The Trans-Biological Agent: “That’s why when people say Newton is simultaneously an alchemist and a physicist, it doesn’t mean much, because, on the contrary, he is doing good physics because he is doing alchemy.”
Latour also said that this notion of modernism where people cleanly separated the world of subjects and objects might have been an illusion from the start. On one side of this spectrum we find animism, which, most hastily, can be described as a belief in that the elements of nature, animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers have an agency, a spirit and a soul. There, we are non-central to nature’s events taking place. Nature has its own will and life.
Yet entities such as plants or even rocks may be approached as communicative subjects. And we can just about discern that we are in fact only a small fragment of what then must feel almost like a virtual simulation. On the other side of the spectrum we find positivism as a philosophical system recognizing only that, which can be scientifically verified or which is capable of logical or mathematical proof.
By rejecting any notion of animism it has given rise to Post-naturalism, or the Anthropocene, in which we have aimed, and in many ways succeeded, to change the Other, nature, animals, our environment to fit into our own specific cultural purposes. I propose that this lies at the center of the modernist patriarchal hegemony of thought and power that truth can only be seen by those (us) being above the Other, looking down at its planes.
A truth that can only be found if technology (everything from language to physics to AI) is employed to control nature as a way of dominating reality. In this post-naturalist world we have to be the dominating agents. In this instance, animism can be viewed as a resource for the act of breaking down the masculine order of modernism.
Softly reaching out and allowing ourselves to be part of events and something that is outside of our sphere of control, something more abstract, non-real, almost magic. In the act of coming closer and becoming more of this Other we can discern a tracing of the spirit of nature, like water, a fluidity that transforms after its biological environment, something more queer. But we don’t have to leave our technological agency behind.
Instead, what if this patriarchal version of it can be feminized and de-colonized to leave us with an agency that tries not to be in total control but a part of the virtual simulation that is nature? What if we can tame ourselves to become hybrids? Here we are then, a proposition of a future for our present. Somehow, I’ve transformed myself into an agent of my own making while simultaneously moving closer to nature, water, always ready to be shaped into something Other. An artwork as an avatar, living in the planes of immanence as a Trans-Biological Agent.
We come into the large exhibition space wearing our Augmented Reality glasses. Generic white walls, concrete floor around us and twilight lighting flooding the room from the ceiling (corporeally in space). It’s right after dawn. In the distance we see a sculpture (corporeally in space). An ambient sound is coming from its direction. As you get in closer you see that the sculpture is moving, stretching, slowly like an amoeba-like creature. It elevates from, but is still connected, to a ground that is made of the same material. Next to it a steaming water hole (corporeally in space). A network of lines connecting the ground, the hole and the creature enhances the sensation that all is indeed conjoined. Every few minutes the creature produces a vapor (corporeally in space) that emanates from a dark orifice between its UV eyes and that blows onto the fluorescent fabric in front of it (both corporeally in space). As the thin membrane stretches to its maximum a soap bubble takes shape (virtual in space) on the other side of it. While moving slowly away from the creature and travels through the room its surface mirrors a virtual world around it instead of the physical space we are in. It is an expansion of the environment that makes up the sculpture. You can at any point use your fingers to pop that bubble. As it virtually bursts, a sound emanates as if coming directly from within it.
In a future, where water has gathered all sounds from our radio waves and the zeros and ones traveling in the bottom of the sea, it/she/he has remembered everything. The polygon mesh functions as the core building block of all CG modeled structures. Here, simultaneously, it also takes the form of a futuristic proposition in which the networked lines work as routes of light transporting intelligence. Water becomes a living body and our technology has enabled it to transform all of its soul and thoughts into vapor that manages to travel through, and simultaneously become, a networked polygon mesh. Information, languages, intentions, affects…are being directly and constantly materialized into living creatures and environments that are in a constant fluid state.
About the Artist
Anastasios Logothetis (Sweden, 1979) lives and works in Berlin and Stockholm. His work reflects on the unprecedented potential of today’s digital culture and its consequences for our embodied lives. With sculpture, 3-d animations and performance, states between the real and the virtual, nature and the artificial, are explored. After leaving his medical studies at Brandeis University, Boston, Logothetis graduated with an MFA from The Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 2008. His work has amongst others been exhibited at Manifesta 11, Zurich, Färgfabriken, Stockholm, The Composing Rooms, Berlin, Andquestionmark, Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm. In 2012-2013 he completed a residency at Residency Unlimited, New York, and more recently he has been a reoccurring participant of residency program The Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood.