Member 1551
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Immortal since Jan 28, 2008
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3
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  • adastra’s projects
    Branding the Species
    Background: Voyager’s Interstellar record is a disk with encoded information that was attached to two space probes currently making their...

    The Voyager update project
    Description has not yet been created.
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    Not going to lie, I'm writing this paper while listening to other groups present. We just finished presenting our processes, to mixed reactions.

    When Rebeca says that our presentation failed, she is right, because we were unable to convey the humor and the (potentially very political) critique that drives the purpose of this project. However I feel that she does not get the intrinsic satire and subversion of both the concepts and the forms of our communication.

    When Rene said that for all the philosophical direction we've been poked and prodded us in, we lack an overarching branding or project philosophy, I think I would argue the opposite; our projects do not lack conceptual strategy. Especially in the case of our project—the only one I can even try to speak for—we purposefully narrow our focus in order to encapsulate one that is esoterically human—the perspective that the truer the understanding of our place in the world, the more we realize the limited scope of that understanding.

    Perhaps it is a frustration with futility. Just as there is no benchmark for objectivity in the world, there is no standard for and no such thing as universality. And in the face of this absence, we can rationalize away from a need for objectivity altogether, and similarly, there is nothing that demands an arbitrarily broad yardstick of success other than our pretention and arrogance. Rather than aspire to a false ideal, shouldn't we just own up to our own sets of comfortable biases? Instead of an attempt at universality, wherein we dilute any editorial voice with which we embarked, we should be distilling our differences, in a sense allowing that Lacanian meaning to arise from and fill in the gaps of the nonmeaning.

    That shift inward that we underwent was not just helpful but necessary. While other groups may have found their callings beyond our planet and our realms of verifiable knowledge, we turned back at the end of the driveway, because while there is fascination in speculation, we wanted to stick with what we know, and what we know we know. We have so much trouble communicating with each other and ourselves as it is, there is no need to involve any outer space before we've figured out the inner one.

    What seems far more interesting is thumbing through a body of perspectives not limited by political correctness and balance. As long as we can absorb view points in the context of their viewers, then we are able to construct (or deconstruct) a much more interesting, multidimensional model of the world/s we occupy. It's the difference between enjoying a perfect painting, which is static and from one point of view compared to walking around a sculpture, whose view is composed of a million composite images from every which angle. Our cookbook project, especially with our most recent and (from here) most important revision— that of curation (an outsourcing of intelligence, you could say) accomplishes this bottom-up approach to not defining, but rather describing what we as humans, consider to be human.

    And so, as a group, our role shifts from author to editor. This sits a lot more comfortably with me— as confident as I am in presenting the legacy of humanity to generations to come, the idea of commissioning authors, artists, teachers, experts, homeless bums, thinkers, idiots to whittle something from their own beautifully incomplete (in the big scheme of things) arsenals guarantees infinite possibility. I can't say enough how forgoing that attention to fitting every transmission into containable criteria actually allows a much more comprehensive and accurate picture. Imagine the innumerable crossings created by:
    - asking both the Pope and Charles Mansen to give us the seven ingredients for religion
    - asking a seventh grade math teacher, or seventeenth grade math teacher - asking a rocket scientist and an 8 year old and the mother of a fallen astronaut the recipe for a space shuttle crash
    - asking a professor and the student he is fucking a recipe for academic dishonesty - asking a psychiatrist for the recipe for a perfect family
    - asking a blind person to draw a diagram for making macaroni and cheese

    Farther into the future, these people, concepts, contexts, nuances may very well be obsolete. But that is fine. The reasons for their becoming obsolete is a narrative and a examinable, parse-able process in itself, possibly even spearheaded by the ability recorded by our project to further divide everything into its even tinier components. There is no need to excise the context and collision of every moment when doing so is impossible and unnecessary.

    If the question is what is at stake; in this case, ultimately nothing. The beauty of absence is that most of the time it's impossible to know its presence. In however many years from now, this project will only mean something if it is carried out. And this reflects the exact motion for its construction: creation. The meaning we take is the meaning make; if this is a time-capsule of a trillion unabashedly dated, esoteric details, then the stories they tell are the connections that our futuristic counterparts can or want or are still able to trace through space. The recipes themselves, as a collective body of knowledge (the present) but also as a cross-section of ignorance, bias, difference (the past), imply the ultimate instruction, for something less glamorous but more exciting than the future (if we acknowledge that any recipe for the future can't exactly be written, and plus, it's arguably just one point which is often much too quickly overtaken); the cook book in its entirety, is a recipe for the continuum we have traveled, we have created, we are traveling, we are creating as humanity. Where it leads (and where everybody here seems so eager to go) is embedded and encapsulated in where we've been.

    And maybe Rebeca is right, here is where we as editors need to stop and evaluate our options. There are infinite directions where this project can lead, and if brand slinging is a necessary evil (or yet another cooperative opportunity!) there are a multitude of flavors we can mass produce our ideas in. And of course, it is only natural that the original product/project be sideswiped in the name of "market pressures" and budget estimates and demographic feedback. But I feel the lifestyle with which we chose to interweave our noble endeavor capitalizes on this irony.

