Media Artist Switching-On the Beat of the Future
Faster than human intelligence, the Singularity proposes a supercomputing shift of enormous magnitude. Science fiction has a marvelous way of interrupting our comfort zone: if the serious techne elite are debating when smarter than human intelligence will occur, why is the rest of humanity still trying to figure out Buckminster Fuller's synergistic vision? One portion of the world is switching on and off multiple identities and traveling electronically across the planet while another portion is simply trying to afford the plug. Is this an acceptable balance? Do we tip the scales by accelerating artificial intelligence, or do we remain innocuously satisfied being the ones with electricity? These are not a question; they are dilemmas.
I first became interested in the future when living in Telluride, Colorado. A mountainous oasis to be sure, but also the locale where Nikola Tesla engineered the groundbreaking AC hydroelectric power plant and where science and technology embrace the arts. Walking alone one night under the cosmos, I sensed an urge to be a single node of a connected intelligence. The night sky and its millions of lights was a reflection of the millions of neurons firing off signals in her head—thoughts on the future, humanity, merging with technology and bringing about transhumans and eventually posthumans. Thoughts about what would later become what I call the creativity Augmentum, a time when human emotions break from historical animalistic behaviors and peak in a seamless interplay of immersion. Then I reached for my camera.
The first in a series of four pieces suggests that the carbon body undergoes abrupt changes, whether induced from psychological, self-imposed emotive or identity issues or from continuous demands placed on our limited lifespan. Addressing these concerns, in an early BioArt piece I sculpted my body into the red clay of Red Rocks amphitheater. The acoustical arena, where Tiesto performed "Elements of Life", was the stage for the silent, short 8mm film "Breaking Away", filmed by Don Yannacito, Film Studies, UC. The mise en scène is a metaphorical breaking away from human constraints while in a dance; naked flesh energized, amplified and then attenuated from the early morning sun.
Continuing the beat, “DJ Trace-human” is a video interplay of poetry, allegory and soliloquy concerning future humans and identity. Like platitudes of postmodern thought, what the character is saying is incoherent. Albeit, when the image is played to a harmonic mix and animates into a series of repetitious moments, the viewer intuits its value. Directed by BBC filmmaker Christopher Spencer and edited in Los Angeles, my recitation became AC—an electric current that reverses its direction at regular intervals.
In the narrative video “2 Women in B&W”, the spoken words do hold value, yet it is more the emotions of the characters that draw the viewer's attention. As the actors' lines repeat, during each round the behaviors change to infer an alteration of identity. Each identity is dependent on the identity of the other, just as much if not more than she needs herself. Here the "self" is a transitional state of being, arriving at its state of stasis by and through its inability to break away from the cloistered need of the other. Filmed by John Dore of EZTV in West Hollywood, I directed and performed the piece which premiered at Women in Video.
From video to digital, I began working on a conceptual media project known as “Primo Posthuman", a future human 2.0 prototype as a transition from transhuman to posthuman. The prototype suggests continuation of human identity as one's identity is transported from a biological vehicle to a continuous, regenerative existence. The driving forces are NBIC technologies, (nanoscience, bioscience, information science, and cognitive science).
As a brief background of transhumanism, the Italian verb “transumanare” was expressed by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) in the Divine Comedy. It means “go outside the human condition and perception.” Centuries later, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote about the need for humanity to evolve beyond its human stage. Julian Huxley, in New Bottles For New Wine (1956), wrote about transhumanism, suggesting that humans establish a better environment. When Vita-More wrote the "Transhuman Statement" (1982), it was not just a matter of poetically strategizing a scenario of science fiction. It was and is a matter serious fact and a call for artists to develop knowledge about complex adaptive systems, overlapping domains, and consequences of technologies we use as tools to create.
The modern philosophy of transhumanism suggests overcoming limitations by switching-on emerging technologies for extending physical and cognitive abilities and resolving age-old problems few, including Fuller, were catalytic enough to pursue solving. If a large technological discontinuity causes a seismic wave in our social structures, then it might be of great benefit to consider that humanity may be on its way to becoming something quite different than we have been in the past, whatever the future man will be. Nonetheless, rather than drain our system, one scenario would be a maxim of Zen sensibility: quality over quantity, and enough quantity for all.
Alighieri, Dante (1306 - 21) La Divina Commedia. Accessed 20 December, 2007. http://dante.ilt.columbia.edu/comedy/
Chaney, M. (2001) Man Out
of Time - Nikola Tesla, New York:Touchstone.
Fuller, B. (1982) Critical Path, New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
Huxley, J. (1956) New Bottles for New Wine, London: Chatto and Windus.
Tielhard, P. (1969) The
Future of Man, New York: Harpercollins.
Tiesto. "Elements of Life", performed 21 July 2007, Red Rocks.
Vita-More, N. (1980) "Breaking Away" Dir. Don Yannacito, University of Colorado.
Vita-More, N. (1985) "2 Women in B&W", Dir. John Dore, EZTV, Los Angeles.
Vita-More, N. (1997) "JD Trance-human", Dir. Christopher Spencer, BBC, London.
Vita-More, N. (2000) "Primo Posthuman".