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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Posthuman
Posted: October 6, 2019 at 4:43 pm
Diaspora, a production by Chamber Made, sets out to explore the nature of consciousness as society moves closer to the post-human digital realm.
It is a concept inspired by Australian Greg Egans eponymous science fiction novel. As creator Robin Fox (who collaborated with artistic director Tamara Saulwick and co-composer Erkki Veltheim) explains, Diaspora is a science fiction revelation which we are already experiencing.
A feast for the senses reminiscent at times of an all-night rave or the film Bladerunner, the work bathes the entire SUBSTATION space with broad spectrum frequencies of light and sound.
Fox delivers full sonic immersion through sub-bass pulsations felt by the audiences bodies more than heard using undulating old-school synthesizers to represent the pasts vision for our future-present. The moog analog synthesizer and ondes musicales (a 1920s electronic keyboard) are beautifully played by Madeline Flynn.
Alongside her theremin (an instrument noted for its eerie tones and hands-free playing technique), Georgina Darvidis compelling vocals filtered through synthesizer and a vocoder to reduce their bandwidth create the sonic illusion of a posthuman melody for Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
The treatment is reminiscent of Max Matthews 1961 synthesised voice on Bicycle Built for Two, made famous in Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Another sonic layer features the extraordinarily virtuosic electric violin of Veltheim, which helps to bridge digital and analogue sound worlds. At one point a Bach partita emanates from his violin, but so heavily filtered that only fragments could be heard. The effect was ethereal.
But despite the impressive sonic techniques, the highlight of the performance was the high definition suspended three-dimensional hologram-like image. This centrepiece evolves over the course of the show from an embryo to an artificially intelligent consciousness.
Beginning as nucleus it moves from womb to human brain to the representation of active neural networks engaged in transmitting complex code. Eventually morphs into a single suspended eyeball, reminiscent of Samuel Becketts plays or Janet Frames short story Solutions, in which the body is gradually deconstructed over the course of the work.
Conversely, Diaspora gradually constructs, piece by piece, a virtual being. Using a 19th-century theatrical illusion technique known as Peppers Ghost, Fox alongside video artist and system designer Nick Roux create effective illusions by bouncing images off Perspex surfaces to produce a spectre performer.
As a musician, I became aware I was continually drawn to the visual, fixated by the projections. The music, then, sonifies these images, creating a multidimensional sensory environment in which ultimately the visual reigns.
The eyeball becomes a writhing three-armed figurine, gliding sensually to the rhythms supplied by only vaguely human musicians. The glitchy, distorted human voice becomes the ultimate sonic metaphor for the posthuman body. We still hear Roland Barthes Grain of the Voice, but in this choppy, vocoder rendition, it no longer communicates in a language we understand.
Other disembodied limbs start to dance, suspended in midair, accompanied by an upbeat jig on the fiddle, drum machine, and synthesised vocals reminiscent of Paul Lansky and Laurie Anderson.
Finally, out of a lit galaxy of zeros and ones, a lifelike apparition emerges, set against a raw, palpably human vocal canon, poignantly singing No Place Like Home. Is this the artificial, genderless, multitudinous consciousness singing from its soul? And where is this home they speak of? Is it made of the stars from which we all ultimately emerged? The audience might feel the urge, as I did, to plunge hands and feet into real soil, to feel firm ground.
As our society frets about the potential power of artificial intelligence, Fox urges us not to overlook the prospect that technology could not only save us, but could also be a beautiful moment in the evolution towards an ethereal and non-body consciousness.
Diaspora is quixotic, atmospheric, visually and sonically spectacular. It is a powerful immersion for the senses, a meditation on a posthuman future that is upon us. Does this works digital dream represent the promised utopia that it sets out to portray? This rendition seems chillingly apocalyptic.
The work aims to show the evolution of a new lifeform, but ultimately, through sensory saturation, it is the audience themselves who achieve the altered state of consciousness a profoundly moving out-of-body experience.
Diaspora is at The SUBSTATION until 6 October
Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm
While the US crowd was surely jealous that Tool and Soulfly only performed on the two UK dates, Ozzfest 2001 still boasted a hell of a line up. Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Black Label Society, and Taproot made their return to share the stage with newcomers like Mudvayne, Drowning Pool, and Marilyn Manson.
A handful of bands on the tour were short lived (Pressure 4-5, No One, and Systematic, to name a few) but were still fortunate enough to hear from the majority of these artists. Here are three from the second stage you may have forgotten about that are still out there rocking.
Formed in 1996, The Union Underground released one studio album, An Education In Rebellion, before disbanding in 2002 to focus on other projects. Bassist John Moyer went on to play with Disturbed; Bryan Scott fronted Cult To Follow and Into The Fire. For over a decade, it seemed like the band was finished. In 2016, Scott announced that a new lineup and new music were coming soon. They are currently recording a new EP and have been touring throughout the summer.
The first and only band signed under Marilyn Mansons Posthuman record label, Godheads goth/metal/industrial mix made them a perfect addition to this diverse Ozzfest. With ten albums under theirbelt, Godheadwas able to bolster a strong underground and mainstream following. Their last release was 2014sThe Shadow Realigned, a remix of 2006sThe Shadow Line). Vocalist Jason Miller, however, has kept himself busy as a solo artist playing country music thats Though Godhead is not currently active, they havent worn out their welcome and could certainly make a comeback if Miller finds the time.
