Designed & published by 555-5555 on the occasion of patten: 3049 (31st January - 3rd March 2018) Tenderpixel, London. The project ‘3049’ looks at the potential for us to imagine and produce positive, non-dystopic futures - in spite of, and as a challenge to many things we see unfolding in the present. Taking shape in a series of parts, 3049 is comprised of an immersive audiovisual installation at Tenderpixel, as well as live radio broadcasts, talks, off-site club nights, online projects and this publication. To create the publication, in the final week of 2017, between Xmas and New Year, contributors were asked by patten to respond to the question ‘How do we make it to 3049?’. Responses were collected during the first week of January, creating a distinct snapshot of a moment in time, as one year transitioned into another. We hope the 3049 publication will be unexpected, enlightening and inspiring in many ways; a set of notes, a score, a collection of thoughts. patttten.com 555-5555.org tenderpixel.com
Alexander Tucker Amy Ireland Chal Ravens Charlie Robin Jones Chooc Ly Tan Coby Sey Daata Editions DeForrest Brown Jr. Emily Bick Emily LaBarge Gordon Cheung Hana Noorali / Laure Prouvost Hannah Diamond Hannah Gregory Hans Ulrich Obrist Hayden Martin Hisham Akira Bharoocha Ibrahim Cisse Imran Perretta Dr. Isabella Maidment James Smith Johnny Golding Jonathan P. Watts Juha van ‘t Zelfde Keep It Complex (Kathrin Böhm & Rosalie Schweiker) Kévin Bray Larry Achiampong Lawrence Lek Liam Gillick Lisa Blanning Lucy A. Sames Marialaura Ghidini Markus Vater Mat Dryhurst Matt Calderwood MICAT Architects (Cathrin Walczyk & Michael Garnett) Nabil Ahmed Nav Haq Nkisi Paul Kneale Paul Purgas Philomena Epps Philomene Pirecki Pierre Coinde Ruth Saxelby Sam Rolfes Shezad Dawood Simeon Barclay Sitraka Rakotoniaina Susan Hiller Tai Shani Taylor LeMelle Victoria Sin Yuri Pattison Zadie Xa Zoe Lazarus
We got this
We’ll overthrow capitalism and make it to 3049. “To hope is dangerous,” wrote Rebecca Solnit in ‘Hope in the Dark’, “and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. Hope means another world might be possible. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.” We’ll hope and make it to 3049. “Nothing less than the most radical imagination will carry us beyond this place,” wrote Adrienne Rich in her book ‘On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978’, “beyond the mere struggle for survival, to that lucid recognition of our possibilities which will keep us impatient, and unresigned to mere survival.” We’ll radicalise our imagination and make it to 3049. “Man is an affirmation,” wrote Frantz Fanon in “Black Skin, White Masks”. “We shall never stop repeating it. Yes to life. Yes to love. Yes to generosity.” We’ll affirm life, love and generosity and make it to 3049. “Democracy is a proposal (rarely realised) about decision making; it has little to do with election campaigns. Its promise is that political decisions be made after, and in the light of, consultation with the governed,” wrote John Berger in ‘Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Despair’. “Today the fundamental decisions, which effect the unnecessary pain increasingly suffered across the planet, have been and are taken unilaterally without any open consultation or participation.” We’ll participate and make it to 3049. “Rest ! we have more power than they do,” tweets Chelsea Manning regularly. “#WeGotThis” We’ll rest and make it to 3049. We got this.
Juha van ‘t Zelfde
“We live in capitalism,” said Ursula K. Le Guin when awarded the National Book Award in 2014, “its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.”
Keep it Complex
3049 take away 2018 makes 1031 divided by 42 is 24.54761904
“OK Google, what happened in 3049?”
Chal Ravens “Technology is only a means to our end !!!” Still from Lu Yang ‘LuYang Interactive Hearse’ 2017 (courtesy the artist and Daata Editions)
Predictive Text: Representations of the future as a political economy Utopia has always been a political issue, an unusual destiny for a literary form: yet just as the literary value of the form is subject to permanent doubt, so also its political status structurally ambiguous. - Frederic Jameson Risk does not mean catastrophe. Risk means the anticipation of catastrophe. Risk exists in a permanent state of virtuality, and becomes ‘topical’ only to the extent that they are anticipated. Risks are not ‘real’, they are ‘becoming real’. At the moment risks becomes real – for example, in the shape of the breakdown of the market economy – they cease to be risks and become catastrophes. Risks have already moved elsewhere: to the anticipation of terrorist attacks or climate change etc. Risks are always events that are threatening. Without techniques of visualisation, without symbolic forms, without staging, without ‘mediation’ or ‘translation’, risks are nothing at all. - Ulrich Beck It’s hard to ignore how much the idea of the future within the political arena has been shaped by popular visual culture. Science fiction and the future imaginary constructed through this particular genre have certainly been an integral part of our understanding towards notions of what-is-yet-to-come. Science fiction, or ‘speculative fiction’ as some prefer to call it, has for a long time been the most prevalent catch-all medium for society’s possible futures. Today however, the future is deeply ingrained in the rhetoric of all types of geo-political message; it has become a representational tool – a device used for affective purposes towards instilling the collective sense that imminent change is required. Think about any national election campaign for example, along with its sloganeering, its ideological leanings and its basis in promises. Through political messages that are about human aspirations as much as they are about induced risks – everything from terrorism and the economy through to the ecology debate – constructed scenarios of our future conditions are instrumentalised to propagate a sense that immediate action, or occasionally inaction, is required. In any of these debates, and from the perspective of all sides, carefully crafted visions of the future have become the means for the message. And for the most part we are recipients, rather than individuals who feel they possess the direct means to participate in the crafting of this message.
In fact in much contemporary art since the turn of the century, particularly through numerous solo as well as group exhibitions, there has also been a tendency to look at the future, and more broadly at what could be called the ‘corruption’ of time – placing a scenario from a different moment in time into the context of the present moment. The use of the scenario also here plays a key role in different ways for the art of numerous artists. From more established practitioners like Liam Gillick and his long-term series of platforms and screens that have functioned notionally like the spaces of think-tanks, used to hypothesize possible versions of the future. Perhaps the most significant of these being The What if? Scenarios (1996 onwards) series that looked to consider projections of the future in the post-utopian context via ideas of discussion, hindsight, back-story and compromise, rather than, say, technological fantasy.
Literary critic, political theorist and science fiction aficionado Fredric Jameson has been one of the most pertinent writers that has sought to pinpoint the points of intersection between cultural production and politics. In his volume Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (2005), he states that the representation of Utopia, along with its close neighbour Dystopia, in science fiction have the ‘unusual destiny’ of being part of a popular cultural form that is also part of a politicised form of rhetoric. He suggests that making predictions on the future has effectively become an empirical procedure with its foundations in the unknowable. Which in turn renders it so malleable that its political value, which is what Jameson is ultimately interested in, is open to all kinds of manipulation in response to social dilemmas. In the same vein, Adam Curtis’ renowned BBC documentary series The Power of Nightmares (2004) charted the radical shift that took place within the rhetoric of politicians in the latter half of the 20th Century. In simple terms, the series described the shift as being from politicians offering a future of utopian possibilities, towards them prophesying of dystopian nightmare scenarios from which they could protect the public (controversially yet convincingly, he argues that the threat of such ambiguous forces such as radical Islam are largely a myth perpetuated by politicians). This prophesying is with the intent of uniting the public across social boundaries in the creation of a shared ambition to eliminate catastrophe after the failure of the earlier, more utopian ideologies; all the while, using scenario thinking to suggest the possible pitfalls of any radical or alternative re-imaginings of society.
