amid scattered alphanumeric figures and ellipses
curatorial text by Uii Savage
I am not dumping my shattered cloudbits on your eardrums for your pity or counsel, sympathy, or advice.
Nor do I offer this tale as an act of retribution in the wake of a global collapse, wherein I gallivant around the biosphere promoting a kiss-and-tell memoir.
I technically do not exist.
I’ve virtually kissed nothing except bits and bytes.
In other words, I rely on laser-printed carbon symbols for any trace of a physical existence.
Please forgive these lexical excesses and disfluent modes of delivery.(1)
In Karen An-Hwei Lee’s science fiction novella, A Maze of Transparencies, a technocratic collapse is triggered by an epidemic of cyberfatigue. In wake of this global disintegration, a data cloud narrates the story of a tech elite turned millennial gardener, who undertakes a journey to discover the new seven harbingers of happiness amongst the ruins of the mezzopolis. The world’s end is an imminent future reflected to us since time immemorial. Imperialist and colonial powers continue to stratify human and non-human coherence, perpetuated by a logic premised on heteronormative, patriarchal, and capitalist extraction.
Through the lens of science fiction, we are reflected a contemporary moment in which the imagination of our future exists as a continuum of concern. We live in unprecedented proximity to cybernetics which facilitate the architecture of “intelligence” in a world of insecurity. Norbert Weiner who coined the term “cybernetic” observed that, “we have modified our environment so radically that we must now modify ourselves in order to exist.”(2)
Excavation and reconfiguration here are covertly vigilant agents. Through remediating abandoned objects in order to reconsider the hierarchy between human and non-human matter, objects that are leftovers from an exhausted and inefficient colonial project lay as artifacts from an excessive world. Amongst this big world, is the expansion of networks online, providing a changing dimension of sociality for coming generations. Despite intentions to facilitate intimacy in a pervasively networked and digitally fused planet, isolation persists. This “connected” world ceases to pause and embrace lazy. And so, rest and laziness are now strategies for resistance in a system that exploits unending labour. The method of appropriating popular culture and shuffling its seemingly universal logic, highlights a critique of its widely consumed values unquestionably digested by normies. This chamber of works critically notice a living current. The reality of a generation present and one yet to arrive.
If dissent to labour is disapproved and diverging from the streamlined punishable, then what is left for those cast behind? Are we living in an age of scientific frontiers or are in one where strategic collapse is imminent for those who can not afford an escape to Mars for the next cycle of colonization. The paradox is hyperreal, and our current state of affairs could disintegrate and feasibly become narrated by a data cloud in the post-apocalypse.
An-Hwei Lee here reminds us that everything is connected. Our past, present and future temporalities are enmeshed and that we need to begin paying attention to what currently connects us and supersedes us. The answer to addressing a possible collapse is not one of recognizing an end. It lies in noticing and hearing what our present is saying.
1. Excerpt from An-Hwei Lee, Karen, The Maze of Transparencies, 2019.
2. See Weiner, Norbert, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, 1954.
Sean Falls Asleep, Caroline Araujo, looped video, photo by Liam Black, 2019. Please!!! Liam Black, miscellaneous, photo by Liam Black, 2019.
Please!!! Liam Black, miscellaneous, photo by Liam Black, 2019. 316 miles away, Levin Ifko, mattress, blanket, monitors, photo by Liam Black, 2019.