At the Table – Narratives on the Technological, the Imagined, and the Dead Body
A dialogue installation in 5 acts by Mobile Academy Berlin as part of the Episodes of the South by the Goethe-Institut.
The project assembles narratives of the ongoing conglomeration between bodies and implantations, between humans and devices, of the interfaces between the human body with artefacts and different technologies.
Technological modifications to and transformations of the body seem sensible and legitimate whenever they have a therapeutic or socially integrative character, for example a cardiac pacemaker, a set of dentures, or a leg prosthesis. Nevertheless, the question inevitably arises as to where the boundary needs to be drawn regarding this self-reshaping. At what point should the problems of resources and social justice take priority over the right to self-optimization? Does – ultimately – the desire for self-transformation correspond to the logic of a global ideology of growth that fantasizes itself into an intricately networked, neoliberal, appallingly unjust, militarized future? Or can we imagine fantastic techno-bodies, cyborgs, which propagate recognition of difference and are able to coalesce machines, the organic, desire, and the imagination?
Experts from different disciplines take a seat at the table and tell of the transformative potential – through technology and fictions – of our bodies. We begin with the dead, the bodies forgotten and unidentifiable, in which our future lies buried. This is followed by dialogues on bodies with disabilities which challenge our technological and social possibilities. And we end with the desires for and the imagining of bodies that are on the threshold of something different, a nascent form of existence that potentially fuses with other humans, animals, gods, and machines.
Take a seat at the table. Or take part in the image karaoke and let us interpret those inexplicable images of bodies together.
If you don’t pay attention to me, I WON’T PAY ATTENTION TO YOU: on the role of the collective in an attention economy
If we think of scarcity as the driving force of an economic model then, given today’s incessant inundation of information, what is becoming increasingly scarce is the attention we are able to pay and command. The foundation of this economic model is contingent upon interpersonal relationality.
How does the attention we transact affect our sense of worth? Can we engage each other and avoid the more incessant and individualistic tendencies of personality expression? How could the collective offer another possibility of accruing attention wealth? How could we instead construct an ecology of attention?
Throughout the course of 3 days I worked in Pamplona, Spain with a group of diverse multi genre artists where we explored possibilities of artistic collaboration while dealing with the question of attention scarcity. Specifically how this scarcity affects, jeopardizes or enhances the experience of working as a collective. Utilizing a set methodology we leveraged imagination to more deeply engage with each other through an economy of attention. Where among other things we switched roles, rotated authorship, viewed, observed, explored proposals put forth, and collectively edited and presented/performed our assembled materials.
BLACKMARKET FOR USEFUL KNOWLEDGE AND NON-KNOWLEDGE No.17, Basel
DIALOGUE INSTALLATION, Bern
DIALOGUE INSTALLATION, Lugano
PARAHUMANS: on revolutionary enhancements, virtuosic inventions, and what it means to be an actor
Impairment, disability, defect, flaw, lack, deficiency, as argued within the disability movement and in disability studies, are not necessarily disempowering terms, but rather paths in the discovery and development of other abilities. This way of thinking is at the very center of developments in overlapping disciplines in the humanities, sciences, and at the forefront of what it means to be human today. How might the concept of disability present us with an inherently different way of understanding our «humanity», and what imaginative and emancipatory forms of expression might it illuminate?
At the BLACKMARKET OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE AND NON-KNOWLEDGE NO. 17 in BASEL, and two DIALOG INSTALLATIONS in BERN and LUGANO, 50 experts from various disciplinary fields including critical disability studies, cultural theory, robotics, visual and performing arts, comic book literature, entertainment, music, sports, psychology, philosophy and activism will discuss and/or show the limitations and potentialities that disability can have on society.
These three events will delve into the contributions and ethical questions surrounding technological enhancements, what it means to be human and the political implications of thinking about (dis)ability in its differing and complex manifestations. With this offering what liberating options might arise if we looked at disability as an occasion to stretch and complicate our parahuman imaginative capabilities?
Δ ° sugar / / sweet exodus: a movement in alchemizing sugar
Movement 1: working
This act takes shape as a workshop where local and international artists from different genres “laboriously” deal with the ongoing implications of a substance that is so easily accessible and instantly gratifying. By critically dealing with sugar and its influences, “Pop” (i.e. popular forms of media, art, and rhetoric) is explored as a translator, disseminator and aesthetic choice. Through this “Pop” treatment, sugar becomes a creative element that is reclaimed and adapted, setting the stage for a live event.
Movement 2: the public forum
This live event incorporates a cast of characters that include workshop participants, invited guests and the general public. It presents the work that was done throughout the workshop and facilitates a public forum creating a discourse on what was, what could have been, what is happening and what could be the facts and ideologies surrounding this simple household commodity.
Movement 3: materialization
Each of these workshops and public presentations creates its own materials that incorporate the “bittersweet” through a contemporary lens. This collection of materials (i.e. texts, graphics, images, viral videos, sound collages and archived footage) are uploaded and distributed through online platforms and social media. They also travel overseas and become a template for workshops where other artists of varying genres are invited to watch, critique, respond and consequently create the raw material for a new public event.
Movement 4: the spiral
This series continues on a spiral route that retraces its steps beginning again in the same place it started adding new members and routes along the way collecting and spreading the fruits of our labor-
a movement in alchemizing sugar: Δ ° sugar / / sweet exodus
What one element essentially tied Africa, Hispaniola and Europe……….
a powerful commodity whose ramifications continues to shape world affairs, influencing the economic policies of nations, driving international trade and wreaking environmental havoc. The Western world’s addiction to sugar has come at a terrible human cost. It led to the near extinction of the New World indigenous peoples, and gave rise to a new form of slavery, as millions of captured Africans were crammed into ships to make the dangerous voyage to Caribbean cane plantations. The need to continuously placate the modern world’s sugar tooth continues to enslave people that work on sugar plantations. (adaptation of a book description of Sugar: a Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott)
The goal of this project is not to tell the still ongoing story of victimization, but rather to create new mythologies, a revisionist fantasy, where victims no longer take on the supporting role but rather become the heroes and main characters of this story. Through a “Pop” treatment, sugar becomes a creative element that has been reclaimed and reinterpreted in music dance and film. Sugar like Pop is easily accessible and instantly gratifying. This project will critically deal with the consequences of an element that is so easily digestible by focusing on the labor that it takes to produce this houshold commodity. Pop will be used as an aesthetic choice to abstract and express its ongoing influence in societies daily affairs.
This Pop element takes on a form of a series of music videos that become like an album, each with their own story lines that incorporate the “bittersweet” through a contemporary lense. Each of the videos would incorporate an interactive/social scope. Each video is created by a group of artists from different genres who are interested in the ongoing ramifications of the Sugar trade. The first video then becomes a template for workshops where other artists of different genres would be invited to watch critique and respond and consequently create the raw material for a new video based on that interaction. Those videos then travel and become the material for another workshop and hence a new video.