Put on your headset and grab your hand controllers. Explore the immersive 3D space of an art gallery. Walk through the current exhibition located in a pristine chamber. Two works occupy the otherwise empty space, bathed in a surreal light that absorbs windows and doorways. From the immaterial ceiling hangs the uprooted portion of a giant tree, a downward branching of twisted arms dangling their hairy tendrils. To the side on the gleaming gallery floor, the robust rectilinear structure of a glass encasement blends with the stark walls, isolating a bluish tank with a menacing open-mouthed killer shark floating in formaldehyde. Both extracted from a context which is life-supporting to them but inaccessible to us, deep sea waters and underground soil, and imported in the rarefied, contemplative space of the gallery. Even if conflicted, the bold use of the dead life-forms seeks to legitimize its cruelty by making evident that the violence at work here is surreptitiously present when products are routinely trusted, or when ensconced in self-righteous ecological opinions because after all, well-intentioned slogans painted with ‘natural media’ are just as responsible for endangering the whales. The deracinated tree evokes the soil because of its absence and the mycelial networks that would hypothetically fill the room in a cosmic flash. The dangerous looking predator instead, is the suspended emblem of an emasculated killing instinct. Primal fear fetishized and alienation put on display. What might have the curator intended with such a pairing? That both make use of negativity with the gamble that the critical use of their object does not add to its abuse. Or that they might cancel each other out because positioned on opposite ends of an end game rhetoric. The tree to narratives of belonging and the shark to manners of surviving. Yet in both, the visual impact of the work absorbs the outrage that inspires it. Critique, a stance that purports to reserve its antidote, is still under the impression that it can stop abuse by showcasing its injuries and have a spectacle, inducing shame and outrage, avenge the condemned desecration. There is a sense of sacrifice turned upside down and made to collect rewards in lieu of losing out to faith. Then again it seems as if they might be two poles of a circuit that will not let a current pass through because it is retained at both ends. If a cycle of growth and decay must face up to death, here it is frozen between a fear induced monster and the scepter of life gone AWOL beneath placid rigor mortis.
Forget if possible how humans affect the planet to ask what characterizes them the most in the known continuum of philia. What is inherent to the species seems to be its internecine condition, although the proclivity has been observed to a lesser degree in certain primates, such as chimpanzees. The disaccord or if read in a promethean vein, dynamism that leads humanity to surpass itself is at the root of its lack of cohesion. From a non-partisan perspective, a wrong committed in the conflicted arena by either protagonist is an inverted sacrifice. Not in its institutional application but closer to Christian kenosis, the emptying out of the will of Jesus for divine receptivity. Without lingering on the outmoded notion’s religious connotations, what transpires from the altruistic self-immolation is that no entity is privileged enough to create a world in its own image. For us humans it is a reminder that there is a world without us, that death finds its meaning in the giving of life. Thus, if one’s desires are not met or will fulfilled, everything that is ever wanted and equally granted is subsumed by the objective fabric of the world, independently of our access to it yet comprising us. But the fusion of Nietzsche and Simone Weil is not a cultural given and the will to power is not by the same token the will to other. Its renunciation is the fulcrum of an apotheosis that would surpass the Uberman with the multi-species conferrals of Hetero-Sapiens.
The Liver Regeneration Program takes the bull by the horns. With the ingenuity of the frailest mammals that defeated brutal mastodons, the heroine brings goliath to his knees with the fire she commissioned Prometheus to find. That he stole it from the hearth of some lazy god is not her concern. He would be administered a punishment by the jealous fire keepers, the brunt of which she will find a way to mitigate. The scales of objects having shifted due to the dissolution of the master plan, because it never came together, makes intervening between them the occasion of new obscenities. Alienation is not what happened, it is the original condition to which everything must answer. Simulation is as good a chance as any to get the emergent properties right. Sentient devices exfoliate from the hub of an ontological lotus flower, probes directed towards primary qualities, John Locke’s empirical entry point into the fabric of reality which he then complements with his subjective secondary ones. But an overruling sapience will prevent the subsequent reification of impressions, skipping Kant’s absorption of perception into the mind of the knowing observer. The onto-ninja heroine of direct access impedes faulty representations from taking anchor, nor will she, wielding the sword of raw factuality, allow to be contested by her disloyal fans, Berkeley and Hume. The brute foreignness of phenomena is where she is at home so this is no soteriological enterprise, no salvation bill that will detract from the opportunity for offshore excursions, given that settlements are perpetually warded off by the smoothing of any retentive interiority. Exosomatisation, buttressed by science, decentralizes knowledge as much as capital into outposts at the edge of the wilderness pervasive even in the insulated recesses of endogamous relations. Silos and fortresses collapse into rhizomatic terrain while a nomadic war machine, fueled by the expenditure of cumulative memory bars the transition of those subjective, secondary and faulty qualities through which alas, John locked himself in private property. The ion wind that fills the sails of this promethean mission maximizes the exposure to an utterly indifferent causality. By way of illustration, the nimble cyborg sun tans, stretched receptively on a mineral bed that proffers necessity to the vulture of contingency with the fearsome weapon of a regenerating liver. Like a starting gun that leaves the race behind, extending a promise into the void ahead of it, eyes set on a portentous transhuman horizon, because a default state of alienation cannot be the change it wants to see, lest it outstrips the second order assurances of the immanent bio-conservative fallacy.