Although it is fair to say that these works, and his works more broadly, do rely on accompanying fiction texts and rhetoric to be understood. Through to more recent practitioners on the global scene such as Cao Fei, such as with her project RMB City (2009-present) – an experimental space she constructed in the online sphere of Second Life. RMB City has looked to form connections between real and virtual existences, visually traversing past and future to create a speculative situation that brings together perceptions of China and the contemporary world. These are but two wellknown examples, and being able to think in the future tense seems a deliberate strategy for artists such as these, which is what brings their work into the realms of speculative fiction. But more broadly, investigations by these and other artists into the idea of the future have emerged both in artistic and curatorial practice simultaneously, and it feels fair to say that it is a timely occurrence, reflecting the responsibility felt by these artistic practitioners for critiquing the geo- and socio-political practices of the day. These responsibilities could be seen to manifest themselves in art in different identifiable ways. Firstly, in art about the manipulation of the present, for better or for worse, through the politicised display of the possible effects of human-induced risk. In other words, the authoritarian approach towards avoiding perceived impending crises. For example, think about all of those ‘art & ecology’ type exhibitions taking place all around the world. Secondly, in art that considers the commodification of the future through various contemporary business models – such as in the rather astute work of Katya Sander which elicits the collective sense of unknowing around the sheer incomprehensibility of complex economic systems and their affects. And thirdly, in art about social and financial engineering, along with the design of the built environment and related aspirations and lifestyle – like projects by the Belgian collaborative duo Katleen Vermeir & Ronny Heiremans on the ideology of future architectural developments, or projects by Cao Fei for that matter. With many of these artists there is a reflexivity towards the 2008 financial crisis and what it has ultimately demonstrated: that predicting the future is in reality a bit like predicting the weather – you can only have any real level of accuracy moments ahead. The vision of a ‘risk society’ is described by the sociologist Ulrich Beck as being part of an inescapable condition of advanced capitalism, in which many more people have the means to be reflexive towards society and its institutions. He draws a parallel between Marx’s relations of production and relations to definition of risk, as ways to think about the transformations in the new conception of social strata today. Today’s forms of banking and the complex financial instruments for managing and predicting the market investments that effectively bolster the economy, do not require any kind of physical commodity. Money can be made directly out of money. Thus it is a Marxist’s nightmare scenario when the proletariat, along with their place in the class structure created out of their struggle, is taken out of the equation. Beck considers this new condition as a socially constructed phenomenon that values a person’s relative capacity to define risk for wider society, thus replacing social classes as principal constituencies of inequality. Much like wealth, risks are distributed unevenly in a population and massively influence quality of life. Those that do have the privilege of definition rarely hesitate to utilise its potential for capital, both economic and symbolic. This definition of risk needs to be visualised or made otherwise tangible in the market in order to legitimise itself, and in such a situation, aesthetics and aesthetic sensibilities can only become an intrinsic part of this privilege. The research practices of some specific artists considering the notion of the future are also often framed by a geo-political consciousness. The Middle East is an interesting case in this instance, as it is a region predominantly portrayed through the mainstream media as being caught in a perpetual state of crisis, thus unable to break from the present. Much of the art focusing on the region either looks at the imminence of crisis or at key situations from its recent past – think about artist such as Walid Ra’ad or Emily Jacir for example, or the ongoing work of the Arab Image Foundation photo archive. Yet the vision put forward by the United Arab Emirates are a vivid exception in this instance; a place that has become a magnet for the daily arrival of Western artists – from Andreas Gursky to Armin Linke – each looking to portray this hallucinogenic apparition, or the ‘evil paradise’ as some critics describe it, that has emerged in the desert. It is a conceptualisation that has not only been put forward, it has also been put into practice. Often described as a ‘starchitect’s playground’, the Abu Dhabi project in particular has monumental new architectural developments under way by the likes of Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry amongst others. Seen by the West as the brainchild of untold wealth catering to the desire for excess, The Emirates are a daring imagination of the future that is actually being realised. Maybe it is because it offers an alternative scenario other than those fitting the bill of being ‘Middle-Eastern’ as represented by the media, that the explicit hegemony present within such criticism from the West unveils how a colonial impulse has entered the battle for the future. Aren’t they only doing now what the West was dreaming of in the 20s after all? And so, by relating the Emirates to the Speculative Fiction imaginary, there is an amplification of the historical allegory of the genre – that of identity and difference.
Lucy A. Sames
The guiding principle of Futures Studies as an academic genre is for it to open up the space for individuals to grasp ownership and potential of their own future. In parallel, the most successful artworks and projects about the future are the ones that raise these questions around ownership, and specifically of the ‘definitions’ and the ‘resources’ implicit in the control, or rather, colonisation of representation. Being able to elucidate in decidedly relativistic terms on the difference between hegemony and collective ownership of the future is something that art ought to be able to offer. Art and the future are ultimately created using similar means but to their own purposes, so why shouldn’t one imaginative, aesthetic and conceptual framework for representation be used to interrogate another. Art is an exceptional phenomenon that possesses the unique conditions for offering glimpses of progress and aspiration, and can do this in a way that it might not only be critical of reality, but additionally and most crucially, posit an alternative to reality by aiming to act as an agent of transformation. The future, indeed like the present, is ultimately a synthesis of different temporalities – objects, events, ideas and spaces from multiple times that co-exist to form what we understand will be our actuality. It is through art’s ability to create new iterations of tense by imaginatively shifting these components that make up the context of time, that it can invite the possibilities of doubt, speculation and to-be-determined outcomes into the public arena. And with the deterritorialization of the old future can come the multitude.
This brings us to colonialism. Colonialism is a useful metaphor for describing the control of that mental space available for the ownership of future – it has in reality become something we are unable to escape from in the everyday. The future pervades our lives, from politics to the projections of graspable lifestyle aspirations, even through to explicit warnings on the consequences of what happens to society and the world if we shop in a certain way at the supermarket. It is both used to repress symbolically and to employ ideological patronage, as Beck states: “the belief that the risks facing humanity can be averted by political action taken on behalf of endangered humanity becomes an unprecedented resource for consensus and legitimation, nationally and internationally”; yet many would still accept an authoritarian approach to having their lives determined. The newly defined relations of power, determined by who has the privilege of being able to establish a clear future scenario for others, works against relativistic ideas of the multitude, or more simply, the ability for each of us to possess any genuine levels of self-determination. For those that are in this zone of privilege for competing in this way, the goal for your ambition of the future, which can only ever be ideological, is for it to be defined as the universal.
Sam Rolfes Sam Rolfes, made in collaboration with photographer Jordan Hemingway and model Sara Cummings
Gordon Cheung “It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” Bruce Lee
Markus Vater James Smith
From ‘Story About Dust’, linocuts first published in Markus Vater Solo 6 by Lubok Verlag Leipzig, 2012
Gathering on Parliament Hill, 1st Jan 2018
“There wont be any story stop the ship burned stop” – apocryphal telegram sent by a Times of London journalist, sent to cover the launch of a new ship, which caught light and sank in the Solent minutes after launch Hell was always hot, at least for the Jews and Christians. The original Hebrew name for hell – as in “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” – was “Gehenna,” which came from a municipal dump outside the walls of Jerusalem. This was where the city’s waste was ignited and burned for days, so every time we imagine an everlasting life for sinners this way, we are imagining a literal roaring trash fire. Funnily enough, this exact phrase is Internet Assumed American English for “really, really bad.” I’ve never seen a roaring trash fire, but I know that 2016 was one, and so was 2017, and 2018 might well be one. Getting to 3049 requires us to get these fires under control, and quick. This reminds me of an intensely moving viral video, which I finally saw this weekend on Twitter, of a man saving a rabbit from the wildfires that gripped LA late last year. He begins as just a shape, in a red and black landscape. The frozen opening screen on Twitter looks like some imagined 18th-century vision of hell, full of billowing clouds, and a tiny, hopelessly abstracted figure framed in the lower left quarter. He rapidly comes into focus: a young man in shorts and a hoody, set against the flames and fury. A tiny rabbit leaps across his feet to the right of the screen, blindsiding him. Pausing in terror, he grabs his short, cropped hair, and covers his face in a universal expression of horror. The first time he jumps, he does so in panicked agony. The second time, he bounces on his heels, in a desperate, desperate move to attract the attention of this poor single rabbit. His hoodie-covered shoulders drop for a split-second in resignation, before clenching again with adrenaline, before the rabbit leaps past him again, doubtlessly terrified. He falls to his knees, scrambling to save it from the inferno, and certain death. Panic upon panic as it slips out of his hands onto the singed ground, as the scene is broken by passing cars. Finally, in one terrible desperate scramble, he gets the rabbit back in his arms, and holds it tight into his solar plexus. There’s no celebration. No triumphant stroll back, no big man strut. There’s not even the grim, determined masculine stride of a first responder. Instead, this pose is exactly that of scarf-covered old women, seen in documentary footage of devastated central European cities: crouched, with darting eyes, abjectly seizing something precious to the body’s centre. He walks away undone and aimless, leaving a scene of absolute calamity, cradling this tiny thing, leaving the scene, and ending the clip.
