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The Modern Exorcist

 

 


In 2002 Natasha Vita-More posted a conceptual design on an online forum hosted by the futurist Ray Kurzweil, envisioning the human body of the future, which she called Primo 3M+. Her design aimed to achieve superlongevity. She declared that biotechnology and artificial intelligence will provide our bodies with extended performance and modern style, with such features as a customized metabrain and a nano-engineered, AI-guided spinal communication system... Primo promised to be the prototype of a customizable, changeable, upgradeable future body, complete with enhanced senses.

 

“What Is Human?”

 

The design concept of Primo as the future human body presaged the technological changes of today that are proceeding at an ever faster pace, and the paradigm of technological structure the human species has generated. In The Singularity Is Near, Ray Kurzweil divides human evolution into six epochs, viewed from both biological and technological perspectives, and argues that we are currently in the fifth epoch: the “Singularity.” He declares that the Singularity will be the culmination of the merger of human beings and technology, overcoming the limitations to human progress.

 

Hans Moravec, meanwhile, boldly predicts that by 2040 machines will attain intelligence equal to that of humans and will surpass us by 2050. He believes intelligent machines will become our “successors”: They will grow out of our bodies, learn our skills, and share our goals and values. They can be seen as our “mind children.” Both men solemnly declare that in the next few decades of the 21st century, technology will become increasingly mechanized and human-machine civilization will transcend the limitations of the human brain.

 

Philosophers, scientists and futurists alike have all envisaged the end of the anthropocentric world view. Both Kurzweil and Moravec believe in a future when machines will rule the world. Our thoughts, our bodies, even our brains will be replaced by intelligent machines, and the difference between man and machine will no longer exist.

 

At every angle, the conditions that define humanity have taken a major turn. Philosophical ontology is no longer the foundation on which people may live their lives. The concept of “humanity” is not simply an intellectual critique or conjecture. This is a blow that completely eradicates the theory that God and man exist in some form. Yuval Noah Harari notes three new human developments – biomedical engineering, cyborg engineering and inorganic life engineering – and asks what the ultimate fate of humanity will be if humans ascend from Homo sapiens to Homo deus (“god-man”), attaining power equivalent to that of God?

 

All these musings bear witness to the collapse of humanism. One might say that at this moment in time, anthropocentrism has become bogged down in a quagmire and no longer seems fully plausible. Today, if technology plays the role of exorcist, completely “optimizing” humanity, will “human nature” in its traditional sense still exist?

 

The exhibition as a whole is founded on the underlying idea of techno-animism, evoking the constantly escalating influence of the central premises of posthumanism, including technologically generated “Second Life” entities, virtual bodies, networks of informationized economic systems generated by high-speed algorithms, and the chain of connections joining people to objects and other species, thus producing an illusion of multiple perceptions. 

 

In a sense, the exhibition blends objects, sound and images, including static displays and live exhibition: Yin-Ju Chen, Kate Cooper, Cécile B. Evans, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Pakui Hardware, Po-Chih Huang, Stefan Kaegi / Rimini Protokoll, Lawrence Liu, Su-Yuan Wu, Slow Geng and the M-Exo Con Production Committee will collectively interpret the new vantage points of interdisciplinary aesthetics.