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Xárene Eskandar
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Apr 4, 2007
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    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.
    Between 30 June - 2 July 2010, a group of researchers, scientists, scholars and an artist met at the Korea Institute of Technology in Saarbruchen, Germany for the Human Document Project. The three day event, organized by Dr. Andreas Manz, was an intensive programme of presentations, brain-storming sessions and more presentations (followed by good food and drink).

    The two main questions of the three-day session were 1. How to preserve a document on humankind for one million years? 2. What would that document contain? Each presenter came in with ideas which were then re-hashed into new ideas by the collective.

    My presentation was titled Utopian Phase Space. I'll skip the intro part on my background and work—which can be found here on SC and on my website—and give you a transcription of the rest of my talk and proposal.

    (sub title: design_story)... My work, like most art and design tells stories. Art and design have been carriers of much of our history through thousands of years as paintings, pottery, poetry and so on. A well-designed object, either carries a unique story, or completes an existing story, or allows the viewer/user to generate their own fantastical narrative. Art and design create an experience of a certain quality that resonates with our beliefs, interests, and experiences. What is the story we tell our future and what qualities does that story invoke in our future readers? My “challenge”, especially for myself, is what temporal human qualities (ie non-verbal communication) do we preserve, and how do we document and preserve them, so that they can be re-lived in a million years? (And I have some ideas for different ways of "re-living")

    (sub title: goal_resurrection) Most important: How do we convince our Future Founders, that humans are worth resurrecting to share those experiences? With the latest scientific developments such as animating E-coli bacteria with tens of thousands of years-old mammoth RNA—in effect resurrecting dead matter—or computing life into bacteria from computer generated and synthetic DNA, the question of resurrection will be a common dilemma, if not an everyday decision, in the future of intelligent, sentient beings. So what can we do today to design a plan for becoming highly desirable Gods, so that Future Founders will want and resurrect us of their own free will? Kind of sinister.

    (sub title: future founders) But before we think about what we leave behind and how we preserve it, we have to think of who will be experiencing it. Who are our Future Founders? What state of civilization will they be in? In one million years, we can have whole civilizations from stone-age to space-age, one thousand times over and over again!

    I think this question is the most important question for all of us here to answer. It will determine what we say, and how we say it.

    Now with my background in architecture, design and media; my interest in Utopias; and my influences by science fiction, what plan of action can I devise?

    (sub title: brain) I am going to focus on designing, and I am using art and design somewhat interchangeable right now. In his upcoming book on Art and the Conscious Brain, leading neuro-scientist, Antonio Damasio, places art as a necessary function of the brain. He positions art in line of brain’s functions: the first is homeostasis; the second is the mind-making, third is the making of consciousness, fourth production of the self and finally is culture art, as a side effect of cognitive capacity, and a necessity which creates socio-cultural homeostasis. Humans create. That’s what we do.

    One of my favorite philosophers, Vilem Flusser, has written that, "Design is the joining together of great ideas to escape (or design) our way out of unwanted circumstances and to instead live artfully and beautifully."

    And every time we design—basically create culture—we also create an obstacle in someone else’s path—and Flusser masterfully makes an etymological connection between design and trickery.

    What I am proposing is designing a desirable culture that begs to be re-lived.

    In the Xenogenesis series, by McArthur and Nebula award winning author, Octavia Butler, the last remaining humans are saved and preserved in an organic suspended animation, by a race of interstellar travelers, the Oankali. The Oankali have three genders: female, male and ooloi (who are actually a gender-less third-party which accommodate mating between the Oankali genders and the human race.The Oankali are gene-traders. Their ooloi act as a repository of genetic information of all the species they come into contact with. They refine stronger genes and eliminate the weaker ones as well as genetic diseases. The ooloi also control human reproduction, basically by eliminating it, unless mediated by an ooloi, to avoid genetic diseases that occur in human-to-human mating. The other reason for the ooloi preventing human reproduction is to fix what they call the “great contradiction”: intelligence in the service of hierarchy; basically our hierarchical behaviour over-riding our intelligence and compromising our species well-being.The ooloi have the ability to read the qualitative aspect of humans. Not quality in terms of eye colour and body type, but cognitive and emotional qualities. Qualities that are accumulated over time, qualities which are influenced by culture—as well as making culture—qualities one gains from life experiences, as well as qualities which are inherent in humankind. But the ooloi have human specimens that assist them in their reading and understanding of humans.The problem that lead to the ooloi maintaining humans but not allowing them to reproduce, is because they were aware of humans through the human’s unaltered history, and the immediate and unmediated experience of the human’s existence among them.