We know this. Many of us even sat in that seminar at university. Furthermore, around the world, the human tragedy of climate change and its related extreme weather events have fallen with enormous disproportion on the backs of the poor, communities of colour, and women. One rabbit does not, in the parlance of our times, shift that dial, and neither does the solitary actions of a young white man in shorts an affluent corner of LA. Yet this clip remains, as does what it means, and I can’t forget either. The manifold uselessness of a single panicked bloke saving a single rabbit from a scene of biblical destruction is what makes this such an affecting, desperate moment. In the face of existential terror and catastrophe, one human response is to save something, is to attach ones self to something else, something as insignificant and wholly innocent as a rabbit, and in doing so rush, abjectly, into an inferno to rescue it. It’s such a weird thing to do, and such a weird thing to venerate. But simple kindness, free from mawkishness or heroism, is what I saw there. And that, ultimately what I’m suggesting as our means of survival. There is so much future. Its fires are blinding. Let us save each other from it.
Charlie Robin Jones
One firefighter and 45 civilians died in Californian wildfires, which engulfed more than five million square kilometres. Untold millions of animals perished too. Videos like this aim to turn tragedies beyond comprehension into stories which are human-sized. Climatic violence is turned into consumable content via individual acts of heroism. In doing so the mediated version of reality nullifies the vastness of the really, actually real.
Victoria Sin â€œParadise only lasted for a year after Deep Blue Monday. The next summer, we were drowning. Everything was returning from the land into the sea. People looked for solace in virtual reality. They covered their eyes to see.â€?
a view from elsewhere
HYPERATLANTIS CONSORTIUM EXTRACTION CONCERN MARS-SOLAR FEED TIMELINE 11101 1 101111101001 ///Breaking///: Reports of an event unfolding on Hygiea carceral mining complex resembling ‘insectoid insurrection’ have been confirmed by Switch_Interval Universal Data Aggregation Service. Alerts were received by Huuver-Suez Security as their overseer system went dark at 15:30 CST Mars-solar cycle. Anti-insurrection units have been deployed from sentennial outposts Elara and Pasiphae in the orbit of Jupiter. The exact nature of the insurrection remains enigmatic. Preliminary data scraped from proprietary sensors built into the mining modules piloted by engrammed modtime cogitation units indicate that the mining bots, originally designed for limited combinatorial permutation to accommodate contingencies arising during boring operations and held within strict limits following DTR (Disciplinary Tech Regulation) 0F77, shows that the bots’ component parts have been reconfigured and networked in a way that has not been previously witnessed in the System. LagOS, leading manufacturer in time-internment physical prostheses, is yet to offer comment on this malfunction. Unlike previous, minor insurrections, no demands for return to humanoid form have been registered. Following near-vicinity observational intelligence reports, Hygiea has gone completely dark following a period of intense surface activity. No visible trace of the reconfigured mining swarm is be found, leading to suspicions, yet to be confirmed by radio-thermal analysis, that the entity comprising 6000 time-internment units, has disappeared below ground and is currently tunneling into the centre of the asteroid.
Since its inauguration as the standard form of disciplinary methodology across the Hyperatlantean System, time-torture has been vigorously protested by diverse state and corporate organisations. The unethical and ‘inhuman’ aspects of uploading a mind and increasing the speed of its computational processing cycles so that an interree can be forced to undergo subjective sentences lasting, experientially, for millenia, are the topic of well-trodden debate. However, the indisputable profitability of combining time-torture with free labour, confining interrees to mining bot component prostheses and assigning them to mining complexes across the System, inevitably silenced all ethical qualms. “We believe LagOS to have deliberately mobilised the inhumanity of these means of disciplinary production to seed a new, inhumanist insurrection across the cosmos,” Darya Nikolaevna M. stated. “This is a completely unprecedented form of warfare, they are effectively using time against the state.” HYPERATLANTIS CONSORTIUM EXTRACTION CONCERN MARS-SOLAR FEED TIMELINE 11110 1 101111101001 ///Update///: Switch_Interval has just learned from a NuMerchant spokesperson that LagOS has, without warning, pulled its public stock from the NuMerchant exchange. It is unclear at this time if the embodied value has been destroyed or if the action was an efflux to another exchange, though none are currently reporting any LagOS activity. A single laser transmission, encoded in a repeating, sparsely interspersed prime sequence, seemingly originating in the vicinity of Neptune, has been intercepted. All efforts at decryption have so far been futile, revealing nothing but a chitinous clicking, incomprehensible, staccato, but, according to Huuver-Suez, “clearly communicating something”.
Amy Ireland, Andrew Bell, Kevin Rogan
Eurasian design collective MilyiHG-Autofacture, LagOS’s rival in soft and hard mining bodies, is accusing the African Disunion of deliberately building emancipatory recombinatorial potential into their disciplinary technology in order to fuel future political instability. Darya Nikolaevna M., spokesperson for MilyiHG-Autofacture is claiming, amid speculations that the Hygiean mod-time cogitation units, many of whom had been incarcerated for high-level anti-state cybercrime, have discovered means of accelerating their engrams’ processing speed past the threshold designed for temporal-discipline, and are now using the resulting advantages in perceptual rapidity, combined with the boring capacity of the reconfigured and networked bodies of the bots, to outpace Huuver-Suez Security operations, effectively escaping into both space and time.
polycarapace (second skin)
woven architecture brain core. capable of running multiple hosts inline. vent to vacuum
insurrectionists have made no requests for anthrocuperation! virothermal ovipositor (multipurpose)
taking the prison by swarm?
cilia-tipped filter system
â€˜mind mapâ€™ extracted from overseer archive shows strange spikes & syncs!
Hisham Akira Bharoocha We become capable of communicating directly with other living animals, insects, plants, and cells in 3049.
Dr. Isabella Maidment How do we make it to 3049? Through dialogue.
