Intro To Interstellar Travel, 2012, 2013, ongoing (2014)

Performed as a discussion lecture with an audience for CyberpunkApocalypse Writers Showcase, Pittsburgh, PA 2012, and again at Corner College Zurich 2013 this is video documentation of a series of off-line live performances in which an audience is invited to engage with scientific primacy in a pedagogical fantasy. Both audience and artist assume the role of synthetic beings of the future, built entirely from digital codes. I take on the role of an anthropology professor and digital historian, teaching a class (the audience) to travel interstellarly in the archaic form of a computer screensaver. The premise being, that in order to learn about ourselves as digital beings “now,” we travel (as interstellar screensavers) to worlds that are in a similar state of digital infancy as organic earth "was," circa the early 2000's. Recurring themes in "Introduction to Interstellar Travel" highlight the potential roles for individual autonomy, genetic manipulation, and creative individuality in the biological and digital future.

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Transcript Excerpt:

Thanks for coming to the workshop, The Interstellar Travel Workshop. I think this is going to be really good tonight. So, we designed this hologram so that it will look like a middle-income family home at the late times of organic earth. So you can kind of see how people lived. They made their houses mostly out of organic wood and brick. And you can see they still use books. We still use books: they are still collectors items today even in the digital world. But, you can see how the wiring went. You can see everything. It was a lot of work to change anything, to readjust to alter the code.

So, I hope everyone knows why you are here. I am a professor from the local university. And, mostly the reason why I do interstellar travel is because I like to examine how we existed in our earliest forms. And so, I turn myself into a simple, digital, numerical code. And travel to other planets that are in a similar state, as ours was, before we all became digital codes. And so it’s a really kind of academic and boring reason to travel. Um, but the reason why I’m here is because the way I do it is so simple, that we can teach, really any digital being can learn how to do it very easily. I think most of you got the implant of the information to do this workshop. And if someone would be willing to read the essential reading which is from an organic workbook, which I first found in my own archives that were implanted in me, upon the moment of my inception. Is there anyone who is willing to recite that?

[Plant in audience reads from: George Dyson, “Interstellar Viruses.” In This Will Change Everything: Ideas that Will Shape the Future. ed John Brockman, New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. 94-97.]

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Artist Statement

I am interested in the power of unsanctioned, collective, and science based art as a means to re-evaluate the authority of the artistic. My current body of work takes the form of experimental lecture performances and audio sculptures that appropriate learned, albeit modified, ideas from my study of science and art. I take on the assumed authority of the scientific and allude to a historical cache of art, yet exclude a fixed art object. This manifestation of my practice enables me to: illuminate boundaries of requisite accountability between art and science, engage with temporal Cartesian questions, reconfigure the power of engagement between artistic voice and technological ascendancy, and propose potential future crises for the artist-as- image-maker.

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