FUTURE COSMOS LAB
POST_001: COSMIC DANCE
Lab Author: Damon/Zahra Bonari
On the one hand, the primitive human soon realised that the still stars of the night sky are the guiding compass towards the light of the day. On the other hand, the same static imagination convinced them of being captured within a cosmic prison. Thus one can trace reason and enlightenment back to the still stars. To whom could one relate excessive states of dance, drunkenness and delirium?
Example/Image: "The Dancer" by Nicole L'Huillier, explores the performativity of an object as it moves across space and draws through movement in time. The result is an unstable and irregular vibrational dance triggered by sounds emerging from its own body as the resonant frequencies of its material composition causes the object to move. Exploring other levels of animacy and performativity, this vibrational body exists in a continuous dialogue between gravity, resonance and trance.
POST_002: SURFACE DECEPTION
Reflecting surfaces have been symbolised as a means for recognition. A solid, framed apparatus to reflect upon the world in the backdrop.
What if the surface was there to deceive the observer? What if mirrors were devices to camouflage that which lied beyond? In the art of war, for the intruder, a compromised camouflage is considered a valuable asset.
Image: Alicja Kwade, "Be-Hide", MIT in Boston (2020)
POST_003: PLEASURE/HORROR FLIGHT
One needs to follow the traces of elemental choreographies to oscillate from the delicate feeling of weightlessness to the violent horror of destruction. And out of the four elements, it is wind which holds the essence of sensation. Perhaps the sight of a flock of birds in flight would be enough to drive human imagination simultaneously towards the will to getting lost in the lover’s embrace and the will to vanish into darkest nothingness. Amidst rapid changes in cosmic scenery and terrestrial ecology, what kind of pleasures and horrors await us in the future?
Example: Ornithography by Xavi Bou, (2021)
Ambitious humans took on the challenge of seeking water on other planets, given that water is the precondition of life. However, contemplating water is also to slip away, dissolve, and die. Could it be that deep within the core of our desire for extraterrestrial communication hides an obscure urge to seek new ways of dying?
Example: Erika Arias in the series "Fragments of Time" explores the body in turquoise dark water (2018)
POST_005: COSMIC NOMADISM
We have been relying on our compass to navigate through the world. Perhaps for too long, for now the world renders our compass obsolete. In a future stripped of directions, is one eternally lost, or should one revise the very definition of being stationary and wandering?
Example: Scientists are warning that the magnetic North Pole has been wandering towards Siberia at an increasing pace. That could potentially wreak havoc on positioning systems, military operations, and other processes that rely on measuring the magnetic pole.
Image: Hanbing Wang (2016)
POST_006: COSMIC AUGUR
For so long we have been weighing our deeds and thoughts on the scale of species' preservation. Now the interstellar images present us with the most hidden of our fears; that perhaps the scale had been broken all along.Example: NASA's recently landed rover on mars provided high quality picture and sound samples of the barren planet, a purely elemental world void of life.
Image: Diego Brambilla, "My First Dream" (2015)
POST_007: ELEMENTAL CONQUEST/ DOWNFALL
The desire to thrust against the whims of the untameable wind led the Mongolians to conquer the world. The desire to pierce through the adversary waves of the vengeful waters guided the Vikings towards the southern lands to plunder.Amidst the ever changing climate of our era, what kind of desire for conquest would give rise to the future empire?Example: The pattern of rise and fall of past empires overlaps with that of climate variations.
Image: Fabien Barrau, Rome 2219
POST_008: ELEMENTAL DEATH
Death by fire is vertical and heroic like the piercing ambers that thrust into the sky, whereas death by water is horizontal, silent and clandestine. The former radiates its victim outwards into the great outside as a distancing scream, the latter gently devours the drowning one inwards into the depths of oblivion.
Example: Rapid change in climate threatens mankind with elemental wrath such that half the world burns in wildfires whereas the other half drowns in hurricanes.
Image: Bruce Omori, Kīlauea Volcano (Hawaii)
POST_009: INFINITESIMAL GAZE
Humans' obsession with small objects has come a long way: from idols and amulets to microchips and sub-particles, from imps and fairies to viruses and microbes. To what extent could such an infinitesimal process continue? Is the future an ever-expanding horizon, or rather an ever-shrinking scope?
Example: Scientists can now produce electricity out of thin air through cultivation of a unique species of microorganism that generates electricity from the air's own humidity.
Image: Paul Friedlander, "String Theory II at the Imaginarium", Anchorage Museum (2010)
POST_010: THE LAST WIND
If the first image is of the sea, then the last one must be of the wind. The swimmer in wild waters lacerates the primordial image, whereas the wanderer in the plateau pierces through the ultimate one. Which figure would stand against the upcoming storm of future?
Example: The US Navy put the stealth destroyer USS Zumwalt to the test by sailing it straight into a storm with waves as high as 20 feet.
Image: Dave Sandford, "Lake Erie- Liquid Mountains Series" (2019)
Released arrows, unsheathed swords, fired bullets, and totalitarian ideologies. What are the means of an extraterrestrial colonization?
Example: An unusual PhD thesis suggests to use bacteria to colonize Mars.
Image: Jean-Michel Bihorel (Concept artist), "Mars" (2019)
POST_012: LETHAL ENCHANTMENT
There are species of predators whose survival depends on their seductive skills rather than their strength or speed. Secrecy, deception, ambiguity, and ephemerality. Are those the ingredients of the Beautiful? Does the future manifest in a space of both enchantment and lethality?
Example: Carnivorous glowworms fill natural caves and abandoned mines in New Zealand.
Image: Joseph Michael, Ruakuri Cave (New Zealand)
POST_013: STONE OF ETERNITY
From the lost city of El Dorado in the depths of Colombian jungles, to a tiny glittering snuffbox hidden in a drawer of an english aristocrat. From the buried treasures of Varna Necropolis in Bulgaria dated back to 5th millennium BC to a Persian manuscript written in gold which tells the Tale of the Kings. What secret hides behind the long obsession of humans with gold and eternity across almost all cultures and civilizations? Could it be that the future is encapsulated within the glitter of the mystical stone?
Example: The artist James Lee Byars presents a haunting image of his final resting place: a grand and simple chamber, bare of any everyday ornamentation, but covered in ethereal gold.
Image: James Lee Byars, "The Death of James Lee Byars" (2019)
POST_014: ASHES OF SKY
Outside certain belief-systems (the pagan, the ascetic, the modern atheist), all assumed that humankind is the child of stone and water. For when two elements collide, new forms get born. Yet, when the third element arrives in the equation, the outcome must turn monstrous. Perhaps our Need is of the earth, our Desire of the oceans, and our Will of the Lightning. And it is precisely the lightning which is able to manifest the future; subtle strike, ephemeral appearance, and its gaze aimed at eternity.
Example: Lightning strikes played a vital role in life's origins on Earth.
POST_015: POST-MORTEM PATHS
Life on earth is yet another kind of death, however a unique one. An animated death oscillating from one point of departure to the other. Perhaps the future must learn from the pagan, for he knows best how death is not the end, but rather the next gateway opening towards the next flow of becoming.
Example: Zombie genes. Research shows some genes come to life in the brain after death.
Image: Sebastian Hempel, "Beziehungskiste" (2009)
POST_016: ETERNAL RETURN
As we expand our gaze across the cosmos, it seems that all movements are governed by a single law, that of the orbital. What if time were also governed by the same law? Thus, which state of affair would re-emerge from the abyss of the past to form our future? Is it a curse to be entrapped within a closed circle, or rather a chance to manifest destinies?
Example: Scientists discovered enigmatic circling movement patterns in whales, sharks, penguins, and sea turtles.
Image: Angelo Musco, "Pelagic" (2010)
POST_017: NIGHT IS ETERNAL
To what extremes would the idea of "that which shouldn't be" take us? What would be the geopolitical consequences of a mindset that rejects the notions of harmony, legitimacy, and authenticity? For the true rebel dwells far from the solar tyranny, in the land of the eternal night.
Example: Far underneath the ice shelves of the Antarctica, away from open water and sunlight, there’s more life than expected. Strange creatures accidentally discovered beneath Antarctica’s ice shelves.
Image: Isaac Julien, "Stones Against Diamonds" (2015)
POST_018: THE FIFTH PHILOSOPHY
To understand Becoming, one needs to expand the scope of one's knowledge in four directions. The Primordial, the Eternal, the Transcendental, the Subterranean. Yet, it seems that the answer to the enigma of Becoming might be kept hidden along a fifth direction, the Clandestine.
Example: Gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong nuclear forces determine almost all the interactions of the universe. However, cosmological mysteries such as expansion of the universe or dark matter might get solved through the discovery of the fifth force.
Image: Cildo Meireles, "Volatile" (1980/94)
POST_019: COSMIC PSYCHOLOGY
Many models of human psyche overlap with that of the terrestrial stratification, that every symptom is driven by an unconscious trauma. Thus, to investigate surfaces one needs to drill into the depths. And to examine imagination one has to pass through all rationalisations (the political, the cultural, and the moral). Yet it seems that there is always another layer beneath the surface, another mask beneath the mask.
Example: Scientists speculate that the earth has been concealing a fifth layer in its inner core, one made of unique iron caused by a seismic catastrophic event.
Image: Fabian Oefner, "Oil Spill (No-10)" (2016)
POST_020: THE LAST TREE
Example: "A-Bomb" Ginkgo trees also known as Maidenhair trees, appeared over 290 million years ago, still grow in Hiroshima after the catastrophic earthquake in 1923 and the atomic bomb in 1945.
Almost all of the ancient civilizations referred to a specific tree as the primordial one, by some as the tree of life whose blood could grant immortality, by others as tree of knowledge whose forbidden fruit could grant ultimate truth over good and evil. Modern era too presents its version as the Last tree. Although barren and fruitless, its roots are pierced into the deepest depths of earth. What secret gift is kept hidden by the last tree? Perhaps the ultimate technique of escaping time?
Image: Andrea Marcias, "Last Tree on Earth"
POST_021: AERIAL DESTINY
Example: Tornadoes have long been thought to take shape from the top down, forming from swirling air currents during powerful storms. But new research turns that idea upside down, literally.
All along we believed that it was air that elevated the surface, that it is from above that the law would descend. Lately scientists discovered that it is indeed the earth that gives up on the surfaces and ejects them into the void. Regardless of the direction, one thing remains the same; the surface is destined for flight.
Image: Do Ho Su, "Cause and Effect" (Seoul, 2009)
POST_022: AXIOM OF VERTICALITY
Example: Scientists claim life on Jupiter's moon could have "octopus-level intelligence".
What if our desire to step into the beyond, to ascend upwards into the skies, and to disperse into the void were all terrestrial-bound? That once the cord is torn, we would lose our rational and instrumental mindset? For the ascendant of today is the descendant of the future.
Image: Michael Heizer, "North, East, South, West" (1967-2002)
POST_023: MASTER OF THE QUITE SMALL
Example: A new small self-powered underwater robotic fish was able to reach the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean – the Mariana Trench – at a depth of almost 11 km (6.8 miles).
An obscure mystic once said that the future would look like today, just slightly different. It is the mastery of the quite small, the technique of shrinkage, and the art of growth from within, which holds the key to the gateway of the future, for to arrive at the slightly different, one must undergo the outmost pressure.
Image: Alicja Kwade, "Something absent whose presence had been expected" (2015, König Gallerie)
POST_024: FUTURE DIVINITY
Example: The four-year process of casting the sixth of seven primary mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope began in March 2021. These giant mirrors will help astronomers see to the edges of the universe.
The ancient teaching of mysticism: It is only through the broken mirror that one could steal a glimpse of the Divine. Meaning one can not directly face the edge of the Impossible, or to consciously surmount the summit of the Unknown, or to find the clue to the faceless secret. And so is the road towards the future; implicit, scattered and dispersive.
Image: Suzy Poling, "Triadic Tower” (2016-Now, San Francisco)
POST_025: ETERNALLY BLEEDING
Example: With a rod through its ribs and its teeth pulled—just to be safe—a 700-year-old suspected vampire has escaped the crypt in Bulgaria.
Thirst without thirst, tears without tears. The figure of vampire is the embodiment of a wounded human who desires nothing more than another wound. Two choices presented by the vampire; withdraw and rot forever, or give in and drown eternally in the endless ocean of lust.
Image: Stuart Lippincott, "June Everydays" (2019)
POST_026: RUSTLE OF LIGHT
Example: Many people claim to hear whooshing and crackling noises when there is an aurora in the sky.
What if the rationalization of our own sensory perceptions had suppressed the possibilities of various modes of experience? What if a sound could be seen, or a color could be tasted? What if the distinction of our senses were yet another mistake for the future to amend? Let the future be the realm of ambiguity, hybridity, and incompletion.
Image: Pierre Huyghe, "Reflections from Damaged Life" (London, 2013)
POST_027: LAUGHTER OF THE HALF-BREED
Example: The Hyena-men of Nigeria, believed to be not only immune to the venomous kiss of the serpent, but also to be invincible to the maddening laughter of the hyena. The legend even goes further, that the sacred tribe is the descendant of the hyena pack.
Hidden in the slums of Nigeria, surrounded by tall piles of waste in desolated urban landfills, a sacred clan of the last ones train how to break the wilderness, how to overcome cruelty, and eventually how to ridicule the modern era. There, a powerful potion is being cooked; the infuriated, the cruelest, and the joyous will conquer the future.
Image: Parki Ki Pyung, "Blind Alley" (2016)
POST_028: RECURRING FLAME
Example: The year 2020 opened with bushfires in Australia entering their seventh month (these would go on to burn for another three months). Before the year was out, fires had burned across tens of millions of hectares of forest in Russia’s Far East and Siberia, the Amazon, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Western U.S., from California to Colorado.
Some fires cleanse, whereas the others punish. There is a fire being worshipped, yet there is also a fire being banished. Some believed that harnessing fire was the initiative that lead to rationalism, the others dreamed of abomination taking place within a cursed fire. Perhaps it is the dance of the flames, the evanescent flight of the burning air that drives human's imagination to its outer limits. One thing is certain though; that the New always rises from the ashes of the Old.
Image: Teresita Fernández, "Fire" (2005)
POST_029: SURVIVING THE FUTURE
Example: The video game "Horizon Zero Dawn" depicts a futuristic world wherein a few tribes of primitive humans struggle to survive the cruel environment. In such a future the Machine and Nature conspire together to devour humans once again.
In the aftermath of the apocalypse, amidst the dominant silence of absence, once again lands an arrow of stone in a heart of steel. What sets of skills are required of the post-apocalyptic human to lacerate through the new World? The hunter, the sage, the prophet and the marauder are all born from the Mountain. For in the future, Machine and Nature are no longer discernible.
Image: John Sommo, "Zero Dawn" (2017)
POST_030: FUTURE NON-SPACE
Example: Unlike humans who map the world in units of distances, bats map the world in units of time. Thus the blind animal knows the speed of sound from birth.
Humans know now that all matter in universe is entangled within the infinite web of space and time. A thread of eternity crossing over a thread of dimensionality and all of our mundane hopes and fears are products of our condition of entrapment. However, there are those who dwell in absolute darkness and escaped at least partialy the prison of being. Future occurs in the non-space, ruled by the loneliest sovereign; Eternity.
Image: Daniel Palacios, "Waves" (2006)
POST_031: RAPID EVOLUTION
Example: Genetic changes in threespine stickleback fish driven by seasonal shifts could help scientist predict how certain species will adapt to new environments.
Perhaps the fatal contradiction of the modern human (the last man) manifests itself as two destinies collide; that of the vanity, and that of rationality. For both of these vices/virtues must be considered as the embodiement of human's evolution. Thus, future is the arena of the never-ending war between the ones who fear to appear original (the Vainglorious) and those who desire the absolute (the Sovereign).
Image: Jon Noorlander, "Sculptures Part 1" (2016)
POST_032: TOXIC ECLIPSE
Example: Mobilized by state and corporate powers, toxic clouds colonize the air we breathe across different scales and durations, from urban squares to continents, unique incidents to epochal latencies. When figures in power deny the realities of climate change or chemical strikes, those forced to inhabit the clouds must find new forms of resistance.
Future melts all tyrants into one, breaks all borders into one, joins all forces into one, and finally unites all resistances into one. The enemy, should it be the social or the ecological, is no more an eruptive instance in history (the dictator, the bullet, the tornado), but rather an incessant state of terror, an enveloping air of fear, always watching, always approaching.
Image: Xiaojing Yan, "Cloud Cell" (2014)
POST_033: LIQUID SECRECY
Example: The world's oldest known water was found in an ancient pool below Canada, and is at least 2 billion years old.
There are countless waters scattered across the planet, Amorous Waters, Dead Waters, Maternal Waters, and Furious Waters. The waters that carry us to the extrems, be it endless floating in the horizon or ceasless diving into the depths. The waters that rock us, put us to sleep and give us back our mother. However, the most intriguing water is the Hidden one, a potent elixir of a thousand shadows, stored away from the gaze of moons and suns, the profound terrestrial secrecy. It is the Hidden Waters that dissolve the untold history of earth, beyond life and culture, even beyond time. Thus, future is bound to rise from the depths of the Hidden Waters.
POST_034: CIPHER OF DAWN
Example: Certain animals such as cephalopod, corvids and dogs demonstrate cognitive abilities such as future planning; meaning delaying gratification in order to get rewarded afterwards.
As humans expand their dominance over the planet they impose on it their well-crafted secret of progress; the all unifying code of rationality. However, humans who wear the emblem of rationality with the pride of the conquering species must beware of the utter cruelty of such codes. For in future, once the absolute collective is formed (the human, the inhuman, the elemental and the abstract), the rational action for the new world would be to overthrown the parasite.
Image: Pia Männikkö, Déjà Vu (2019)
POST_035: COSMIC PORTRAIT
Example: Ai-Da is a life-size android artist powered by AI that mimic the intelligence of humans. Her self-portraits have been unveiled at a new art exhibit in London, despite the "artist" not having a "self" to portray.
Self has been perceived as given for human beings. Does our perception of Self walk into the Future as a recurrence of its past? What if Self exists only outside of itself? Outside the cage of language; on the side of the world where everything is changing and transforming ceaselessly; where time is just a medium for deception. What could cosmic alterations teach us about our perception of Self in the Future?
POST_036: SECRET OF IMMORTALITY
Example: Rum Jungle was Australia's first large-scale uranium mine and supplied the US and British nuclear weapons programs during the Cold War. Today, the mine is better known for extensively polluting the Finniss River after it closed in 1971.
Water is a magic elixir. It gives birth and bestows life. It rubs the rocks and caresses the sands. It quenches the thirst and cleanses the earth. Thus, water is omnipresent, within us, around us, as above, so below. However, water keeps the secret of immortality to itself. Nevertheless, the secret is unveiled when water's spell is annulled by poison. Immortality begins with pollution. Zombified water bestows rotted immortality. Thus the end of the world is there where water turns its back on us.
Image: Danny Lane, "Still Water" (2014)
POST_037: THE INFINITE ONES
Example: A single bee has cloned itself millions of times over the past three decades. Unlike most animals, and even bee queens, the female workers do not reshuffle the DNA of the eggs they lay. The female worker is making an immortal clone army of herself thanks to this genetic fluke.
Animal observations do not only improve the knowledge of humans about nature and animality but also could bring new ideas to adopt specific features or behaviors for futuristic purposes. The ever-growing focus on individuality and the complexity of the future personal life could ultimately lead us to make series of single individuals in order to manage one's own life. Thus the future is not the embodiment of a person with multiple selves (the schizophrenic) but rather a series of the same self which makes that person an individual (the apeiromaniac).
Image: Lucas Samaras, "Mirrored Room No. 2) 1966
POST_038: COSMIC VIBRATION
Example: China's first Mars rover has captured its first sounds of the Red Planet. The purpose of installation the recording device was to capture the sounds of wind on Mars during its windy weathers to hear how the winds sound like on a planet other than the Earth.
Noise, whisper, sound, music; the world is never silent. Environmental vibrations (the hushing wind, the angry water, the singing bird) tickle and awake our sensations, for they exist before meaning and language. In space though reigns the absolute silence where scream is only a sigh. Now that we are looking for a new homeland perhaps the pre-condition of life elsewhere is to search for vibrations, to hear the Unknown and sense that which is beyond our perceptions.
Image/Credits: Sebnem Alp Akin, Refik Anadol, Alkan Eraltan, Efsun Erkilic, Kian Khiaban, Raman K. Mustafa, "Infinity Room" (2015)
POST_039: STONE OF ETERNITY
Example: NASA´s Perseverance rover found a weird rock on Mars, and scientists are debating where it came from.
Rock is primordial and eternal. It never was born; therefore, it never dies. Throughout millennia, it was rock that kept watchong life flourish and persih over and again. Furthermore, rock was the first book in human history, the book of silence.
How could we read the language of silence? How does the silence of rock and space affect our perceptions and our understanding of the cosmos? How will the future look like if we do not search for the origin of objects through our restricted knowledge and language (to unthink thinking, to think the unthinkable) but rather through tongueless languages of those very objects?
POST_040: COLD EXISTENCE
Example: Scientists found a skinless shark at a depth of 500 meters (1,640 feet) in Sardinian waters.
A great philosopher once said "recognition works by touch". Without skin we lose one of our most essential senses. Without skin we become vulnerable more than ever. Skin is dotted with events and singularities. Once we lose this veil, we will live in an almost senseless world. Considering the ever-accelerating technological development from body enhancement to humanoid robots, could the future fade away all singularities and leave us only cold with a senseless body, mind, and life?
Image: Nandipha Mntambo, "Emabutfo" (2009)
POST_041: COSMIC PAREIDOLIA
Example: The sighting of the "face" of the Roman god of water Neptune was captured by BBC photographer Jeff Overs in Newhaven on 6th of July.
Natural disasters are one of the most fearful phenomenon. They neither can be prevented, nor accurately predicted. Thus, pushing humans into a state of hysterical paranoia. Ancient civilizations, though, inverted this horrifying reality to their advantage. By giving them names, bodies and faces they turned the Real into the Unreal. The one who carved a visage out of the the angry waters, or the other who drew a venomous omen in the sky by connecting the stars. Yet how would we approach unexplained phenomenon in the future? What would our encounter with the Unknown look like whilst modernity had already wiped clean all traces of reality?
Image: Jeff Overs (2021)