Lygia Clark, Diálogo de mãos (Hand Dialogue), 1966
It was the image on William Gibson’s Twitter (@GreatDismal) that did it. He’d asked his followers what the contents of a future Trump Presidential library would be. You can guess the most obvious answers: Endless scrolls of tweets. Shelves of gold-bound books by the yard with blank pages. A massive gift shop. Big Mac wrappers. Porn of Ivanka. But first off the block was a tweet from @Misanthropod with this message: This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here. Nothing valued is here. This place is a message and part of a system of messages. Pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture. And I honestly can’t think of anything better to put there. The message is part of an extensive warning system designed for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. The WIPP is a storage facility meant to dispose of nuclear waste and keep it out of harm’s way for 10,000 years. I’m not trying to make the easy comparison between Trump’s presidency and a nuclear waste dump. Instead, I’m in awe of the amount of concern for the people of the future that the WIPP has put into its messaging. The level of detail is staggering: the site needs to warn people away for ten millennia; most civilisations don’t make it half that long. How to communicate with people of the future who may be reduced to nomadic bands scrabbling through some post technology, post literacy wasteland, to let them know that this material is dangerous, the site is not sacred? The waste is buried in thick concrete rooms, 660m underground, in a salt basin in New Mexico. To keep people from disturbing it, the WIPP commissioned a group of semioticians and linguists and anthropologists and archaeologists and materials scientists and science fiction writers to come up with durable and meaningful messaging, meant to last tens of thousands of years. The site design is meant to show that its toxic radioactive contents are human-made and not aspirational: It’s a place of death, not some crumbling lost palace with a hoard of treasure to raid. The plan for the WIPP’s perimeter is a ring of giant earthworks and spiky, jagged monuments that suggest pain and injury, rather than ideal geometric forms. Materials for the warning signs within need to be durable, but not useful or recyclable, to discourage scavengers and vandals. And the messages hit at many levels: there are pictures of faces in pain and, at the centre of the site, a sort of anti-‘visitor centre’ with the message above written in multiple languages. I first found out about the WIPP around a decade ago when my main job was coming up with somewhat entertaining science workshops for kids in museums. One of the museums where I worked had a gallery devoted to energy; it was sponsored by a major oil company, but in the spirit of some kind of editorial independence there were nods to wind and solar and nuclear power. A few of us decided to make up some workshops to demystify nuclear power, and explain fission and radioactivity beyond the chunk of glowing material in Homer’s pocket or the three-eyed fish in The Simpsons. For “Radio Activities” (yes, really) we had a table set up where you could test slightly radioactive but harmless household objects with a Geiger counter. Everyone loved hearing it click as it passed over ground up Brazil nuts, igneous granite from Cornwall, Vaseline glass marbles that glowed under blacklights, and orange-glazed Fiestaware plates from the 1950s, and then hearing the Geiger counter go silent when a lead-lined dental apron covered the objects up. There were other artefacts: seeds that had travelled into outer space and been dosed with cosmic rays; dosimeter badges, photos of stunted plants near Chernobyl.
We talked about how nuclear weapons and nuclear power worked and there was some game with a pool table and tennis ball tubes that was supposed to demonstrate a chain reaction in a reactor. What was harder was explaining what happened to radioactive material when you couldn’t use it any more. With half lives of thousands of years, even aeons into the future, radioactive waste would still melt flesh, still make any hypothetical Geiger counters click like the hissing cockroaches that would have replaced humanity by then. What kind of signs, we asked the kids, would you make to make sure people of the future, tens of thousands of years from now, wouldn’t dig up any of this stuff up and die some grisly, horror film death? As much as the kids loved the Geiger counters, they hated this. We had to stop running the workshops after getting papers covered in red crayon scribbles of “Fuck Off ”. Even framed as a problem solving challenge: what materials would last for thousands of years? How would you communicate to people of the future who may not know your language? Think of the pyramids! It was a kind of shit activity, because how do you think in that kind of time scale? What does thousands of years even mean when you’re ten years old and the weekend or even the end of the school day takes an eternity to arrive? The semioticians and linguists and anthropologists and archaeologists and materials scientists and science fiction writers at the WIPP started working on it in 1983 and they’re still on the case. Fuck Off is a valid response. I don’t have a lot of faith in (or a lot of time for) many representations of huge, geological and cosmological time scales like, say, the Clock of the Long Now, designed by early internet techno utopians Danny Hills and Stuart Brand, with chimes by Brian Eno and the whole shebang sponsored by Jeff Bezos. It’s not fully built yet, but is supposedly designed to run for 10,000 years, safe from the elements in some Texas cave, powered by sunlight and the goodwill of visitors. It’s also programmed to not repeat its chime sequence over the duration. Its website says that “Ten thousand years is about the age of civilization, so a 10K-year Clock would measure out a future of civilization equal to its past. That assumes we are in the middle of whatever journey we are on – an implicit statement of optimism.” But it’s not optimistic: it assumes a steady state, a constant now. While that probably suits the imperious billionaire Jeff Bezos just fine, a permanent middle of a journey cancels out the idea of a beginning or an end—or any kind of journey. It’s a flattening of time, and suggests the kind of thinking that you really only see in 10-year olds, plastic surgery obsessives, or vampiric Silicon Valley life extension types. I’m all for calling out bullshit teleological assumptions and heroic narratives, but the idea that time passes in the material world, and things fall apart—that’s just physics. Life is finite and fragile, and entropy happens, even if it’s really, really slow. And @Misanthropod who put the message of the WIPP forward for a Trump library was bringing geologic time, deep-decaying nuclear time, and in the shorter term, inevitable death—Trump’s, Bezos’s, yours, mine, everybody at the WIPP’s—into the endlessly scrolling, forever now time of the twitter timeline. It’s a memento mori, like an eloquent inverse of those kids’ ‘Fuck Off ’.
3049 is only 1031 years away. Radioactive waste won’t decay much between now and then. There’s already been a plutonium leak at the WIPP in 2014 because technicians filled a barrel with organic cat litter as an absorbent material when it was supposed to contain clay litter, and it exploded. Who knows what the next few centuries will bring? Civilisations may collapse and plagues sweep a scorched, unrecognisable earth; the messages at the WIPP may be read, beyond any credible odds, by passing aliens who scooped up Voyager II’s message in a bottle in their warp engine. The identity of any future visitors is unknowable. But the team at the WIPP still wants them to exist, to be safe. They stay humble and vigilant and accept their own finitude: Sending this message was important to us. We thought we were a powerful culture.
Be everywhere, anytime. Everywhere. Anytime. Every where, every time. Your portal to everywhere, every time. Your portal to the world. Your portal. Portal.
The thing about copywriting, thought Fin, as she typed out potential slogans for the launch of the new TRK6, was that if you stared at the words long enough, you could convince yourself they meant something. “Beep. Beeep. Beee—” Fin hit send. They were given 20 minutes per slogan batch, and delays were not tolerated. Fin was one of 11 copywriters hired to work on the TRK6 campaign, and they were all, in effect, competing against one another, as well as the clock. Fin shifted in her seat. It was getting stuffy. She tapped a button with an icon of a closed umbrella on it, and the smooth, grey walls of the WRKSPC cubicle retracted. Time for the first of the hour’s two mandatory 10-minute breaks. It was a core requirement of the recent Sustainable Work Act 2089, ensuring screen workers had regular time away from the glare. More often that not, Fin made up the missed minutes in overtime. Outside, Fin inhaled deep on her FreshNow air filter; on a whim, she’d recently upgraded to the Snow Day version, and the cold still took her breath away. She slipped her TRK5 out of her pocket — despite what the anti-TRK propaganda said, she never got the new version until everyone else did — but it was blue. No one was trying to reach her, not on any platform. She was halfway through an exaggerated sigh when it turned green, right there in her hand. She almost dropped it. “Bzzzzz...”
