Patrick Millard
Since 2006
Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States of America

PORTFOLIO (1)
BIO
Patrick Millard is an artist, curator and educator from the small western Michigan town of Lamont and now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work in photography, new media, and sound has resulted in a diversified portfolio that addresses ideas about media, digital culture, technology and the interactions that human beings have with today's social environment.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and continues to gain recognition. Recent exhibitions include Homo Virtualis [Porto Santo Biennial] in Porto Santo, Portugal; Tek'tanik at Art Guild New Jersey and Gallery Affero in Newark, New Jersey; Digital Landscapes at the TMG Gallery in Guarda, Portugal; Digital Fringe at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in Melbourne, Australia; Fauna Show at The Workshop Gallery in Bialystok, Poland; NanoArt21, Passion for Knowledge in San Sebastian, Spain; Origins at the Fox Art Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Snap To Grid at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art in Los Angeles, California; The Human Canvas at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado; Virtual Worlds at the UAVM; Virtual Humanities at the Icone Gallery in Coimbra, Portugal; SMart Festival at Open Concepts Gallery in Grand Rapids, MI; and Retro Futurism at SpaceCamp Gallery in Indianapolis, IN.

In 2008, Patrick began to show his work inside the virtual simulation world Second Life; exhibitions that advance beyond two-dimension work and expand his ideas of simulation, virtual reality, and the synthetic future where the physical object gives way to its virtual counterpart and its presence is valued entirely for its idea rather than its place in space.

This transition toward a more prominent virtual presence as an artist eventually led to the inevitable. In 2009, shortly after becoming a regular exhibitor in the virtual environment, Patrick embarked upon his first photographic series that used the environment and society of Second Life as its subject matter and conceptual theme. Virtual Lens is an artistic and anthropological investigation into the life of the avatar, landscape of the sim environment, and experience of the virtual world. Patrick continues to photograph and exhibit his portfolios as well as spend time with fellow avatars in Second Life.

2010 brought a new role for Patrick as the curator of several exhibitions. He has curated exhibitions for The VASA Project's Online Gallery and Turing Gallery in Second Life that reflect upon digital culture in the world today. Topics such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, renewable energies, gene therapy, cyber culture, and other posthuman and transhuman philosophies are the focus of these exhibitions.

During the month of June, 2010 Patrick was artist in residence at the Biosphere 2. During his time in residence he began work on photographic, sound, and digital media portfolios. These efforts have yielded a fully developed photographic portfolio of the Biosphere 2 structure and an album to be released on Innova Recordings in 2011. The unique condition of Biosphere 2 attracted Patrick to the residency. As a natural environment that was hermetically sealed and self-sustaining while simultaneously being powered by more than two acres of machinery, the B2 environment played on Patrick's continuing theme of organic and synthetic mergers.

Patrick received a Bachelor of Arts degree in photography from Grand Valley State University and a Master in Fine Arts degree for photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

He currently works as Assistant Professor of Photography at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and as an instructor for The Vasa Project’s online workshops.
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DISCUSSION

Configuring Hegemony Into the Post-Human Culture of Tomorrow


I was reading through Simon Young's Designer Evolution, a transhumanist manifesto recently and came upon a paragraph that reminded me of our discussion here:

Certainly, the "sublimation" of "basic instincts" does occur. Cheering on our team or nation in sport is a safe and exciting method of releasing an evolved instinct for tribal aggression. Sport is war without tears. But to regard all cultural behavior as nothing but a diversion of basic instinct is to imply that a crowd cheering on a boxer as he beats his opponent into a pulp is no different than Shakespeare writing a sonnet, Back composing a fugue, or Einstein devising the theory of relativity. In other words, utter nonsense. Human beings clearly have far greater motivational drives that those dictated to them by their genetic programming. We are more than naked apes acting on primitive instincts! To restrict one's view of human motivation to those of a goat is not only absurd, but serves to debase the value of humanity, with dangerous implications for society.

This is Young's Transhumanist Philosophical response to Freudian and Nietzschean notions of Sublimation. Freud's model proposes 'the entire products of human culture are effectively dismissed as an unconscious channeling of the energy required for survival and reproduction into socially acceptable pursuits. Nietzsche proposed that sublimation was used 'to deflate the idea that the products of human culture were anything more than a mask of self-deception, disguising a universal drive for primacy he called "the Will to Power."

This is all expanded upon much further in the chapter Neuroemotive Psychology in Young's book. It has been an excellent read thus far and I would recommend it to those interested in a thoughtful analysis of modern methods/misinterpretations of understanding human nature.

-Patrick Millard

DISCUSSION

DISCUSSION

The Politics and Philosophy of Technological Advances


The Politics and Philosophy of Technological Advances

I do not recognize any difference between artifacts and natural bodies…
—Rene Descartes, Principles of Philosophy

The political and philosophical alterations that occur with the introduction of technology to the human body surmount any metaphysical and socio-political issues on the table today. Since Platonic times we have tried to discover and answer what consciousness and democracy are, and just as it seemed a sense of these issues was being settled in debate, the rise of technological enhancement and artificial intelligence and life has created a need to re-examine many of our perceptual realities. Answering questions about consciousness in machines, in cyborgs (part human, part machine), or androids and setting up distinctions between such entities and humanity increases a great gap of gray that was already quite wide.