Hailing from South Florida,Nonpointhas been churning out new music every few years since 1997. Songs like What A Day, Bullet With A Name, and their cover of In The Air Tonight continue to make the radio rounds.Nonpointmay not be as prominent as they were back in the early 2000s, but their consistency to deliver enjoyable music makes them a great supporting act for many of todays groups.
Looking at the lineup today, it seems a little out of place to see Papa Roach and Linkin Park sharing the stage with Mudvayne and Slipknot, but Crazy Town is by far the most surprising band on the list. While Butterfly did enjoy a comparable amount of radio play around the world similar to Last Resort and In The End, its just hard to imagine that the same crowd moshing to Dig and Down with the Sickness would be singing youre my butterfly, sugar baby. Still, thats the beauty of Ozzfest, right?
And to answer your burning question, yes, Crazy Town is still touring.
Ozzfest 2001 included another fantastic lineup full of bands that are still touring today. Though we will probably never get Papa RoachandCrazy Townon the same tour as American Head ChargeandHatebreedagain, this incarnation of the festival offered a mix of music that would be replicated the following year. Once again, Ozzfest 2001 brought metal fans across the US a show that could not be missed.
Read previous Ozzfest Nostalgia columns here
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 6:30 pm
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
How religious and non-religious people view the apocalypse
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The third issue concerns existential risks, or events that would permanently prevent humanity from achieving a superior posthuman civilization, described by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom as a society of technologically highly enhanced beings with ...
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Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:32 am
Photo DAngelo Lovell Williamss Structural Dishonesty, on view at Higher Pictures. Credit Higher Pictures DANGELO LOVELL WILLIAMS
Through Sept. 2. Higher Pictures, 980 Madison Avenue, Manhattan; 212-249-6100, higherpictures.com.
The 10 reverberant color photographs in DAngelo Lovell Williamss show at Higher Pictures form one of the years best gallery debuts. Seemingly uncomplicated and improvisational, the works set off startling strings of associations and meaning, tearing through references to race, gender, eroticism, art, fashion, culture and history like crashing dominoes. Yet silence reigns: All is encompassed and centered by the presence of the artist, who is usually shown leveling a steady, slightly quizzical gaze at the camera, and the certainty with which he wields his black, male body as shape-shifting subject and material.
This happens with special power in Structural Dishonesty, a title that resonates with the phrase institutional racism. We see Mr. Williams seated, bare chested, against a wall of raw plywood, in a state of extreme inhale. His chest is pulled up so that his waist is tiny, seemingly corseted; his flaring rib cage suggests a padded bosom, especially because he delicately touches his throat, as if fingering jewels. It is the exaggerated silhouette of a 19th-century woman of wealth, straight from the novels of Edith Wharton or Henry James, as well as a discreetly ambiguous, possibly homoerotic come-on, given his unbuckled belt and unzipped pants. But also here are intimations of horror: slaves cabins, 19th-century photographs of slaves backs scarred by flogging, the open pants of lynching victims.
In Face Down, Ass Up, the artist bends over in a corner, in front of a wall covered with flowered fabric. We see only his backside, his white briefs and the vulvalike shape of pink edged in yellow at the center: It is menses and a sign of torture, yet oddly painterly and artificial, like the image of a stigmata lifted from some over-the-top painting of a saint. Fleurish shows him naked against a dark turquoise wall, seated on a folded quilt atop a thick cabinet with his feet barely touching the floor. His genitals are obscured by a phallic vase whose long-stemmed blossoms frame his face: a childlike yet imperial dandy an analogy aided by the titles hints of flourish and flneur.
The Lovers shows the heads of two black men kissing through the veils of reversed black do-rags. The taboo of black male love is evoked, while the frustrated white couple of Ren Magrittes identically titled Surrealist landmark white-shrouded and heterosexual is inverted. These disarmingly casual yet solemnly astute images are performances that aim for the hearts of many matters.
Through Sept. 3. New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan; 212-219-1222, newmuseum.org.
It may be hard for tolerant, art-loving souls to resist the urge to groan when reading pretentious titles for artworks. Consider Elaine Cameron-Weirs viscera has questions about itself it pushed the corner of the room down from behind so that it could not move and delivered the following message: it are now in an erogenous zone. In altered-state subcutanean tantric the skingrip palpable, it, for a sculpture from 2017. Luckily, I saw the works in Ms. Cameron-Weirs New Museum exhibition before encountering the titles.
These pieces are rather good, harnessing a variety of materials and employing them toward evocative, sensual and slightly menacing ends. The viscera has questions about itself sculpture, suspended midair and held taut, looks like a suit of chain metal or flayed skin. Snake 8 (2017) has copper scales that cascade from the ceiling, while another sculpture with a torturously long title consists of a trough lined with a lattice of small transformers and amber-colored labdanum resin, which serves as the base for some incense and perfume (although the scent is mild here).
The show feels vaguely medieval in its visual and alchemical references (a silver human skull in one sculpture evokes a Renaissance memento mori or vanitas symbol), but fittingly contemporary too. Its title, viscera has questions about itself, signals our posthuman moment, in which artists imagine a world where objects and organisms are imagined to have as much agency as large-brained bipeds. Like Alberto Giacometti and Kiki Smith, Ms. Cameron-Weir pushes the limits of figurative sculpture, suggesting the human body in flux a kind of deconstructed spiritual-biological machine. And the titles, despite their preciousness, develop this even further.