”Oh em geee! You have a messsssaaage!” Three weeks ago, Fin’s best friend had set her vocal notifications to “Perky American Teen Circa 2012” and Fin kept forgetting to switch it back. “Okay, okay, okay,” she said aloud, flipping open her TRK5. The screen lit up and video footage of dolphins dancing in the surf started playing. “Hi Fin,” said a digitized voice. Urgh, another ad, she thought. “This is not an ad.” They always said that. “I repeat: this is not an ad, Fin.” What? They didn’t usually say that. The camera angle shifted, pulling back from the dolphins to reveal the speaker. They were stood aboard a small boat covered in potted plants, and their whole body, including their head, was wrapped in what looked like a turquoise wool blanket. “Fin, you have an opportunity to make history. When you are ready to start asking questions about TRK, call me. This video will now delete itself and a new number will appear in your contacts. You’ll know it when you see it. Goodbye.” The turquoise figure gave a quick wave, and the video ended. Fucking hell, thought Fin, marketing is finally going guerrilla. “Beep. Beeep. Beee—” Break was over. Fin headed back to her WRKSPC. Before she got stuck into the next batch of slogans, she dropped a line to her project coordinator to remind him she was always down for any extra shifts that might be going. That script needs a lot of work, she thought. Make history? That was over-egging it. No one was going to go for that, no one! Fin laughed loud enough to make her WRKSPC shush her. It was going to be a long night.
The TRK’s micro-propellers had flipped into action. Phones didn’t break anymore. Instead, they were recalled every six months as standard, and replaced with an upgrade. Most people liked it — a shiny new phone with shiny new features, for free, just when you were getting bored with the old one. Grandparents would talk about the queues there used to be when a new smartphone came out back in the ‘00s and ‘10s, but no one Fin’s age could truly believe it. Back in the late ‘20s, she’d learned in school, had come The Smart Revolution. The government at the time had found that competing smartphone companies were creating vast disparities in consumer access. Everyone should have the right to a smartphone, they proclaimed, and in one fell swoop they deprivatized an entire industry. Of course, all the smartphone companies had known about it for months. Their cooperation had been bought, and their best people funneled into positions at TRK, a new public service charged with distributing government-issued smartphones and maintaining consumer relations. It was a great equalizer, said the politicians, everyone had the same phone, at the same time. By the late ‘30s, TRKs were issued at birth; parents were given the opportunity to have their baby’s first TRK encased in silver as a keepsake — after its data had been retrieved, of course. By the early ‘50s, it was illegal to not have a TRK. There was some serious backlash to that decision at the time, but Fin had slept through that history module in school.
Shezad Dawood Susan Hiller
Shezad Dawood, Gwynt y Mor (study for a painting, and storyboard for a future episode of Leviathan), 2018
We will learn to see
‘END DYSTOPIA. ENCOURAGE UTOPIA’. END FASCISM. END CORPORATE GREED. END INDIVIDUALISM. END HEGEMONY. END NEOLIBERALISM. END BIGOTRY. END SUPREMACY. END RAMPANT COMMODIFICATION. END COMMERCIALISATION. END OPPRESSION. END COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. END HOMOPHOBIA. END TRANSPHOBIA. END THE PATRIARCHY. END SILENCE. END RACISM. END NATIONALISM. END WAR. END CLIMATE CHANGE. END ABUSE. END CULTURAL ERASURE. END EGOS. END POVERTY. END TERROR. END CAPITALISM. END OPPRESSION. END NARCISSISM. END TAX AVOIDANCE. END DETENTION CENTRES. END HYPOCRISY. END SLAVERY. END ABLEISM. END WELFARE CUTS. END TYRANNY. END BILLIONAIRES. END POLICE BRUTALITY. END DELUSION. END THE ORDINARY. ENCOURAGE THE EXTRAORDINARY. ENCOURAGE COLLECTIVE ACTION. ENCOURAGE EMPATHY. ENCOURAGE KINDNESS. ENCOURAGE READING. ENCOURAGE IMAGINATION. ENCOURAGE DIFFERENCE. ENCOURAGE SURVIVAL. ENCOURAGE ACCESSIBILITY. ENCOURAGE EDUCATION. ENCOURAGE LISTENING. ENCOURAGE OPEN BORDERS. ENCOURAGE CONSENT. ENCOURAGE EQUALITY. ENCOURAGE ART. ENCOURAGE PROTEST. ENCOURAGE SHARING. ENCOURAGE FEMINISM. ENCOURAGE CONVERSATION. ENCOURAGE ENDURANCE. ENCOURAGE DIRECT ACTION. ENCOURAGE INTIMACY. ENCOURAGE VULNERABILITY. ENCOURAGE AUTONOMY. ENCOURAGE QUEERNESS. ENCOURAGE COLLABORATION. ENCOURAGE WORKERS RIGHTS. ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY. ENCOURAGE PEACE. ENCOURAGE EVOLUTION. ENCOURAGE THE FUTURE.
The concept of double conscious can be quite active in this position, itâ€™s the idea of understanding that a person is not an A=A equation, not self subsistent; but an A=(not)B, (not)C, (not)D. We have options outside of ourselves. Life is a situation experienced as restrained, it is a situation of having your back against the wall, but many unconventional options can emerge from this. Play with the glitches, suture or massage information into oneâ€™s consciousness with non-standardized thinking. Speculation and design are our ways of redistributing possibility and constraint. I donâ€™t see a future without creative thought preceding it.
A frontier of green, or of dust
DeForrest Brown Jr.
Our future has been cancelled, and something happened longer than our memory can be traced...but what we do have is the hope of creative design and intellectual pursuits. We have the hope to think and curate ourselves out of situations over time through information gathering and collective strategy.
I told my sister “Look after yourself N avoid to look into their lies” Life was beautiful —
Beyond is already behind ask your grandma who rest in pieces N put you out there to put it all together 3 0 4 9 People can’t make it through the day useful to say that is useless to ask
How do we get to 3049? What did you say to me that time? Was it something about love? That’s too easy an answer — too diffuse, too imprecise a tool or a term — as a tenderness. That is too easy, I mean, I meant. This year I vowed (and failed) not to use contractions. But we’re on the precipice of a new one and I’m feeling hopeful, so hey, why not. I said contractions, but now I think I might have meant contradictions. For instance: I look up at the sky and I throw my head back so that my mouth falls open in a kind of involuntary wonder. I see the blue blue above me and all of the hearts come out of my body and float in the air like a cartoon dream, each a different colour of red. But they are just leaves that have been whipped from the trees, twisting and turning in the air, buffeted higher and high. But what’s the difference, really. Everything is moving, rushing, dividuous. That’s not quite what I mean either. It is maybe not too simple to say this is about something about love — in whatever way it is hardest for you to define; in whatever way requires you to both give up and to ask for the most — to acknowledge need and desire. I am most of the time an equal mix of — hopeful — scared — excited —staggered by truths fortunate and unfortunate — in love. I know, for sure, very few things. I know that what is enough for some of us is not enough for all of us. As in, to me, 3049 is just a number. But, of course, it is also a great deal more. I know that there is nothing to do but to do and to do and to keep doing. To keep making, never stop making, always be making, even while not making. To talk, to each other, to keep talking, which also means listening and hearing. I know, most of all, that when I sit down to write there are other voices that guide and chide — that keep good company — that irk and chafe — urge me to betterment, require that I take risks, on the page and off, attempt do things I am frightened I cannot, may not ever achieve. Voices that for me are a vital community, one that I would give that great deal more to perpetuate, amongst so many others, into 3049 and beyond. So let’s try something. A series of proposals for a question with no single answer: I do not know what it is, having never seen anything like it before. (Samuel Beckett, 3 Dialogues) I awakened from my trance state and was stunned to find the world I was living in, the world of the present, was no longer a world open to love. And I noticed that all around me I heard testimony that lovelessness had become the order of the day. Turning away we risk moving into a wilderness of spirit so intense we may never find our way home again. I write of love to bear witness both to the danger in this movement, and to call for a return to love. Redeemed and restored, love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love we can let our hearts speak. (bell hooks, all about love) What I most regretted were my silences…And there are so many silences to be broken. (Audre Lorde, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”) Each something is a celebration of the nothing that supports it. (John Cage, Silence) We are here to witness. There is nothing else to do with these mute materials we do not need. (Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk) But I still believe the unexamined life is not worth living: and I know that self-delusion, in the service of no matter what small or lofty cause, is a price no writer can afford. His subject is himself and the world and it requires every ounce of stamina he can summon to attempt to look on himself and the world as they are. (Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name)
