-to-date artwork that stimulates audiences and critics alike. An artwork can be displayed and observed in many different ways. Here, it is given a different, virtual perspective where the visitor-human adopts a virtual body and thus becomes a post-human.

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2. Critiques on transgenic art – Bioethics There are many controversies on the impact of transgenic art and there have been many discussions of the contentious issue of bioart. The question that remains unsolved even today is the possibility of consolidating a rule of ethics for this biological art (4). The defenders of transgenic art believe that artists attempt to criticize the consequences that result from genetic technologies (5). And since contemporary art is conceptual, symbolic art contributes to the cultural impacts of science and offers different ways of thinking about biotechnology. The supporters of transhumanism believe that humans, as any living organisms, are the result of a long biological evolution, since they are not at the beginning, but probably at the end of their evolution. In other words, they support the ‘variability’ of humanity, believing in a potentially superior human, the posthuman. They claim that this variability of humankind is not only a feature of human nature, but also a mandatory precondition for human survival in the long run. In addition, the followers of transgenic art believe that this form of art can help science to recognize the role of matters related to the communication and development of organisms. The new art, bioart, could make us think creatively about our responsibilities for Life. On the opposite side of this perception stand the sceptics who often present their speculations and their fears about the development of biotechnology and future living conditions that demand a superior being, a post human, according to the advocates of posthumanism. Artists create new species and the critics of transgenic art talk about the pride and the arrogance of artists who execute their “divine” work like Creators. The power and potential of biotechnology demand caution to ensure ethical progress (6). Moreover, critics of transgenic art believe that, through this art, the procedure of justification of genetic mutation is more simplified since it is easier in that way to justify similar experiments in the areas of cloning and genetic mutations. The artists’ perception that “the introduction of foreign genetic material into the human gene must be seen not only as welcome but also desired” (7), causes a reaction, and issues of bioethics come into play. The ethical dilemmas that result from this controversy concern the concept of art, while it is said that artists may be manipulated – not necessarily in a conscious way – by technologists and multinational companies with whom the artists collaborate. In other words, “artists legalize practices that our cultures would accept with great difficulty” (8).

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Bioethics in the age in which we live, expresses the perspicacious thought of Michel Foucault about bio power that “the need of a healthy and full of joy population will become the ultimate purpose of the political power”. This sentence means that the creation of strong and capable people will become the ultimate goal of a state with political and economic power (9). Foucault’s analysis reminds us of the selective tendency of parents nowadays, in using the Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis in the case of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment, to introduce genetic controls that avoid genetic diseases and chromosomal abnormalities. Bioethics deals with principles: When new technologies are applied, are the principles of human dignity, autonomy and justice respected? Bioethics also deals with consequences. What are the consequences of the benefits and risks of biotechnology? Bioethics deals with values and norms. The norms vary from one culture to another, from one society to another, the norms change over time, and individual experiences also play a role (10). It is clear that Kac’s work stimulates social controversy on the cultural impact of bioart (11).

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3. Eduardo Kac and his artwork ‘Genesis’ At the beginning of the 21st century, Eduardo Kac is a pioneer artist launching a new direction for contemporary art with his transgenic art. It all started with his ground-breaking artwork, Genesis (1999–2000). Genesis is a transgenic artwork that explores the intricate relationship between biology, belief systems, information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics and the internet. The artwork includes a synthetic gene that the artist himself invented. The artist’s gene was created by translating a sentence from the biblical book of Genesis into Morse Code, and converting the Morse Code into DNA base pairs according to a conversion principle specially developed by the artist for this work. The sentence reads: “Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” It was chosen for what it implies about the dubious notion of humanity’s divinely sanctioned supremacy over nature. The Genesis gene was incorporated into bacteria, which were shown in the gallery. Participants on the Web could turn on an ultraviolet light in the gallery, causing real, biological mutations in the bacteria. According to Kac, the Morse code was chosen first for the radio (telegraphy represents the dawn of the information era), the genesis of the universal communication. The artist also believes that “this triple system of writing: the natural language with the text, the binary logic with the

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Morse code and the genetic sequence, is the key to perceive the future” (12). The whole procedure from the conception of the artwork to the implementation and display of Genesis is described in detail on the artist’s website (13). Kac’s visionary occupation with robotics, biology and the internet explores the fluidity of these subjects in the post-digital era. The artwork Genesis explores the fact that the biological procedures can be recorded and programmed as they are saved and, thus, editable. As an artist, Eduardo Kac believes that there is a significant change in the artist’s role, since the artist creates life, subjects rather than objects (14). In the context of Genesis, the ability to change the genetic sequence is a symbolic gesture, it means that we are accepting the meaning of supremacy as it has been given to us. By performing the smallest movement in the internet world, the click, participants can modify the genetic formation of an organism (15). The meaning, among others, is that a small, local, movement can have a deeper consequence that resembles the theory of chaos which describes the unpredictable conflict of one event over the other, where the two events are ostensibly irrelevant to each other (16). According to the principle of quantum physics, the flight of a butterfly in one place can theoretically cause a typhoon in another, even a distant one; this movement is the inauguration of uncertainty. Eduardo Kac underlines that to click or not to click is not only an ethical decision but a symbolic one as well. The participant becomes involved in the procedure but they are not aware of the results and consequences.

4. Suggested projection of the artwork Genesis in a virtual way The exhibition of the artwork has been organized in a specific and clear manner in the gallery where it was displayed. The artist uses new media technology in order to invite/challenge the distant visitor to interact while the atmosphere of the whole creation is due to both the lighting and the sound that actually attracts both the real and the virtual visitor. A possible way of displaying the artwork would be in a virtual way, by using 3D graphic technologies. Apart from an artwork’s display, 3D graphics can also be used for scientific purposes. The paradigm comes from the simulation of a virtual archaeological dig. Since Archaeology is a scientific field that is based on excavation and field surveys, the majority of the applications are focused on simulating the archaeological dig with realistic problems that an archaeologist may have to deal with. A virtual dig consists of an excellent instructive tool for future archaeologists, since the excavation is always a destructive process (17). The visualization of

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reality can be achieved through virtual reality (18). A visit to the place where Genesis is exhibited, would be a virtual simulation of the natural exhibition. Virtual art is art that allows us, through a technological interface, to be immersed in it and to interact with it (19). The interchangeability that virtual art offers exists in the relationship of the visitor with the artwork due to its nature and location. The size difference between the natural/real and the virtual worlds leads the visitor to immersion into the virtual world and also the illusion of a live experience (20). Nowadays, the digital image constitutes an important component of an artwork’s display and performs a specific function: it creates a visionary bridge between spectators on the internet and the real world (21). The immersion of the spectator, the visitor to the artwork depends greatly on the way that the spatial presence is experienced. The more the system captures the senses of the participant the more the system is considered immersive (22). Each visitor to the virtual exhibition of Genesis via the internet could have the ability to navigate themselves into the place of the 3D exhibition, by using a personal virtual representative, an avatar. In the case of navigation through an avatar, the visitor would have a double identity since they are at the same time in both the natural and the virtual place. The division of the subject is an advantage for the new mobility of the image. The avatar, as a virtual body, is a combination of human and nonhuman components, both flesh and information (23). The simulations of virtuality with synthetic identities do not provide just one existence but many possible ones. By using avatars or moving figures in the computer, the posthuman can be one of the many forms of idiosyncratic existence of the participant, with or without a human body (24). Each visitor could have the opportunity to choose between five different avatars; each avatar could correspond to one of the five elements of nature: in traditional Western occult theory, the elements are hierarchical – spirit, fire, air, water and earth – with the first elements being more spiritual and perfect and the last elements being base and more material (25). This categorization actually comes from Greek philosophical thought; Empedocles, in the 5th century BC and Aristotle in the 4th had originally identified four fundamental elements: earth, air, fire, and water, that later became the basis for western thinking about the natural world, until at least the rise of natural sciences in the 18th century. As the above-mentioned five elements are the basic building blocks of everything, the selection of the avatar by each visitor would correspond to the traditional interpretation of this scheme. According to the Theory of the Five Elements:

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Earth is a solid condition of the material, indicating stability. Earth represents the body, growth, nature and all materiality. Water is the element of flow and change. It represents emotion, love, intuition, creativity, and fertility. Fire is the power converting the solid into liquid or gas and vice versa. Fire is creative energy and also a purifier, associated with a flame, the sun, blood, healing and destroying. Air is the formless being, restless and powerful. Air is intellect, the mind and all mental processes and abilities. It is psychic abilities, learning, knowledge and theory. Ether is the connective element, the place where everything happens. Ether or spirit is the centre and circumference, change and transformation. The virtual visitors to Genesis would be able to communicate, move freely in the 3D space of the exhibition, and interact with the artwork itself. The result of the possible mutation of the gene would be displayed on the user’s computer screen. This communication among the visitors would take place in chat-rooms with the condition that a typical ‘acquaintance’ between the avatars had taken place before. Every user would be visible to the total group of visitors, since a natural visit in a museum or art gallery is always a social activity and, as a consequence of the museum experience, is mainly formatted by the social context; it is an environment of social gatherings. The Five Elements were moreover conceived as miniature aspects of the universe; these avatars could probably create more of a ‘universal’ communication between the virtual visitors than a continuous discrimination based on nationality, colour or another feature, due to the international character of the exhibition. The navigation would bear the characteristics of integration offered by digital worlds and online communities in cyberspace (26), where visitors meet and interact (27). In any case, it is natural for artists who are interested in systems to explore the multiple capabilities of a medium such as the computer (28). The screen of the computer operates as a window to a virtual world, according to the western tradition of illustrating illusion (29). The popularity of the medium has moreover increased the tendency of artists to use the computer in their artworks, either as an object for experimentation or as a medium for promotion and display of their work. Consequently, the democratization of the medium has led to democratization of meaning. The artist interacts with the viewer, who becomes a participant in the artwork; therefore, the location of Genesis is dispersed in space and time (30).

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5. Conclusions and Outlook Eduardo Kac’s transgenic artwork Genesis raises questions about contemporary life and the consequences of biotechnology in human beings. The contemporary artist uses new media to make us think and to remind us that in the era of biotechnology “art could not ignore the paradoxes of life”. We are in a phase of acceleration and continuous evolution, where the experimentation of artists and scientists with genetic mechanics casts doubt on cultural values connected with notions like Nature, Human and Humanity. In fact, transhumanism aims at perfecting human nature, from a physical and also a psychological perspective, using all the advances of modern science to augment human potential. To put it more succinctly, the ultimate achievement is immortality by merging man and machine (31). Contemporary art, mainly conceptual, bears symbolic values since artists differ from scientists. The aim of the artist is to seek multiple responses and interpretations, to pose philosophical and social questions, so that the artwork will become either the source of creativity or one of the answers, which might be different for each spectator. On the contrary, science looks for sense, for the right or the best answer (32). Scientists, in a similar way to archaeologists, are nowadays using new technologies, especially computer graphics, to visualize archaeological data through an easy and explanatory method, to represent the ancient past, not only for themselves, but also for anyone interested in the cultural assets of an archaeological excavation (33). Besides, artworks, or rather the details within the artworks are, the purest source of a particular kind of historical information (34). Transgenic art reflects the character of the contemporary era and the posthumanist pursuits of humans for the development and elongation of human life. Contemporary artists visualize the results of scientific research. As a consequence, in Genesis, ‘instead of imitating life’, ‘Art becomes Life’, according to Eduardo Kac. (35)

References 1. Menezes, M. (2006): “Art in vivo and in vitro”. In: Signs of Life: Bioart and Beyond, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 215 – 229. 2. Kac, E. (2007): Signs of Life-Bio Art and Beyond, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 3. Kac, E. (1999): “Transgenic Art”, Ars Electronica 99 – Life Science, Springer, Vienna and New York, 289–296. 4. Sian, E. (2005): Art and Science, I.B. Tauris, London and New York.

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5. Gigliotti, C. (2009): Leonardo’s Choice. Genetic Technologies & Animals, Springer, London. 6. O’Mathúna, Dónal P. (2007): “Bioethics and Biotechnology”, Springer: NICB special issue Cytotechnology, Volume 53, Issue 1, April 2007, 113–119. 7. O’Mathúna, Dónal P. (2016): “The Role of Art in the Genetic Age”. Available at: http://www.cbhd.org, last visited: 20/01/2016. 8. Gigliotti, C. (2009): Leonardo’s choice: Genetic Technologies & Animals, Springer, London. 9. Kelly, G.E.M. (2009): “The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault” Studies in Social and Political Thought, Routledge, NY. 10. Jónsdóttir, I. (2005): “PGD and Embryo Selection”. In Jónsdóttir Ingileif (Ed.), International Conference on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Embryo Selection, Denmark, Tema Nord, 591. 11. Grau, O. (2003): Virtual Art. From Illusion to Immersion, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 12. Kac, E. (2005): Telepresence & Bioart, Networking Humans, Rabbits & Robots, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 13. Kac, E. (2016): http://www.ekac.org/, last visited: 21/01/2016. 14. Ángel, R. R. (2008): “Si Alba es un monstruo, también lo somos nosotros”, Arcadia, N. 31, Abril 2008, Bogotá, 26–27. 15. Kac, E. (2005): Telepresence & Bioart, Networking Humans, Rabbits & Robots, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 16. Batterman, R. W. (1993): “Defining Chaos”, Philosophy of Science, nr. 60, 43–66. 17. Polymeropoulou, P. (2013): Review: Graves, Michael W. Digital Archaeology: The Art and Science of Digital Forensics – Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison-Wesley (2013): Volume 23, Issue 1–2, Information Security Journal: A Global Perspective, 45. 18. Zizek, S. (1996): “From Virtual Reality to Virtualization of Reality”, Electronic Culture. Technology and Visual Representation, Druckrey Timothy, Aperture Foundation, U.K. 19. Popper, F. (2007). From Technological to Virtual Art, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 20. Sampanikou, E. (2008): “Digital Environments in Contemporary Art”, In: Sampanikou, E., Kavakli, E. (eds), Aspects of representation, Studies on Art & Technology–New Technologies in Contemporary Cultural Expression, The University of the Aegean, Mytilene, 169– 182. 21. Kac, E. (1998): “Beyond the Screen: New Directions in Interactive Art”, Veredas, Ano 3, No. 32, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 12–15.

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22. Vorderer, P., Bryant, J. (2006): Playing Videogames. Motives, Responses and Consequences, Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., New Jersey. 23. Moser, M. A., MacLead, D. (1995): Immersed in Technology: Art and Virtual Environments, Banff Centre of Arts MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 24. Young, S. (2006): Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto, Prometheus Books, NY. 25. Grote, G. (1865): Plato and the Other Companions of Socrates, Vol. I. Published by John Murray, London, 39–50. 26. Jacko, J. A., Sears A. (2002): The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook Fundamentals. Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. 27. Schreder, R. (2001): The Social life of Avatars: Presence and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments, Springer, London. 28. Candy, L., Edmonds, Ernest A. (2002): Explorations in Art and Technology, Springer, London. 29. Manovich, L. (2001): The Language of NewMedia, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London. 30. Mealing, St. (1997): Computers & Art, Intellect. 31. Livingstone, D. (2015): Transhumanism: The History of a Dangerous Idea, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, US. 32. Wilson, S. (2010): Art & Science Now, Thames & Hudson, London. 33. Polymeropoulou, P. (2014): “Digging the Virtual Past”, IADIS Inernational Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems – 2014 Proceedings, Lisbon. 34. Walter, B., Jennings, M. W., Dohers, B., Levi, Thomas, Y. (2008): The World of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, Harvard University Press. 35. Mudede, C. (2000): “The End of Art”, The Stranger, Volume 9, Number 15, Dec. 30.

CHAPTER SIX AVATARS IN VIDEOGAMES MARIOS M. GIAKALARAS AND CHRISTOS P. TSONGIDIS

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Introduction You are in front of your terminal having a hard time deciding the characteristics of your avatar in the videogame you are currently playing. You have to decide what your avatar will look like and the characteristics it will have. The choices are simple, but our human nature takes over during the process. We are trying to imagine and imitate our alternative selves, or that of some other existing person, to make our own avatar; sometimes we derive it from fantasy or a sci-fi text. Some characteristics will be real, for example, the colour of the eyes, the shape of the mouth or the eyebrows. Every little detail we add to the avatar makes it, most of the time, a digital representation of ourselves. But is that what makes us posthuman? The answer to the above question is unclear because there are countless game titles on the market and every single one has its own mechanism for creating an avatar. Some titles even enable you to import an avatar in your own image by developing it in some 3D creation program. The challenge in our research is to find specific characteristics in avatar creation that make an avatar posthuman. For many, posthuman is just something more than a human. It’s an augmentation of abilities or the replacement of a limb by a mechanical one. But what really is posthuman and what is the difference between transhumanism and posthumanism? In short, posthumanism and transhumanism use two different perspectives to look at the world. Let us start by explaining transhumanism. Transhumanism is the project of modifying the human species via any kind of emerging science, including genetic engineering, digital technology and bioengineering

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(for example, Keanu Reeves in Johny Mnemonic1). In simple terms, Transhumanism is based on the Enlightenment and on reason, as Kristi Scott explains in her article, arguing that the main focus of Transhumanism is for humans to look at the way technology interacts with humans, through enhancement and modification. Whereas Posthumanism is the view that we ought to try to develop – in ways that are safe and ethical – technological means that will enable the exploration of the posthuman realm of possible modes of being. The choice of whether to use them, however, should normally rest with the individual. Last but not least, “posthuman” can be defined as the condition in which humans and intelligent technology are becoming increasingly intertwined. More specifically, posthuman is a projected state of humanity in which unlocking the information patterns that those who believe in the posthuman say make us what we are (LaGrandeur, 2014). Furthermore, posthumanism is a solution to post-structuralism and humanism, born out of the “Evils” of postmodernism. Therefore, this perspective is a shift away from humanism, as Scott explains. Something we must understand at this point is that Posthumanism fully rejects anthropocentrism and instead understands the human as a social and cultural construct (Scott, 2011). Finally, the real key in this coalescence of the two definitions is the word human which exists in both of them. It must be fully understood that it is all about the human and the way we approach the term, studying the terminology of the word from different points of view basically via a rational, logical and scientific approach to human-technological interaction.