A version of this review appears in print on August 18, 2017, on Page C17 of the New York edition with the headline: Galleries.
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Posted: August 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm
What if you could edit your genetic code as easily as you can edit a sentence you write on Microsoft Wordwould you do it? And if so, how far would you go? In the near future, that will not be a hypothetical question as the first major step towards successful gene editing has already taken place.
Scientists in the US have now revealed that they have for the first time edited out a dangerous genetic mutation that causes heart disease from a human embryo using a revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR. Last year, China became the first country to use this technique to attempt to cure lung cancer in a human; previously CRISPR has been used to develop TB-resistant cows.
Due to US regulations, which strictly bar allowing edited embryos to develop into babies, none of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days. However, the test has paved the way for a future in which we may not only see genetic disease eliminated, but also the ethically questionable creation of designer babies and, eventually, superhumans.
Welcome to the post-human age that promises wonders and terrors in equal measure. Take cyborgs. It now seems inevitable that some kind of integration of man and machine will increasingly be the norm; in many ways its already happening. Pacemakers have been used for decades, as have cochlear implants.
Britains National Health Service has also okayed the implantations of the Argus II bionic eye which can restore sight in some cases of blindness, and more recently people with severe spinal injuries resulting in paralysis have been able to regain the partial use of their limbs thanks to computer chips implanted in their brains.
In another experiment, a man paralysed from the waist down was able to control a robotic arm thanks to electrodes implanted in the brain, and actually feel what the robotic arms was grasping. Taken further, brain implants aimed at repairing or enhancing memory can also help patients suffering from Alzheimers and work in this field is advancing at a rapid clip.
There are more mundane applications as well, of course, and identification chips are already in use: Verichip is one example, and is being implanted into Alzheimers patients and contains information about their identity and medical condition, meant to be accessed by doctors or in case the patient gets lost.
Naturally, corporations are getting into the game as well, and one company in Wisconsin has implanted rice-sized microchips in its employees hands which perform the functions of office entry cards and computer logins. Employees can also receive payments via the chip. While this would certainly ease many routine office activities, the question does arise as to how much data the company may potentially be able to extract and how secure those chips would be to outside interference.
However, once Elon Musks Neuralink project is complete, such chips will seem mundane: Musk intends to inject a mesh into our brains allowing humans to directly interact with, and even control, machines and eventually even communicate mind to mind. If thats not enough, note that steps are also being taken to create a human hive mind by linking the brains of individuals to create a superbrain with enhanced cognitive abilities.
Scientists have already successfully linked the brains of three monkeys, and in a separate experiment, joined the brains of four rats, allowing them to solve a problem that individual rats struggled to complete. Human trials are only then a matter of time, and will eventually define the meaning of brain trust.
Meanwhile, one field worth keeping a close eye on is nanotechnology the engineering of materials and devices on a molecular scale. Technologists anticipate a future in which swarms of tiny robots will be injected into human beings, working to fight diseases like cancer, actively repairing cells and clearing clogged arteries and even enhancing human abilities by providing us with enhanced lifespans, vision and strength, even allowing us to survive in otherwise inhospitable environments.
Just last month, another major threshold was crossed as scientists came a step closer to being able to grow replacement organs for humans by using stem cells implanted in host animals, and now there is research being conducted on enabling humans to re-grow limbs and organs in the way that some reptiles are capable of doing.
Ultimately, how much of this research makes it to the public at large depends less on scientific advancement as it does on ethically driven regulations and laws, which will likely fall by the wayside as nations race to achieve leadership in the biomedical field. What is certain now is that we are entering an era where we will be able to, at least partially, dictate the course of our own evolution.
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Posted: August 11, 2017 at 6:32 pm
Here you find a video summary of the 9th Beyond Humanism Conference which took place at John Cabot University in Rome (http://www.johncabot.edu/) in July 2017 and during which the launch of the Journal of Posthuman Studies was celebrated: http://beyondhumanism.org/blog/2017/08/05/video-9th-beyond-humanism-conference-rome-2017/
The newly launched Journal of Posthuman Studies is being edited by IEET Fellow Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, and the Executive Director of the IEET James Hughes. Please consider submitting your most treasured reflections to this ground breaking journal: http://www.psupress.org/Journals/jnls_JPHS.html Here you find the contents of issues 1: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/jpoststud.1.1.issue-1
The launch address of the journal was given by IEET Fellow Martine Rothblatt. Further IEET Fellows, Affiliated Scholars and Advisory Board members participated in the event, e.g. Riccardo Campa, Marc Roux, Didier Coeurnelle. Other leading scholars participated, too, e.g. Anders Sandberg, Mark Coeckelbergh, Sangkyu Shin, Thomas DeFrantz, Francesca Ferrando.
