Cosmology: New Model from the Extreme Present

Spazio Murat,  from 3rd March to 4th April 2017, Bari 

In October 1968, the activist Palle Nielsen installes The Model: A Model for a Qualitative Society at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The installation looked like an adventure playground at first sight and it was a space where children of all ages could experience freedom without supervision or written rules. Seen in depth, the project was a sum of the conspicuous themes which were central for the counterculture in the ‘60s and ‘70s, such as their demand for a new world and an auto-organised utopian society, based on personal freedom. These requests were a critical reaction to those time’s issues, as well as ours: environmental crisis, wars, migrations, rights and freedom violations, arduous accessibility of goods and tools, strong polarisation of wealth and a huge social gap, which were the reason for an uncertain future, and still are. The recent concept of Antropocene, invented by the biologist Eugene Stoermer in the ’80s, that defines the age of the final human impact on the planet, where even the earth life is threatened by an extreme and irreversible exploitation of the ecosystem, has subverted the research and cultural production world. Recognising the new geological age faces us with the need of reviewing, and re-thinking the way we act, and the practices that we use to govern and define our political and social organisations. Some of the devastating effects of these practices arethe condition of political and social instability, caused by the increase of conflicts scattered around the world, physical and virtual, and the migrations forced by climate change and environmental disasters, such as the one that is hitting several shores of Bangladesh. These events produce huge migrations and the increase of protectionist practices, such as borders’ closure and walls constructions, which strongly oppose free circulation of people, the foundation of our globalised age.

Considering that our planet-scale collective life structures are failing, it’s necessary that we quickly think of new models to propose, in an age where the acceleration of change and technology has taken on a persistent speed, and impedes any future predictions, while suddenly the future turns into present. In the Extreme Present.

One of the characteristics of this new geological era is the loss of boundaries between what’s natural and artificial, an idea that has been the centre of philosophical, humanistic and theological studies and investigations since the origins. The boundaries between nature and artifice, intended as the possible abuse of man over nature, were established by the great power of tradition and western philosophical, theological and metaphysical thinking. This border was essentially a form of order, that is the necessary set of rules to which human behaviours has to adapt. In contrast, uncertainty arises with the developments of contemporary techno-sciences and culture, along with the disappearing of this kind of limit: the boundaries between what’s natural and artificial become blurred, without any difference, because everything turns into above the law, manipulable and nothing stays as natural and intrinsically inviolable. Today, the two elements appear totally blended, nature becomes artifice and viceversa. It is not possible to distinguish them anymore. 

This physical and semantic alteration process of the word “natural”, concerns more and more the human body, modified by technologies, artificial devices and BioHacking. The progressive modification of human features, which transforms us in post-humans or trans-humans, such that the biological nature of human body does not represent the limit of possibilities, broadens up to all the issues about Artificial Intelligence. The robotics developments and the possibilities opened by artificial brains, for instance, are already transforming the industry sector that, as the World Economic Forum has observed, is massively substituting the physical workforce with intelligent machineries and robots.

About this matter, in his book The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, Benjamin H. Bratton, american theorist whose work spans philosophy, computer science, and design, questions the traditional ideas behind sovereignty built-up around the nation-state concept, and develops a geopolitical theory based on sovereignty in terms of planetary-scale computation. Bratton conceives a Stack, a sort of mega-structure, both physical and virtual, that increases with its layers, and symbolises the whole planet, between sky and earth, including global communication infrastructures, Cloud systems, the City, up to the single user. The possibilities of development of each platform, independent from territorial identity issues and not tied up anymore to classical government structures, force us to change the models of our global geopolitical order, opening up to new horizons in management of goods and the entire planetary ecosystem. While our world turns into a new creature increasingly difficult to be understood, modified by technologies and algorithms’ rule, we are progressively losing the ability to imagine it and design a new way of government, opposed to the ones imposed by contemporary society. Conceiving a contemporary review of Nielsen’s project, Parasite 2.0 takes on our anxiety on the future through play. On one hand, there is the idea of a “Radical Island” and a “Crypto-Desert”, expressed by the need for discovering new places and new spaces to imagine other ways of organise the collective life. On the other hand, there is the proposal for a critical reconsideration of acting, based on the idea of Antropocene, on the progressive loss of boundaries between nature and artifice, on trans-human issues, and the impact that new technologies and planet-scale computation systems impose on the geopolitical order, on our way of living and governing our habitat.

Precisely mimicking the different layers of Bratton’s Stack and their diverse degrees of communication, the project is conceived as a platform that on several levels and with various segments and languages, conveys and transmits new types of society. From the physical layer, the habitat created by the installation, with its messages exchanged between the body, the actions and activities carried out by the workshops; up to the circulation of the issues mentioned above, discussed throughout a programme of talks and public debate during the four weeks of the exhibition.

TALKS

04.03.2017 Artistic research in the Extreme Present
Participants: Alessandro Ludovico, Parasite 2.0
Moderators:Paola Lucente, Massimo Torrigiani

11.03.2017 Fictional reality, fictional nature
Participants: Fabio Santacroce, Vito Macina
Moderator: Marginal Studio

18.03.2017 Algorithm and the City
Participants: Elisa Cristiana Cattaneo, Kyle Miller
Moderator:Small

25.03.2017 Marginal deserts
Participants: Rita Elvira Adamo, Antonio Ottomanelli 
Moderator: Marco Petroni 


WORKSHOP 

11.03.2017 Hyper animal
By Marginal Studio

18.03.2017 Decentralise!
By SMALL.

25.03.2017 Survive the future!
By PLASTICITY

Photos by Antonio Ottomanelli