Posthuman Avatars Let’s play a game. Every game has a specific mechanism that makes it playable. Some games have avatars while others don’t. We will focus on games that have avatars and specifically on those that are customizable by

1

Johnny Mnemonic is a 1995 Canadian-American cyberpunk action thriller film directed by Robert Longo in his directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves and Dolph Lundgren. The film is based on the story of the same name by William Gibson. Keanu Reeves plays the title character, a man with a cybernetic brain implant designed to store information. The film portrays Gibson’s dystopian view of the future with the world dominated by megacorporations and with strong East Asian influences.

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the user. Every avatar uses a specific structure – it is either a human or a fantasy, alien, sci-fi character. In order to begin our hypothesis, we must first define what an avatar is and what an avatar in a videogame is. If we search a dictionary for the definition of the word avatar we find the following: “An icon or figure representing a particular person in a computer game, Internet forum, etc.” – (Oxford Dictionary). It is clear that at an earlier stage an avatar received the meaning of something static, such as a photographic image, but nowadays technology has made such progress that the initially static image has become animated and can be easily manipulated by the user. Because of that, the avatar of a game is known as a ‘character’ as it has acquired motion and can be controlled by a person, the player, and has also kept its original meaning as a static graphic in a forum or a chat room. For the purposes of this study, an avatar is mainly the representation of a person in a computer game. It is, in fact, what Bukatman (2002) referred to as a “cybersubject”, where:

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“Virtual reality significantly extends the sensory address of existent media to provide an alternate and manipulable space [and to] be installed into such an apparatus would be to exist on two planes at once: while one’s objective body would remain in the real world, one’s phenomenal body would be projected into the terminal reality.” (Bukatman, 2002, 149)

The main difference between an avatar in a video game – “cybersubject” – and a plain avatar in a forum is the connection between the avatar and the human controlling it. It is basically the immersion between the two. Similarly, as Rehak suggests: “[The avatar’s] behaviour is tied to the player’s through an interface: its literal motion, as well as its figurative triumphs and defeats, result from the player’s actions. At the same time, avatars are unequivocally other. Both limited and freed by difference from the player, they can accomplish more than the player alone; they are supernatural ambassadors of agency …” (Rehak, 2003)

Additionally, we must consider two new facts in our hypothesis, the point of view (PoV) and the point of action (PoA). These two new facts in our hypothesis actually play out certain moral choices made by the player, a.k.a. physical human, and will probably determine the outcome of the avatar selection mechanism. As Neitzel claims, the perspective can be objective, semi-subjective or subjective (Neitzel, 2007). In our hypothesis

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the game we choose is Deus Ex which employs the latter, an objective point of view. Accordingly, the protagonist’s acting avatar is placed inside the frame of the player’s vision. As a result, the main selection of the avatar could be crucial to the outcome of the game. Next is the Point of Action. As Neitzel suggests, the games can present an intra- or extradiegetic PoA, depending on whether there is a player figure or avatar within the game world, or a centralized or decentralized PoA, meaning that the agency can be applied only via the avatar or everywhere within the game world, and lastly direct or indirect PoA, referring to the mediation a player action has within the world (Schmeink, 2009). For a first person shooter game such as Deus Ex, the PoA is intradiegetic, centralized and direct, so that player actions are represented via an avatar that is part of the story told. The same pattern is also used in Bioshock. Because of these facts we must achieve a deeper understanding of the mechanism used to create the avatar-protagonist as the selections made by the player might be crucial at the course of the game. In order to make an avatar in a game there is a standard procedure that must be followed. Gender selection, Name, Physical Appearance and Abilities. Each player must make an intertwined number of decisions for their avatar to come to “life”. So, if we have a male player that chooses to play a female character/avatar, what are the decisions he is going to make? Will his avatar be tall, will it be attractive or ugly? That all depends on the player. But what makes an avatar creation posthuman is to bring oneself into a digital world by means of creation. You are playing god in that moment, you are giving life to pixels, and after that you bring your creation into a digital environment. But even that has some specific rules and limitations that the player must accept. You cannot create everything you imagine. Every avatar is unique, as is every player. Let’s start when the player has to make a decision about gender. Why would he choose to adopt a female or a male avatar? If he is going to project his self in the game will the avatar be of the same gender as his own? Does it matter if it is an online game or an offline one? These are all questions that are related to the player and the way they think. Let’s take, for example, Deus Ex which is a cyberpunk-themed action-roleplaying video game combing first person shooter, stealth and roleplaying elements developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000. But what makes Deus Ex a perfect example for analysis is the fact that the player has to make decisions and has a number of choices to make. In this particular game the player already has a premade character-avatar and the choice he has to make is whether he is going to use augmentations or not. Using augmentations in this game is

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what makes the specific game posthuman and the avatar transhuman but in a digital world. Being immersed in a world of pixels and CGI2 controlling a transhuman avatar in a posthuman way is the challenge for the player. The game gives the player freedom of choice but with consequences in a protected environment. In modern games such as W.o.W.3 and other MMORPG, the player has to interact with other players. In those games, character creation takes on a whole new meaning because the character is the digital identity of the player for that game. The creation process is slightly different than the offline creation. The player must have in mind that he will not be alone and will interact with others who will have other useful abilities and stats. Have in mind that these games provide a plethora of selections as the game evolves, giving the player the opportunity to change selections and evolve the appearance of avatars by gaining armoury, offering not only statistical advantages over the other players but stylistic changes to the avatar. Each game that has a character creation system uses specific mechanisms built just for that game. They can be used in other games too but, while the core will remain the same, all the other elements will be different. In our case, Deus Ex does not let you play as a female character which is a problem for some players. Furthermore, a female player will not have the same degree of immersion inside the game world as she would have if her character was female, but that is not absolute. On the contrary current games that have a character/avatar creation system use the same mechanism but they add and remove features to fit their game scenario, giving you the experience of a metahuman condition. 2

The term ‘CGI animation’ refers to dynamic CGI rendered as a movie. The term ‘virtual world’ refers to agent-based, interactive environments. Computer graphics software is used to make computer-generated imagery for films, etc. The availability of CGI software and increased computer speeds have allowed individual artists and small companies to produce professional-grade films, games, and fine art from their home computers. This has brought about an internet subculture with its own set of global celebrities, clichés, and technical vocabulary. The evolution of CGI led to the emergence of virtual cinematography in the 1990s, where runs of the simulated camera are not constrained by the laws of physics. 3 World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) created in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard’s previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.

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Conclusion In conclusion, many games use different character creation systems for the players to make or to customize their avatars. Each game uses a specific mechanism to achieve that goal. The posthuman element is present in all games because each character/avatar uses unique abilities and has specific characteristics. So each player has the opportunity to make their character according to their preferences and navigate a vast digital world whether the game is an offline or an online differentiated by the PoV or the PoA and the avatar creation mechanisms. The key element to our argument is that the posthuman nature of a character is that a player exists simultaneously in two worlds, one digital and one real. In these worlds the player can make decisions and choices that affect him and make him immerse even further into a computer-generated world having as limits the rules of the game itself. This goes back to early games too. As technology was progressing it gave users the ability to create more complex and more unique characters with infinite choices so that the avatar of the player would “live” in the digital world as metahuman.

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References Badmington, N. (2000): Posthumanism. New York: Palgrave. Bukatman, S. (1993): Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham NC: Duke University Press. Druckrey, T. (1996): Electronic Culture Technology and Visual Representation. Aperture Foundation. Fernández, A. (2004): So You Think You’re Human? Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Grau, O. (2003): Visual Art : From Illusion to Immersion. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The MIT Press. Harvey, A. (2009): Seeking the Embodied Mind in Video Game Theory: Embodiment in Cybernetics, Flow, and Rule Structures. Heslington, UK: York University. Hayles, K. N. (1999): How we became Posthuman. Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. Chicago and London: The University Of Chicago Press. LaGrandeur, K. (2014, July 28): Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies. Retrieved july 16, 2015, from ieet: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/lagrandeur20140729

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Neitzel, B. (2007): Point of View und Point of Action: Eine Perpektive auf die POerspektive in Computerspielen. Hamburg: Ed. K. Bartel and J. N. Thon. Hamburg. Rehak, B. (2003): Playing at being, The Video Game Theory Reader. London & New York: Routledge. Schmeink, L. (2009): Dystopia, Alternate History and the Posthuman in Bioshock. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, pp. 2–4. Scott, K. (2011, July 14): Institue for Ethics & Emerging Technologies. Retrieved July 29, 2015, from ieet.org: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/scott20110714. Vella, D. (2014): Modeling the Semiotic Structure Of Game Characters. Copenhagen: IT University Of Copenhagen.

CHAPTER SEVEN AN ECO-POSTHUMAN READING OF AVATAR PATRÍCIA SILVEIRINHA CASTELLO BRANCO

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The fundamental error is to place man in a direct relationship to technology – whether by recognizing him as the creator, or as the victim of that technology. Man appears here as a sorcerer’s apprentice, which evokes forces whose effects he isn’t capable of controlling, or as a creator of an uninterrupted progress which runs to meet artificial paradises. (Ernst Jünger)

This essay aims to describe Eco-Posthumanism. Eco-Posthumanism originates as a specific shift in Posthumanism that has integrated a deeply ecological position. It has been focusing mainly on a critique of the modern western humanistic project to rule over and control nature and has been centred on a deep questioning of the instrumental view of modern technology that echoes some of the most important thoughts of the 20th century in this regard: the views of Ernst Jünger and Heidegger. Simultaneously, Eco-Posthumanism endorses a radical questioning of the modern western mind/body divide which is in tune, on the one hand, with Katherine Hayles’ famous criticism of the disembodied views regarding technological subjects (Hayles, 1999) and, on the other, with Robert Pepperell’s posthuman proposals for a new understanding of the relationship between mind (consciousness), matter and world (Pepperell, 2003). Rather than pursuing a purely abstract discussion of the issues that establish the theoretical core of Eco-Posthumanism, I will use certain

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aspects of a highly popular product to elucidate my claims. This cultural product is the film Avatar (James Cameron, 2009). Despite its highly popular features and clichés, and whether we tend to like or dislike it, Avatar does integrate a major cultural shift from the modern view of nature, technology and humanity that we normally designate as Posthumanism. It actually entails a specific type of Posthumanism which I introduce here as Eco-Posthumanism. Focusing on this shift, I will stress the Eco-Posthuman aspects of the film.

Eight Eco-Posthuman Aspects and Representations

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I. The fallacy of the humanistic project to rule over and control nature To begin, I would take Donna Haraway’s words to summarize what has been called into serious question by Eco-Posthuman views. She states: “The distinction between nature and culture has been a sacred one [in Western culture]; it lies at the heart of the great narratives of salvation history and their genetic transmutation into sagas of secular progress” (Hayles, 1997, 60). While I totally subscribe to this formulation by Haraway, I would like to stress what has been an essential aspect of the ‘salvation history and [their] genetic transmutation into sagas of secular progress’: the project to totally liberate humankind from natural laws. My suggestion is that this distinction between culture and nature has entailed, not only a radical difference but, what is most important, the existence also of an antagonistic relationship, almost a warfare, between the two. The ‘salvation history’ described by Haraway involves a dualist perspective that conceives the human and natural worlds as opposite poles. This perspective is one important touchstone of the great narratives of secular progress, namely of what decades ago Habermas called modernity (Habermas, 1990). In fact, the meta-narrative of modernity, the story of the inevitable progress of humanity towards ever-greater enlightenment, freedom, security, and power, based on rational knowledge and on technological progress. In the sphere of intellectual history, this project can be traced back to Descartes, and it is at the heart of the modern age, at the core of both liberal and Marxist faith in technological progress. Humanism, roughly speaking, believes that humankind’s rational knowledge can liberate humanity from nature. Through technology and labour, humankind can put forward what Karl Marx labelled the ‘humanization of nature’. Humankind transforms nature for its purposes

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by means of technology. Nature is seen as raw material, able to be transformed by human labour according to humankind’s project of mastering it (Marx, 1992, 287). In his Letter on Humanism (Heidegger, 2008–1), Martin Heidegger explicitly criticizes what he terms the ‘Metaphysics of Modernity’, a project of human domination over the earth. By turning to a Greek, prePlatonic conception of being, Heidegger also abandons the Aristotelian understanding of humans as rational animals, and replaces it with the idea of the interaction of physis and being. The ancient experience of this interaction provides the arena in which man first understands himself as a human being and, at the same time, finds himself in a new setting with nature. Ernst Jünger also questions the in-control, or inventor, status of humankind. Jünger argues that, in investing in technological developments with the ultimate goal of mastering natural forces, humanity, with its naïve faith in progress, has promoted the growth of interaction between culture and nature. This resulted, not in a growing power over the latter, but rather in the opposite. The natural world, with a force infinitely higher than humankind, penetrates increasingly widely within culture, changing its features and laws. The great fallacy of the emancipating utopia of technological progress, says Jünger, is the belief that rationality can extinguish natural forces from the cultural world and from the human heart (Jünger, 2000). Avatar endorses these critics as it appears in the dual role of prophetic advocate (whose task is also to point out the dangerous process of decay we are witnessing at the present time), and the emergence of new possibilities. Clearly, the ‘dangerous process of decay’ we are witnessing at the present time, is embodied in the film by the military project of dominating Pandora and by the worldview that validates it. Cameron’s conception of the human military world explicitly characterizes the modern and humanistic views regarding the warfare of culture and nature and the humanistic faith in rational knowledge and technology to ensure humankind’s security and power. In the film, this project is portrayed as morally decadent and narrow in comparison to the complexity and richness of its opponent: Pandora’s world. By contrasting these two worlds, Cameron also contrasts two models of knowledge and of the relationship between culture and nature: on the one hand, the modern and humanistic worldview that presupposes an antagonistic version of the humankind/nature relationship, an urge to dominate the ‘wild’ forces of nature, the existence of a war between humanity and nature, as well as the reliance on technology, seen as an instrument to attain dominance and

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control over the natural world. On the other hand, Pandora’s world, an Eco-Posthuman one, is conceived as having a different kind of knowledge, a different technology and a different relationship between its inhabitants and nature. Cameron portrays the former essentially as a project of power, security and domestication of the ‘wildernesses’, while the latter is seen as harmonious, in balance with the environment and in tune with nature. One interesting factor is that this new type of knowledge does not, as one might think at first sight, correspond to a depiction of a kind of return to a ‘noble savage’ status. Eventually, I would argue that, if we believe the Na’vi are a depiction of the noble savage, we are undervaluing the film, or at least underestimating the potential of the fictional world it has created and its philosophical questioning. Undoubtedly, taking the Na’vi and Pandora at face value implies accepting a new kind of knowledge and technology, far more advanced than that of the military. It fits the aims of highly advanced knowledge and, at the same time, it matches the goal of a sustainable system, questioning the in-control status of the human species. But, more important than the technological accomplishments in themselves, is the new worldview and the new kind of understanding of technology they portray: an understanding that refuses the instrumental and anthropocentric account of technology and the project of mastering or ‘humanizing’ nature.

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II. Questioning the concept of nature as a standing-reserve Referring to the Western philosophical project, and to its relation to modern technology, Martin Heidegger describes both as entailing a conception of nature as a standing-reserve (Heidegger, 1977, 17) and an “instrumental and anthropocentric definition of technology” (Heidegger, 1977, 5). Let us focus on the former and then turn to the latter. Modern thought, says Heidegger, conceives nature as a standingreserve (bestand) ruled by a ‘revealing’ that has the character of a settingupon, in the sense of challenging-forth. That challenge-forth happens, argues Heidegger, “in that the energy concealed in nature is unlocked, what is unlocked is transformed, what is transformed is stored up, what is stored up is, in turn, distributed and what is distributed is switched about ever anew” (Heidegger, 1977, 26). That is why we can say: die natur wird auf ihre Energie gestellt – nature is ordered to release its energy. The concept of standing-reserve defines what is revealed by an action of ordering, i.e. provoking, and what exists only because it is provoked.

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Let us hear from Heidegger again: “That revealing concerns nature, above all, as the chief storehouse of the standing energy reserve. Accordingly, man’s ordering attitude and behaviour display themselves first in the rise of modern physics as an exact science. Modern science’s way of representing pursues and entraps nature as a calculable coherence of forces” (Heidegger, 1977, 21). Additionally, one of most important aspects of Heidegger’s depiction of modern nature as a ‘standing-reserve’ is its opposite pole: the characterization of the pre-Socratic conception of nature as physis as a ‘self-emergence’, as ‘that which produces itself by arising out of itself’ (Heidegger, 1968).