    Yes, Ikea created an empire on doing it yourself; on paartiklebord and glue, plastic toys and 20 cent glassware. It is economy and Economy, and hasn't infiltrated our every day consciousness so much as it's been ushered in with open arms (attached to a disembodied red stuffed heart) Could there be a more perfect ideology? Ikea is the brand we hate that we love. It is our settling for. It is our buying into complacency (or just buying six cinnamon rolls) with "why not" and a shrug. It's our fascination with simplicity as a substitute for minimalism, as some twisted offset for our otherwise egregious excess.

    Benjamin mentioned "soft fascism," which is right. It's Starbucks and Facebook and Apple taking over the world; where we welcome the structures, processes, products that will be our undoing. It's a Huxleyan dystopia rather than a totalitarian 1984 approach, where we've killed any interesting sense/semblance of ourselves with kindness and pleasure, passivity and pacificity, two finger scroll and orange dream machine.

    And if we can't fight em... well, aligning our rosy project with the auspices of imminent singularity (man and technology; man and the Malm bed frame with matching nightstand) is perfectly ridiculous in itself. As a fledgling idea we are paying honest homage to the absurd success of mass-producing lifestyle (routine, process, procedure) achieved by our betters, though our larger intentions are disingenuous. The inherent incongruity is hilarious; packaging something as personal as a recipe, appropriating something as idiosyncratic as individual ingredients in the name of self-expression but to the ends of world domination seems like something only the Americans and the more attractive parts of Western Europe could come up with. After all, who doesn't love the Swedes?

    In other words, we're piggybacking on a myth just to fuck with it. It's in this bright-eyed, (beige some say?) spirit we offer our oversized package of special we-dish meatballs, neatly rolled and individually frozen for later consumption—who knows when? If there's anything the future needs to know about us, it's that goddamnit, we're still here.

    Fri, Mar 21, 2008  Permanent link

    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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    "The further backward you look, the further forward you can see"
    — Winston Churchill

    For us, (and maybe others) this project started rather simply as an attempt to send lps to aliens. Within the span of four weeks, however, we've moved through everything from Esperanto to One Wilshire, beaming the internet to deconstructing the cell, pie catapults and postcards made of digital signals, to blasting out semicentenially-addended time capsules aimed at Gliese 581, and attempting to define intelligence, discuss the essence of humanity (its language, perception and expression), while at the same time dismiss our inherent biases...

    Of course, the further we push into the future (or from another point of view, the longer we wait to get there), the more we find there is left to discover. In the context of our project, then, the universe was most definitely expanding...until we were confronted with a pretty momentous idea: The Singularity is Near.

    A key player in Kurzweil's book is The Law of Accelerating Returns, which stipulates that "within several decades information-based technology technologies will encompass all human knowledge and proficiency, ultimately including the pattern-recognition powers, problem-solving skills, and emotional and moral intelligence of the human brain itself." This moment, this paradigm shift, is what he calls the Singularity.

    According to Kurzweil, "The future is widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected it to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past....But the future will be far more surprising than most people realize, because few observers have truly internalized the implications of the fact that the rate of change itself is accelerating."

    Both biological evolution and human technology show continual acceleration, as evidenced by the increasingly shorter time between events (two billion years from the origin of life to cells; fourteen years from the PC to the world wide web..). Our growth (intelligence) is both exponential and seductive—multiplied by a constant; and explosive after what is called the knee of the curve. Our predictions about future developments, he says, has followed an "intuitive linear" view (which the beginning stages of exponential growth seem to confirm), rather than the more accurate "historical exponential" view. Both frightening and exhilarating is the fact that after this knee of the curve, we can expect nearly vertical progress.

    Things that demonstrate this exponential potential include:

    1. Adoption of the phone industry vs. cell phone industry—it took about half a century for the invention of the telephone to reach significant levels of usage; it took the cell phone only a decade.
    2. The duration of observation/memory— Single-cell animals could remember things for a couple seconds based on chemical reactions; animals with brains could keep things for days, primates with culture for several generations; with written language, we've extended this to thousands of years.
    3. The overall rate of adopting new paradigms (which parallels the rate of technological progress)— it is currently doubling every decade.

    Armed with these insights, our focus has shifted from contacting extraterrestrial life forms to something we had flirted with much earlier; expressing identity and maintaining relevance to (our future extrapolations of) ourselves. Of course, this is something humankind has toyed around with since the beginning (if there was one): attempting to isolate what it is that makes us so (or not so) singularly human, arriving perhaps at the realization that the search is essentially futile, and finally striking some cosmic bargain with metaphysical truths for the simple sake of sanity...

    Poised at this imminent juncture, this crucial point of the curve, we're choosing not to broadcast simply outward, but rather to turn our consciousness (or our conscious explorations) inward and, necessarily, forward.

    If we're going to bust a knee, at least let's go out kicking.
    Mon, Feb 4, 2008  Permanent link

    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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