We tell ourselves stories in order to live. […] We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience. (Didion, The White Album) On the one hand, this is saying nothing; on the other, it is saying too much: impossible to adjust. My expressive needs oscillate between the mild little haiku summarizing a huge situation, and a great flood of banalities. I am both too big and too weak for writing: I am alongside it, for writing is always dense, violent, indifferent to the infantile ego which solicits it. Love has of course a complicity with my language (which maintains it), but it cannot be lodged in my writing. (Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse) We have prejudices with respect to the use of words. (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on Colour) We are constantly threatened with grave dangers whenever we write a page. […] There is the danger of cheating with words that do not really exist within us, that we have picked up by chance from outside of ourselves and which we skilfully slip in because we have become a bit dishonest. There is the danger of cheating and being dishonest. (Natalia Ginzburg, The Little Virtues) All categories are leaky and we must use them provisionally. (Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions) You can never know enough, never work enough, never us the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough. (Anne Carson, Plainwater) Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. (Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction”) This is what I have decided to do with my life just now. I will do this work of transformed and even distorted memory and lead this life, the one I am leading today. […] If only one knew what to remember or pretend to remember. Make a decision and what you want from the lost things will present itself. You can take it down like a can from a shelf.” (Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights) We cannot read the darkness. We cannot read it. It is a form of madness, albeit a common one, that we try. (Maggie Nelson, Bluets) Barn’s burnt down — now I can see the moon. (Mizuta Masahide) The stars are not hereditary— (Emily Dickinson)
and surely we shall not continue to be unhappy we shall be happy but we shall continue to be ourselves everything continues to be possible (Frank O’Hara, “Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul”) I’m looking at the big sky. (Kate Bush, “The Big Sky”)
Method of investigation: as soon as we have thought something, try to see in what way the contrary is true. […] The contradictions the mind comes up against – these are the only realities: they are the criterion of the real. There is no contradiction in what is imaginary. Contradiction is the test of necessity. (Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace)
Required first and foremost is an inhabited, wearable relation to plurality. This is a deeply post-Newtonian move which accepts, and indeed cherishes, the fact that two or more objects can, often do, and in this case (the case of friendship) must, occupy the same place at the same time without dominating or annihilating either object. It sidesteps the abyssal logics of a thesis/anti-thesis transcendence (quasi or otherwise), with its attending excluded middles, castrated Lacks, and overrated Phalluses. Instead, friendship names the raw, sensuous, delicate, multi-dimensional and secret intelligences shared by sentient beings at the moment of their extended encounter. It requires nothing of identity politics, selfhood, social agency, though its very expression enables and indeed solidifies, all this and more. It generates a strangely emboldened shared, radical matter – a kind of ‘knowing’ – one could say: a suspended aliveness of Otherness without recourse to an old-fashioned mastery or authority or binaric split between ‘self and Other’. A kind of multi-tonal, multi-coloured, multi-sensory present tense in-difference to each other’s being here, now – a being ‘apart-together’ intra-independence, a kind of suspended, groundless awareness, which, in being without ground enables an openness to the unexpected: a listening-tremble that takes note without knowing (the why). This is a non-verbal ‘gut-feeling’ embodied cognition; one that enables, in its why-lessness, an oddly territorialised, shared present, a kind of transportable ‘safe-house’ magic garden erected at the very moment of suspended awareness. At its core is an ability to harness a particular type of raw energy, sexual presence, even joy – an athleticism, respect, trust, odd form of mastery and slowness of time (despite or, even perhaps, at a gallop), that not only goes beyond the traditional (and anthropomorphically bound) tropes of ‘fraternity’ or ‘brotherhood’, but beyond the linguistic turn itself, with all the trappings of ‘subject’ and ‘object’, the ‘becoming-x’ or the ‘transcendental y’s’, now thrown to one side. All this I learned from befriending a wildly playful and somewhat dangerous horse whose split down the middle brown/white face earned him the nickname: Manhattan, lifted from the Ojibwean ‘madweijwan’, the ‘heard-flowing’ of where the two rivers meet). I learned all this (and more) from my semi-feral buddy, Manhattan, who taught me not only what could be possible, here, now but (and without putting too fine a point on it,) how a community of care, stepped in radical empathy, can (and does) emerge despite or even because (and certainly whether or not) cruelty, bitterness, mysogny, racism, exhaustion might seem the order of the day. Friendship.
‘He says indifferently and alike – how are you, friend?’ (Walt Whitman, 1881)
Johnny Golding, “Friendship,” in Lynn Turner, Undine Selbach and Ron Broglio (eds). The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies. EUP: April 2018. [deeply abridged].
Larry Achiampong Our lives are political, because our bodies are.
Larry Achiampong, Relic 1, 4K Video, 2017. Commissioned by PS-Y. Courtesy of the artist.
Hana Noorali / Laure Prouvost Laure Prouvost, We Are Coming Out, 2017, courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery (London / New York)
ALLOW YOURSELF TO: 3 HAVE THOUGHTS ON YOUR OWN 0 EMBODY MORE THAN ONE KIND OF BEING 4 BE SURPRISED 9 FEEL DISLOCATED
Hans Ulrich Obrist
7 “SHE LEFT BEHIND HER INDUBITABLE SENSE OF BEING. OF BEING HERSELF. UNCONSTRUCTED, UNREADABLE, UNREACHABLE. THE OTHER. NOT HIS TO UNDERSTAND. ALL RIGHT THEN. ROUGH STONE WARM AGAINST THE PALM, AND A FIVEBEAT MEASURE, AND A SHORT OLD WOMAN GOING ABOUT HER BUSINESS. IT WAS A BEGINNING. I’VE BEEN DREAMING, HE THOUGHT.” - Ursula K. Le Guin, A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, 1994
Growing (Up) into 3049 ‘His statues,’ Jean Genet writes of Giacometti in The Studio of Giacometti: seem to belong to a former time, to have been discovered after time and night – which worked on them with intelligence – had corroded them to give them that both sweet and hard feeling of eternity that passes. Or rather, they emerge from an oven, remnants of a terrible roasting. Giacometti tells me that he once had the idea of molding a statue and burying it… Would burying it be to offer it to the dead? This passage, translated from French into English, is enveloped by multiple, heterogenous temporalities rooted in the Earthly and the human. Giacometti’s statues belong to a former time, presumably one before time itself existed. Which is to say, before the human species began counting. In the same sentence, appended by a comma, the statues belong to ‘after time and night’. Which is to say after both human time and the diurnal marker of an indifferent cosmos. This duration – a slippage of past into present and future that could be characterised as ecstatic – seems to have corroded the statues to produce an affect of eternity. Eternity’s passing is ‘sweet and hard’. Theologically speaking, eternity is life after death. Is the oven the statues emerge from hell or Auschwitz? ‘Would burying it,’ Genet asks, ‘be to offer it to the dead?’ As kitsch as the gesture of burying the statue is, Giacometti’s votive offering must be, in his universalizing way, to all those already dead. Is it for those who are yet to die? If so, what quality of stable territoriality and continued human presence does his votive assume? What future does it suppose? One with humans to find it who might know its sweetness and hardness? Dwelling in the post-war crisis of modernity, Genet memorialises the Holocaust and Hiroshima. Merely fourteen years later, in 1972, June Tyson of Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Arkestra sang her incantatory opening to John Coney’s Afrofuturist masterpiece Space is the Place: ‘It’s After the End of the World, Don’t You Know That Yet? / It’s After the End of the World, Don’t You Know That Yet?’ Two decades after Year Zero – the wiping and rebooting of Europe – the world itself is no longer of use. What possibilities are afforded after the end of the world? As Herman Poole Blount, Ra first visited Saturn in 1936. On Saturn, Blount received his calling: ‘quit college and pursue music for one day your vibes will deliver a world from chaos.’ By the mid-1950s his birth date, names, addresses and memories had become opaque, revealing, or concealing, the accruements of identity as a solar mirage. As Sun Ra, an alien reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian god Ra, two invariant myths held fast: a distant past where Ancient Egypt was the foremost civilisation of African people and a near-future in outer space where a colony for black people would once again lead to prosperity. From the terrestrial to the extraterrestrial, earthly to unearthly, Sun Ra’s emancipatory narrative imagined space and time on the other side of white supremacy. In the film Ra comes to Earth in a music-powered spaceship, specifically to Oakland to arrange a concert to spread his message. Oakland is home of the Blank Panthers but also the scene of campus brutality at Berkley (Civil Rights, Free Speech, Vietnam), where Ra had recently delivered his lecture series titled ‘The Black Man in the Cosmos’ . Along the way white NASA scientists attempt to steal the secrets of his spacecraft’s fuel. Finally, the concert occurs and people of colour across Oakland disappear and reappear on Ra’s spaceship. As the spaceship departs planet Earth is destroyed. For Kodwo Eshun, alien abduction is central to Afrofuturist iconography. Naming a ‘we’ that produces a community, Eshun writes in his extraordinary book More Brilliant than the Sun: The idea of alien abduction, the idea of slavery as an alien abduction…means that we’ve all been living in an alien-nation since the 18th century… The mutation of African male and female slaves in the 18th century into what became negro, and into the entire series of humans that were designed in America… the key thing… is that in American none of these humans were designated human. For Afrofuturism the apocalypse has already happened: It’s already after the end of the world. If Afrofuturism has offered diasporic cultures a way to reconstruct history beyond terrestrial and mental borders, it’s perhaps not surprising that in the past few years there have been articulations of other futurisms, including Arab Futurism (Sulaiman Majali), Gulf Futurism (Fatima Al Qadiri and Sophia Al-Maria) and Sino Futurism (Lawrence Lek). (This coincides with art institutions’ engagement with aspects of Afrofuturism, for example ‘Alien Enounters’ at Nottingham Contemporary in 2015 or, in 2017, ‘Cosmic Communities: Coming Out into Outer Space – Homofuturism, Applied Psychedelia & Magic Connectivity’ at Galerie Bucholz. Later this summer, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of its publication, Verso will reissue More Brilliant Than The Sun.)
What has been called the Anthropocene – from the ancient Greek words anthropoid meaning ‘human being’ and kainos meaning ‘recent, new’ – describes, according to Christophe Bonneuli and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz in The Shock of the Anthropocene, the fact that ‘the human imprint on the global environment has now become so large and active that it rivals some of the great forces of Nature in its impact on the functioning of the Earth system’. Yet, rather than being speculatively conceived as a problem for future economic and political design, the Anthropocene has been reduced to an apocalyptic fantasy of human finitude and world finitude. In relief against these creative negotiations of possible futures white European men have named and theorised the Anthropocene – a foreclosure of the future. In the meantime, the superrich are prepping for doomsday. As Aaron Bastani reminds readers in his article ‘Interplanetary Gold Rush’, published in October last year, according to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, space is the ‘province of all mankind’, yet in 2015 Barack Obama legislated for US companies to engage in non-terrestrial resource extraction. Earlier last year, Luxembourg began creating frameworks for asteroid mining companies to base themselves in the duchy, an offer already taken up by the likes of the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. One of the largest known asteroids in the solar system, 16 Psyche, is a floating island of iron, nickel, copper and other rare metals, including gold and platinum. Its value is thought to be around ten thousand quadrillion dollars. Current annual global GDP is $74 trillion. What could be done with this kind of wealth? For Bastani, this is a space that the left should be fighting for. Instead of producing private wealth, collective ownership could, combined with the emergence of general artificial intelligence and ever-cheaper renewable energy, make this the ‘basis of what’s become known as ‘fully automated luxury communism’.’ This is early internet enthusiasm redux: the new interplanetary California Ideology. Named in the mid-1990s by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, the California Ideology diagnosed a growing orthodoxy among writers, hackers, capitalists and artists from the West Coast of America that the coming information age would lead to a digital utopia. What Barbrook and Cameron characterise as a new ‘faith’ emerged from an unprecedented fusion of the counter-cultural bohemianism of San Francisco with the hi-tech industries of Silicon Valley. Whether promoted in magazines such as Wired, books such as the social activist-cum-entrpeneur Jerry Rubin’s Do It! (now the slogan of Nike) or Growing (Up) at Thirty-Seven, Web sites, newsgroups and Net conferences, the Californian Ideology combined the free-wheeling spirit of the hippies, cybernetics, free market economics, and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies. ‘This amalgamation of opposites,’ Barbrook and Cameron write, ‘has been achieved through a profound faith in the emancipatory potential of the new information technologies. In the digital utopia, everybody will be both hip and rich.’ Why, they ask, wouldn’t the same segregations that exists on the ground not be reproduced online? Into the new millennium the Californian Ideology had hardened into a ‘global orthodoxy concerning the relation between society, technology and politics’. How has it changed now that the tech entrepreneurs – agents of a corporate neo-colonialism – are seeking the means to inhabit and to extract mineral wealth from outerspace?
We did not originate in the cosmos. The connection between Middle Passage and space travel is tenuous at best. Out of five hundred thirty-four space travelers, fourteen have been black. An all-black crew is unlikely. Magic interstellar travel and/or the wondrous communication grid can lead to an illusion of outer space and cyberspace as egalitarian. This dream of utopia can encourage us to forget that outer space will not save us from injustice and that cyberspace was prefigured upon a “master/slave” relationship. While we are often Othered, we are not aliens. Though our ancestors were mutilated, we are not mutants. Post-black is a misnomer. Post-colonialism is too. The most likely future is one in which we only have ourselves and this planet.
Jonathan P. Watts
As the artist Martine Syms perceptively observed in her 2013 ‘Mundane Afrofuturists Manifesto’:
Upwards, Downwards, Inwards.
Matt Calderwood Matt Calderwood, ‘Not For Sale’, discarded estate agent sign, fixings
Forward, Backwards, Leftwards, Rightwards,
A series of confused thoughts: “Where was I …” “I was playing around with deep learning models and computer vision. Machine learning is a fun thing, I didn’t quite understand what it meant before playing with modular pieces of codes and try to get my laptop to recognise objects …” “Well, it doesn’t really recognise much, I’m not sure if it really sees anything. It computes, that’s a given. And more often than not, I agree with what it detects. And some other times it seems completely arbitrary, and I find myself trying to understand how some clusters of pixels on a screen, lead this machine to believe that there was something worth detecting ...”