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III. Physis and a new hypothesis of the planet as Gaia The term physis is a complex concept in Heidegger’s thought. According to the philosopher, the western translation of physis as ‘nature’ (as a totality of entities that are ‘present-at-hand’ as a cosmos governed by natural laws) is one of the fundamental errors of western philosophical thought, starting from Plato. We should, instead, understand nature as physis. But what exactly does this mean? Zimmermann stresses the complexity of the term and of humankind’s role within it: “In Hölderlin’s notion of nature as ‘holy wildness’, Heidegger discerned hints of an encounter with nature, physics, the ontological primal that eludes human mastery … Elsewhere, Heidegger interpreted physis (as a) self-emergence, as when an animal gives birth to its young or unfolds into maturity (…) In places, Heidegger indicates that humankind itself is an aspect of physis, understood now as the complex natural processes that take place independently of human existence, even though they can “be” only insofar as they show themselves within the clearing opened up through human existence” (Zimmermann, S/D). Independently of this complexity in relation to the understanding of physis, we can stress several ideas that help us understand the EcoPosthuman’s views of nature that are assimilated by Eco-Posthumanism. It is clear that physis is distinct from the modern understanding of nature as a standing-reserve and that it is conceived as something much bigger than humankind that cannot ever be narrowed to our temporal understanding of it. Physis is seen as a self-emergence, which is continuously revealing and transforming itself and that, in this process, sometimes uses humankind’s skills in order to reveal something as yet unrevealed. Moreover, EcoPosthumanism acknowledges that it is neither impossible nor desirable to achieve mastery over nature. To believe that it is possible to control nature

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is to believe in the higher powers of human intellect, it is to think that nature is a kind of lifeless machine, which can be fully understood and ruled by humankind. In Avatar, the view of nature as physis is fully present in the Na’vis’ account of Ewya. Ewya resembles both Heidegger’s concept of physis and James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis (Lovelock, 2006). Let us briefly recall that Lovelock conceives of the planet, i.e. of all self-emergences, to use here Heidegger’s terms, as a totality. Lovelock thinks of the planet as a cybernetic system that seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life. Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis proposes that all living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism (Lovelock, 1972, 579–580). We could even paraphrase Lovelock’s depiction of Gaia and apply it to Ewya: a natural force that consists of a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. The portrayal fits in perfectly. I even believe that Cameron has been directly inspired by Lovelock’s Gaia, as is indicated on the film’s website: “Eywa has been compared to Gaia (Gaea), Mother Earth, Mother Nature, the Triple Goddess, or God by those trying to explain the relationship between Eywa and the Na’vi. The Gaia hypothesis follows on that the entire biosphere acts like a single organism or at least a complex system (soft Gaia), or that the Earth is consciously manipulating the biosphere in order to make conditions more favourable to life (hard Gaia)” (http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Eywa). The comparison between Eywa and Gaia is, in fact, obvious for four reasons: Firstly, they both propose overcoming the humanistic view of nature as something that can be mastered by humans, they both propose a new kind of knowledge and scientific approach, they both stand for an overcoming of modern perspectives and uses of technology; they both point out the dangers of the Promethean humanistic attitude towards nature; they both challenge the view that between nature and humankind there can be no harmony and that the appropriate way of transforming nature must be set and defined by historically existing human cultures. Secondly, they both argue for a radical break with the modern approach towards nature and technology; they both challenge the humanist and anthropocentric conviction that everything, including nature, can only be understood if submitted to the scientific method and rational theoretical criticism. Thirdly, they both accept that spirit and matter cannot be separated, or as Pepperell puts it, that “consciousness and the environment … are

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continuous” (Pepperell, 2009, 178) and that, remaining with Pepperrell, “humans are no longer the most important things in the universe. This is something the humanists have yet to accept” (ibid., 177). Fourthly, they both challenge the anthropocentric and instrumental views of technology, that conceive of it as an instrument in the hands of humankind in order to increase its power and domination over nature. It is this latter aspect I will examine next.

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IV. A questioning of the instrumental view of modern technology and of the in-control status of humankind towards technology When questioning the essence of technology, according to Heidegger, one usually gets two answers: “One says: technology is a means to an end. The other says: technology is a human activity” (Heidegger, 1977, 4). The former corresponds to the instrumental, the latter to the anthropocentric conception of technology. Heidegger argues that both are misinterpretations of technology’s true essence. Currently, we still hear echoes of these views everywhere, even among Transhumanistic thinkers. In terms of Sloterdijk’s view of “Man”, for example, he is always in control of technology and able to determine its impact on nature and on himself. Heidegger’s view of modern technology’s true essence radically criticizes both the instrumental view of technology, and the anthropocentric one. To Heidegger: “Modern technology is no merely human doing” (Heidegger, 1977, 19). The essence of modern technology is what he designates the Enframing (Gestell). And the essence of Enframing is “that setting-upon gathered into itself which entraps the truth of its own coming to presence with oblivion. This entrapping disguises itself, in that it develops into the setting in order of everything that presences as standing-reserve, establishes itself in the standing-reserve, and rules as the standing-reserve” (Heidegger, 1977, 36–37). Zimmermann explains that “Heidegger used the term Gestell to describe the historical stamping which compels humanity to disclose everything one-dimensionally, as a standing-reserve” (Zimmermann, 1990, 216). Gestell is thus, according to Heidegger, ruled by three main aspects: an understanding of nature as a standing-reserve; a type of production that consists of imposing a single frame (the modern scientific method) over the world and that shapes everything according to it; and, thirdly, a disclosing of natural forces which is a provocative act towards nature. Seeing technology as a provocation, in the Heideggerian sense,

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means that natural forces are ordered in the double sense of ordering (commanding) and of putting in order. It is in this double sense that technology is conceived as a provocation (Heidegger, 1977, 14). I must emphasize that some of Heidegger’s perspectives on modern technology are recognized as being indebted to Ernst Jünger (Heidegger, 1968). Despite their differences, we can find in Heidegger’s thought a resonance of Jünger’s conception of technology as a manifestation of the “natural will to power” (Jünger, 1990). Jünger does not see technology as a cultural instrument, but as a natural one. According to Jünger, humankind, in its dream of technological power, does not create new forms or new forces, rather, it provokes the natural forces to reveal what has been hidden and it, therefore, unveils, i.e. brings into the cultural world, forces committed by their desire for power. Also criticizing the instrumental and the anthropocentric views of modern technology, Jünger believes, instead, that technology is a natural force, in the very same way that storms are natural forces (Jünger, 2000). He considers technology to be, not a cultural artefact, but a Titan, i.e. a natural force that is being brought to culture through human action. Jünger conceives of technology as a Trojan Horse by which nature, with its passionate energies of the will to power at work in all life, is invading culture. Therefore, the instrumental and humanistic views of technology are totally wrong (Jünger, 2000). Returning to Avatar we can see how, according to the film’s development, the fundamental misplay of the anti-heroes coincides with the fault that both Heidegger and Jünger consider to be the fundamental error of modern thought: the belief that humankind’s rational knowledge can liberate humanity from the natural world and that, through technology, humankind will be able to dominate natural forces. In this context, to use war as the trigger of all action has a twofold consequence: it fits perfectly the aim to portray the modern and humanistic view of humankind’s relation to nature, and it also helps to reveal the true nature of modern technology approximating the film’s views of Martin Heidegger’s thought and, especially, of Ernst Jünger who stated that: “War is the best example because it expresses the nature of power that is inside technology, excluding all economic or progress elements” (Jünger, 2000, 162). In the scenarios of warfare, as the one portrayed in Avatar, technology is used in the rough, banned from any picture of human utopia. This makes technology’s true essence clear. Avatar tries to demonstrate how the humanist’s naïve faith in progress, has promoted, not a growing power over nature, but rather the opposite. The film tries to demonstrate that the great fallacy of the emancipating

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utopia of technological progress, resides in the belief that rationality can extinguish the natural forces from the cultural world and from the human heart. The war that the military presence provokes in Pandora shows Cameron’s conception of the modern humanistic project. The film offers a portrayal of the urge for power that lies behind this project, exploiting natural resources and conceiving of nature as the enemy. On the other hand, the ambition of Avatar seems to be to show how, in the interior of this project, technology is seen as an instrument in the hands of humankind for mastering nature. In the film’s plot, the military and the Na’vi people stand for two different worldviews: the former is the exact metaphor of the modern and humanistic conceptions of nature and of technology; the latter corresponds to what I designate as an EcoPosthumanist view. Having explained the former, let us examine the latter in further detail. Eco-Posthumanism does not believe that it is possible to control technology. Technology is not in the service of the gods (as spiritual and cultural forces), but, on the contrary, it reveals to our contemporary world the perfect weapon of the Titans (the gigantic natural forces that fought the gods in Greek mythology). Jünger argues that the nature of technology is titanic. So, we need a new titan, not a rational animal, to face technological challenges. To Eco-Posthumanism, technology’s pervasive and penetrating presence is constructing a new human species in which there is a continuous collapsing of the frontiers between man and machine, nature and man, culture and nature.

V. A new understanding of technology as both the supreme danger and that which saves Drawing again on Heidegger’s formulation, this disintegrating of frontiers has a twofold consequence: on the one hand, it turns technology into the supreme danger; on the other, it can turn technology into the saving power (Heidegger, 1977, 28). The issue of technology seen as a threat can be found in Heidegger’s notion of Gestell, as a menace to the essence of being as aletheia. But, it can also emerge from his criticisms of Western Metaphysics, starting from Plato, in his criticisms of humanism, and, specifically, in his examination of techné as production, with its double relation to techniques and art, i.e. to human poiesis on one hand, and to determinism on the other. However,

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and despite the dangers he finds in Gestell, Heidegger also discovered regenerative powers in modern technology, which, as a culminating point of metaphysics, paradoxically signals something new: Ereignis. Addressing the question in Heideggerian terms, one can ask if modern technology (Gestell) will triumph with the total enframing of the historical world, or if, on the contrary, as Heidegger foresees, it only announces the coming of Ereignis. And what can Ereignis mean in this scenario, beyond being the dissemination of Heidegger’s philosophy itself? Can it be that Ereignis is a new phase leading us outside technological nihilism and, as such, Heidegger would share with Jünger the belief that nihilism is a stage that opens new pathways to humanity, which are urgently needed since old paths no longer give sufficient answers to events occurring at the beginning of the 20th century? Really, to Jünger, nihilism is a fact, closely related to the technological developments of the past two centuries. Jünger sees that technology changes the planet, in the same way as nihilism destroys old value systems. The historical world is under unquestionable attack by matter and natural forces that rule technology and that see their space increasing inside culture. Technology mobilizes the planet. Technology, with its titanic forces, is the big event that one needs to inspect in view of the huge changes that have taken place over the last hundred years (Jünger, 2000). Given this scenario, where can the Heideggerians’ turn be found, that is, where can one find the saving power announced by the essence of technology? Heidegger believes it possible also to escape the technological will to power, as destruction. But, for that to happen, we need a new type of understanding, a new type of worldview, a new type of technology (Heidegger, 1966). This very same inquiry into the relationship between nature, technology and culture is one of the themes that serve as a background to Avatar and, again, James Cameron seems to endorse this formulation of Heidegger. Accordingly, Avatar seems not only to criticize technology, but also to celebrate it. How? In the film, technology threatens to destroy Pandora. However, it is technology that, by allowing the film’s human heroes to participate in Pandora’s world (by turning them into avatars), ends by saving the planet. Technology is, paradoxically, responsible simultaneously for Pandora’s destruction and its salvation. It is the supreme danger and the saving power, in Heidegger’s words.

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VI. A questioning of the modern western mind/body divide Let us start by recalling that, in the film, human heroes have to be transformed in order to be capable of understanding the new worldview and its new kind of knowledge. This means, not only that they have to abandon old and humanistic projects of overcoming nature and ruling the planet (this is manifested symbolically in the fact that they have to abandon their old bodies and immerse themselves in new ones), but also that they have to transform their own physicality. Notice how the Na’vi are physically very similar to humans, except that they have augmented sensory organs. Their eyes, noses and ears are bigger, they are physically more powerful, and the colour of their skin matches perfectly the natural environment of the planet. By transforming themselves into Na’vi bodies, the avatar heroes of the film are physically enhanced, but that enhancement is made in order to deepen physical and matter-based capacities, not to get rid of or control the body, but, on the contrary, to reinforce bodily capacities, to remain faithful to the earth, as Nietzsche would have said. It is precisely from this body, which is more sensitive and more perceptive than the human one, that characters develop a greater awareness of, and communication with, the environment and not vice versa. Without a real investment in the physical, they could never understand or participate in Pandora’s world. In Pandora’s world, humans and nature are, in fact, not conceived as antagonistic poles. Avatar disagrees with Nietzsche and with some versions of contemporary environmentalism with their conception that human beings are primarily animals. In fact, once again, it is closer to Heidegger’s assertion that humans are ontologically different from all other entities. The Na’vi people can be interpreted as an example of Heidegger’s concept of human existence as care, the safe-keepers of ontological difference (Martin Heidegger, 2008–2) and the possessors of a kind of knowledge and understanding that preserves and respects difference, multiplicity and equilibrium. Eywa can be interpreted as portraying Heidegger’s notion of physis. Moreover, the Na’vi people can be understood as an example of Heidegger’s concept of human existence as care (Heidegger, 2008–2). It is this notion of human existence that can support the emergence of a new subject in Eco-Posthumanist terms.

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VII. Overcoming disembodied technological subjects We have seen that James Cameron conceived avatars as being the safekeepers of knowledge and, at the same time, as beings that remain profoundly embodied and interconnected with matter. This latter fact challenges the dominant metaphors of cybernetic utopias: the eating flesh of the nineties and the notion that information, thought and mind can be disembodied. Cameron clearly idealized a response to the disembodied views of information and the knowledge of cybernetic science fiction typical of the 1990s that emphasized hard-edged scenarios such as cyborgs uploading their minds into computers and robots etc. In a word, Cameron’s avatars function as a kind of alternative to what Katherine Hayles has famously described as the desire to erase bodily burdens and to transform the body into information, non-matter (Hayles, 1999). The very title, Avatar, explicitly addresses the issue of what it is to be an avatar. In this sense, Avatar directly challenges the rhetoric of the erasure of the body in cybernetic utopias and in postmodern views (avatars), and offers a new response to the cybernetic challenges faced by the human body. Avatar’s conception of avatars also addresses issues about the crossings between the biological and the technological in various overlapping layers. The film proposes a new understanding of the nonvisible body’s features, and, in this sense, approaches the body not as a mechanism, but as a neural circuit of functions and energies. This is in tune with the most recent advances on the theme, such as investigations about the functioning of the nervous system and brain waves that have been supporting cutting-edge investigations into artificial intelligence (AI), artificial life, molecular cybernetics or genetics, and the several biotechnologies, in which organic matter becomes a technology in its own right. In these new biotechnologies, the fusion of technology and biology is no longer taking the form of a cyborg, as in the last century, or in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the 19th century, when the automatism of a machine tried to reproduce a living organism. It is unquestionable that, currently, with the proximity of technology and biology, we have been investigating the neural-human, but not any longer, the body-mechanism. This is how the fusion of biology and technology no longer tries to imitate or represent previous living creatures, but focuses on their functioning, i.e. on a way of functioning that is invisible to the human eye. All these changes have been possible due to the proximity between technology and neurological investigation, as well as genetics and computation, which gave us, among other things, the human genome decodification.

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The amalgamation of biology and technology is also felt, obviously, in the technological absorption of image and its appeal to cognition via the emotions. That is why much contemporary philosophy and aesthetics have been concerned with the role of the senses and of our bodies in perceptual forms that overflow from the hegemony of the cogito and evoke other forms of knowledge and experience. The concepts of the post-biologic body, the transgenic-body and the subject’s dissolution all try to describe, precisely, the disruption of traditional dichotomies, predicting the fusion between technology and biology. Therefore, another idea of Avatar is the transformation of the concept of the cyborg into an idea of circuits or functioning and the notion of environment. Increasingly, in artistic and media practices, subjects are no longer being valued as separate entities that inhabit a space in a certain closed support, but, on the contrary, they have become entities with fluid boundaries that are in constant interaction with a fluid environment. That is why the Eco-Posthuman position that is exemplified in Avatar tries to respond, not only to a crisis in the modern account of technology and biology and the dissolution of stable frontiers, but also to a general crisis, since the old relations between nature, body and technology are profoundly subverted. Eco-Posthumanism stands for a new kind of bodily experience in information technologies, in parallel with a new focusing on both the body and consciousness. In the film, we see that Cameron conceives avatars as a new species, as a kind of Eco-Posthuman subject: a synthesis of flesh and augmented consciousness, bodily and spiritually. Cameron has truly found in avatars a new species in which the lines between natural and cultural, human and machine would come to an end. The film seems to believe that this new species is a break with the idea of the rational animal – and can integrate in the concept of human the natural forces that were erased by humanist utopias.

VIII. New understandings of the relationship between mind (consciousness), matter and world The overcoming of the division between body and consciousness is one of the touchstones of Avatar. Body and matter are, undoubtedly, conceived as the true path that can lead to an augmented and expanded consciousness. That is why this film endorses a radical questioning of the hierarchical western division between mind and matter, mind and body.

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The relationships between human, natural and artificial thereafter become highly malleable, as is again proposed by Posthuman theorists. Just recall, for example, Pepperell’s statement which ends his famous The Posthuman Manifesto: “Humanists saw themselves as distinct beings in an antagonistic relationship with their surroundings. Posthumans, on the other hand, regard their own being as embodied in an extended technological world” (Pepperell, 2003, 187). On the other hand, there are good reasons in the film to believe that Cameron thought of the Na’vi people as having a profound knowledge of the process of engineering a self-managing planet and of such techniques as networking the trees into a planetary brain. They know how to plug their minds into the nervous systems of plants and animals. These are sensible engineering solutions far more advanced than human technology. The Na’vi transcended death by having their memories absorbed by the trees, they connect with the entire environment, and they fully understand the natural world’s functioning. This fits the goal of a sustainable system, questioning the in-control status of the human species. Cameron conceived the Na’vi people to have no need for a process of information transfer between minds. They retain the necessary knowledge to physically integrate with nature. In this film, the Na’vi people are portrayed as a synthesis of an enhanced human body and augmented consciousness, and the film’s heroes are truly conceived as a type of human that has overcome humanism, as a type of human for whom the divides between natural and cultural, man and machine, body and mind would come to an end. Note that while the human version of the film’s hero is a crippled and physically limited one, his avatar body is, on the contrary, physically powerful, stronger, more sensitive and more perceptive. This entails a view that the earthly potential of technology can provide new visions on the fusion between flesh and machine, brain and nature, body and mind.