The general embarrassment that befalls the status of knowledge in the early twenty first century is mired in its continued diatribe between cowboys and Indians. After all the applied effort and the lives lost for the sanctity of an undaunted existence, and the heroism it took to replace a backdrop of slavery with a fortress of earned rights, the lowest common denominators persist in anchoring universal laws. National repartition, political parties, schools of thought, gender persuasions, behavioral systems large and small, scientific methods of inquiry, despite their mostly cosmetic variations, structure themselves on either side of an unforgiving Faultline. It is not that things do not live up to their potential, the Aristotelian Dunamis that is their virtual capacity, but that they lag behind the knowledge that forms the judgment at the basis of their treatment. Thus, despite Einstein’s double relativity most mores still wallow in the equivalent of Newtonian physics, and the dimensions of time and space, firmly proven not to be rationally bound containers, still regiment finitude. There is something of the light years it takes an emission to reach its recipient that parallels what history is not able to capture. That states of affair trail behind what they can truly become is corroborated by a spatial inverse, in the way public monuments are indifferent to the populations responsible for them, like ruins preserved for observation and not interaction, and mausoleums of national and cultural privatization, markers of wealth and property at the kernel of the public sphere. Preservation efforts reconstruct an in-vitro engagement with materials devoid of their animating genius, like a Stonehenge drained of its local agency to become the intensive product of a personal experience. Excursions to the ghostly relics of yesteryears spatialize the lag it takes an intent to reach its manifestation, completing an ontological move the way light travels in apparent suspension, a process which is an encounter with the antinomy of the motor substance, the obscurantist distance that separates it from its target. In geological duration, it is but a fraction pitted against the frenetic agitation of humans, always running out of time to catch up with the implications of their condition. Telling signs of an organism that is at odds with its environment, intensity and extension, geometrical distinctions wrenched from a divide, become mutually exclusive terms conjugated on a dualistic stretch of spatial attributes. An internalization is assigned to extension the moment the umbilical cord is cut and a baby makes its screaming entry into the world. The innate and the circumstantial compete over which principle determines the other, in the familiar ways the ball has never ceased to be tossed between Hume and Kant. Nor is it an accident that the European Enlightenment coincides with the taming of electricity. Extracting lightning from the primordial density of a storm in order to measure, control and industrialize it, draining the redoubtable substance from its mystery to introject the human subject with the capacity to personalize the electric currency and appropriate it as a need it must go on nurturing. The individual becomes a microcosm of lightning sparks, convulsed in a modernity that is locked in a state of constantly updating its tribunal. The plight of the restless signifier of reason is that because of its dejection of the animacy of matter to which it denies any attachment, humans must take on the brunt and responsibility for what now dejects them. When things are gaged and compared against each other, their irreducibility exits through the measuring instrument to nestle as an unassuaged hunger in the one doing the appraisal. What is available to all walks of life, applicable across species and not the sole results of the categories of human understanding, the discrete extensities that are the locus of dispossessed intensities, what beyond inner or outer primacy is distributed across boundaries, entwined in an inter-objective neural mesh, is systematically evacuated to only be accessed through chartered, privatized and increasingly invested territories. Thus in lieu of differential confluences that would yield a field of Inexteriorities, a given context is “in-vested” as if depleted of its genius loci to be the recipient of the donor’s intent. Energy harnessed in this manner, is robbed of power until appropriated by a world that favors Edison’s bulbs rather that Tesla’s rhizomatic current, and as electricity becomes taken for granted, driving the advances of electronic permutation, the animating element and its societal translation as money, are left to circulate best among the powerful and endowed, with the not so discrete charm of turning irreducibilities into economically ratified effigies. The nemesis that summons the homeless in the face of privatized wealth and a beauty pageant to the squalor of a leper colony, wears the moss of neglect in the cemetery of archaic dualisms. The democratically elected have a distaste for a logic that emphasizes inequities, preferring a universal index applicable to all. Since everybody theoretically wants the same thing, only a few can effectively get it. There is no gender, race or class that can polarize or otherwise stop the unilateral demand for augmentation. The overcoming of crippling dichotomies has never been so close to shifting into totalitarian unanimity. For the have and have nots cannot apply if rich man and poor man do not share a secret bond, if the well-endowed and destitute do not have the same taste for appropriation. The universal glamorization of the commodity has the common goal of cultivating the pruned object of desire, congealed in a state of atrophy and earning value in inverse proportion to its participation in cyclic transformation. Across the embattled nations of the globe, freeing the seat of power from its greedy occupants has not changed its sedimental structure. It has merely introduced a game of musical chairs to distract attention from the terminally excluded and the multi-species populations destined for eradication.