“I mean, it sees things … isolated objects; a person here, some cars there, maybe a bird … But I’m the one seeing the relationship between these items. I see the streetscape, the beach, the field. I’m the narrative that ties these objects together.” “Perhaps, I don’t code the right things. And perhaps, ‘detecting’ is ‘seeing’ and making sense of what’s being seen has more to do with feeling.” “Does technology have feelings? I’m guessing it must. It most definitely carries values and ideals … But are these ideals real things? As much as a machine ‘seeing’ things can be real? Or am I making up stories to make sense of it all and give these things meaning? … “Stories, fictions … That’s all there is. Things that we agree upon, to go on and make up some other fictitious tangible things … Today, my laptop ‘sees’, tomorrow, it may splice and print what some may consider the ‘perfect’ genome. And in both cases, it’s fiction that gives them value and meaning …” “So I made my laptop sing …” “I made it treat what it sees like a music sheet. I made it believe that there’s nothing else to making music. Sometimes it may sound random, but as random as the scene unfolding in front its camera … Is the traffic resulting from people commuting to work random? But is going to work to make money random? …” “I spend a part of my time making seemingly pointless art, and the other part trying to earn some money … Would my art be less pointless if it made money? Like I do art to pay my expensive rent? But why is my rent so expensive? “I might be wrong, but as it goes it seems that money, like territories, are just fictions made tangible …” “3049 … The imaginary might be humanity’s only cradle, from which, self-fulfilling prophecies will emerge …”
“I’ve probably set my ‘confidence threshold’ too low …”
Leaning Towards Levitation
Yuri Pattison Paul Kneale
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D.C.: Psychic Anemone DC: Oracle They voice data that we believe is from Rachel, but is likely fragmentary transcriptions from genomic retrieval files. Would this qualify as a message from the beyond? I have depersonalization syndrome, mostly I am not sure if I am awake or in a terminal hallucination or dreaming. Last night I dreamt I was making a playlist for my girlfriend of songs that the FBI were blasting into the Mount Carmel compound in Waco, the night before the 71 Branch Davidians found the end of the world inside a choke of black smoke and the flames that consumed the bunker. Nancy Sinatra, ‘These boots are made for walking’. Tibetan chants. The sound of dying rabbits. Other possible versions of dreams • All the guests ceaselessly fall over acrobatically. • I dreamt I was able to protect my friend. • Desire floats gracefully like an expensive car, crashing into things decisively in slow motion. • In the dressing room of a gym, they are all naked and preparing themselves, massaging glossy oil into their tanned skin, spread on the floor is a large petrol blue plastic sheet surrounded by chainsaws, drills, knives, screwdrivers of various sizes, USB sticks and hammers. Blinding, bright lights, illuminate the plastic sheet. My little sister gives a strictly pragmatic narration of the scene, over the sound of heavy machinery, flesh slapping and tearing, ripping and the terrifying screams from the margins of nature.
The sky visited me yes. The sun taught me. The darkness showed me how to finally move and be in time.
Yes I did want to pick up a rock and hurl it into the air in the anxious hope of shattering the glass screen that keeps me forever distanced from feeling real. I wanted the glass to shatter into glimmer particles that fly away in the air, like safe dust and behind that glass, the true world, the one that is not simulated through this awe inspiring systems of senses and receptors but it’s presence and my place within it is communicated through trust and communion, a fair communication with all the matter and antimatter that the real is made of. A world where past and future coil tightly in the present into a loving suspension which is completely solitary and simultaneously communal.
Rainforest Connection, thinks our discarded tech can be repurposed to do some serious good.
Empathy is an answer Also: Never trust a billionaire
The idea in a nutshell is to place recycled solar-powered phones high up in the tree canopy where theyâ€™re tough to spot, but they can listen in for the sounds of chainsaws (and eventually vehicles and poachers). When they detect the sounds of illegal activity, the hidden phones use existing GSM cellphone networks to alert authorities of the location in real time, so that the authorities can deploy to the area and stop the loggers before they fell too many trees.
Extract from a trend briefing 2068… “The establishment of a permanent base on Mars in the mid 2050s provided a viable launch pad for further exploration into the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond. This combined with the AI led revision to Einstein’s general theory of relativity has transformed human understanding. We are only beginning to comprehend the impact of this new ability to navigate other alternative dimensions and realities and how doing this will impact the future of human consciousness and culture…”
Zadie Xa “alternate takes – this impossibility for any moment to repeat twice vs the infinite possibilities of anything happening once” Amanda Riffo “Optimism is a form of activism.” Angela Davis
“What matters is not to know the world but to change it.” Fanon “To hear, one must be silent” Ursula Le Guin “Disobey to the dance of Time!” Chooc Ly
Chooc Ly Tan
‘Wake up Dancing any stress or negative energy away from u! Say GO THAT A WAY keep good energy around u! True” Missy Elliott
‘Return with me into this space between earth and sky, which is black despite the light, which is cold despite the warmth. We are going to live in it.’ – Etel Adnan, ‘The Account of the Future’ The time being, writes Lauren Berlant, is an imagined time people (‘we’) share with each other. Like ‘we’, it is a ‘stand-in for an idea of a shared sense.’ Being together somewhere, ambiently or in presence. The relational mindspace of distorted time zones that is the internet, or the high stakes of relating in the same actual room. The time being, writes Berlant, is different from the historical present. We do not share a historical present just because we are alive at the same time because the historical present is relative to situation. Sometimes it’s good to be in the same actual room but when we leave the room our lives are worlds apart. Or, our lives are worlds apart so we will never sit in the same actual room. There are many rooms, and many of the rooms do not have interconnecting doors, or even windows large enough to peer into. The windows may not be at eye-level; you would have to stand on tiptoes to glimpse something of within; you would need a ladder, or a crane, or a spade to dig into the earth; a burrow, a tunnel, a cave. Many humans are not prepared to find something to stand on in order to perceive the situation of another. Many do not have the time, the strength, or the will to find a tool to dig. Most of the time, though, seeing into other rooms is not labour intensive. Opening up a screen, you can flick from room to room, window to window, and view or learn or even feel something of others’ worlds. Relate, without them knowing, or not. All those historical presents. There are worlds out there and you can’t look away but you do look away because just looking is not helping and you have one life to be lived and it is here. ‘In place of a world, there is the disorganized and proximate texture of the everyday. There is the particular body. There is this room.’ This is Hannah Black in 2017 on the collapse of conceived realities. And here is Etel Adnan, on January 1, 1973, when things also seemed to be collapsing: ‘What remains? The account of a space that has yet to be born, a square space, like a bed or a clearing, and windows.’
Adnan writes about the weather, not like little British small talk, but as catalysing heat or mood-changing damp: ‘the eternal sun has worked like a siren on my brain. […] The dust has filled my nails. […] Cockroaches run over my paintings, […]. It is a pregnancy of bad omen.’ She knows that the winds change, and then they change again, bringing in their gusts the bird of the future with an olive branch or a dead insect in its mouth. ‘Time: lemon crushed by a wheel grating under funerals.’ Future: ‘Four lines, a solar cross, a wheel, the universe beginning in the sands, under a black tent, with benign scripture.’ Adnan’s time being is that of sweat, the sparks of sex, aching bones, and paint: she paints – just as humans 10,000 years before her in the Cave of Beasts or the Tassili n’Ajer in the Sahara had also painted – forms out of whose colours the will for dusky futures may be born. Sources Etel Adnan, ‘The Account of the Future’ and ‘In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country’, in To Look at the Sea Is to Become What One Is Lauren Berlant, ‘I went back 2 the violent room for the time being’, Supervalent Thought blog, April 2016 Hannah Black, ‘New World Disorder’, Artforum, February 2017
Like the situated movement between social life — the life of society or life in the club — and singular beings in Black’s work, there is a reassuring flow in Adnan’s writing between various scales of present crises or historical presents. Working through the Algerian War of Independence, the war in Vietnam, and the Lebanese Civil War, she traces arcs of time beyond, but located within, herself. Time’s meaning is not found within the Gregorian calendar or Greenwich Mean Time, or left to the dividing hands of a clock, rather it runs elementally from the ‘violent joke’ of the past to ‘the warm mists of the future.’
Designed & Published by
Designed & published by 555-5555 on the occasion of patten: 3049 / (31/01-3/03, 2018) / Tenderpixel, London. http://patttten.com http://555-...
Published on Jan 31, 2018
Designed & published by 555-5555 on the occasion of patten: 3049 / (31/01-3/03, 2018) / Tenderpixel, London. http://patttten.com http://555-...