Eco-Posthumanism and Transhumanism I would like to continue by comparing these Eco-Posthuman perspectives with the views of some of the leading advocates and theorists of Transhumanism like Sloterdijk and Ray Kurzweil, to show that they are totally distinct in their essential philosophical understandings. Why? Let us start by recalling how Sloterdijk, in his famous and polemical Rules for the Human Zoo: a response to Letter On Humanism by Martin Heidegger, heralds “advances in modern biology, as the study of systemenvironment-units, as initiating a new era in conceptions of ontology, breaking down the opposition between spirit or thought and matter.

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Intelligent machines, he states, are examples of where ‘spirit’, or reflection or thought, is infused in matter and remains there ready to be re-found and further cultivated” (Sloterdijk in Didur, 2003, 104). At first sight, this may seem to correspond to what we have been trying to describe here as the Eco-Posthumanism’s overcoming of the mind/body divide. However, there is a very important difference between Sloterdijk’s project and Eco-Posthumanism. In terms of Sloterdijk’s view of “Man”, humankind is always in control of technology and determining its impact on nature and itself. This means that Sloterdijk explicitly inherits all the humanistic tradition. He continues to see humankind and nature in an opposite relationship, he endorses the modern humanistic project of mastering nature, and he adopts an instrumental and anthropocentric view of knowledge and of technology. On the other hand, his views on biotechnological enhancement as being able to produce a cyborg conceived as the “meeting of human with the intelligent machine” (Hayles, 1999, 2) fully embraces the merging of culture and nature. But while Sloterdijk imagines technological process and genetic engineering to be able to overcome the divide between nature and culture, Eco-Posthumanism questions whether there ever was such a distinction in the first place. The same can be said of another leading figure of a certain kind of Transhumanism, Ray Kurzweil. Anyone familiar with posthuman issues, will recall how Kurzweil, famously defended the idea that, within a few centuries, our successors will be able to redesign the entire universe according to their own preferences. Humans will eventually “spiritualize” everything in the universe, including supposedly ‘dumb’ matter/energy. Such a fully awakened, conscious, and sublimely intelligent universe, Kurzweil writes, “is about as close to God as I can imagine” (Kurzweil in Zimmermann, 2009). What distinguishes Eco-Posthumanism and this kind of transhumanistic view is the fact that the former proposes overcoming Humanism by questioning deeply its deep philosophical roots, while the latter stands for a technological enhancement that incorporates all the modern humanistic utopias. Sloterdijk and Kurzweil share the same naïve belief that technology is an instrument in the hands of humanity to enhance its power over nature. They both inherit, without question, the Western philosophical conception of the existence of a radical divide between culture and nature. In one word: they both perpetuate the values of humanism.

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In this sense, what is interesting to observe is how a mass media product such as Avatar proposes a much more radical project. Far from Kurzweil’s utopia of Human-Gods powered by technology to dominate the entire universe, the Na’vi of Avatar are not portrayed as lords of the world. Nor are they demi-gods, lords of nature and of themselves, able to reinvent and determine the direction of existence through their technological devices. They are not portrayed as a simulacrum of God, for whom there are no boundaries, nor are they even conceived in a conflicting relation to nature. To conceive the Na’vi in this latter sense would correspond to the old worldview of the military, the ‘bad guys’, precisely the ones that the film intends to criticize. In Avatar, it is not the human species, not even avatars, that rule. The dominating force of the planet is Ewya. And Ewya corresponds, not to any humanized deity, but rather to all life on the planet, including humans. Accordingly, Eywa’s knowledge is portrayed as far more advanced than modern science. On the planet of Pandora, trees and matter are the physical safe-keepings of knowledge, a knowledge that can be seen either as a natural self-managing system, or as a high-tech system in balance. They are perfect systems in total harmony with the environment that do not seek to control, but, instead, that are in tune with the entire system. I would even advocate that in this popular film, trees are taken as a representation of the natural non-dualistic account of spirit and matter. In this sense, I believe that the Eco-Posthumanism of Avatar goes far beyond the major utopias of some Posthuman theorists in incorporating the idea of an immanent and holistic consciousness that is present in all matter and that the path to consciousness is beyond the brain. And this, of course, implies a new understanding of the relationship between mind, matter and the world, it implies a true overcoming of modern humanistic values and philosophical perspectives. I believe that Cameron’s vision implies a pervasively Eco-Posthuman worldview that involves a very high level of knowledge and a sophisticated approach to managing the whole planet, not by any account the noble savage nor a conservative ecological position. I do not, of course, know if Cameron would endorse any of these views. But his idea of Pandora’s world is more feasible and consistent with what I have currently labelled Eco-Posthumanism, than with anything else.

Conclusion Let me end by considering the huge success of the film and what it can signify. The film broke several box office records during its release. And this was a worldwide phenomenon. What could this mean? Does it mean

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that it meets some of present humankind’s global aims, hopes and fears? Yes, I believe that Avatar’s success does tell us something about people’s planetary urges and expectations. In China, for example, Avatar has become the most successful film in the country’s history. However, that hasn’t stopped the government from pulling the film from most of its cinemas over fears that it could cause political unrest. The Chinese government has considered Avatar to be extremely dangerous and subversive. Why? Precisely because, I believe, it explicitly challenges modern humanistic faith in technological progress, and the Marxist project of dominating and mastering nature through technology and human labour. The fact that Avatar has been censured in this Communist country only confirms my claims that the film is truly an Eco-Posthuman subversive cultural product that challenges both communist utopias of technological progress and the ‘humanization of nature’, and liberal faith in progress and in technology. It challenges the modern view of the divide between humans and the natural world. It challenges the boundaries of our current scientific knowledge. It proposes a world in which high-tech and advanced knowledge are not seen as processes of controlling and exploring nature, but as something rather different. It challenges the modern vision of man as a rational animal, distinct from the natural world. It challenges modern western views on nature, body, matter, consciousness, technology and science and, more importantly, what it is to be human in our era. I have argued that the success of Avatar can be read as a symptom of Eco-Posthumanism now being a major cultural trend that remains, however, unlabelled. It can be read as a sign that humankind is, at the present time, seeking a new account for what it is to be human, a new perspective regarding the relation between culture and nature, a true conquering of the dualistic view of spirit and matter, new models for the relationship between their real bodies and their wired second-life ones. In short, I have argued that Avatar, despite its popular features and inevitable clichés, is a sign that we are truly overcoming both modern and postmodern accounts of disembodied information systems and that we are all looking for new practices and theories. More succinctly, humankind is currently looking for new worldviews where everything is connected, not only at an information level, but also at a matter and bodily level.

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References Avatar’s website: http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Eywa Didur, Jill (2003): ‘Re-Embodying Technoscientific Fantasies: Posthumanism, Genetically Modified Foods, and the Colonization of Life’, Critique, No. 53, Posthumanism (Winter, 2003), 98–115. Habermas, Jüngen (1990): The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Haraway, Donna (1997): [email protected]_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMou se: Feminism and Technoscience. London: Routledge. Hayles, N. Katherine (1999): How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Heidegger, Martin (1966): “Serenité” (Or. Gelassenheit, 1959), Trad. André Préau, in Questions II et IV, Paris: Gallimard, 131–148. —. (1977): The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, New York, Harper & Row Publishers. —. (2008–2): The Origin of the Work of Art, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 139–212. —. (1968): “Contribuition à la question de l’être”. Trad. Gérard Granel, in Heidegger, Martin, Questions I et II, Paris: Gallimard, 195–252. —. (2008–1): Letter on Humanism, in Basic Writings, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 213–266. Jünger, Ernst (2000): O Trabalhador. Domínio e Figura, Lisboa, Hugin Editores. English Translation: The worker: dominion and gestalt; and, Maxima-minima: additional notes to The worker. New York: State University of New York Press, 1990. Karl Marx, (1992): Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy, London: Penguin Classics. Lovelock, J.E. (2006): The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis & The Fate of Humanity, New York: Basic Books. Mulhall, Stephen (2005): “In space, No one Can Hear You Scream: Acknowledging the human voice in the Alien Universe”, Film as Philosophy. Essays on Cinema After Wittgenstein and Cavell (Edited by Rupert Read and jerry Goodenough), New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Pepperell, Robert (2003): The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness Beyond the Brain, Bristol, Intellect Books. Zimmerman, M.E. “Martin Heidegger”. Available at: URL:

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http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/paper_zimmerman_heidegger_rel _and_nat.pdf (last visited: 25–03–2016): —. (2009): Religious Motifs in Technological Posthumanism. Western Humanities Review, 63 (3), 67–83. —. (1990): Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity. Technology, Politics, Art, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

CHAPTER EIGHT TOWARDS THE CREATION OF A SEMI-LIVING AVATAR: INVESTIGATING THE INTERFACE BETWEEN BODY AND SMART MACHINES IN STELARC’S WORK ANNA HATZIYIANNAKI

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Introduction Crossing the boundaries from Cyberpunk Fiction to Reality, Stelarc’s work moves gradually towards the realization of a vision: to investigate the interface between the actual and virtual worlds, with the body acting seamlessly in mixed realities, and with an intelligent avatar that performs in the real world, with optical density and tactile experience. This idea, seems to permeate his experimentations with engineering, robotic and digital technology (Figures 1a-b-c-d-e), and with artificial intelligence and biotechnology – from the Third Hand, Ping Body and Parasite, to the Exoskeleton. The Prosthetic Head has been engineered into a robotic version, which is the Articulated Head that gives a “physical and sculptural embodiment” to it. The delineated possibilities are promising.

From Science Fiction to Reality In the Cyberpunk science fiction novel Neuromancer (2) by William Gibson (3), the imaginary persons have the possibility of being physically tele-transported, from the Real World to Matrix (Cyberspace), a virtual space, technologically created. In 1990, six years after the first edition of Neuromancer, Cyberspace passed from the realm of Science Fiction to Reality, with the invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee (4), who developed ARPANET (5), a 1969 application that was intended

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for military use and created the Medium that would determine the course of Post-Industrial Culture (6), introducing planetary networking in real time, with a global net of personal computers. Five years later (1995), the vision of sensory interactions of the physical body with cyberspace passed from Science Fiction to Reality through art. The Australian performer of Cypriot origin, Stelarc (Stelios Arcadiou) (7), achieved sensory interface between the body and the internet, within the framework of his investigations for alternative and involuntary interactions, between the human body and the smart machine. Between 1995 and 1998, he created the performances Ping Body (November 1995) and Parasite for Invaded and Involuntary Body (1997, Ars Electronica Festival). Stelarc states that: “The Ping Body performances produce a powerful inversion of the usual interface of the body to the Net. Instead of collective bodies determining the operation of the Internet, collective Internet activity moves the body. The Internet becomes not merely a mode of information transmission, but also a transducer, effecting physical action.” (8)

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In the Parasite for Invaded and Involuntary Body, the body is again (physically and electronically) connected with the internet, but, as Stelarc states: “Parasite will scale up not only the body’s musculature but also its optical and acoustical input. Search engines have been constructed that will, during the performance, scan, select and display bits of images and bits of sound – providing an extended and artificial sensory Internet input for the body.” (9) Bearing in mind the above developments, I organized a two-day event entitled “From Science Fiction to Reality” (10) at the Hellenic American Union of Athens in April 2007. Guests were Stelarc and Bruce Sterling (11), a Science Fiction author and a leader of cyberpunk culture since 1982, who – along with William Gibson – formed the first cyberpunk literature cycle. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Michalis Meimaris (12).

Redesigning the Physical Body Stelarc, who is a Professor of Performance, began to use technology in his work when he was still a student in the late 1960s. In his performances, he

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uses his own body as his “canvas”, whose radical redesign he explores using various technologies (13). His goal is to investigate alternative, intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body, which he considers obsolete: “Through Stelarc’s work, we reach a second level of existence where the body becomes the object for physical and technical experiments in order to discover its limitations. When Stelarc speaks of the “obsolete body” he means that the body must overcome centuries of prejudices and begin to be considered as an extendible evolutionary structure enhanced with the most disparate technologies, which are more precise, accurate and powerful: ‘the body lacks of modular design’, ‘Technology is what defines the meaning of being human, it’s part of being human.’ Especially living in the information age, ‘the body is biologically inadequate’.” (14)

The media he uses in practice are alternative anatomical architectures for the physical body, applications of engineering, robotics, digital technology, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Some of his projects, he notes, are under construction, leaving open the possibility that they may develop further, in directions that he plans to realize later.

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Interfaces between Virtual and Real Space Stelarc first mentions the vision to create an intelligent avatar that will act in the real world, in an interview he gave to Ioanna Zylinska and Gary Hall in 2002. Referring to his performance of the Exoskeleton (15), he clarifies: “But what’s interesting for me is not simply going more and more virtual but rather exploring the interface between the actual and the virtual. I’m trying to investigate whether a physical body can function in a virtual immersive environment and whether an intelligent avatar might be able to perform in the real world by possessing a physical body.” (Author’s translation) (16) It was in 2005, when I was planning the international group art show “In Vivo-In Vitro” (17) in the art hall “Factory” at Athens School of Fine Arts, that Stelarc, in a communication about his participation, had proposed the video document from the process of the creation of the Extra Ear – ¼ Scale be placed next to the interactive video installation of the Prosthetic Head. The Prosthetic Head (18) is:

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“An automated, animated and reasonably informed artificial head that speaks to the person who interrogates it. The Prosthetic Head project is a 3D avatar head (19), somewhat resembling the artist that has real time lipsynching, speech synthesis and facial expressions. Head nods, head tilts and head turns as well as changing eye gaze contribute to the personality of the agent and the non-verbal cues it can provide. It is a conversational system which can be said to be only as intelligent as the person who is interrogating it.”

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This Avatar is an ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity), a conversational system that interacts and derives answers from an enriched data base. The Extra Ear – ¼ Scale (20) is a 1/4 scale replica of the artist’s ear, grown using human cells in a rotating micro-gravity bioreactor, in collaboration with Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr of Tissue Culture & Art. This is a technique used to detect in order to realize the later Ear on Arm (21). Planning the exhibition tour, I realized that the proximity itself of the two projects – the artificial intelligence (The Prosthetic Head) and the document of the tissue culture for a live limb (The Extra Ear – ¼ Scale) was generating a bold question that could be on the fringes of Science Fiction: might an interactive semi-living sculpture be created by the coexistence of an artificial intelligence (AI) that acts on the Internet and a robot that acts in the physical space, having, as a shell, skin that “feels”? The above hypothesis began to take a concrete but different direction when later, as part of our correspondence, Stelarc raised two issues: 1 – Is it possible to create optical density and tactile experience in performance with an Avatar? 2 – Could the body act seamlessly in Mixed Reality, with mechanical and virtual systems? For the present chapter, I am focusing on the comparative study of his selected works. The selection was made on the grounds of redesigning and extending the physical body: on the one hand, by using robotics and biotechnology for the members of the body; and, on the other hand, by using artificial intelligence and digital technology for the verbal interaction between human and intelligent machine. Along the way, it seemed that Stelarc’s seemingly disconnected projects were closely related and then, like links in the same chain of reasoning led to the idea of interactive symbiosis of the physical body with its prostheses and its extensions, in the Mixed Reality.

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On the one hand, the extension of the able-bodied physical body with robotic prosthetics and its evolution in the body system țĮȚ with an attached machine in real space begins with the Third Hand (22), a mechanical human-like hand that is attached to the artist’s right arm as an additional hand and culminates with the Exoskeleton (23), a six-legged, pneumatically powered walking machine, constructed for the body. On the other hand, we have the series of “Heads” by Stelarc, selfportraits which also form a chain: while “a 3D avatar head, somewhat resembling the artist” was being designed that would be the virtual reality of the Prosthetic Head (24), Stelarc was inspired by the image of the flattened digital skin that was made for the PH, the project Partial Head: “The artist’s face was scanned, as was a hominid skull. The human face was then digitally transplanted over the hominid skull, constructing a THIRD FACE, one that becomes post-hominid and pre-human in form. The data was used to print a scaffold of ABSi thermal plastic, using a 3D printer. The scaffold was seeded with living cells.” (25)

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It is a “partial portrait” of the artist, in a life-support system (bioreactor/incubator). The PH was contaminated after one week, and was preserved in formaldehyde for the remaining time of the exhibition. The Prosthetic Head acquired its robotic “body” in real space, when the Articulated Head was created. “The AH system consists of an industrial robot arm (Fanuc LR Mate 200ic) with a 17-inch LCD mounted on the end effecter. The LCD screen displays a 3D rendering of a head (Prosthetic Head) that resembles the artist Stelarc. The system also contains an array of sensors including auditory localisation, stereo vision and monocular vision that provide situational awareness for the robotic ‘agent’. The complete system is driven by a novel ‘attention model’, an algorithmic implementation that emulates simple brain functions. The system is driven by a componentbased software architecture.” (26)

This robotic system models the behaviour of “an active listener” engaged in interaction with other human agents. It is worth noting that the creation of Walking Head preceded as a work in progress; it is a 6-legged autonomous walking robot: “Vertically mounted on its chassis is an LCD screen imaging a computergenerated human-like head. The LCD screen can rotate from side to side. The robot has a scanning ultra-sound sensor that detects the presence of a person in front of it. It sits still until someone comes into the gallery space,

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then it stands, selects from a set of movements from its library of preprogrammed motions and performs the choreography. It then stops and waits until it detects someone else.” (27)

From Movatar to Prosthetic Head Let us examine the first issue: is it possible to create optical density and tactile experience in performance with an Avatar? In 2003, Stelarc presented Movatar, an intelligent avatar in virtual reality, which was able to act in the real world, linked with the physical body and activating it:

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“Consider, though, a virtual body or an avatar that can access a physical body, actuating its performance in the real world. If the avatar is imbued with an artificial intelligence, becoming increasingly autonomous and unpredictable, then it would become more an AL (Artificial Life) entity performing with a human body in physical space.” (28)

I realized that this artificial intelligence that would become “increasingly autonomous and unpredictable” was materialized in The Prosthetic Head that he set out in 2003, the same year that he presented the Movatar. Moreover, in the performance with the Movatar, we find that the avatar – a technological entity of virtual reality that is linked with electrodes on the performer’s body – controls it, thus obtaining this optical density and tactile experience in real space. The 3D animated avatar Prosthetic Head (29) that has incorporated algorithms (30) is, as Stelarc states: “A conversational system which can be said to be only as intelligent as the person who is interrogating it. There is an attempt to make the Prosthetic Head more creative in its responses. It has embedded algorithms that enable it to generate novel poetry and singing each time it is asked.”

Actually (2010), Prosthetic Head has: “An ultra-sound sensor system that alerts it of the user’s presence, enabling it to initiate a conversation. With a vision system. The Prosthetic Head will also be able to detect the color of the user’s clothing and be able to analyse the user’s behaviour. This information would then be used by the Prosthetic Head to make its conversation more interactive and convincing.” (31)

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It would be interesting if at a later stage Prosthetic Head, Movatar, and the performer’s body could be combined in the same interactive net in order to accomplish the vision for an Artificial Life that acts in the real world through the physical body.

From the Prosthetic Head to the Articulated Head Let us now examine the second issue posed by Stelarc: could the body act seamlessly in Mixed Reality, with mechanical and virtual systems? Mixed Reality is defined as “the merging of real and virtual worlds, which we refer to generically as Mixed Reality” (32). We saw that the robotic version of the virtual Prosthetic Head for the real world is the Articulated Head project that is described by the artist as follows: “Recent developments have led to the Articulated Head, with a six-degreeof-freedom industrial robot arm. An attention model for the Articulated Head (THAMBS – Thinking Head Attention Model and Behavioural System), was developed with the Head able to perform vision tracking and sound location. Its active perception enables it to adapt to its environment and people it is interacting with.” (33)

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The artistic installation Articulated Head “was conceived as the next step in the evolution of Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs), transcending virtual reality into the physical space shared with the human interlocutor” (34). He also notes: “The system also contains an array of sensors including auditory localisation, stereo vision and monocular vision that provide situational awareness for the robotic ‘agent’. The complete system is driven by a novel ‘attention model’, an algorithmic implementation that emulates simple brain functions.” (35)

As Stelarc notes, after the Articulated Head project has been engineered, the virtual Prosthetic Head acquires an articulated neck in the real world: “With the Articulated Head, the agent is given a physical and sculptural embodiment”, states Stelarc and continues that “The Head is displayed on an LCD screen that is attached at the end of a six-degree-of-freedom industrial robot arm, giving it an articulated neck. The virtual behaviour of the agent is now augmented by the physical motion of the robot system generating a more seductive aesthetic experience. We can now more effectively test the sound location and visual tracking of the system that is

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part of an attention model that allows the Head to interact with more than one person at a time.” (36)

It is worth noting that the Articulated Head project was part of a wider “Thinking Head Project”, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) between 2006 and 2011 (37).

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The Promising Possibilities The Articulated Head project gives the body’s perspective on acting seamlessly in Mixed Reality, with mechanical and virtual systems. A prerequisite is the body’s connection with the Articulated Head and Prosthetic Head systems. At this point we should recall the methods used by Stelarc, for connecting the body to the virtual reality in Ping Body, Parasite for Invaded and Involuntary Body and Movatar. In 2015, Stelarc had already given a performance entitled Body on Robot Arm, wherein his body, attached on the robotic arm, is allowed to pivot in all directions, being still under the developers’ watchful supervision, since in that phase there were serious safety issues, if the body is connected with muscles and its motor control is left with this robot (38). Apart from issues of the operation and expansion of the Articulated Head, at this point the issues relating to its form, its nature and the limits of its interfaces arise. Apart from the question of connecting the body with the Robot-Artificial Life system, let us consider, in a reductio ad absurdum, the hypothesis of the cohabitation of an intelligent robotic system with living biological material. If we could build a living biological shell (artificial skin) from cultured cells for a robot (Articulated Head) connected with artificial life (Prosthetic Head), then we would have a semi-living avatar with visual optical density and tactile experience to act seamlessly in Mixed Reality. At this point, speaking about living biological material, we are in the field of Bioart, Biotechnology and in particular, tissue culture. The bio artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr from the University of Western Australia, inspired by earlier research on living tissue culture (1910–1950), moved to the creation in 2003 of Victimless Leather (skin without killing the animal) from a tissue culture that is kept alive for a limited period of time within the bioreactor (39) (40).

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Stelarc worked with them to create the Extra Ear – ¼ Scale, which was launched in 2003. We should bear in mind that Biotechnology is also used in the creation of both Partial Head and Ear on Arm (awarded the Golden Nica, Hybrid Art category, Ars Electronica, 2010), which is a soft prosthesis cultured from his own tissue in the form of an ear and which was incorporated surgically on his left forearm. So far, a semi living sculpture that is created with the aid of Biotechnology can only survive in special circumstances and for a limited period of time, unless it is transplanted into a histocompatible physical body. The cultured tissue cannot remain alive indefinitely and autonomously, outside the device that provides the necessary conditions, nutrients, and protection from infections that would lead to its death in the natural environment. Therefore, the hypothesis of creating a living biological shell for a robot rests on prospect of the use of synthetic skin, a material to which Stelarc referred in his early writings on Absent Bodies. More specifically, in the 6th paragraph entitled The Shedding Skin, related to the prospect for the survival of the physical body in Space, outside planet earth, he notes – with capital letters – that a “hollow body” would be a better host for the technological components needed (41). “If we could engineer a Synthetic Skin which could absorb oxygen directly through its pores and could efficiently convert light into chemical nutrients, we could radically redesign the body, eliminating many of its redundant systems and malfunctioning organs – minimising toxin build-up in its chemistry.” (42)

As far as the creation of Artificial Skin for an avatar that has optical density and tactile experience to act seamlessly in Mixed Reality is concerned, we would have to move our expectations from Biotechnology to Nanotechnology. Scientific research into Synthetic Skin has resulted in a number of very interesting proposals. For example, in 2010, a publication in Nature Materials presented the results of two research teams from Berkeley that had created artificial skin that “feels” by using Nanotechnology (43). In 2014, there was published research into various techniques that are used by research groups around the world in applications of artificial skin that “feels” (44). Finally, in 2015, in Scientific American there was an article on artificial skin that can send touch signals by using sensors in nerve cells, so that whoever wears the prosthetic member with the synthetic leather coating can perceive external stimuli (45).

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One of the major reasons leading to the need to redesign and expand human bodily functions is the prospect of survival in the conditions of outer Space. This proposal/hypothesis had already been formulated theoretically in 1960 by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, entitled “Cyborgs and Space” in the pre-publication of their presentation: “Altering man’s bodily functions to meet the requirements of extraterrestrial environments would be more logical than providing an earthly environment for him in space . . . Artifact-organism systems which would extend man’s unconscious, self-regulatory controls are one possibility.” (46)

A different proposal/hypothesis from that of the evolution of the cyborg was formulated by Dr Louis Friedman, an aerospace engineer, in his last book (47), released in November 2015. He is convinced that the exploration of Space will continue in the future, but that manned missions will stop at Mars. As he notes on his website:

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The future for humans in space is to become a multi-planet species with no existential threat (though, possibly, with still many catastrophic ones) living physically on two planets (Earth and Mars) and exploring the universe mentally on many others, learning about life within ourselves and in the universe.” In brief, he states: “The human physical presence will not go beyond Mars, but our evolving technologies will extend the human presence to the end of and even beyond our solar system, interacting with the Universe without ‘being there.’” (48)

Looking at Stelarc’s work so far, one can only feel surprise on reading comments on Louis Friedman’s book by the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the American Museum of Natural History, who notes: “Most books about our future in space are written by dreamers. But Human Spaceflight: From Mars to the Stars is written by an aerospace engineer, Dr. Louis Friedman” (49). But who can overlook that if the future of Humanity in Space seems promising today, this is due to transdisciplinary collaborations par excellence among visionaries from the fields of Science, Philosophy, Art and Technology, all bearing witness to the famous quote by Albert Einstein: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” (Translated from Greek by Ekaterini Nikolarea)

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Figures 1 a-b-c-d-e: Stelarc, PROPEL–Body on Robot Arm, Performance 35 min. Perth 2015. Curated by Oron Catts, Elizabeth Stephens and Jennifer Johung, for “DeMonstrable”, Lawrence Wilson Gallery, Perth. Performance made possible with Australia Council funding. Robot programming by Hayden Brown and James Boyle at Autronics. Photo: Jeremy Tweddle.

References (1) Anna Hatziyiannaki https://www.linkedin.com/in/annahatziyiannaki (2) Dany Cavallaro, Cyberpunk and Cyberculture-Science Fiction and the work of William Gibson, ed. The Athlone Press, London, 2000 (retrieved 21/9/15), https://is.muni.cz/www/175193/25476916/Cyberpunk_and_Cybercultu re__Science_Fiction_and_the_Work.pdf (retrieved 21/9/15). (3) William Gibson, Neuromancer, Publisher. Aquarius (Athens), 1989, (William Gibson, Neuromancer, Ace Books, 1984). (4) Tim Berners-Lee, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/berners_lee_tim.shtml (retrieved 21/9/15).

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(5) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, A History of the Arpanet – The First Decade, http://ipj.dreamhosters.com/wp-content/ uploads/2015/07/A-History-of-the-ARPANet.pdf (retrieved 21/9/15). (6) Kristopher Kyle Robison and Edward M. Crenshaw, Post-industrial transformations and cyber-space: a cross-national analysis of Internet development Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N.Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA, 2002, http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Edward_Crenshaw/publication/22 2578217_Post-industrial_transformations_and_cyber-space_a_crossnational_analysis_of_Internet_development/links/02e7e5304e0db9a14 e000000.pdf (retrieved 21/9/15). (7) Stelarc, Biography, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20239 (retrieved 21/9/15). (8) Stelarc, Ping Body, an Internet Actuated & Uploaded Performance, Media Art Net, http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/ping-body/ (retrieved 21/9/15). (9) Stelarc, Parasite: Event for Invaded & Involuntary Body (1997), http://woodstreetgalleries.org/portfolio-view/parasite-event-forinvaded-involuntary-body/ (retrieved 21/9/15). (10) From Science Fiction, to Reality, http://www.hau.gr/?i=culture.en.past_event&itemCode=stelarc_sterlin g (retrieved 21/9/15). (11) Bruce Sterling, Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Bruce-Sterling (retrieved 21/9/15). (12) Departement of Communication & Media Studies at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, http://en.media.uoa.gr/humanresources/members-of-teaching-and-research-staff/meimarismichalis.html (retrieved 20/10/15). (13) Video, Amplified Body, by Stelarc, at V2_ (1994), https://vimeo.com/44181542 (retrieved 20/10/15). (14) Paolo Atzori and Kirk Woolford, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany, Extended-Body: Interview with Stelarc, Introduction, 3rd paragraph, CTheory.net, 9/6/1995, http://web.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/stelarc/a29-extended_body.html (retrieved 21/9/15). (15) Stelarc, Exoskeleton, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20227 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2MntBUwUxY (16) Joanna Zylinska and Gary Hall (2002) Probings: an Interview with Stelarc’ (with G. Hall), in The Cyborg Experiments: the Extensions of the Body in the Media Age, 6th paragraph, ed. Joanna Zylinska (London and New York: Continuum), pp. 114–130. [author’s self-archived

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manuscript], http://www.joannazylinska.net/probings-interview-withstelar/ (17) In Vivo-In Vitro, http://www.artopos.org/main-gr.html (retrieved 21/9/15). (18) Stelarc, Prosthetic Head, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20241 (retrieved 21/9/15). (19) Avatar, Digital Technology, a graphical image that represents a person, as on the Internet, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/avatar (retrieved 21/9/15). (20) Stelarc, Extra Ear – ¼ Scale, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20240 (retrieved 21/9/15). (21) Stelarc, Ear on Arm, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20242 (retrieved 12/9/15). (22) Stelarc, Third Hand, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20265 (1980, Yokohama) (retrieved 12/9/15). (23) Stelarc, Exosceleton, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20227 (1998, Kampnagel Hamburg) (retrieved 21/9/15). (24) Stelarc, Prosthetic Head, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20241 (retrieved 21/9/15). (25) Stelarc, Partial Head, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20243 (Heide Museum of Modern Art, 18 July- 29 October, 2006) (retrieved 21/9/15). (26) Articulated Head, part of Thinking Head Project, http://roboticart.org/ah/index.html (retrieved 30/9/15). (27) Stelarc, Walking Head Robot, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20244 (2006) (retrieved 25/9/15). (28) Stelarc, Inverse Motion Capture System, 3D paragraph, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20225 (retrieved 25/9/15). (29) Video, Stelarc, Avatars Have No Organs, Prosthetic Head (2003): https://vimeo.com/28751467 (retrieved 21/9/15). (30) Tech Terms, Algorithm: “An algorithm is a set of instructions designed to perform a specific task. This can be a simple process, such as multiplying two numbers, or a complex operation, such as playing a compressed video file.” http://techterms.com/definition/algorithm (retrieved 21/9/15). (31) Stelarc, Prosthetic Head (1st paragraph), http://stelarc.org/?catID=20241 (retrieved 21/9/15). (32) (1. Introduction--Mixed Reality), Paul Milgram, Fumio Kishino, IEICE Transactions on Information Systems, A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays, Vol E77-D, No.12 December 1994, http://etclab.mie.utoronto.ca/people/paul_dir/IEICE94/ieice.html (33) Stelarc, Prosthetic Head, HUMAN+ The future of our species,

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https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/humanplus/prosthetic-head/ (34) Stelarc Stelarc, The Articulated Head pays attention, Academia.edu, https://www.academia.edu/6172195/The_Articulated_Head_pays_atte ntion (35) Articulated Head and Ear on Arm: Alternate Anatomical Architectures, (case study, Brunel University (H0113), http://impact.ref.ac.uk/casestudies2/refservice.svc/GetCaseStudyPDF/1 2521 (36) Stelarc, From Prosthetic Head to Articulated Head: Designing Alternate Embodiments for Artificial Agents Tuesday 09/02/2010 1:00pm-2:00pm Location: Howell Building, Room H313 Speaker: Stelarc, University of Western Sydney, Australia / Brunel University, School of Arts, http://hcdi.brunel.ac.uk/seminardetails.aspx?sid=4 (37) Articulated Head, http://roboticart.org/ah/index.html (38) Laura Gartry, Perth artist Stelarc takes ride on $80,000 robotic arm in ‘jarring’ performance, abc.net.au, 1st October 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015–10–01/perth-performance-artiststelarc-takes-ride-on-giant-robot-arm/6820464 (39) Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, Growing Semi-Living Sculptures: The Tissue Culture & Art Project, March 2001, Leonardo journal, http://www.leonardo.info/isast/articles/catts.zurr.pdf (retrieved 21/9/15) & (40). (40) Oron Cutts and Ionat Zurr, Towards a new class of being – the extended Body, Artnodes, 2006, http://www.uoc.edu/artnodes/6/dt/eng/catts_zurr.pdf (41) Stelarc, Absent Bodies, The Shedding Skin, «The Hollow Body would be a better host for technological components». http://stelarc.org/?catID=20317 (42) The Hollow Body would be a better host for technological components». Stelarc, Absent Bodies, The Shedding Skin, http://stelarc.org/?catID=20317 (43) Kuniharu Takei, Toshitake Takahashi, Johnny C. Ho, Hyunhyub Ko, Andrew G. Gillies, Paul W. Leu, Ronald S. Fearing and Ali Javey, 5 Nanowire active-matrix circuitry for low-voltage macroscale artificial skin, Nature Materials, 12 SEPTEMBER 2010, DOI:10.1038/NMAT283, file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/10.1.1.187.1689.pdf (retrieved 20/10/15). (44) Dragos George, A Step Closer to Humans – Artificial Skin for Robots, Smashingrobotics.com, May 17, 2014,

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http://www.smashingrobotics.com/a-step-closer-to-humans-artificialskin-for-robots/ (45) Celia Henry Arnaud and Chemical & Engineering News, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, Artificial Skin Sends Touching Signals to Nerve Cells, Sensors transmit pressure changes to neurons and could help prosthetic limbs truly feel, October 20, 2015, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/artificial-skin-sendstouching-signals-to-nerve-cells/ (46) Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, Cyborgs and space, pag. 26, Rocland State Hospital, Orangeburg, N. Y, Astronautics, September 1960, http://web.mit.edu/digitalapollo/Documents/Chapter1/cyborgs.pdf#pag e=1&zoom=auto,-94,744 (47) Louis Friedman, Human Space Flight – From Mars to the Stars (November 2015) The University of Arizona Press, https://louisdfriedman.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/book-flyer.pdf (48) Louis D. Friedman, The Future of Human Space Exploration, http://louisdfriedman.com/the-future-of-human-space-exploration/ (49) Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History, https://louisdfriedman.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/bookflyer.pdf

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PART FOUR:

MEDIA ARTISTS ON POSTHUMANISM

CHAPTER ONE WHAT WOULD WE MEAN BY REALISM?