Wings outstretched and leveled to the horizon line of the abstract and the sensible, the ethical fuselage of the post-human flight is flanked by the twin engines of ontology and epistemology. A dichotomy can be defined as a resistance to the simultaneity of dual proclivities, the critics of which are often labeled monists even though claiming to be pluralists. Those who refute the oppositional paradigm claim to avert it with dual adjustment knobs that help maintain a Spinozist immanence. But with a healthy dose of pragmatic sobriety, the most obdurate problems can dissolve by eliminating the misprision that bears them in the first place. A duality is only validated by the unsuspected branching it instigates, a bifurcation at the origin of novelty. A dichotomy by contrast, makes transcendental principles out of its tendencies. The dismissal of the binary tension, which is the other side of its facilitating ability, has the adverse effect of duplicating it in some other form. There is an enduring suggestion that the most elemental duality is not constituted by the Self and its Levinasian Other but quivers like an osmotic membrane between an entity and its context, an organism and the environment in which it differentiates itself, the matrix that is the locus of their co-existence. The context is the bridge to others and the duality rests on non-deterministic poles that subtend both entities and their medium of exchange, like an inductive loom of contiguities that weaves the fabric of their inter-relation. Much polemics including the debate on whether objects are consumed in relation or exist in isolation can find a way out of sterile theoretical conundrums with an object that is not exhausted by its relations, irreducible to its qualities because holding back an ontological reserve and which nevertheless, cannot exist without the medium that supports both objects and their relations. Thus, Graham Harman’s withdrawing objects find the secular version of their medium of exchange, the occasionalist ether of divine intervention which he often alludes to with his concept of allure, in the interactional space provided by Bruno Latour’s relationism. The latter is strongly characterized by local actions and neighborly interventions, in contrast to exosomatic operations and the deployment of proxy wars. Flat networks of transmutational exchange work contiguously rather than nestle in deductive grids that apply an averaged generality to each particular. Instead of relegating knowledge to blinder-bound experts who are the mouthpieces of veracities and generalities, of rote formulas institutionalized by law, a pragmatic inquiry follows the links that bring about an enunciation, engaging with the singularities that make it particular. De proche en proche as Latour puts it, is also an admonition that solutions often present themselves as unsurmountable problems, under our noses but implicitly avoided. To the woes of unilateral globalization is its inversion in the local transmission of a deadly virus, the very model that could drive its corrective, if in just the same fashion, mutuality was allowed to spread through contagion.
The artworks featured in the virtual exhibit are “Humus” by Giuseppe Licari “…hung on the ceiling and taking the shape of roots from a real tree trunk. These pieces were exhibited on the roof of the Tent Rotterdam museum in 2012…” (fubiz.net/real-tree-roots-chandeliers-installation) and “Death Denied” by Damien Hirst. 2008. Glass. Painted stainless steel, silicone, monofilament, tiger shark and formaldehyde solution.
The Liver Regeneration Program is a fictional sketch based on some of the tenets of the Xenofeminist (XF) movement. See Diann Bauer. Aesthetics as Alienation. Aesthetics Equals Politics. Edited by Mark Foster gage.
The impact of electricity on modernity alluded to by the splitting of intensity and extension is lucidly addressed by Tristan Garcia in La Vie Intense. Une obsession moderne.