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Flesh Machine

This site documents a lecture and performance

by CAE on biotechnology. The audience takes genetic tests and gives cell samples for DNA analysis. When it comes to technology, the focus and the hype is on new information

and communication technologies. From a marketer's perspective, this only

makes sense, because these new technologies seem to offer the public a new

utopian frontier; however, those who work with new complex technology on an

everyday basis know that its primary function is to increase the velocity

of market place dynamics, which in turn increases the intensity of labor.

The organic systems--the humans--in the technocracy can no longer maintain

themselves at such speeds: physiological and psychological pathologies

abound in the new techno-environment. Unfortunately, it's too late to slow

the economic engines of technoculture, and so the problem of collapsing

organic platforms can only be solved by drastic flesh reconfigurations.

This new social tendency has arrived at the right time. One of the leading

eugenicists of the 1930s, Frederick Osborn, believed that in the future

eugenics would be a part of everyday life consciousness (as opposed to

being a policy imposed on populations). According to Osborn, in the time

that we now know as the period of the economy of desire/surplus and the

nuclear family, people would not only volunteer to engage in eugenics

practices, but would pay to do so. Because market competition would reach

such an intense state in late capital, and wealth and prestige would be the

only measure of quality of life in death-of-god society (death of the

nonrational), people would be forced by circumstance to acquire whatever

would help to make them more fit for success in the marketplace. That

future is now the present, and the first experiments in developing

voluntary eugenic consciousness and in developing eugenic practices are

underway in clinics for reproductive services. However, unlike its

technological sibling, telecommunications, reproductive technology remains

largely outside of everyday life. It's not something that we experience as

mundane technology (like the telephone or TV) nor as a potential social

problem (like industrial pollution); it is something we only hear about

after it has been filtered through the legitimating signs of science and

medicine. Consequently, the eugenic practices that occur on a daily basis

in the labs and the clinics have no reality for those outside certain

scientific and medical specializations. Such practices are silent

subversions of everyday life that will not reveal themselves until they are

fully deployed and the damage has already been done.

Some artists and activists (particularly in Europe) understand the nature

of this secret technological revolution, and have tried to inject critical

information into public discourse about this hidden development in an

attempt to raise critical awareness about unacceptable medical and

scientific practices; however, no political front or real public debate has

emerged that includes a radical perspective (such as there is in the

critique of information and communications technology). CAE suspects that

the continued lack of concern on the part of the public is partly because

the tactics used to increase public awareness are too tame for such a

well-guarded situation. While CAE does not think the older and proven

methods of representational resistance should be jettisoned, in regard to

reproductive technologies, more extreme experimentation is called for.

Hence, we offer Flesh Machine.