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AMANDA BEECH

This chapter seeks to examine the status of the image in a posthuman condition and, in particular, asks what it means to talk about the image without relying on a conception of the human, or without referring back to some principle of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, this attempt to understand a de-ontologized epistemology has more often than not resulted in falling back directly on an ontology of the image and an identification with knowledge as an expression of our finiteness; problems conjure either idealism and/or banality. First I’ll review the root of this problem, what I see as a bad correspondence between image, politics and reality, before examining another hypothesis that might allow us to consider the condition of the image without these determined relationships. In particular, technological power and its aestheticization in art and philosophy illustrate this problem. This is the point technology has reached since industrialization to stand for the figure of the non-human. The consequence of this is that any attempt to speak of what it means to be non-human ends up as the descriptor of human finiteness where we revert to the binary formulation of human/nonhuman. By now, we know and understand this dualism as a well-worn cliché, especially if we read or watch any sci-fi. But what this tells us is that, ironically, discussion on anything that we seem unable to control becomes quickly refigured as the ideal description of the human. Therefore, it is human life and human death that are primed as the things that matter, despite these claims to look beyond the human condition. Ernst Jünger’s work in particular plays out the paradox of untying the human from both the image and power and could be said to prefigure these problems. Jünger’s antimodern fantasies from the 1930s focus on images of industrial technology as that which is ultimately non-human. Jünger’s

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work pictures a totalitarian nightmare or sci-fi horror of an absolute technoculture, where faceless mechanistic power controls everything from the alarm clock that wakes us up to the camera lens whose ability to replace and produce reality brings violence ever closer. He writes: “In our technical era the individual appears to be evermore dependent, ‘unfree’ and endangered but the nature of these bonds is less visible than those of the feudal era. Hence they are even more absolute than the absolute monarchies.”1 For Jünger, the only way to live with this metaphysical force is to embrace it in the form of a romantic nihilistic self-sacrifice. Here, the body must become technological so as to ‘unravel the logic of violence’.2 Jünger’s theory seeks to overcome the problems of a representationalist metaphysics as well as the problems of Marxist dialectics by refusing to revolt against techno-capital as a form of bad dominance. Jünger seeks to think past a tragic definition of human life in the face of a Big Other, but paradoxically does so for the human where the image of techno-violence becomes the site and condition for, and therefore is directly correlative to gauging the success of human power. The formalism encountered here now appears as a form of kitsch and we can say the same for a variety of artistic practices and in particular those most familiar to the body art and performance art generation of the 1960s onwards. Here we see that both the body and the psyche act as prime sites for a testing of ‘the beyond’ through technology. These practices sit comfortably within the history of the subject, a history that often settles in the same schlock mysticism that we see in Jünger’s work. As such, despite its many claims to be speaking of a world beyond human control, we refer back to a binary formula that mingles biology and techno-power in an aesthetic of mechanistic cool and abundant excess. Both the body and the individual identity remain as the site for this figuration. What we see emerging here is a central problem: the de-ontologized real of our reality, namely a conception of a post-metaphysical world, is correlated to the forces in our lives that we identify as dominant and pervasive, and beyond our mastery. In other arts practices, and in particular those that share the dialectical methods of Critical Theory, we have seen the identification with language itself as the place of the non1

Herf (1996): 88; Jünger (1926), 8–10. Bullock (1992): 155, Jünger’s desire to rationalise violence demands a selfcultivation and self-transformation that result in the positioning of himself outside of human communities. This is mentioned in Bullock’s translation of Jünger’s Paris Journals, III, 270. 2

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human, where language, as our essential technology, is understood as alienating and beyond our control, despite it being made by us. This paradox lies at the heart of Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, where we see core connections between the image, its ability to manifest power and its (albeit) negatively construed correlation to reality. Adorno and Horkheimer’s work looks to how this dimension of language-power forms a crude, barbaric and miasmic nature in a kind of post political reality that desublimates individual identities to the equivalence of an animalistic totality. The base of the operation is Hollywood and, as we know, this highlights a deeper irony where these two sides have shared a mutual popularization. Crucially, for Adorno and Horkheimer, a knowledge that knows the dialectic is capable of transcending the horrors of similitude, but it is here where this knowledge is expressed that we encounter a key problem. This is largely because this knowledge is married to a form of mysticism, and significantly this is most evident when it comes to an understanding of art. Here art’s re-politicized form is correlated to what is considered to be its essential nature, that is, art’s politics is conditioned upon the natural ambiguity of the image. And it is important to dwell for a moment on the contradiction that this twofold status of the image produces. On the one hand, the image is considered as the site of a constructed reality that takes the form of nature, and, on the other hand, it is considered the means for transcending it. It is the prime symbolic referent to dominance and it has the ability to access a deeper unconditioned reality. To achieve this double operation, the image is compelled to become the primary figure for a politics that it claimed it had no access to in the first place. It is asked to be both the guarantee and cause for political transformation. In thinking of these asymmetrical demands together, the image is mystified further towards a concept of a deeper concept-less nature. Problematically, such a conception of the image can only serve as a set of limitations both for itself and politics. But this problem of what a posthuman reality, in terms of the image can be, does not end here. We see it in the problems of manufacturing the relativity of chaos in the world of the given where reality is represented to us very often in an aesthetics of dissonance, arrhythmic atonal music, base materialism, punk and other visions of excess. These images are first problematic because they are understood easily as genres, their dialectic form simultaneously figures the object of our constraint while being the key to our freedom: a nexus that figures the image as the space of torsion. This is the opposite of the freedom its authors had hoped to access. But, in addition to this, the image becomes an illustration of our relation to it. In aspiring to point to an unmeasured nature beyond us, a world that we

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cannot master, this image ends up as a weird reflection: the mirror of our nature. It finds its form in a Kantian-style psychosis of mimetic compulsive gestures that resides in the pleasure of a twisted and masochistic anthropocentricism. This image of a world beyond us is, in fact, a story that narrates our relationship to ourselves. The image can only be for us and by us. Here the big error is easy to spot: an ontological relativity is produced despite claiming its empirical impossibility. So, to make some early conclusions: the first point I’d like to make about these approaches to meaning is that they assume too quickly that the work of producing meaning is tied to a theory of causation. Secondly, at the same time and in direct contradiction to this, they assume that the image is naturally free. If we take these two points together, the image can only be understood as mutually weak and special or evil and banal, a tool for power, but at the same time the figure for freedom. In this schema, the last stop for the image is unreason. Ironically, it is just such a statement that has defined the conditions of art’s politics for generations. Thirdly, what is common, and also worth focusing on when we look across these materialisms that try to think through the conditions of the world without us, is that they are all subtended by an impoverished theory of meaning. Here we begin to see a much sharper distinction between an image of knowledge that illustrates our relation to language as a form of knowledge and the intended but failed aim to think contingent reality. Therefore, crucial to this paper is that we think past this problem and more urgently that we rethink the operations of the image that can get past this poor mode of illustration. Our task therefore is neither to annihilate the image in the name of a true reality, nor to assume the image has privileged access to it. To do this, I want to draw upon some of the work of Quentin Meillassoux, in particular his arguments in the book, After Finitude. Of course, if we mention the term politics, then a question of how we comprehend reality has at its centre the question of causation, namely, how an understanding of reality might condition and refigure the world that we act within. Having established the landscape of representationalist and causal problems in the past few examples I have discussed, my central aim is to understand how meaning takes place without mapping a version of reality back onto the political, and instead to understand how this has consequences for the political. Crucial to this is to commit to a thinking of action through the unbinding of the relations of image, power and reality. Meillassoux’s work describes a world of super-contingency where any

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concept of the world being ‘for us’ is denied and any conception of practical reason is undone. This is a world without guarantees, it means that we have a radical denial of perspective, relations, and consistency. It becomes impossible to subordinate means to ends and, therefore, threatens any investment in practical means. Instead, Meillassoux proposes a truth that is correspondent with our reality, in as much as it guarantees the inability to produce a theory of meaning. “There is nothing beneath or beyond the manifest gratuitousness of the given – nothing but the limitless and lawless power of its destruction, emergence or persistence.”3 Here we enter the realm of hyper chaos where disorder no longer stands as the prime reality of existence, instead contingency is so radical that disorder can be destroyed by order in an equal contingency of order and disorder. Meillassoux’s work refuses to condition another form of access or connectivity, for he asks us to remember that contingency is banal, since not only does knowing contingency not transcend contingency but for chaos “…to remain chaos, [it] cannot actually bring forth the unthinkable”.4 So how does this mind-independent reality, this description of a contingency that is absolute, have any connection to, or place within, the formation of politics? The question here, then, is how this thought of a time without us can be understood without handing back the statement itself to the primacy of the thought that thinks that time without us? On the other hand, what form of knowledge can recognize the primacy of contingency as a fact, without reducing absolute contingency to an object of knowledge?5 The job now is to understand how Meillassoux’s work has consequences for understanding both reason and the image.

3

Meillassoux (2008): 63. Meillassoux (2008): 67. 5 The concern here is how this scientific thought is alive within the operations of the mediated image. But, whilst it might be the mathematisable thought that precedes any thought of the mediated image, it is the specificity of the thought that mediates this realism as true. However, if this thought without image is necessary for such a realism, then does this demand that our understanding of the image must be accessed as a form of cultural science? This point has particular relevance to Bruno Latour’s critique of designated categories of culture, politics and science in We Have Never Been Modern. Latour’s work seeks to understand a network of systems that do not claim or presuppose a modernist predilection for the grounds of discourse. This takes the question to Meillassoux’s attempt to overcome both a Kantian disposition to organise the architecture of knowledge and how this might be achieved when this critique rests upon a facticty that only science can point to. 4

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Language without correlationalism A question of the politics of absolute contingency demands that we untie the question about what absolute contingency bears out in the political, from the question of what absolute contingency means “for us”. We must then take this question from an anti-humanist perspective. Reviewing Meillassoux’s approach to language, it is clear that while the representational faculty of the image is understood as inadequate to its object, the work of reason is capable of this adequation. Meillassoux contends that “a reality separate from the subject can be thought by the subject”.6 Here Meillassoux takes us to the limits of meaning that are proven by scientific reason.

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The fact that I can’t imagine the non-existence of subjectivity, since to imagine is to exist as a subject, does not prove it is impossible: I can’t imagine what it is like to be dead, since to imagine it means we are still alive, but, unfortunately, this fact does not prove that death is impossible. The limits of my imagination are not the index of my immortality.7

These limits are not defined in tragic terms. This ‘death as a fact’ statement is not reflective of a mortality, or finitude, instead it situates a new potentiality for the work of reason. However, Meillassoux’s dedication to scientific thought over a thinking of the image demonstrated in his clear distinction between reason and the imagination sets up a problem since it describes a return to the kind of idealism that he seeks to escape. This is where the thought of the fact of death acts as the fact of non-relationality – a transposition to the primacy of thought itself. This idealism is underscored by his rejection of any analysis of how ‘the world of the given’ is conditioned through such statements, or how such statements emerge within it. This work thus creates an urgency for a renewed attention to language, specifically this form of rational language and its operations, as well as how this connects to the manifest image. By looking to how meaning works in relation to facticity I hope to overcome the problems of idealism as well as the censorship of the imagination that seems core to Meillassoux’s argument. I’m not going to go into this in any great detail but in this final section, I’ll sketch out a few points that move towards this. The first ties reason to cause, the second looks to absolute contingency as metaphor and the third identifies 6 7

“Time Without Becoming” (2009). “Time Without Becoming” (2009).

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a heteronomy of reason and imagination. First of all, the methods that Meillassoux puts into practice point us to a divergent reading of the operations of reason. Meillassoux’s logic is built on a literal approach to language, where facts are facts. Facts are taken seriously to the point that they exceed the subject who claims it. This literalism allows us to identify another form of adequation where reason operates as a form of action and force. Here, language succeeds in transcending the limits of the human and is not refigured back onto it. The work of Donald Davidson lubricates this observation, specifically his assertion that ‘reasons are as much causes of, as they are explanations for action’.8 Therefore, the make-up of this factical claim is action and reason, and these now appear unbound from a general principle of cause, because cause is simply the non-linguistic physical relation of these objects. Secondly, it is here where we could say that the work of Meillassoux’s absolutism resides within the world of metaphor. According to Davidson, “metaphors mean what the words, in their most literal interpretation, mean, and nothing more”.9 And I think the same goes for Meillassoux – whether he likes it or not – since the thought of the absolute in Meillassoux relies upon the referential qualities of language, both to justify the fact of absolute contingency and equally to cause the unbinding that speculation requires. The reason that thinks the absolute nature of contingency makes absolute contingency the metaphor par excellence, and this metaphor in its absolute nature has to be understood literally. Therefore, while representationalism as a mode of producing meaning is limited in Meillassoux’s argument, the meaning in its metaphoric operation is alive and well. This opens a vista of new possibilities, just as for Davidson, taking metaphors literally allows for new practices, understandings and meanings to be produced. It is through this metaphoric condition where I’d identify another kind of realism; a realism that produces a mix of the speculative (the might be) and the specific (the matter that is that speculation itself). “This is indeed a speculative thesis, (says Meillassoux) since we are not thinking an absolute, but it is not metaphysical, since we are not thinking anything (entity) would be absolute.”10 Thirdly, we must also remember that by Meillassoux’s lights we would have to split reason and the imagination as categories that do not and will 8

Davidson (2001), 10. Davidson (1984), 245. 10 Meillassoux, Q. (2008), 60. 9

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not meet. For it is pure rational thought alone that catalyses the kinds of speculation that might include the image. However, in thinking reason as cause, we must not only consider the language operations of scientific statements but we must also consider the alternative that this offers; that is how the site of the imagination produces scientific facts. Here we can think through how the thought that thinks fact operates in a new heteronomy that complicates any distinction between reason and the imagination. Centrally, thought that is literal does not exclude the imagination, since it is a kind of representation. Any reconnection between reason and cause, and reason and the imagination might seem to replicate all of the problems I reviewed at the beginning of this paper. The former might fall back into some form of instrumentalism and the latter might suggest a renewed focus on the subject, moving us from the problem of idealism of thought in Meillassoux, to another idealism: the subject that thinks thought. However, since there is no principle of cause at work here, there is also no ontology or objectifying concept that would ground these relations, and because we cannot tie this indistinction between reason and the imagination back to a coherent subjectivity that thinks it, since facts are unrelated to human will, we do not idealize either the subject as a thinking being, nor the thinking that is thought by it. Taking this to artistic culture, we can now think about a radical untying of what we understand to be the necessary and the instrumental. While Meillassoux’s speculative materialism guarantees the unbinding of instrumental reason, the understanding of the condition of meaning and in particular not just what the image can mean but what a conception of our reality without us means within the reality in which we reside. This is a question of meaning without us, and the reconditioning of an understanding of language interpretation as being always already tied to our mind and body – as if art was a personal message to us and a general message about us. Rethinking art as a factically non-relational entity that is also capable of meaning shatters these habits and sets out to evacuate the genres that confuse themselves for a deeper and meaningful experience of a truth. It overcomes the kinds of banal mythologies and nostalgic horrors that recount that which exceeds us, and returns us to face a different and truly alien world.

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References

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Bullock, M. P. (1992): The Violent Eye, Ernst Jünger’s Visions and Revisions on the European Right, Wayne State University Press, Detroit Davidson, D. (1984): Inquires into Truth and Interpretation, Oxford University Press. —. (2001): ‘Actions, Reasons and Causes’, Essays On Actions and Events, Clarendon Press, Oxford. Herf, J. (1996): Reactionary Modernism. Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich, Cambridge University Press. Jünger, E. (1926): ‘Fortschritt, Freiheit und Notwendigkeit,’ Arminius 8 1926, 8–10. Meillassoux, Q. (2008): After Finitude, Continuum. “Time Without Becoming” (2009), Research seminar, Middlesex University.

CHAPTER TWO IMAGE AND THE APPEARANCE OF THE IMAGE: FEAR, SPEED, FORCE

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BRIDGET CRONE

This chapter takes as its starting point the idea of “image” as marked by the speed of its dissemination, its velocity and pervasive effects: the idea of “image” not marked by representation or by its representative capacities. Drawing on Brian Massumi’s demonstration of “affective modulation” in relation to the terror alert system in the US, I will look at the way in which the image can be a tool for affective control particular in the invocation (and modulation) of scales of fear. Underpinning this discussion is a necessary severance of the image from its representative tradition – its accepted link to a subject, an object, a sign, a thing – arguing instead that the image has a new “status”, a status which is distinguished by a new spatio-temporal order: that of digital networks’ speed of dissemination, global movement etc. However, suggesting that rather than represent us (our collectivity, our “being in common”), the image can travel at great speeds and can organize activity around itself – as the concept of “affective modulation” would suggest – opens up a larger question of action and agency. Principally, the question is: “Are we bound to the image only through the exertion of its affect or are there any other future possibilities for the image?” I address the image in contemporary culture as being characterized by its operation rather than its capacity for representation, where representation might be considered as the making visible or presentation of the subject, and operation as the unbinding of the (human) subject’s role in favour of an affective force. In this simple dichotomy, I seek to outline the divorce of the image from its representative role where, for the image, like the political subject, representation means: x The symbolic connection between the subject and person or thing x The expression of identity of sentiment

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x The right to recognition. And I consider the operation of the image as “affective” – that is characterized by and through the operation of affect. For me, affect is not linked to Deleuze’s benign evental form – a continual process of coming into being – but is a sinister (yet perhaps inescapable) condition arising from Jacques Ranciere’s notion of a common sensorium (our commonality as sensing beings). And here, following the work of post-Deleuzian philosophers such as Brian Massumi, Steve Goodman and Steven Shapiro, I think through affect as contagion particularly in relation to the development of LRADs (long range acoustic devices), for example. Following through this chain of thought, that is the shift in the status of the image from representation to operation, I also seek to trace the possibility of an image tearing away from its human-centredness – by this I mean its dependence on a subject, object, thing for its existence both in terms of its content and its reception as “image”. Basically, this is the thought that if the image operates through and by affect then we must consider how it travels (as affect is the travelling of bodies in relation to other bodies) and therefore if the image can travel then it must be something akin to a body (it is bodies after all that participate in the affective field) and it is from this point that I seek to explore an unbinding of the image from this intense relationality – having already, I hope, demonstrated how the image has been already unbound from its dependence upon a subject. So, firstly, to address the problems of representation: WTJ Mitchell has defined the image through a dialectic in which the image is either “emblematic” or “expressive”, that is the image read as text or translated as feeling or emotion. Yet to my mind, both reduce the image to a form of iconography – a state of dependence upon a perceiving subject or participant spectator. The limitations of this approach are apparent in Mitchell’s work on the Abu Ghraib images, which he sees as icons – signs of the times, symptomatic and representative of the War on Terror. When these images first appeared in the press, Mitchell stated: “I wrote to all my Art History friends, my iconological colleagues, and said: “let’s archive, document, track down mutations of this figure, to begin to make sense of how the Abu Ghraib archive is constituted, can be understood, and analysed.’”1 According to Mitchell, a key element of this archive is Hans Haacke’s Star Gazing (2004), which “illustrates the US Army’s

1

Smith (2009), 332.