    This is a science fiction story, but opens up many discussions.

    As we are, quite frankly and in my humble opinion, we won’t leave a great impression on other sentient and intelligent beings. We have many great achievements that leave me in tears and awe, but they are too few in the grand scheme of things.

    I admit that my idealism and Utopian ideas, are rooted in my flaw—like many other Utopians—it stem from a negative point of view.

    Therefore the first problem I see is us, humans.

    However, what we have going for this situation, is that one million years from now, there probably will not be any human specimen—as human is defined now—for any Future Founder to judge and analyze and test and decide what to do with. And there could be humans or humanoids and I can go on many speculative routes, but will leave it for later….

    The second problem is the history we have created thus far, and the speculation of the kind of history we will most likely have in the future. History has been a linear progression, documented during its current time and before our eyes, analyzed in hindsight and ignored all together only to be repeated in the future. It has also been an organic progression, behaving as a networked organism where each system (each country, each regime, etc) has affected other systems, resulting in unexpected outcomes. History is also made of individual stories, many that overlap, many that are repeated and quite often forgotten or bundled together, and many that are unique, stories that through conjunction with other strong, individual stories have changed culture and the course of civilization.

    (sub title: history_utopias) We should take this chance of extended time—this time to pre-analyze—to construct a new story. We will build this new story in the same manner our current history is being built, by building it up with individual stories. But these individual stories should all be the unrealized Utopias. We take advantage of the enormous amount of time from now until then, to make our Utopias from the current “nowheres”, to a quite possible network of “somewheres”. This grand fabrication is a phase space where all possible Utopias are represented as existing alongside each other. But we will provide no conclusion. The story is open ended, with multiple possibilities, all exciting in their hope and visionary. But which possibility actually came to pass? We won't tell. And the anticipation of wanting to know, is an old tactic… (Bible, Quran)

    (sub title BwO_cyborg organs) I see all of the upcoming brainstorming and discussion as an opportunity to devise a plan to live our posthuman lives as cyborg organs, and as what N. Katherine Hayles describes as “an amalgam, a collection of heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction”… what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari call, a body without organs. What I will change in Kate’s position is “material” to “immaterial”…. an immaterial entity…



    After the presentation, I led a group assigned with brainstorming the documentation and preservation of the arts and the ephemeral. (To speed up the brainstorming process and to get results, we unanimously decided on a few givens.)

    Our considerations were:
    Who will be addressed?
    Increased intelligent humans
    Advanced culture and society
    Better technical means of interpretation
    At minimum, more or less like us

    How much can be stored?
    Assume considerable data storage space
    Evolving document

    For 'Arts' we discussed:
    Accessibility:
    • Facilitate understanding

    • Style and comprehensiveness

    • Instructions
      Keys and Legend (ie visual library, iconography)
      Language level

    ... and Content Scenario (What is the content and how can it be it selected):
    • Wiki-like

    • Spectrum of examples

    • High-brow (Michelangleo)
      Low-brow (Backstreets of Rome)

    • Voting system

    • Public on-line voting

    • One example per technology

    • pottery, painting, textile

    • Digital art object

    • Abstract text description, devoid of artist’s ego

    For 'Ephemerals' we discussed how to:
    • Document Emotions

    • Scientific studies, ie on facial expressions; psychological, anthropological, neurological, etc.
      Art, poetry, plays, documentary

    • Induce Emotions

    • Psychopharmaca

    • Experience Emotions

    • Augmented reality
      Multi-media and multi-sensory experiences
      Embedded systems

    Our general recommendation for Art was "broad but not deep representation" so as to not taint perceptions of future founders of these works; and for Feelings, "deep through background stories"

    ... and ultimately, the final proposed document for Art and Feelings is an Epic Narrative presented as a multi-media and multi sensory experience, documented in text for reproduction purposes. This recommendation was guided by the works of Sol Lewitt and Allan Kaprow as precedents, specifically projects which are text-based instructions for replication of their work by anyone, at any given time.

    We put forward this idea of abstract, text-based work which is devoid of artist ego. It is simply a description of, for example, what a paintbrush is and how it was used. No artist names, no styles names, no affiliations. 1,000,000 years from now, who cares who Matisse was; we fear we'd be creating fake gods all over again.

    To learn about other presenters and solutions, you can visit the HuDoP site.