The world-famous contemporary composer Sven Helbig gave the keynote address and played a concert, and the ground-braking Spanish media artist Jaime del Val gave a performance. All contributions dealt with and analysed what it is to be human in an age of rapid technological, scientific, cultural and social evolution. The closing address of the conference was given by the Chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Bibop G. Gresta. It was an inspiring meeting of entrepreneurs, thinkers, artists, visionaries and intellectuals. Here you find the entire conference programme: https://lineupr.com/posthuman/posthuman-conference
The 10th Beyond Humanism Conference will take place from the 18th until the 21st of July 2018 in Wroclaw, Poland (Faculty of Social Sciences and Journalism, University of Lower Silesia). Next years topic will be Cultures of the Posthuman. Here you can download the brochure with a detailed CFPs and some additional information: http://paas.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/bhc10-cfp.pdf Additional information will be made available here: http://beyondhumanism.org/
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Posthuman advertising: does AI spell the end of media and marketing as we know it? – Marketing magazine Australia (registration)
Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:26 am
3 August 2017 2 min read
Never mind the automation of mundane tasks; Scott Button says AI is about to disrupt creative roles, advertising and culture.
Artificial intelligence is becoming so embedded in the everyday that we risk not noticing it at all. Self-driving cars, humanoid robots and Go grandmasters may grab the popular imagination, but its the way that AI is seeping into everything from voice recognition to fast food delivery that better illustrates its quiet ubiquity.
Alexa and Siri are getting smarter, day by day, along with most other connected devices.
In the domain of digital advertising, machine learning has already been with us for several years. Well-known techniques from regression analysis to deep learning are being used to combat ad fraud, optimise ad viewability, improve audience composition, and enhance goal conversion. The vast amounts of data generated by ad tech platforms and the fast feedback loops enabled by real time media buying have made digital advertising an especially fertile proving ground for AI.
Whats new and different today is the widespread availability of cloud-based AI platforms, turning machine learning into a utility; one thats cheap, fast, and accessible to anyone that wants to use it.
A great example is IBMs Personality Insights services, which uses the companys Watson platform to analyse data from social feeds in order to predict an individuals personality and key traits.
Its uncontentious that differing psychological traits influence receptivity to advertising. The extravert is more likely to share an ad. The conscientious individual is more likely to respond to an offer. Now machine learning techniques like IBMs service mean that we can analyse tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, very quicklyand very cheaply.
By combining this data with information on peoples purchasing habits all collected through an opt-in survey Unruly quickly found that we could create interesting aggregate personality profiles for different brands and different customer segments.
In essence, we could utilise Watson to help advertisers to learn how and why people think, act and feel a certain way.
In the first instance, weve integrated these machine learning capabilities into our targeting tool, to allow advertisers to improve the accuracy of their online marketing campaigns by engaging the people most likely to increase a brands sales light buyers.
This new iteration of the tool is built on large scale consumer panel studies with more than 10,000 respondents, combined with insights from the social media accounts of participating consumers. We use a mix of linguistic analysis and machine learning to determine the socio-demographic and psychological profile of each panellist, clustering and aggregating the profiles based on buying patterns and purchasing frequency.
Were really excited to be at the forefront of this new world, but this is just the start.
The worlds first AI media agency already exists. Blackwood Seven was set up three years ago. Its slightly intimidating but seems fairly obvious that machines will do a better job of planning and optimising media than lightly trained execs shuffling Excel sheets around.
But what about creative?
While digital has always promised the possibility of customising (and then multivariate testing) thousands of creatives for different audience clusters, this strategy has tended to fall over in practice or be implemented simplistically because its expensive and slow. If AI can make it fast and cheap, itmight just revolutionise mass marketing.
Thinking further into the future, its not crazy to speculate about the creation of the worlds first AI ad agency, perhaps implemented as a generative adversarial network. One neural network churns out thousands of ideas and storyboards with the goal of them being indistinguishable in terms of originality, relatability and emotional impact from award-winning campaigns of the past and present. A second neural network then rates the ideas of the first and attempts to figure out which ones are really award-winning human-authored efforts and which machine-generated, thereby generating further feedback for the first machine.
Whats vertiginous here is not so much the breathless pace of technological change but rather the trajectory were headed on. Inn the not-so-distant future, machines will bebetter than us not just at the mundane tasks that threaten hundreds of millions of jobs in the developed and developing world, but also at the sorts of things that we think of as being elevated and distinctively human, including the creation of advertising and culture.
The claims here ought not to be especially surprising or contentious, though perhaps the evidence is, through being so close to our noses, becoming increasingly invisible to us. In many areas of life weve already handed responsibility to intelligent machines. News and our life stories to social networks. Navigation to mapping apps. Collision prevention to autonomous driving systems. Medical diagnosis to neural networks. Life partners and one night stands to dating platforms. EdgeRank. PageRank. We trust the algorithm to know us better than we know ourselves.
This is the end of the human as we know it. Humanitydisplaces God, Machine displaces Humanity, and, more prosaically, Algorithm displaces Ad.
Scott Burton is founder and CSO at Unruly.
Learn how AI will change how brands serve customers and how marketers do their job, withMarketings AI Marketing Managers Definitive Briefing, featuring industry participation from Google, CSIRO, IBM, Facebook, UNSW and more.