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‘interrogation practices’ and a certain American mindset in relation to the War on Terror.”2 Star Gazing is a photographic image of a faceless person, head covered by an orange hood, which symbolizes and contains at a glance all that we already know about the US Army’s tactics of containment, interrogation and terror – all in one neat package – and it stops there begging the question: what can the image do other than stand and represent what we already know or make visible our suspicions? Politically, we can see this problem articulated through the work of the economist Saskia Sassen, for example, in her attempts to map the way in which the extreme velocity of the transnational order characterized by its flows through digital domains both exists outside of and inscribes itself onto the national and thereby effecting traditional forms of citizenship for example as the ability of the state to represent its subjects. Can we inscribe these characteristics and operations of digital networks – “an instantaneously transnational timespace hinged on velocity and the future” – onto the image as it operates today, suggesting a new order of the image? And if we do so, in characterizing the image through the qualities of speed, velocity – as something that travels instantaneously across borders – could we then posit the image’s old function and purpose, that is, representation as being akin to the nation state in Sassen’s argument? Shifting the focus from the subject of the image – both in terms of the subject as the perceiver and the content (the image’s dependence on its origins in a subject, object, think) – to the affective work of the image, that is the image’s operation provides a possible solution to the problem of representation and introduces a new problem, that of affective contagion. Spinoza first defined affect as the movement of one body against or in relation to another. A body as being non-bio or anthropocentric but a thing that is brought into being through the movement of particles and through relations to other bodies. In Deleuze this is further extended through the vitalist logic of his strategies of mapping, rhizomatic structures, and of the coming into being of the body of across a plane of immanence. In his philosophy, Deleuze sets forth an intense and intensively connective relationality. But, more recently, philosophers such as Brian Massumi have called attention to the affective power of media culture becoming more and more intense – that is, a ramping up, an intensification of affective power over the last 10–15 years. This operation has variously been referred to as “affective modulation” by Massumi himself, and as “affective tonality” by A. N. Whitehead and more recently Steve 2

Ibid.

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Goodman in his book Sonic Warfare (2009). In discussing the operation of affect in a recent lecture, Goodman referred to the French director, Gaspar Noye talking about his film, Irreversible. He cited Noye as saying: “The movie is physical.” But more than that, here affect is a collectivizing force that seeks to modulate or to control our behaviour through the use of sensory control that is disseminated like a kind of contagion. In his essay, “Fear (the spectrum said)” (2005), Massumi looks at the way in which the US government has used the image – in the crudest sense the colours of green, yellow, orange and red – to modulate and therefore control public emotions post-9/11. The terror alert system is then an image that was disseminated with the direct intention of infecting fear and anxiety on a bodily level in order to control, and to create a pervasive, formless sense of both power and threat. It does this through what Massumi terms “affective modulation” – an operation that exists at “the limit between the subject and the world, at the limit between individual and collective experience.”3 The fact that affect has a kind of formlessness was also highly important in conveying the message about the formlessness of power – that is, power as all pervasive and contentless, no longer tied to an object and with the possibility of being everywhere all the time. Massumi says:

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“The alerts presented no form, ideological or ideational and … bore little content. They were signals without signification. All they distinctly offered was an activation contour: a variation in intensity of feeling over time”. 4

This is, therefore, an image that no longer represents a subject, object or thing but instead it sets into motion a response that is bodily, a physical sensation of fear or of panic. While this response is stimulated through a visual process – a bodily reaction linked to a particular colour-code – it is not isolated to the particular sensing mechanism as Steve Goodman’s work on the sonic effects of war illustrates. Rather it is the viral and allpervasive dissemination – the movement – of affect that is the point here, and one is mindful of Jean-Luc Nancy’s suggestion that the image is no longer predicated on the realm of vision but instead, the image: “throws in my face an intimacy that reaches me in the midst of intimacy – through sight, through hearing, or through the very meaning of words.

3 4

Massumi (2005), 46. Ibid.

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Indeed, the image is no longer visual; it is also musical, poetic, even tactile, olfactory or gustatory, kinaesthetic and so on”.5

Here the image is rendered without depth – with no inside or outside but is instead a “conjoining of sensing and to be sensed” – and is therefore dependent on an intimacy of reception.6 As Nancy states, the image belongs not “to the domain of objects, their perception and their use, but to that of forces, their affections and transitions.” 7 This image that is produced through the terror alert system therefore operates through the modulation of a bodily responsiveness, and is an operation that goes beyond representation circumventing the necessity of addressing form or content in order to appeal to a collective on the level of a “common sensorium” resulting in a “community of the sensible”, and in achieving this, Massumi points out the importance of the “formlessness” of power – pervasive and “contentless” and which “no longer has an object. It means that the object of power is correspondingly formless and contentless, post governmentality has moulded itself to threat.”8 This exercising of threat through the modulation of the image occurs at what Massumi calls the “pre-individual level”: this is not to say that this takes place prior to the individual but “at the limit between the subject and the world, at the limit between individual and collective experience.” 9 The relationship between image, affect and the production of subjectivities is at this point a somewhat sinister one – so that where affect is often articulated as having a positive micropolitical potential as the emergence of new subjective forms is examined through the collective workings of affect, it is here a somewhat sinister controlling device that involves us on a bodily, pre-individuated level. The emergence of a thinking of affect in relation to governmentality, to social control has emerged through the work of Massumi and others such as Steve Goodman and Steven Shaviro. If affect is correlation – the production of bodies in relation to other bodies in a loose derivation of Spinoza, or the bodily, physical feeling that prioritizes emotion or feeling over thinking or the mind – as a naturalized expansionist structure, could then disaffect be proposed as an emphasis on an excess of structure? If affect is understood as dependent on the experiential, then disaffect as non-feeling or disjuncture cannot be an alternative because, of course, this would simply respond to and prioritize 5

Nancy (2005), 4 Nancy (2005), 11 7 Nancy (2005), 12 8 Massumi (2005), 35 9 Massumi (2005), 46. 6

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its declared opposite, affect. However, if we adjust our thinking of disaffect as the open possibility of an abstract structure that, rather than co-joining objects, people, things through the pantheon of experience then this emphasis on structure holds some real possibilities, particularly in offering a strategy to engage in the disjunctive processes of unbinding, of reinstating the interval. And I think that we see the possibility for thinking through the possibilities of these structures through the work of Alain Badiou, for example in his logic of worlds possibilities for the exploration of this concept of “disaffect” where a relationality is not denied so much as examined through its appearance in and through worlds, which provides an unbinding of the open evental framework of Deleuze and a reinstatement of the possibility of an “outside”, an interval that is so crucial to thinking “change”.

References

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Massumi, Brian (2005): “Fear (the spectrum said)”, in positions, 13:1, Spring 2005. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2005): The Ground of the Image, New York: Fordham. Smith, Marquard (2009): “Politics: An interview with WTJ Mitchell”, Culture, theory and critique, vol. 50, issue 213, July 2009.

CHAPTER THREE TOWARDS AN ANTI-HUMANIST CRITIQUE OF IMMATERIAL LABOUR, OR HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH VAMPIRES

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PILL AND GALLIA KOLLECTIV

In Captial, Marx observes that it is in work that man finds his humanity.1 Although work is to an extent a collaboration between man and nature, it is here that man asserts his difference to nature by applying the mastery of mind over matter, environment and instinct. The spider might be doing the same job as the weaver, the bee as the architect, but their human counterparts distinguish themselves by the fact that in their labour they make a speculative concept into a physical reality, an idea into a building or shirt. For Marx, humans only become humans through the technology required for work: being human is not a quality preceding the extension of the body through technology. In fact, Marx adopts the anthropological definition of man as the ‘tool-making animal’.2 Yet even though humanity is founded on work, under capitalist conditions of production, work also produces the exact opposite of this process. In commodifying his capacity to work, abstracting and separating it from himself, the labourer starts to reverse his ascent from the realm of the object. Although labour is defined not as the physical action of muscles but as the ability to impose concept on matter, for the capitalist it is simply a commodity to be purchased and consumed in the process of production. Due to the fact that it plays such a crucial role in ontologizing what it is to be human, it is not surprising that for Marx the workplace is a battlefield where a savage conflict between the capitalist and labourers takes place. In this war, the question of how to define the working day or 1 2

Marx, Capital, 115. Ibid., 117.

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how to calculate a reasonable number of work hours per day is of pivotal importance to Marx. It is in fact around this question that Marx first gives the workers their proper voice, their identity, against the capitalist who is the aloof and cold protagonist of Capital. But, more importantly, this is also where Marx constructs a critique of the discourse of liberal humanism. This form of humanism, radically different to Marx’s own structural definition of a human as a thing ontologically formed in the social and technological process of labour, is where capitalism finds its false ethical justification. In the section on “The Limits of the Working Day” of Capital, Marx carefully constructs this attack on humanism.3 To do so Marx starts by outlining a simple problem of accounting. Since, for the capitalist, work is just another commodity intended for consumption, it too, like any other commodity, can be ascribed a value equal to the labour time that is necessary to produce it. If six hours of work are enough to provide the subsistence of the labourer, these six hours of work are the ‘use value’ of labour. Any additional work becomes ‘surplus labour’, which serves only to produce surplus value for the capitalist. The first conclusion we can draw from this is that the working day is therefore not a constant, but a variable, determined by the negotiation of two opposing forces. On one side stands the labourer who wishes to reduce to a minimum any work time beyond what is necessary for the reproduction of labour-power itself (i.e. only enough to provide food, rest etc., to restore the capability of the labourer to work). On the other, stands the capitalist who relies on surplus labour to create profit and must produce as much of it as possible. In this conflict, the capitalist’s position is decisively straightforward and solid: “As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus labour.”4 Since the capitalist is defined by his reliance on the creation of surplus value, he demands from the worker the greatest amount of surplus labour and therefore the longest work hours possible in a day. But the logic of capitalism is even more extreme than this. Since labour is a type of commodity, free time is viewed by the capitalist as a simple act of theft: “If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist.”5 3

Ibid., 148. Ibid., 149. 5 Ibid. 4

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At this point, for a brief sentence, the tone of the text, until now reasoned and measured, changes abruptly: “Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him.”6 The use of such imagery invokes the full extent of the horror of the equation carefully constructed earlier. But it also does something else: it suggests parity between poetic and political forms. Just as there is an economy of poetic expression that constructs the text, the economic nature of capital is constructed as fiction; the myth of the vampire is only as fictitious as the myth of capital, both artificial and real at the same time. Capital is speculative realism, a material reality fabricated out of pure ideas and this reality is only as natural and certain as the faith we invest in it. Or, as Philip Goodchild puts it in his essay “Capital and Kingdom”: “Financial value depends on an imagined future. This imagined future is transcendent to current reality and, furthermore, the future never comes. For, even if there is a stock market crash, the value of any asset still depends on projections about its future. In this respect, financial value is essentially a degree of hope, expectation, or credibility. Being transcendent to material and social reality yet the pivot around which material and social reality is continually reconstructed, the value of money is essentially religious.”7 It is because of the abstract nature of this system, because money is constructed rhetorically, that Marx’s solution to the labourer’s problem relies not on action but on a rhetorical argument. The labourer finds his power in discourse. But, crucially for Marx, this power should not be grounded in a different kind of discourse to the capitalist logic of exchange, it should not be constituted as an outside to it but operate from within. Therefore, the capitalist’s argument should not be countered by a moral notion of ‘natural’ or ‘inalienable’ human rights. Humanism, seeking to appeal to the respectable and charitable side of bourgeois culture, is insufficient in resisting the rational, albeit ruthless, demands made by the factory owner, whose vampiric character, when it comes to managing capital, makes such moral conventions irrelevant. Given that the relationship between employer and worker is purely economic, and that labour is a particular type of economic commodity, to apply a weak discourse of rights, would turn the worker into the buying side in this exchange, in effect asking to charter back from the capitalist his rights for 6 7

Ibid. Goodchild (2005), 133.

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the time of the day which is used to produce surplus labour. And if such an exchange is carried out, the labourer remains indebted to the seller of his ‘moral’ right. Hence, explains Marx, the shortening of the workday can only be gained when the worker sees himself as the owner and seller of the commodity of labour to the capitalist. And, more so, the worker should also see himself as responsible for the reproduction of his own labourpower. This shift in logic also leads to a stylistic development in the slightly monotonous tone of Capital. For the first time in the book, the words of the labourer are heard against that of the capitalist and it is perhaps worth quoting this part in full:

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“Suddenly the voice of the labourer, which had been stifled in the storm and stress of the process of production, rises: The commodity that I have sold to you differs from the crowd of other commodities, in that its use creates value, and a value greater than its own. That is why you bought it. That which on your side appears a spontaneous expansion of capital, is on mine extra expenditure of labour-power. You and I know on the market only one law, that of the exchange of commodities. And the consumption of the commodity belongs not to the seller who parts with it, but to the buyer, who acquires it. To you, therefore, belongs the use of my daily labour-power. But by means of the price that you pay for it each day, I must be able to reproduce it daily, and to sell it again.”8

It is only by adopting the ‘master’ discourse of the capitalist that the worker can argue from a position of strength. Becoming himself a capitalist merchant in ownership of a commodity, the worker has to assure that the price he receives for it is high enough to guarantee its reproduction, so that it could be offered as a commodity on the market again in the future. The labourer overidentifies, to use Zizek’s term, with the capitalist’s position, going further in commodifying not just labour, but also labour-power, his own capacity to work. The discourse of human (or indeed animal) rights plays no part in this appeal for justice. Even if the capitalist has humanist sentiments towards the suffering of his worker, his hands are ‘tied’ by the market forces of competition: “You may be a model citizen, perhaps a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and in the odour of sanctity to boot; but the thing that you represent face to face with me has no heart in its breast. That which seems to throb there is my own heart-beating. I demand the 8

Marx, Capital, 150.

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normal working day because I, like every other seller, demand the value of my commodity.”9

There are two main outcomes to this shift of perspective, from an argument grounded in human rights to one grounded in the “heart-less” logic of capital. First, now that the struggle of worker and factory owner is between two sides with equal economic stakes, it can only be viewed as a real conflict involving comparable powers. Liberal reform that puts a powerless worker at the mercy of capitalist morality is thoroughly rejected as inadequate. This is clearly reflected in Louis Althusser’s 1969 essay “How to Read Marx’s Capital”, where he attacks the ‘compromise’ of the capitalist with the workers via the introduction of overtime exactly on this ground: “For the workers, overtime earnings are anything but free gifts presented to them by the employers. These earnings do of course mean something extra for the workers, which they can do with, but it ruins their health. Despite its deceptive appearance, overtime means nothing more than additional exploitation for the workers.”10 But from this capitalist exchange a radical transformation in the character of the labourer occurs: “It must be acknowledged that our labourer comes out of the process of production other than he entered. In the market he stood as owner of the commodity ‘labour-power’ face to face with other owners of commodities, dealer against dealer. The contract by which he sold to the capitalist his labour-power proved, so to say, in black and white that he disposed of himself freely.”11 This newly found freedom, defined in the capitalist’s own laws of the market disappears only after the consumption of the commodity of labour sold by the worker: “The bargain concluded, it is discovered that he was no ‘free agent’, that the time for which he is free to sell his labour-power is the time for which he is forced to sell it, that in fact the vampire will not lose its hold on him ‘so long as there is a muscle, a nerve, a drop of blood to be exploited’.”12 This move also necessitates, for the first time in Capital, the emergence of class consciousness, the recognition of an identical rightful claim by a group of people who, in order to win the argument with the purchaser of their commodity “must put their heads together, and, as a class, compel the passing of a law, an all-powerful social barrier that shall prevent the very workers from selling, by voluntary contract with capital, themselves and their families into slavery and 9

Ibid. Althusser (1969), 302–305. 11 Marx, Capital, 181. 12 Ibid. 10

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death”.13 The weak discourse of rights is thus replaced by legislative action, identical to that which protects the right of any capitalist seller of commodities: “In place of the pompous catalogue of the ‘inalienable rights of man’ comes the modest Magna Carta of a legally limited working day, which shall make clear ‘when the time which the worker sells is ended, and when his own begins’.”14 More recently, post-Autonomist theory has been striving to generate an anti-humanist reading of Marx in an endeavour to address the changes to the landscape of work in the 21st century, relying very much on the logic of arguments such as the ones outlined here. In the same way that Marx advocates abandoning humanism as an irrelevant position in the face of the Capitalist’s demands, the Italian theorists who emerged out of the Autonomia group have opposed subsequent humanist readings of Marx. These writers have returned to the problem of humanism and work because it is more urgent than ever with the emergence of newer forms of work that utilize the very qualities of the enlightened human subject: judgement, the transfer of knowledge, socialization and linguistic abilities. Capitalist exploitation today works to shorten the distance between work and other aspects of life (leisure, political organization or the consumption of culture). Therefore, to rise to the new challenges posed by this advanced mode of capitalist production, it becomes crucial to construct a new type of critique not grounded in an essentialist notion of humanist subjectivity distinct from the subjectivity of the social worker. They reject both dialectic materialism and humanist existentialism because, whether positing a human essence lost with the advent of capitalist alienation, or claiming alienation to be itself a feature of the human condition, both theories assume a human nature preceding social relations and more specifically work relations. Rather than interpreting alienation as a historical form to be overcome (following Hegel) or maintaining that it is an essential aspect of human existence (as Sartre did), they take alienation, or rather estrangement, to be a ground for a collectivity autonomous from capital. Not being lonely, but feeling distanced from one’s work under capitalism would be the basis for the refusal to work. Estrangement was thus the starting point of the struggle that would allow them to redefine the proletariat in terms better suited to late capitalism. As Franco “Bifo” Berardi explains in his book, The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy:

13 14

Ibid., 181–2. Ibid., 182

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“Compositionism [as Bifo prefers to call Italian Workerism insofar as it addresses class composition], even if in complete agreement with the critique of the Stalinist diamat, dialectical and historicist dogmatism, does not anticipate any restoration of humanity, does not proclaim any human universality, and bases its understanding of humanity on class conflict. Compositionism overturns the issue implicit in the question of alienation. It is precisely thanks to the radical inhumanity of the workers’ existence that a human collectivity can be founded, a community no longer dependent on capital.”15

Against a post-Fordist context, which instrumentalizes human subjectivity, the struggle of the workers can no longer be thought of along clear lines of separation between the working day and non-work. The rise of automation and the transition from manual to mental or immaterial labour were, at least in part, a response to the demands made by workers in the 1960s and 1970s: “The workers’ struggle for power pushed capital to use machines instead of workers, exactly as Karl Marx had anticipated in his Grundrisse.”16 This analysis draws also on Marx’s observation in the subsequent chapter of Capital: capitalism responds to the demands of the workers for a shorter workday by simply recruiting a larger number of workers who are forced to work with greater intensity, to compensate for the ‘stolen’ hours. In both these instances, the workers’ movement unknowingly became a corrective principle inside capitalism, forcing it to adapt, and avoid catastrophe, in ways not necessarily beneficial to the workers. The new modes of immaterial labour that have resulted from Capitalism’s most recent adaptation require us to rethink the abstraction of labour that Marx describes, and to find new ways of identifying its subjects. Marx writes of a specific category of labour with no material product, virtuous pursuits where the performance of the work is its own outcome.17 The Autonomists take what is for him a restricted phenomenon 15

Berardi (2009), 94. Ibid., 44. 17 “With non-material production, even if it is conducted purely for the purpose of exchange, purely produces commodities, two things are possible: A. It results in commodities which exist separately from the producer, hence can circulate in the interval between production and consumption as commodities; this applies to books, paintings, and all the products of artistic creation which are distinct from the actual performance of the executant artist. Here capitalist production is applicable on a very restricted scale. In so far as these people do not employ assistants, etc., in the manner of sculptors, they mostly work (if they are not independent) for merchants etc., capital, e.g. for booksellers; this is a relation which itself constitutes merely a form transitional to a mode of production capitalist only in form. The fact that it is precisely in these transitional forms that 16

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and assert it as the paradigm of contemporary labour in general, no longer applicable merely to artists and service providers, but also to a broad range of info-workers operating under what Bifo calls semiocapital.18 As Virno states explicitly, “[w]ithin post-Fordist organization of production, activity-without-a-finished-work moves from being a special and problematic case to becoming the prototype of waged labor in general”.19 What is put to work in jobs as diverse as web-design and telemarketing, is the ‘general intellect’, another term borrowed from Marx, encompassing the worker’s potential to communicate, share knowledge and, most crucially for us, the potential to be creative. Maurizio Lazzarato, in his essay “Immaterial Labor”, demonstrates how creativity is dispersed across a network of labour relations:

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“The activities of this kind of immaterial labor force us to question the classic definitions of work and workforce, because they combine the results of various different types of work skill: intellectual skills, as regards the cultural-informational content; manual skills for the ability to combine creativity, imagination, and technical and manual labor; and entrepreneurial skills in the management of social relations and the structuring of that social cooperation of which they are a part.”20

In the absence of the kind of machinic alienation described by Marx, the immaterial labourer experiences work as part of a personal enterprise. The resistance to work, on which the Autonomists premised their struggle, disappears in a context where producing “communication, the creation of mental states, of feelings, and imagination” requires an “investment of desire”.21 Work is never refused, because the worker has to be on call at all times to compete (responsive to emails, mobile phones, etc.): “[Info-workers] prepare their nervous system as an active receiving terminal for as much time as possible. The entire lived day becomes

the exploitation of labour reaches its highest level does not alter the situation at all; B. The product is inseparable from the act of producing it. Here too there is only a restricted field for the capitalist mode of production, and it can in the nature of things only take place in a few spheres. (I need the doctor, not his errand boy.) In educational institutions, for example, teachers may well be merely wage labourers for the entrepreneur who owns the teaching factory. But similar cases do not need to be considered when dealing with capitalist production as a whole.” Marx (2005). 18 Bifo, 89. 19 Virno (1996), 188–208. 20 Lazzarato, 133–149. 21 Bifo, 84.

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subject to a semiotic activity which becomes directly productive only when necessary.”22

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According to Bifo, the problem with this subjugation of subjectivation to incessant work is that it produces constant stress and leads to psychological breakdown, manifested in the rise of panic, depression and mind-altering drug use, both medical and illegal.23 Virno, however, sees an even more worrying consequence in the difficulty of finding a place for political action in a society structured around immaterial labour. Virno follows Aristotle, in asserting that it was precisely its externality to work that historically made ‘Action’ inherently political. As something that does not have an end product, it is engaged with conduct and not with extrinsic aims. Virno also cites Arendt as extending this view to the performing arts, which require the presence of a public in the same way that political action does. The problem with virtuosic or immaterial labour, then, is that it preempts political action, closing the distance to productivity essential for criticality and opposition: “[…] the virtuoso works (in fact she or he is a worker par excellence) not despite the fact, but precisely because of the fact that her or his activity is closely reminiscent of political praxis […] The “presence of others” is both the instrument and the object of labor; therefore, the processes of production always require a certain degree of virtuosity, or, to put it another way, they involve what are really political actions. Mass intellectuality (a rather clumsy term that I use to indicate not so much a specific stratum of jobs, but more a quality of the whole of post-Fordist labour power) is called upon to exercise the art of the possible, to deal with the unforeseen, to profit from opportunities. Now that the slogan of labour that produces surplus value has become, sarcastically, “politics first,” politics in the narrow sense of the term becomes discredited or paralyzed.”24

In the same way that the proximity of work to politics disables political action, the role of creativity in immaterial labour endangers the critical potency of art. For Bifo, adopting Guattari’s thinking on art as a ‘chaoid’, art remains distinct from creativity and continues to offer a useful ‘aesthetic paradigm’, by rendering the chaos of living sensible. From the sensory overload produced by the proliferation of signs necessitated by semiocapital, art composes forms and gestures, registering disturbances, but also finding new modalities of being: “Art builds devices that can

22

Ibid., 90. Ibid., 98–100. 24 Virno (1996). 23

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temporarily model chaos.”25 In this understanding of art, which remains autonomous from instrumentalized creativity, art becomes interchangeable with therapy.26 However, at the heart of this argument lies the assumption of creativity as an intrinsic human quality that can be distinguished from creative labour. Despite setting out to refute humanist essentialism, the concept of creativity as an important part of the general intellect that is put to work within post-Fordism situates it as a capacity preceding capitalism and therefore capable of retaining critical power in relation to it. On the one hand, it is clear that models of artistic production are particularly well suited to the aims and operations of socialized capitalism. Michael Hardt, for example, sees evidence for the successful, albeit sometimes unintended, collaboration between art and economic forces in the production of the common or “the creation of social relations and forms of life” in the proliferation of Biennials and the branding of places as “creative cities”.27 On the other hand, many of the Autonomists hold on to a notion of at least a partial autonomy for art. Even Hardt is careful to leave an ambiguous space for art’s potential for subversion, or a resistance that might arise out of this forced coexistence.28 Although art has lost its uniqueness and negative or disruptive position in late capitalism, Virno suggests that it has an important role to play under the current economic structures. Like the newfound freedom of the worker, whose labour time is deregulated and therefore exists outside the disciplinary control of the factory, capitalist production must retain a level of autonomy for the artistic and communicative production of the common. Out of this relative autonomy, art can still create what Virno calls a “crisis of the units of measure” – new aesthetic models that reveal the hegemonic systems of measuring the existent to be inadequate.29 The danger here is that art resumes the external position to capitalism that has been disavowed in the Autonomist critique of dialectics. Despite the close ties between artistic, economic and political practices which Bifo, Virno and Hardt accept as an unavoidable consequence of post-Fordism, they still look to untangle them and secure a place of resistance for art, or for human creativity outside of creative labour.

25

Bifo, 134. Ibid., 136. 27 Hardt (2009), 51–53. 28 Ibid. 29 Virno, in: de Bruyne et al., 17. 26

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Marx’s worker makes the first step towards struggle by redescribing the labour relationship and understanding it from within a capitalist framework, rather than looking for an external vantage point from which to beg for mercy. This struggle is ultimately futile in that capitalism accommodates it and arrives at new modes of exploitation in response to the worker’s demands. However, by holding on to the idea of art as a therapeutic respite from creative labour, thinking about post-Fordism is prevented from articulating a comparable overidentification with the new spirit of capitalism. It is only by abandoning this last vestige of humanism that we can begin to contemplate an overproduction, rather than an impossible withdrawal from subjectivity.

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References Althusser, Louis (1969): “How to Read Marx’s Capital”, in: Marxism Today, 302–305, available at: http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpalthusser11.htm [accessed 22.8.15]. Berardi, Franco “Bifo” (2009): The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy [Francesca Cadel and Giuseppina Mecchia – tr.], Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e). Goodchild, Philip (2005): “Capital and Kingdom: An Eschatological Anthology”, in: Theology and the Political: The New Debate, [Davis, Creston, Milbank, John and Zizek, Slavoj – eds.], North Carolina: Duke University Press, 133. Hardt, Michael (2009): “Production and Distribution of the Common” in: de Bruyne, Paul and Gielen, Pascal [eds.], Being an Artist in PostFordist Times, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 51–53. Lazzarato, Maurizio, “Immaterial Labour”, in: Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, 133–149, available at: http://www.e-flux.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2.-MaurizioLazzarato-Immaterial-Labor.pdf [accessed 5.3.16]. Marx, Karl, Capital: An Abridged Edition, New York: Oxford World Classics, Volume 1. —. (2005): “The Process of Production of Capital”, [Ben Fowkes – tr.], Marx/Engels Collected Works, London: Lawrence & Wishart, available at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/economic/ch02a.ht m#469a [accessed 4.3.16] Virno, Paolo (1996): “Virtuosity and Revolution: The Political Theory of Exodus,” in: Virno, Paulo and Hardt, Michael [eds.], Radical Thought

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in Italy: A Potential Politics, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 188–208, available at: https://www.scribd.com/doc/38672798/Radical-Thought-in-Italy [accessed 25.2.16]. Virno, in: de Bruyne, Paul and Gielen, Pascal [eds.], Being an Artist in Post-Fordist Times, 17.

CONTRIBUTORS (ALPHABETICALLY)

Amanda Beech is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in After Hope, Beirut City Forum, 2015, Agitationism, the Irish Biennial, L’Avenir, Montreal Biennale, 2014 and Speculative Aesthetics, Tate Britain, 2015. Beech’s writing includes essays for the anthologies Speculative Aesthetics (Urbanomic 2014), Realism, Materialism, Art, (Sternberg Press 2015) and catalogue contributions for the Irish and the Montreal Biennales. Her artists’ books include First Machine (2015), Final Machine 2013 and Sanity Assassin 2010 (Urbanomic). She is Dean of Critical Studies at CalArts, California, USA. Patrícia Silveirinha Castello Branco Ph.D. IFILNOVA - Nova Institute of Philosophy, New University of Lisbon (PORTUGAL) is a senior researcher and a post-doctoral fellow of the Philosophy of Language Institute. Web: http://www.ifilnova.pt/pages/patricia-castello-branco

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Bridget Crone, Ph.D., is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, The University of London (UK) and a freelance curator. Web: http://goldsmiths.academia.edu/BridgetCrone Anna Sara D’ Aversa, is PhD Candidate at Université Paris 8. Francesca Ferrando, Ph.D. in Philosophy, M.A. in Gender Studies, is a philosopher of the posthuman, an award winning scholar, and an Adjunct Faculty at New York University (USA). Web: http://theposthuman.org Trijsje Franssen, Ph.D., University of Exeter (UK), studies the relation between human enhancement, philosophy and myth. She is currently working at the University of Amsterdam. Web: http://amsterdam.academia.edu/TrijsjeFranssen/Papers Panayiota Georgopoulou is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Social Theory in the Department of Sociology at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens (Greece). Her research interests within the domain of social theory include posthumanism, human-technology

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Contributors

interaction, complexity sciences and also, the issue of chance and contingency. Marios Giakalaras, Ph.D. in Cultural Technology and Communication and M.Sc. in Cultural Informatics (University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece), is a professional freelance 3D and web designer. Alessandro Giovannuci holds a Ph.D. in History and Critics of Music (Università del Salento). He is active as a teacher and researcher in contemporary music, musical listening and new media at the Università degli Studi di Teramo. Among his publications are: Private Listening and the Birth of Modern Soundscape, Luc Ferrari’s Exploitation des concepts – the case of an auto-generative archive, The Musicology as a tool for the Comprehension of Reality, The Acousmatic Century Theories of Listening and Composition.

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Karen Gloy, Prof. Em. Dr. Dr. h.c., has taught in Heidelberg and Lucerne (Switzerland) and is now a guest professor all around the world. She is also currently lecturing at the University of Munich and at the HumboldtStudienzentrum of the University of Ulm. Her primary research interests are metaphysics, philosophy of nature, theory of mind, epistemology, and ancient, idealistic, contemporary and Kantian philosophy, as well as theory of rationality. Anna Hatziyiannaki is art historian, writer and new media curator in Athens. Between 2009 and 2015 she kept a regular column about technological art in the monthly newspaper “Art News”. She has given a series of lectures and also organized group and solo exhibitions of international and Greek artists. Web: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annahatziyiannaki Titika Karavia is Assistant Professor of Modern Greek Literature at the University of Peloponnese (Greece). She received her Doctorate in Theory Ƞf Literature and Cultural Criticism from the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle/PARIS III. She has been postdoctoral fellow of the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) and has earned several grants and fellowships. Her research focuses on hybrid writings, testimonial literature, autobiography, national imagery and metacriticism as well as interdisciplinary approaches to literature.

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Abraham Kawa, Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and Postmodernism, is a fantasy, horror, science fiction, and graphic novels writer. His recent graphic novel “Democracy” (Bloomsbury, with Alecos Papadatos) is one of the most influential nowadays. He has also been a lecturer at the University of the Aegean for several years. Yiannis Kourtzellis, Ph.D. in Cultural Technology and Communication, M.Sc. in Cultural Informatics and Museology, is an archaeologist specializing in 3D representation at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture – Archaeological Ephorate of Lesvos. He is also a member of the Council of the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest and the ICOM (International Council of Museums). Thomas Mavrofides, Ph.D., is teaching Cultural Informatics at the University of the Aegean. Lesvos, Greece.

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Yiorgos Voreas Melas, M.Sc. in Cultural Informatics and Ph.D. Candidate at the University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece. Sofia Mytilinaiou is an experienced interactive and web designer. She holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Technology and Communication as Scholar of the Greek Scholarship Foundation, and an M.Sc. degree in Cultural Informatics, University of the Aegean. Her research work has been published in international conferences and books related to cultural studies, experience design and performance. Sofia is currently working as Laboratory Associate at Faculty of Fine Arts and Design (TEI Athens), Instructor of Informatics, and freelance interactive designer. Dónal O’Mathúna is Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-Making & Evidence, School of Nursing & Human Sciences, and an Affiliated Scholar, Institute of Ethics at Dublin City University (Ireland). Web: http://www.bioethicsireland.ie Dr. Pil Kollectiv and Dr. Galia Kollectiv are artists and lecturers in Fine Art at Reading University (UK) and Senior Lecturers in Fine Art at the CASS School of Art. Web: http://www.kollectiv.co.uk Panayiota Polymeropoulou, M.Sc. in Cultural Informatics, is Archaeologist – Museologist (University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece) and Associate Researcher at the Hellenic Open University.

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Dr. Stefan Sorgner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at John Cabot University in Rome (Italy). He is one of the world’s leading post- and transhumanist philosophers. He is currently the director and co-founder of the Beyond Humanism Network and a Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET). Web: http://www.sorgner.de Christos Tsongidis, is Cultural Technology and Communication Graduate and M.Sc. in Cultural Informatics (University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece). Yunus Tuncel, Ph.D., The New School, teaches philosophy in New York City (USA), and serves on the Board of Directors of the Nietzsche Circle, and on the Editorial Board of its electronic journal, The Agonist. Web: http://www.philomobile.com Georgia Tzirou, Ph.D., is a mathematician and cultural informatics specialist involved with the preservation of new media art. She works as an educator and is a research fellow at the University of the Aegean.

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Jaime del Val, is a name for the antibody called REVERSO. The metacomposer, visual-dance-intermedia artist, performer and post-queer activist. Web: http://www.reverso.org/jaimedelval.htm Dr. Konstantinos Vassiliou (Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), is a researcher on cultural theory and teaches at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Athens (Greece). Dr. Ioana Zirra, University of Bucharest (Romania), teaches British and Irish cultural studies and literature and contemporary literary criticism and theory, concentrating on the theory of modernity and rhetoric. She is also interested in literary and cultural translation and post-colonial space. Web: https://bcsunibuc.wordpress.com/about/teaching-staff/ioana-zirra