    For the future session, tentatively set to be sometime in 2012 at Stanford University, I strongly urge artists, poets, philosophers and futurists of the SpaceCollective community to participate. Of the many artists that Dr. Manz had invited to create a balanced mix of participants, I was the only one to respond and attend. It is very important for our group to set an imaginative and out-there standard to be achieved. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, but felt in the end that the solutions were too pragmatic as I want to be resurrected as a cyborg organ.
    Thu, Jun 8, 2017  Permanent link
    Categories: utopian, BwO, human_document_project, cyborg_organ
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    Staring at the night sky one August, anticipating the Perseids, I realized two things: first, that while facing westward, I was tumbling backward through Space at 860 miles per hour; and second that we have a fundamental existential problem by living under an opaque sky.

    Not long after, a news blip on NPR induced uncontrollable laughs when the reporter read something to the effect of 'the United States positioning itself as the World Leader'. Let's take a moment and think about the absurdity of this position and of these power games, and all games for that matter, from the personal to global. With naked eyes alone one can see the depth of Space and begin to grasp the immensity of its scale. We can immediately understand how inconsequentially small we are, how in the scale of space and time our existence is as insignificantly temporal as a momentary air bubble in the ocean... or a mote of dust.



    What does it mean to be a World Leader on Earth when Earth exists within a Universal scale where it doesn't matter if we implode today or keep on going another billion years? We fight and war and steal and lie and cheat and kill, because we don't realize the real scale of our existence as a direct result of living under the Opaque Blue Ceiling.

    What if, instead of the opaque blue ceiling, under which the majority of humans spend the majority of their waking hours, we lived under the Transparent Night Sky? What if we could see, for most of our waking hours together, that not only are we insignificant in the scale of the Universe, but as far as we know, we are alone and that we only have each other. The view of Space changes our attitude. The awe of this realization is empathic. In the basic familial and social units, we seek each other's company when we feel alone. Seeking company is not a cultural, racial or class thing; it's a human thing. But our World Leaders separate us through differentiation and discrimination—and compared to what? To each other, in this blip of a scale that we occupy in all of Space?

    In Orion Magazine, William L. Fox tackles this question of how we see ourselves and how it affects us from another point of view—losing the view of the whole from Space. Both views teach us about ourselves and while I also mourn the inability to see Earth from space and angry that our Leaders have robbed us of the View, the scale is difficult to grasp and the image has become too familiar. Lying under the ever-changing night sky, the scale envelopes us, becoming cognitively and emotionally accessible. The bare night sky, under-experienced because of light pollution, is under-utilized as a space of learning about humanity and humility, and the basic principle of equality.

    Drop everything and go camping this week. The Perseids are back 11-13 August. Go far away from the city and the light of your smartphone screen. Grab a telescope or just take fresh eyes, and do not use any star-gazing apps. Take a kid, a friend or just yourself, but instead of naming constellations, look for Us within and as the Whole.

    Fri, Aug 9, 2013  Permanent link
    Categories: realization, space, rant, earth
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    In-progress–feedback welcomed.

    The Fold
    By using three keywords that Marcos Novak's concept of Transvergence is situated upon—ontology, immanence and allo–I begIn questioning what is to find the response this is. What is being? What is becoming? What is other? I follow this with "What if?". "What if?" is the question of the speculative; it is what transforms the philosopher's "What is?" to the scientist's "This is." This work, therefore, should not be mistaken for a utopia only latent with "What ifs"; it is the process of 'tomorrow' becoming 'now'. In this quest I have honed in on the fold and its potential for developing new possibilities for modes of existence and occupation of space, in the form of architectural organs–origami-like extensions of our body; an actual organ of skin. Where are fold (n.) and folding (v.) positioned as responses to these questions and speculations of change? Why a fold? What is a fold anyway?

    To fold is to hide; to unfold is to reveal; a fold therefore, holds both opposite actions (hiding and revealing) within one dimension of the fold line. Spatially, the area where my interest lies in, the one dimensionality of the line reveals and hides the capability of two-dimensional planes becoming a three-dimensional form. A fold is a multiple of potentials waiting to be realized. Therefore, a fold, a Deleuzian being-as-becoming, the line-as-plane-as-form, exists on a plane of immanence, latent with possibilities. The key to existing on this plane is desire.

 Folding is the act of including and excluding, of containing both the inside and the outside, this and that. One desires to fold and unfold, or in other words, to pursue potentials. Italo Calvino’s city of Chloé best illustrates the desire of the potential, what Rosetta Di Pace-Jordan explains as the “dynamism latent in all matter”, and in Chloé, the dynamism latent in all relationships. Chloé both includes thousands of possible relationships between its inhabitants, as well as excluding them—the well being of the city based on the exclusion, or folding-in and leaving out, rather than un-folding and playing out. 