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Posted: August 2, 2017 at 9:34 am
Our Bright Future-Cybernetic Fantasy July 19November 5, 2017
Artist talk: July 22, 15pm, Taeyeun Kim, pela Petri; in conjunction with the 2017 International Symposium Coevolution: Cybernetics to Posthuman
Nam June Paik Art Center 10 Paiknamjune-ro, Giheung-gu Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do 17068 Korea Hours: TuesdaySunday 10am6pm
njpac-en.ggcf.kr Facebook / Instagram / Twitter
Artists: Taeyeun Kim, Jinah Roh, diana band, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Insook Bae, Nam June Paik, Jongjun Son, pela Petri, Yang Zhenzhong, Unknown Fields, Unmake Lab, Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman, PROTOROOM, Joosun Hwang
Curated by Jeonghwa Goo, Sooyoung Lee (Nam June Paik Art Center) Co-Curated by Unmake Lab Hosted and Organized by Nam June Paik Art Center, Gyeonggi Foundation Cooperation Changseng Gonggan Supported by Perrier, Snapple
The Nam June Paik Art Center presents a special exhibition Our Bright Future-Cybernetic Fantasy from July 20 to November 5, 2017. This exhibition explores modern technology and art from the perspective of the "Cybernetics"of Nam June Paik who not only gave relationship between the technological environment and the human being but also presented a futuristic vision to it. Under the themes of robots, combination, post-human, the 15 participating teams warn against the end of the geological era which has been led by humans and requires the birth of the new human. The participating artist Taeyeun Kim and pela Petri will give an artist talk on July 22 in conjunction with 2017 International Symposium of Nam June Paik Art Center, and four participating teams (diana band, Insook Bae, PROTOROOM, Unmake Lab) will lead a Technology/Media Workshop on every Saturdays in August. Also the celebration for the 1st floor renewal opening will be on July 20, accompanied by special performances by SUDDEN THEATER, Hyunjoon Chang and Kim Oki / Park Jiha / John Bell / Rmi Klemensiewicz.
Cybernetics,a scientific study established by Norbert Wiener, was widely accepted in the field of scientific technology around the 1940s. The theory which aimed to equally control both living organisms and machines has dominated the trends of technological development, that is, the "Humanization of the Machine"and the "Mechanization of the Human."The belief that technological development will open a new world to the human race is paralleled with the fear that the very technology will take not only jobs but also the human identity from us. Although we are on the brink of the advent of the strongest Artificial Intelligence, we are living on the earth which is devastated more than ever. So, is there a future for us? Are the two options of sustainability and apocalypse the only frame of our future?Or, is there another option available to us were missing?
The exhibition is composed of Robot, Interface, and Posthuman. Each of themes is intended to create various questions. The Robotsection features Nam June Paiks Robot/People and Robot K-567, Yang Zhenzhongs Disguise, Jinah Rohs An Evolving GAIA, Jongjun Sons Defensive Measure, and Zach Blas & Jemima Wymans im here to learn so :)))))). They not only successfully catch the conflict and oscillation caused by the coexistence between men and machines, but also accuse the man-machine cooperation system of being cracked. The Interfacesection goes deeper into the crack of the man-machine cooperation system to try to make a new seam. PROTOROOMs Feedback of MetaPixels-Language for Digital Atoms, Unmake Labs Rumor in the City and the City, and Joosun Hwangs Mind!=Mind take down the black box of machines which isolate humans, and relocate the position of humans in the midst of machines. Besides, recent works such as Insook Baes The Sum and diana bands Phone in Hand: Choir Practice are also presented, suggesting the solidarity of humans through machines. The Posthumansection shows that the time has come when the boundary between the human and the non-human, having been destroyed by cybernetics, must be re-established in a network of horizontal relationships. Taeyeun Kims Island of A-life cultivates the artists DNA injected into a plant; pela Petris Miserable Machine converts mussels muscle contraction to the human labor system; Unknown Fields Rare Earthenware shows the process of collecting the raw material used for smart technologies, telling us that humans have been the geological power who has power over all creatures on the earth.
In his Cybernated Art in Manifestos (1965), Nam June Paik wrote that some specific frustrations caused by cybernated life, require only through accordingly cybernated shock and catharsis. So his argument is that the healing of the suffering in this cybernated life, or smart life of today, is possible only through smart technologies. The truly smart life is not the objectification of each other in which robots replace humans or in which humans control robots, but connecting deeply inside the technological environment and thereby making new interfaces between the human and nonhuman. The participating artists in the exhibition Our Bright Future- Cybernetic Fantasy encourage the birth of a new human by making cracks in the cybernated system and actively inquiring about our technological environment. In this way, the participating artists warn against the end of the geological era which has been led by humans, and requires the birth of the new human, by creating a new relationship between the human and the nonhuman.
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Posted: July 31, 2017 at 10:32 am
MCA Curator Anna Davis with installation view, Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2017, courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney the artist, photograph: Anna Kuera
ArtsHub sat down with Museum of Contemporary Art Australias (MCA) Curator Anna Davis to try and determine what it means to be a contemporary curator, and how exactly one starts out on that career path.
Davis joined the MCA in 2009 having trained as an artist and being a bit of a "Jill of all trades" across the visual arts sector grounding that she feels makes for a more rounded curator.
Her string of exhibitions include the touring survey, Louise Hearman (2016), New Romance: art and the posthuman (Co-Curator with Houngcheol Choi, 2015 & 2016), Energies: Haines & Hinterding (2015), Martu Art from the Far Western Desert (Co-Curator with Megan Robson, 2014), Workout: 7 days of experimental performance (2013), Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (2012) and Primavera 2011 and 2012.
Davis' most recent project, a survey of Australian artist Jenny Watson, is now showing at the MCA.
What is curating for you, Anna Davis?
For me, making exhibitions is an experimental and creative process where you test out ideas and hopefully discover new things. This is the approach I enjoy the most, creating a kind of laboratory with artists and their works, allowing opportunities for new ideas to emerge and then setting the public loose inside to see what happens.
I think thats why I particularly enjoy working with artists on new commissions and works that involve improvisational or performative elements theres an element of risk, which can be stressful, but theres also genuine experimentation and I think that is really important when you are dealing with contemporary art and artists.
The term curator is used very loosely today. In your opinion, what differentiates the exhibition hangers and the curators?
I dont know if there really is much of a difference, its just language really, but I think curator is a useful term for describing what is a complex job that involves much more than just hanging work.
I would say that being a curator of contemporary art involves working closely with artists, lots of creative thinking, loads of research and writing, an awareness of how to work with spaces and audiences, and how to put art into new contexts and raise new questions or ideas through an artists work.
Hayden Fowler, Dark Ecology, 2015/2016, installation view, New Romance: art and the posthuman, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, image courtesy and the artist, photograph: Hayden Fowler
How did you learn to be a curator?
Ive learnt to be a curator in a few different ways on the job, working independently, and in big and small arts organisations, through university study, and by being an artist in my previous life (I mean before working at the MCA!). I have an honours degree in Fine Arts and a PhD in Media Arts from COFA, UNSW, and I think all that academic research and practical art making has played a role in my work as a curator.
A lot of my curatorial learning experiences have come from working outside major institutions; Ive done things like curate video art programs for the Big Day Out and organised small media art exhibitions as part of This is Not Art festival and Electrofringe in Newcastle.
Straight out of art school (around 1997-8), I lived in Amsterdam for about a year. At the time it was a real hub of video and media artists, and alongside my own art practice I also worked on art events in non-traditional venues like squats, nightclubs and markets. One day, I rocked up to the offices of the World Wide Video Festival (which ran from 1982 to 2004) to volunteer my services and I ended up getting paid work as a production assistant on a huge exhibition of video art at the Stedelijk Museum, and also working closely with Israeli artist Michal Rovner.
These were amazing experiences and helped me realise that being a curator in a museum was something I might want to do in the future.
That slide between big institution and ground roots independent projects is an interesting one. How did that translate when you returned to Australia?
Back in Australia I worked for dLux media arts in Sydney for a number of years as a kind of assistant curator/project manager. I worked with some great people, and because it was such a small organisation putting on really ambitious programs, I got a chance to do a bit of everything and I learnt a lot.
Ive also worked at the Art Gallery of NSW doing everything from being an information desk officer, while I was finishing my PhD, to Assistant Curator working with Victoria Lynn when she curated the Anne Landa Award for Video and New Media Arts, and with Wayne Tunnicliffe on contemporary art projects
Its exciting to try and incorporate experimental methodologies into an institutional framework and to involve the public in different ways in this process. I guess out of the shows Ive curated at the MCA, Workout: 7 days of experimental performance (2013), Energies: Haines & Hinterding (2015) and New Romance: art and the posthuman (2016) were the ones really modelled around that kind of thinking.
David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, installation view, Energies: Haines & Hinterding, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2015, image courtesy and the artists, photograph: Christopher Snee
Has your foundation as an artist helped your career as a curator?
Being an artist, even a lapsed one, helps a lot because you have access to creative modes of thinking and perhaps a better understanding of what its like to put yourself and your work out there, and all the challenges and possibilities that come with that.
I think being a curator is a creative and collaborative role, and my art background definitely feeds into how I think about making shows and how I work with artists.
Do you need to be a perfectionist a lateral thinker? What is it that makes a good curator?
I would definitely say a lateral thinker more than a perfectionist! Although, it can be a good idea to have at least one perfectionist on your team while you are getting a catalogue to print.
I think there are lots of different types of good curators and maybe thats what makes it interesting. If youre working in contemporary art, then I think an ability to work collaboratively and creatively with artists is essential, as is having lots of ideas.
You need to be excited about art, and what it can do, and be willing to shift and change things at any moment.
Working in a big museum like the MCA, you also need to know how to work in a team and within particular institutional parameters, but also know when to try and push at the edges.
Patricia Piccinini & Peter Hennessey, Alone with the gods (detail), 2016, installation view, New Romance: art and the posthuman, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, image courtesy and the artists.Photograph: Tim da Rin.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Definitely working with artists to create something new. I love the research process and coming up with ideas for a show, and then working closely with artists and the MCA team to make an exhibition come to life in the museum.
Its funny, but I find that no matter how much pre-planning you do, you never really know exactly how an exhibition is going to work until the art and the artists actually arrive, which is kind of nerve-wracking, but I enjoy it.
I also really like the process of creating exhibition designs and floorplans. Thinking through how an art work is going to feel or operate in a particular space and in relation to other works and different audiences.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a curator?
Writing endless emails, managing budgets and writing wall labels
Recently I had the opportunity to work in Seoul, South Korea on a collaborative exhibition called New Romance, with 18 artists from Australia and Korea, which was amazing but also a huge challenge.
Working in Asia, in a different museum environment and in a new language was harder than I thought, but it was also an incredibly rewarding experience and something Id love to do more of in the future.
What would your advice be to someone starting out along the curatorial path?
If someone asks me this question, I usually say the best thing they can do is start by putting on their own very small scale exhibitions or events, (even in their own apartment) or creating an independent publication and working with actual artists and art works, in whatever capacity they can.
In other words, doing something in the real world, rather than just thinking or reading about it.
I also think that documenting your curatorial projects is really important. Ive learnt that the hard way, after doing lots of things before we all had mobile phones or digital cameras and now not having anything visual to show for them. Its so important as an artist or a curator to have good documentation and it can really help when it comes to applying for a job or a grant.
There arent that many jobs going with the title curator, so Id also say its a good idea to be a bit broad minded in your job search and thinking, and look for ways to work slightly to the side of that title and you never know where it could lead.
Read: Career Spotlight: Curator
First published on Saturday 29 July, 2017
Pulitzer Prize Winner Jorie Graham’s Collection of Poetry, ‘Fast’, Will Haunt You, Beautifully – PopMatters
Posted: July 25, 2017 at 12:35 pm
Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard poet Jorie Graham opens her new collection, Fast with an epigraph by Robert Browning: Then the good minute goes./ Already how am I so far/ Out of that minute? The quotation is fitting: Fast concerns itself with many things but most prominent among them is the fleeting nature of our existence in time and the manner in which that good minute continually slips our grasp and recedes into an inaccessible but vaunted past. Quite in opposition to Goethes Faust, we do not find ourselves bereft of moments we would bid Stay! but rather discover that we are immersed in them. And as they withdraw farther from us, we feel their absence all the more acutely. We are haunted by the ghosts of experiences we barely registered while they were occurring and haunted even more by those we always recognized were important.
In Fast Graham explores and articulates experiences that are both harrowingly personal (the deaths of her parents, her cancer treatments) and ostensibly impersonal (deep sea trawling, interacting with conversation bots, the vicissitudes of plankton and algae blooms). The sleight of hand that she manages in the best of these poems is to suggest that what appears to be impersonal and simply the state of our seemingly posthuman existence surges through the landscape of our emotional lives while those moments that we so desperately need to be utterly personal, to be ours alone, have within them an uncanny objectivity and recede so rapidly from the present that we fail, despite our desperation, to maintain their affective presence.
Even the orthography employed in these poems involves a thinking through and confrontation with time. Graham employs a striking mark throughout the collection: the Times New Roman arrow. This is essentially an em-dash with an arrow head to the right, thus pointing to the following word or phrase. Now, of course, in most English-language writing (except perhaps in the most concrete of concrete poetry) we move from left to right. The em-dash by itself (and the em-dash is still used in these poems, as well) does not thwart or inhibit forward motion exactly but it does imply a sense of equipoise, a sense that the preceding and the following are on somewhat equal footing (even if one progresses toward the other). Indeed, a very typical use of the em-dash is to denote appositionthe grammatically parallel, side-by-side balance of two or more clauses. Another typical usage is to designate the clause within the em-dashes as subordinate to the surrounding clausesthat is, the clause set out by the em-dashes is understood as a parenthetical remark or exempli gratia.
The arrow negates any such sense of apposition or subordination. The arrow demands forward motion; it does not merely assume it or take it for granted. The arrow impels the reader forward. In these passages, one feels swept up in the onrush of the poetic undercurrent, rushed out into the depths of a tumultuous thought, an image that crests and crashes down upon the reader inexorably, ineluctably. And yet, part of me as a reader resists this onrush of motion. In its efforts to push me forward, the arrows sometimes inspire my readerly resistance to pull back, to question the relentless impulsion of time, to endeavor (as these poems often seem to endeavor) to hold on to the fleeting moment, to cry out in Faustian despair, Stay, though art so beautiful!
The pastness of our lives inflects our present, which stands both as an accumulation of past experience and a negation (a registered loss) of that experience. In We, Graham suggests: we are way/ past/ intimation friendthe pastness ofyou can only think about itit wont/ be there for youyou can talk about itthey are gone who came before. The past is something we discuss and think about but can no longer hold in our grip. Our intimate moments are always in the past and thus we are sorrowfully, longingly past them.
Bound up with our being in time is our being involved with a body: being a body, losing our bodily presence in death, the proximity and distance of bodies in relation, networks of bodies in families and forests, the seeming dematerialization of the body in our interactions on the internet, the occlusive nature of the ailing body as it blocks our (what our without the body?) progress in life. Our bodies experience the ravages of time, are dependent upon time for their meaning, and register times passage by displaying its inscriptions as carved into our wrinkles, our frailties, our inevitable decline.
Perhaps my favorite device that Graham employs with respect to the body is her particular care with the preposition in and verbs such as to enter. The body in these poems wants to be inside, with loved ones, connected to a community (whether the nuclear family, a sea of algae, decaying flora, or the subterranean matrix of roots and fungi that sustains the life of a forest amidst individual death). And yet the body continually breaks down, betrays and is betrayed, fails (even at the height of its power, which is all too rare in these poems of extremity and sorrow). The body loses itself in the midst of its yearning to return; it continually slips toward the outside, away from the circumference of companionate comfort, away from the bittersweet familiarity of home.
