In dystopic popular culture we see the tendency to towards the absurd. There is the sense of doing again what has been done before, but not quite. Mostly books and movies change small details within them – sometimes the setting is in an outer-space station, at other times in a post-apocalyptic land, or when The Machine has turned against us. If only we weren’t so cynical. Why is there a tragic disdain for the human? While a self-mocking apocalyptic scenario gets re-instated over and over again, we somehow don’t really believe in the apocalypse (imagine humans without hope; we are incapable of resignation). Someone said that it in its highest order dark humour obliterates laughter altogether, or rather transmutes it into despair. When it comes to the real however, it is the refusal to treat tragic materials as tragic that is the greatest strength we currently possess.
The many books/movies objectifying the human: people using people as furniture, films depicting some kind of eventual demise, unreal extensions of the body, debasement of world order etc…coupled with an unimaginatively shocking perceptions. It is steeped with the intention of eliciting a sense of disorientation, absurd, grotesque and a form of self-parody. It is also one hundred percent what we do not need. It is, according to some, the ‘natural’ aesthetic expression of estrangement and alienation which grips humankind when belief in an apparently perfect natural order is weakened or destroyed.
I am instead interested in a situation spanning across time spheres and geographies, repeatedly scratching on the surface of terrestrial skin; the almost instinctive need to dig beneath that which is topsoil towards a hidden underneath. The situation is infallibly comic; try once, fail. Try again. Fail. Ad infinitum. But always repeat. If not me, someone else. It is like a nag; earnest but without innocence. The meeting point between what we thought was fiction and the out-there, the inhuman and the human, the finite and the other potential. Rather than function almost entirely on exaggerations it is to use finely hone weapons, and sly understatement, counter by surprise rather than insinuation.
The technological image is present in almost all societies in different forms. It is perhaps for this reason that it is hard to define, for often we don’t recognise it. We instead define points of similarity across territories. This representation is essentially theatrical – it is human but without humanisms; it cannot be destroyed. It has no ideology per say, its ideology is derived from its relationship to objects around it and itself. The representation (of the recognition of technology) carries within it an eternally unrealized and unfulfilled project. It has agency but is unashamed by failure; for there is always a better version of itself. It is constantly performing itself.
Multiple representations of technology form a network of relations, through which information passes and is distilled. Networks occupy all of the space behind and in front a translucent object (the terrestrial). The network forms holes in light, and as the light source or illumination increases, the network grows. The opacity of the network is never constant: it sometimes feels impenetrable, sometimes very faint but never completely disappears. A kind of imagination may find ourselves engulfed in an entanglement of cables and circuit boards. Black and its opacity instead are absorptive and relentless; everything pales in comparison.
Landscape is the invisible + visible infrastructure of earth: If technology has the capacity to reveal shifts in how the human understands itself, we should have already come to the conclusion that we are not the protagonists of the planetary story: Natural contingencies, intelligence as an inherent property of matter and cumulative effects way beyond our grasp (and idea of time) are only some of the ways to prove that.
Further, we have encountered models that have distorted the traditional models of nation-state geography and this has produced new territories in its technology’s own image. What is the topography of this relatively new political geography?It is an image that hinges on the lack of authentic segregation of terrestrial (places of economic congregation, of political memory etc…). Can we think of an image as some kind of map that encompasses the analogue, the virtual and the digital?
Where do we fit in? We are users and we can be only understood in relation to something else – the thing it comes from, the thing it is adjacent to, the thing that is its counter, the thing it is going towards; a user- silhouette exists in addition to the physical object that is mediated by the opacity of the network; the background is lit such that identifying details cannot be seen; a generic shape is revealed.