    A fold, or a ptychosis, as applied in medical English, is the behavior of becoming something other. A single becoming the double, becoming the multiple, exemplified in embryonic folding, where each fold yields another part to the single disk of the organism, multiplying its parts by continually folding over itself. This process is that of a machinic phylum, where folding of heterogeneous parts–ectoderm (outside) and endoderm (inside)–creates a new entity. In Origami, just as in embryonic folding, the combinations of transverse and longitudinal folds arrive at different forms. However, different from embryonic folding, origami has a homogenous base, which through a dynamic process ends in a static form. In Latin, fold (v.) and arrive (v.) are both plico, an active tense. Once a fold arrives at a point, that point should only become a departure point to another form.

    We are continuously experiencing series of arrivals and departures at and from points; our lives are broken into milestones and anniversaries. We are in a constant mode of unfolding and changing, our single body becoming multiples in the compounded unfolding of its future. Our body is therefore analogous to the fold. However, we go through this dynamic process with a static, homogenous base: our body. So the question now shifts from 'what is a fold?', to how can a folded form (our body departing and arriving at various points in space-time) continue embodying the dynamism that initially created it? How can our bodies become a machinic phylum for the realization of architectural organs? What are the heterogeneities that must be synthesized?

    “The machinic phylum is materiality, natural or artificial, and both simultaneously; it is matter in movement, in flux, in variation […]”
    –Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus," p. 409.

    Here, the machinic will be the synthesis of the heterogeneities of the organic (human) and inorganic (literally, the machines of industrialization) into a new entity, a new human.

    Industrial Ecology to Social Ecology to Anarchic Ecology
    Through the emergence of machinic phyla, we are on-course for the realization of architectural organs. Over the last 150 years, our relationship with technology has shifted focus from production at any cost, to human-centered design, to environmentally conscious design. The final step is a shift to a fragmented and sustainable, autonomous design, a shift which has already begun.

    Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times is a seminal piece of the folding of the human into technology, the first machinic phylum of modern times. Filmed in 1936, it is the futuristic and extended vision of the events set off a century earlier with the second Industrial Revolution and the introduction of factory modernization to the domestic realm. This is a period when the technology takes precedence over the human, where production came at any cost to the environment; child labor was rampant, and worker rights were unheard of. The deep red sky and smoke stacks of Monet's paintings are not romantic reminiscing of the city, but factual impressions of the coal grime across the landscape and lives of citizens. Like Chaplin's film, Fritz Lange's Metropolis (1927) is created at the height of Scientific Management: The machinic efficiency of the human body, not for the benefit of the human, but for the production of profit–the "economic efficiency" of Taylorism, or better put, the efficient production of an economy of profit at the expense of the human worker. Christine Fredrick's Scientific Management of the Home (1919), by introducing the concept of efficiency for the female worker in her duties of housework, completes the cycle of profit production, with profit consumption.

    There is a contrarian shift within the same time-period, of efficiency becoming more human centered. Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, inspired by Taylor's work, focus on the production of efficiency towards the production of the welfare of the worker: a folding of the human onto technology. In their scenario, the human is still part of the machine, but the process of production is not at the cost of the human. This shift of focus hastens through the mid-century as more human elements are folded onto the technology, arriving at the second machinic phylum and Henry Dreyfus' Designing for Humans (1955) which sets the standards for the study of human factors: the sensibility and attention to the human element of technology, where humans are not the heterogeneous parts of a factory, but as in Marshall McLuhan's terms, the mechanical technology becomes an extension of the human body.

    This folding and re-folding of the human and technology has unfolded itself to a flat sheet of creases, ready to be re-folded with new terms: The environment. Once resolving the relationship of the mechanic modernization with the human, our focus shifted to the well-being of the human environment, Earth. We realize we have enveloped her in the same archaic ways as when we were enveloped by the machines of industrialization. In Ecology and Revolutionary Thought (1965), Murray Bookchin points out that the dysfunctional relationship between human and nature stems from the dysfunctional relationship between humans, “To state this thought more precisely: the imbalances man has produced in the natural world are caused by the imbalances he has produced in the social world."

    The point of view of this essay is completely Western. In China, unfortunately, factory citizens are the inhabitants of corporate cities, perhaps, one can say, true folding of human into machine. Therefore, it is naive to say that our shift in focus to the environment means we have resolved the social imbalances; it only acknowledges them. We exist on two parallel dimensions: one where we still exist within the first machinic phylum, the other where with much struggle we pretend to have moved out of it but in reality we have not, because we consume it.