Graham divides her book into four large sections; each section is rather loosely organized around a theme: 1. an examination lifes enmeshment with death writ largethe manner in which death serves to nurture new life, the possibility of global death, our lifelike interactions with nonliving things such as bots on the internet; 2. ruminations on the death of the poets fatherthe loving interaction of the still-living with the recently dead; 3. thoughts on the human bodythe sick body, the underappreciated body, the body engaged with the machine; and 4. another foray into the deaths of loved onesthe father again but now also the mother.
Despite this overall division, however, the poems are not laid out in a schematic fashion. The various themes interpenetrate, and each poem, at times bordering on free association, encompasses a plethora of referents and allusions, unforeseen connections, and abrupt shifts in register and voice. But throughout, the collection is pervaded by images of time as it relates to and conditions life, death, and the body.
The brief opening poem, Ashes, provides a fine example of the vertiginous manner in which Graham spins out her ideas and images and indeed presents in a brilliantly telescoped manner the concerns and devices explored in the collection as a whole. The narrating voice seeks some kind of ontological foundation, some solidity of being. She asks the plants to give me my small identity. No, the planets. Notice the swift turn from the terrestrial to the heavenly, from the biology of decay (the loam waits to make of us what it can) to the Platonic conception of the microcosms relation to the macrocosm of the celestial spheres (Grahams disenchanted postmodern Platonism reducing the planetary motions to a groove traversed where a god dies).
The dizzying alternation between the small and the large impacts the understanding of time here as well. The narrators lifetime gives way to a wish to become glass and then assonantly shifts toward the glacial; the human lifespan echoes with the prehistoric frozen mothers caress. Maturation and senescence are not merely human attributes. Our growth and death are accompanied by an untold wealth of beings that come and go, all encompassed by a system (the universe) that itself came into existence and is fading out of it. Hence the dialectic of micro/macrocosm plays out on the temporal stage; considering the vicissitudes of human birth and death leads to the realization (hardly profound and yet shattering all the same) that a universe can die.
In the midst of all of this are bodies: bodies of plants that in their fecundity transmute absorbed death into incipient life; bodies of fish and insects and birds that are victims of the life cycle; the Platonic, emergent body dragged down through shaft into being; and, most immediately, the living human body that anticipates, fears, and attempts to justify death, the body trammeled with entry and thinning but almost still here in spirit. This is the body that wastes away and experiences that decline as the meaning-granting essence of that bodys existence, that knows death but does not understand it.
These poems are not all on an equal footing. Graham is at her best in free verse pushed forth by free association. Her gift for connection is what typically prevents her sometimes (often?) banal observations from crossing the threshold into being trite. There is nothing particularly revealing about the connection between our personal death and its contribution to the moldering richness of the soil giving rise to new life. What makes this image work in a poem like Ashes is the agility with which that biological image vaunts over into the Platonic, the cosmological, the ecological, the theological, and the corporeal. Some poems, like Dementia, appear less sure-footed in their peregrinations through concepts and categories of thought.
Others, such as from The Enmeshments, clearly the weakest poem in the collection, attempt to infuse the free verse with some allusions to meter through rhyme but only manage to create a stilted rhythmic effect (But what if I only want to subtract. Its too abstract. I have no contract. Cannot enact impact/ interact) that detracts from the rigor and charm of her usual poetic design, devolving into the clumsy and the mundane.
Certain of these poems, however, will and should assimilate themselves to your consciousness, insinuate themselves into your way of thinking. Poems such as Fast, Reading to my Father, and The Post Human are replete with thoughts and images that haunt me, that shake the tendrils of my nervous system, and appear to me in unbidden moments. The Post Human, in particular is enchanting and horrifying at once. The narrative I finds herself in the room of her just-deceased father, standing next to his body, which is no longer his, no longer someones body but just a body, a bit of detritus, but beloved detritus. She is holding his hand as it stiffens with rigor mortis: The aluminum shines on your bedrail where the sun hits. It touches it./ The sun and the bedraildo they touch each other more than you and I now./ Now. Is that a place now. Do you have a now.
Time, the body, life, and deathall hold together in a beguiling, evocative tension. Sunlight, a bringer of life and vitality, shines upon the deathbed, touches it, drawing a connection between the innerving, immaterial warmth of light and the cold, steely indifference of the aluminum. The daughter holds the hand of her departed father, but, of course, he is no longer holding her hand, cannot do so. There is no one there to do so. The father has vacated the Now and no longer is while the daughter continues to reach out, to attempt to touch that which has fled into pastness. And yet, this is not an image of futility, some quixotic endeavor to overcome the unsurpassable finality of death. She manages, in some small but crucial way, to touch her father and he touches herbeyond a place, beyond a now, beyond the materiality of bodies and the irrevocable isolation of the present. The bodies that we are will always seek and somehow impossibly find a way back in.
Chadwick lives in New York City and teaches Music History and Theory at The City College of New York. He earned his doctorate in Musicology at Columbia University. He has given papers on topics ranging from 12th Century lament to Duke Ellington and early radio to the use of Wagner's music in Bugs Bunny cartoons. He has published in scholarly journals on the music of John Cage, Richard Strauss, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He has taught courses on music history, the history of rock, and the history of jazz at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Columbia University
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