Let’s start by asking a simple question that was already formulated in 1944 by a physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, Erwin Schrödinger: What is life? And let’s now assume that we will find an answer to that in the concept of the American physicist Michio Kaku, who postulated that a network of connected minds within artificial neural networks is going to become the successor to the Internet, sharing information and emotions, being a system created for the purpose of the humanity, a special library of the awareness. Transhumanistic revolution would transfer into limitless life in terms of archiving, storing and generating data that would represent people’s thinking, awareness and emotions. We would live as a post-biological form of life. As a parallel to this vision of the life without a body, the name of the British astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, comes to mind. He suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and communicates with the world by means of a speech-generating device to which his words are transferred from a virtual keyboard. The American scientist Ray Kurzweil has showed a similar vision of the future in his forecasts: a human as a combination of biological and non-biological hybrids. In 1974 he came up with optical character recognition software that is used to recognise images and text in graphical files. In 2009, backed by NASA and Google, he founded the futurology school at the Singularity University in the Silicon Valley. Its main objective is to ‘prepare humanity for the accelerated technological change’. More and more, our life plunges into simulacra.
Talking about simulacra… Richard Kongrosian, one of the characters of the classical science-fiction novel from 1964 by Philip K. Dick called The Simulacra, has the function of a symbolic artistic figure. An exceptional pianist, playing classical Brahms’ and Schumann’ pieces in the White House using psychokinesis, suffers from mental disorders – it seems to him that the scent of his body can kill. He stays away from people, tries to live outside of the society. But then he becomes involved with the international politics. He is accused of planning to assassinate the First Lady, Nicole Thibodeaux, who is the ruler of this matriarch totalitarian state. He is then neutralised and his last words become a prophecy of the role of a visionary / an artist in the society:
(…) Look – see that desk? I’m now part of it and it’s part of me! Watch and I’ll show you.’ He scrutinized the desk intently, his mouth working. And, on the desk, a vase of pale roses lifted, moved through the air towards Kongrosian. The vase, as they watched, passed into Kongrosian’s chest and disappeared. ‘It’s inside me now,’ he quavered. ‘I absorbed it. Now it’s me. And – ‘ He gestured at the desk. ‘I’m it!’ In the spot where the vase had been Nicole saw, forming into density and mass and colour,a complicated tangle of interwoven organic matter, smooth red tubes and what appearedto be portions of an endocrine system. A section, she realized, of Kongrosian’s internal anatomy. Perhaps, she thought, his spleen and circulatory configurations that maintained it. The organ, whatever it was, regularly pulsed; it was alive and active. How elaborate it is, shethought; she could not take her eyes from it, and even Wilder Pembroke was gazing fixedly at it. ‘I’m turning inside out!’Kongrosian wailed. ‘Pretty soon if this keeps up I’m going to have to envelop the entireuniverse and everything in it, and the only thing that’ll be outside me will be my internal organs and then most likely I’ll die!’
Philip K. Dick, The Simulacra, 1964
Who is a modern Kongrosian? Where does he position himself towards society and is his work, despite apparent ambivalence, not bereft of politicisation? Does he also use telekinesis in his process – remotely controlling the work? Does he convert next fragments of reality after having enveloped them? Does an artist become a new Kongrosian a rebours? Let’s now paraphrase the above question by Erwin Schrödinger: what is nature? Is it possible for nature and humans to exist in this post-biological world, in the precession of simulacra? What would the future walk with the dog in the woods look like?
|Artist||Anca Benera & Arnold Estefan, Alicja Bielawska, Viktor Frešo, Matej Gavula, Markus Hanakam & Roswitha Schuller, Jaroslav Kyša, Kama Sokolnicka, Hilla Toony Navok, Anna Witkowska & Adam Witkowski|
|Exhibition||Pretty soon if this keeps up I'm going to have to envelop the entire universe|
|Place / venue||Gdańsk City Gallery|
|Dates||January 19 – March 4, 2018|
|Curated by||Jaro Varga, Piotr Stasiowski|
|Index||Alicja Bielawska Anca Benera & Arnold Estefan Anna Witkowska & Adam Witkowski Gdańsk City Gallery Hilla Toony Navok Jaro Varga Jaroslav Kyša Kama Sokolnicka Markus Hanakam & Roswitha Schuller Matej Gavula Piotr Stasiowski Viktor Frešo|