Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 3: The Cyborg-Historical

(1)

Superflux headset to enable prosthetic vision.

The Future-Present is something that once one has begun to notice it, it becomes very difficult to not see. This visual pattern of our conception of the future has the occult symbolism of apophenia, an illusion of perception generated as glitching artifact by the same non-illusory means by which we perceive reality. The shape of history projected forward in time looms out in the shape of a monster from patterns of moss on our architecture, and as a prophet from coffee stains on news magazines. Our imagination builds reality both forward and backward in time, as our vision builds reality on both isomorphic sides of the mirror. Our speculative thought catalogs these alternate realities, and we attach them to ourselves like equipment strapped to the stomach of a soldier, and we drag them along with us as we crawl across the surface of the earth, dodging death. Or so we dream, as we let our eyes slowly unfocus, gazing at our liquid crystal screens.

The Future-Present hangs heavy with acquired schematization, grows thickly in the rhizomatics of our mental constructs, and with this decaying biomass, lubricates the sliding transmission of our worldviews. But while the implications of the Future-Present for philosophical theories that deploy such semiotic hardware are important, there is a complex material realm of the Future-Present that should not be ignored. Regardless of what sort of opaque, nebulous terms we develop for the clouds in our temporal vision, they have material form with which we will collide with if we don’t watch where we are going. The gears of the mechanisms are sharp, and the metabolized exertions to avoid injury on the cutting edge are chemically taxing.

This is not simply a matter of seeing correctly and avoiding illusion. The illusions have important meanings. Patterns are the visual boundaries of underlying systems. When a slime mold grows into nearly the exact same shape as the Tokyo rail system, this is not a random coincidence...

 

READ ON »


Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 2: Strange Attractors

(0)

Mike Flynn's Ferrofluid Magnetoscope via Make

There are a number of us driven to search the world for the newest forms of magical tricks. We dive into the darkest alleys, the most convoluted of document dumps, the blackest of markets, searching for clues. We tune our aetheric antennas, looking for signals that might indicate a disturbance in the order of things— eddies in the production currents of technology— where such supernatural powers might suddenly emerge.

Arthur C. Clarke’s famous words are often repeated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What isn’t often mentioned is that this is third of three of Clarke’s Laws. The full list reads as follows:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The third law is delightfully vague, capable of converting from advice for writing space opera, to a commandment of UX design. But in the context of the other two laws, it reads as a presupposition to how we view technological history. 

Clarke is directing us to look at the means of the generation of history— the intersection point where the impossible is processed into the possible. The impossible is a large domain— containing impossibilities that may become possible in a week’s time, those that will only be possible in a thousand years, and those that for all intents and purposes within humans’ conception of time, will never be possible. Our knowledge of present technology is projected forward into the unknown, and the way forward is illuminated in heavy shadow, unfolding into what we conceive of as the future. To think about the future you must study history. But you also must be willing to perceive the currently impossible as already becoming historical. This temporally augmented reality is we are calling it in this series of essays, the Future-Present...

 

READ ON »


Guide to Future-Present Archetypes Part 1: The Spark

(0)

This is the first in a series of six essays, drawing on interviews with speculative thinkers finding and defining the technologies of the Future-Present.

Near Tappi Saki, Aomori (via Pink Tentacle

It is the 21st Century, and history has delivered us into a time when aerial swarms of hypertextual futurist essays sling bombshell proclamations down upon us, guided down the invisible path of a laser beam. With each new detonation our grounding worldview shakes with tectonic intensity, as what we have always known as “the future” is driven to critical fission when hitting the present. Behold, this new technology: the “Future-Present”: where our dreams collide with reality. There is no fantastical World of Tomorrow, and there is no reality in which we know the real from the imagined. There is only the waking dream of the categories’ simultaneous coexistence. In this world, cities explode, the network sings like razor wire, a caustic, aerosolized powder rises up from pavement beneath our feet, people wearing masks shout instructions over our heads. The dream is still going on, a double exposure of ideas over impact weapons. It is difficult to say whether we are excited, or terrified, or bored, or confused. But we understand this, don’t we? We must say we understand this. There is no one else that could understand this, other than us. What would it mean, if no one understood the future?

 

Electronic Countermeasures GPS enabled quadcopter, Tomorrow's Thoughts Today (video)

 

READ ON »


The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility

(0)

The projects of German artist, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, flirt with the construction of scientific knowledge, grasping and slipping between the object and subject. Drawing from a background in visual and new media art practice, Meyer-Brandis creates installations, performances, and film that drift from scientific theory into fiction and wonder. Her work draws parallels with fictional and quasi-fiction worlds, those of space cadets and armchair rocket launchers.

Exploring recurring subjects such as gravity, weightlessness and space travel, her work has led to collaborations with scientists and researchers providing access to operations and activities usually restricted to scientific experimentation only. In 2007, while working on a project called Cloud-Core-Scanner she travelled on a zero gravity flight in collaboration with the DLR (German Aerospace Centre) to examine the formation of clouds in a weightless environment. As well as a rigorous scientific approach, her work is often tinged with a playful humour, such as her series of public meteor watching events, where participants are instructed to bring a safety helmet.

...

READ ON »


An Interview with Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt)

(0)

 

Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhard) are artist explorers of the natural world, they build installations and moving image with animation and sound drawn from their encounters with prestigious scientific institution such as NASA’s Space Science Laboratories and the Smithsonian Archive as well as journeys to alien places like the Galapagos Islands and Ecuadorian volcanoes.

 


Two new works drawn from their other worldly travels, Worlds in the Making and Inferno Observatory are now showing at FACT in Liverpool, UK, Peter Merrington talked to the artists about their work.


 

READ ON »


Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism (July)

(0)

Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism "brings together work that explores, from many different perspectives, the multifaceted question of cookery. In this volume, a range of contributors - scientists, philosophers, chefs, anthropologists, artists - explore how philosophy and proto- scientific theory and experimental practice was linked at its outset to the culinary arts." From the introduction by Robin Mackay and Reza Negarestani (pdf):

Cookery has never been so high on the agenda of Western popular culture. And yet the endlessly-multiplying TV shows, the obsessive interest in the provenance of ingredients, and the celebration of ‘radical’ experiments in gastronomy, tell us little about the nature of the culinary. Is it possible to develop the philosophical pertinence of cookery without merely appending philosophy to this burgeoning gastroculture? How might the everyday, restricted sense of the culinary be expanded into a culinary materialism wherein synthesis, experimentation, and operations of mixing and blending take precedence over analysis, subtraction and axiomatisation? This volume, drawing on resources ranging from anthropology to chemistry, from hermetic alchemy to contemporary mathematics, undertakes a trans-modal experiment in culinary thinking, excavating the cultural, industrial, physiological, chemical and even cosmic grounds of cookery, and proposing new models of culinary thought for the future.

Proto-scientific thought and experimental practice, particularly in the form of alchemy, was linked to the culinary arts’ vital engagement with the transformation of matter. Indeed, how could empirical inquiry into nature, seeking to determine the capacities of matter on the basis of what lay to hand... be anything other than a culinary endeavour? Yet with the increasing specialisation of the sciences, philosophy has misplaced its will to extend such inquiry into a speculative philosophy whose power resides in its synthetic ambition as well as its analytical prowess.

LINK »