It was Rene Descartes who proposed the entire material universe to be a large clockwork-like machine. According to this way of thinking everything moves in accordance with mechanical laws, as if by gears. In his Treatise on Man, Descartes pronounces:

I suppose the body to be nothing but a machine…We see clocks, artificial fountains, mills, and other such machines which, although man made, have the power to move on their own accord in many different ways…one may compare the nerves of the machines I am describing with the works of these fountains, its muscles and tendons with the various devices and springs which set them in motion…the digestion of food, the beating of the heart and arteries…respiration, walking…follow from the mere arrangement of the machine’s organs every bit as naturally as the movements of a clock or other automaton follow from the arrangements of its counterweights and wheels.

These same issues arise in our socio-political debates.

On issues surrounding biotechnologies, the political response is already extensive. In 2000, George W. Bush developed his President’s Council on Bioethics. The council takes on the role of creating reports about the pros and cons of genetic and biotech therapy and studies. In the 2004 report, Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness , it is argued that improving the genetic makeup of children will distance parents from their offspring, that genetic engineering for improved athleticism is unnatural and similar to the use of steroids, and that extending life will result in a generation of elders who refuse to let younger generations grow into their positions in life. The team is led by Leon Kass, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Chicago, and a political conservative who has opposed biotechnology for more than twenty-five years. In that time, issues such as in vitro fertilization, cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, therapeutic cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and any other technologically-based medical treatment that ‘disrupts the natural order of life’ (which includes birth, procreation, and death, the latter of which should be viewed as a ‘necessary and desirable end’ ) have been strictly opposed by Kass.

Our government does not always stand in opposition to embracing technology. When advances can be used to benefit such areas such as military strategy and power, the U.S. government has proved willing to spend the large sums of money necessary to make extensive research possible.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the central research and development organization of the Department of Defense. Their research into robotics, neural activity, nanotechnologies, and the technology of electronics in general has paved the way for revolutionary items such as Arpanet (now known to us as the Internet). Today DARPA can be credited with much of the advancement made in fields such as AI (artificial intelligence), virtual reality, and GPS (global positioning system) devices. All of these advancements are remarkable for an organization originally founded to ensure that Sputnik-like events would not surprise the United States again. In 2008 DARPA celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

It is easy to imagine how, in the next century, these political confrontations will explode onto the scene of artificial intelligence, robotic rights, and the separation between natural human beings and electronically enhanced human beings. As these ways of living begin to emerge more and more visibly in mass culture, opposition to and support for them will inevitably collide. The issues that will be debated on the political frontlines will be basic human rights and discussion about what is human. If an individual has a memory implant which improves his or her short or long-term memory, will they no longer be human? If having a new memory chip is not too far from being human, what if a person gets a boost in neural signals to their reflexes? Will this push the being to be classified as post-human or non-human? When decisions about what is or is not human are being made, it will be impossible to see in absolutes. Vision itself (likely to be artificially enhanced) will see a culture that will be too gray to make differentiations, as synthetic and organic materials continue to grow closer in appearance and operation. While we can easily draw lines in the sand at this point in history, that line will not be so recognizable in the future.

*excerpt from Formatting Gaia: A Comprehensive Outline of the Photographic Work

http://www.patrickmillard.com/

DISCUSSION

Configuring Hegemony Into the Post-Human Culture of Tomorrow


Andy,

I think it will be confirmed that with the advancement of designing our bodies and traits there will be a place to take hold of the things in our brain that control, or at least shepherd, emotions. If we want to be well-mannered, courteous, caring, peaceful, etc. we can flip those traits on. Alternatively, we will be able to flip off those undesirable characteristics many are born with [i.e. fear, jealousy, hate, envy, insecurity, anxiety].

-Patrick Millard

DISCUSSION

Embracing a New Biology


Embracing a New Biology

New technology is not only made up of the mechanical gadgetry that we find ourselves so connected to, but also through biological alteration possibilities such as genetic therapy, gene diagnosis, or neural modification.

Recent genetic discoveries have begun to suggest the possibility of another form of prosthetic for humankind. By adding, subtracting, or flipping on and off certain genes that are connected to certain traits (i.e. disease, depression, anger, intelligence, athleticism, creativity, etc.) it will be possible to create an individual who is made up of the characteristics we would want them to possess. This is related to the designer baby controversy being debated in media today. The opposition returns once again to the religious, economic, and unnatural arguments and the benefits often argued are obviously a better species, with no disease, disability, bad temperament, bad looks, etc. Parents could decide for themselves what sort of child they would want to bear. Through genetic preparation these sorts of controls could be exerted, to a certain extent, over the make-up of a child.

More accepted than designer babies, though not yet widely so, are the possible benefits derived from gene therapy. In recent studies, it has been shown that through implementing specific alteration in genetic makeup benefits can be seen in areas such as anti-aging, curing diseases such as Alzheimers, increased mental stamina, ending baldness and alcoholism, memory retension, etc. Through advances in gene therapy we can introduce the same benefits provided by genetic changes made in reaction to PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) before IVF (in vitro fertilization).

With such possibilities on the verge of being readily available, it is important to keep an open mind toward genetic alterations. By doing so we may see a dramatic increase in bodily well-being and mindfulness within our species as a whole.

*excerpt from Formatting Gaia: A Comprehensive Outline of the Photographic Work

http://www.patrickmillard.com/