    As we continue to fold in and out of the creases of the past to find new folds for our future, we have come upon the third machinic phylum, the folding of technology onto the human. Here we are tearing into two separate, yet related paths: the use of mobile technologies as prosthesis, and the expansion of embedded networks, a tethered prosthesis of the human to nature, and a reversal of our embedding into the factory. Whereas a century ago Scientific Management made the human–to its detriment–more efficient for the production of profit, embedded networks, through activating nature, make it more efficient in the production of knowledge for its own sake. Embedded systems also activate architecture by folding in multiple layers of interaction between systems–the systems of the different operators of the space and the bodies occupying it.

    "With every tool man is perfecting his own organs, whether motor or sensory, or is removing the limits to their functioning. Motor power places gigantic forces at his disposal, which, like his muscles, he can employ in any direction… and the dwelling-house was a substitute for the mother's womb, the first lodging, for which in all likelihood man still longs, and in which he was safe and felt at ease. […] Man has, as it were, become a prosthetic god. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown onto him and they still give him much trouble at times."
    –Sigmund Frued Civilization and its Discontents, 1930, pp 42-43.

    For sixteen years Freud suffered from the pain of a prosthetic jaw and palate, put in place as a result of cancer. His prosthesis was placed onto him, rather than, as he writes in this self-reflective piece, "grown onto him." At some point, the heterogeneities of human and technology, having switched forces repeatedly over time, eventually find equilibrium. This will be the fourth machinic phylum: the folding of technology and human into each other. This is the point where technology is no longer a prosthetic, where metaphors of architecture as prosthesis for nature or body no longer hold true. This is when, as Arakawa and Gins arrive at, that we become Architectural Bodies, a reconfiguration of the organism-person-surround––an open-ended entity of potentialities of human and technology (or for Arakawa and Gins, human and architecture) possible through full responsibility of one’s being, revision and reinvention.

    We are, however, debilitated through our own hylomorphic history where responsibility of self is systematically stripped. If we are to follow through with Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the machinic phylum, its potentialities are possible not by outside forces, but by the nature of the heterogeneities of the phylum. To drive this non-holymorphic concept, they devise the artisan theory of metallurgical production, where the blacksmith ‘teases out’ form rather than imposing form on the metal. Similarly blocking us are archaic notions of beauty, narrow views on gender, misconceptions of race, and misunderstandings of philosophies of existence, which are all external forces, usually divine and transcendental, that are forced upon our bodies. These ideas must be re-evaluated through a process of unfolding, meaning that every scenario of the body should be allowed to play out in order to evaluate its effects on our progress: every idea of beauty, every variation on gender; every identification and valuation of self and not others, with reference to an empirical religion.

    Assuming the obstacles have been overcome, that we are in a world where the political body is obsolete, what will become of government, society, urbanism, the body? How do we come to define the concepts of generalities, organizations, striations, and control in order to move towards the obsolete? In an irrational world, should the making and envisioning of a new world be a rational process? Will a purely aesthetic philosophy provide the answer towards a vision?

    The organ is a metaphor. (On how many of our organs do we have control, and how much on those we believe we are in control of?) The Architectural Organ is therefore a thought experiment with intent: What do we keep and what do we relinquish if we wanted to take such evolutionary route?



    [1] Whitelaw, M., Guglielmetti, M., and Innocent, T. 2009. Strange ontologies in digital culture. Comput. Entertain. 7, 1 (Feb. 2009), 1-13. DOI=http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1486508.1486512
    [2] Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. Chloé. [1st ed.] ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974. pp.51-52.
    [3] Pace-Jordan, Rosetta Di. “Italo Calvino's Legacy: The Constant and Consistent Vision.” World Literature Today 66, no. 3 (1992): 468-71.
    [4] Folding of the germinal disk and the generation of the abdominal wall. Retrieved 14/07/2009.http://www.embryology.ch/anglais/iperiodembry/delimitation01.html
    [5] The Folding of the Embryo. Retrieved 14/07/2009 http://www.ehd.org/movies.php?mov_id=11  andhttp://www.ehd.org/movies.php?mov_id=12
    [6] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus," p. 409.
    [7] Sigmund Frued Civilization and its Discontents, 1930, pp 42-43.
    [8] Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, Architectural Body, 2002.
    [9] Tentative Architectures are clothing that tentatively behave as architecture only when the need arises.
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