[Online Exhibition] 
유기체적 신체 이후
After the Organic Body 

[워크숍] 신체변형 온라인 Zoom 워크숍 “전기인간 - 투명한 손’ 
             2020. 12. 28 예정 / DM예약 필수  
[워크숍] 스튜디오 쉘터 X 뇌청소방 = 사이보그와 애니메이션
팟캐스트 듣기 
︎
[워크숍] 정진수(Visualsfrom)감독과 영화
“A.I & Brazil” 함께보기
︎ 

*실시간 스트리밍 전시는 종료되었습니다.
  온라인 녹화스트리밍은 12월까지 유지 후 아카이브로 전환예정

** Alexander Augustus작가의 12화 시리즈 물은 계속 업데이트 되고 있습니다. 
Critics by Tuçe Erel

After the Organic Body:
Looking through the feminist posthumanist angle



“Postmodern culture re re chatters-out virus virus virus virus virus virus virus virus virus virus
0110001001001011010010010110010010010010010 'virus'
(viroductile, virogenic, immunosuppressor and and or, meta-, o r or and or hyper-) virus. 1 0 1 100100100 1 1 1 0 1 10000100 1 0 0 1 .
hypervirus eats the end of history”[1]



Dystopian and accelerationist philosopher Nick Land’s text, “Hypervirus”, foresaw the current social, cultural, and economic meltdown in 2020, which dramatically marked humankind’s life in a dramatic way due to the covid-19 pandemic. Humanity collectively forced to a global-scale lockdown in the middle of March. Flights stopped, borders got closed, and schools were closed. Most of the businesses were closed for at least three months initially. People kept their distance from each other. They stopped touching and hugging each other to protect one another. The new values and normality of post-covid-19 will shape several generations, who will be affected physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, and economically. 



Under the influence of these troubled times, the cultural industry was affected worldwide. Galleries, museums, concert halls, cinemas, and cultural venues were closed. During this lockdown, art was the most important thing that can keep people alive and sane. So cultural actors adapt to the digitization of their content rapidly. We, as curators and cultural managers, were not ready for such kind of shift. We are still in the transition period, a trial & error mode to produce and make our work accessible to a larger audience. It is challenging, disappointing, and complicated to translate some artistic practices and mediums into a digital platform. In contrast, it is also rewarding, amusing, and uplifting. We are indeed adapting.



After the Organic Body, a group exhibition organized by Metanode Berlin in Route 17 Media Art Center, translated into an online format, experimenting with the idea of visiting a gallery space through online streaming. The exhibition concept focuses on transforming the human body and the digitization of the body and identity. After the Organic Body brought together six different projects, which were installed in a gallery space and recorded via webcams simultaneously during the exhibition dates, between November 15th and 24th, explored Posthumanism and Transhumanism theories in interchanging meanings. This text's theoretical framework will explore these ambiguous concepts and discuss the exhibition's and artists' approach through the lenses of a critical feminist posthumanist standpoint. Before I unpack the artworks, I would like to explore these two concepts in depth.



Posthumanism and Transhumanism are related concepts; however, there are fundamental differences [2] especially when one looks through the Feminist Posthumanism[3]  perspectives' of some of the vanguard scholars Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, and Rosi Braidotti. Feminist Posthumanism, a critique of human-centered humanism, criticizes the sharp division between dualist concepts: human vs. animal, human vs. nature, natural sciences vs. humanities, organism vs. machine, men vs. women, etc. The feminist posthuman approach shaped by scholars like Donna Haraway, who studies zoology and biology as well as philosophy, wrote the inspirational and groundbreaking text "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" (1985), and Karen Barad, who got a degree in Physics, wrote Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007). Rosi Braidotti's books Metamorphoses: Towards A Materialist, Theory Of Becoming (2002) and The Posthuman (2013) have expanded the horizon from postmodernist theories to posthumanist discourse through new materialist methodologies. In this text, I will not concentrate on new materialism; therefore, my focus will be comparing Transhumanism, posthumanism, and feminist posthumanism and their aesthetic manifestation in the online exhibition After the Organic Body.



In "A Cyborg Manifesto," Haraway informed the reader about her witty narrative at the beginning. The cyborg body was used as a metaphor to create a liberating story about the female body, shaped and trapped within hegemonic, patriarchal, and biopolitical boundaries of the post-modern world. Furthermore, she defined her methodology of using cyborg as follows:

“By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized, and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. The cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation.[4]




It seems that Haraway proposed a hybrid body against the historically defined female body. However, I argue that using communication technologies and biotechnologies should not be taken into account as Transhumanism. On the contrary, Haraway suggested that capitalism transformed through technological advancement and used the hybrid body as a tool for capitalist reproduction. Haraway's hybrid organisms are beyond human-machine structures; in contrast, she proposes a symbiotic coexistence of human and non-human beings (In Staying with the Trouble, she explored this coexistence in depth).   





Transhumanism, quoted from Joel Garreu in Cary Wolfe, referred to "the enhancement of human intellectual, physical, and emotional capabilities, the elimination of disease and unnecessary suffering, and the dramatic extension of life span.”[5] White and European male scholars developed concepts of Transhumanism and posthumanism, distinguishing these concepts from one another is hard. Krueger explained that early posthumanists claimed that the technological research on cybernetics would shape the posthuman body, which would be a post-biological and supernatural humankind.[6] Thanks to feminist posthumanism, the discussion of Posthumanism and Transhumanism are heavily criticized and restructured against the male-oriented, human-centered, and heteronormative discourse.



Within this scope of feminist posthumanism and transhumanism, I would like to unpack the commissioned works in the online exhibition After the Organic Body. The show brought together six different projects: Studio Shelter’s “Breaking the Limits of Possibilities” which a video mapping projection over a mannequin object, Taehoon Kim’s “Dokkaebi” photographic works depicting human-animal hybrid, Alexander Augustus’ video series titled “ANGER”, Jinsoo Chung’s video “Be a bird with a view”, Hyung Jun Park’s video installation with 3D printed objects, titled “Sleeping Memories”, and Joo Young Huh’s stories called “THE RUNNING GIRL MANIFESTO”.



Studio Shelter was commissioned to pursue the understanding of the human body in the digital world. How will the human body be translated into a digital or virtual environment? What should be expected visually from this transformation? These questions are already in the center of cybernetic, trans, and posthumanist research. Studio Shelter experimented on these questions and used the mapping as a methodology to aestheticize the translation and transformation of human flesh into a digital or/and virtual environment.



Taehoon Kim used a conventional photography technic called light painting, based on a long exposure of the subject, painted on air with light. With this technique, Taehoon Kim created a photo-series of human-goat/horse hybrids known as mythological characters in different cultures, such as Faun, Pan, or Satyr. Based on Deleuze & Guattari’s becoming-animal terminology and Derrida’s attack on anthropocentrism, Braidotti’s becoming-animal included “non-white, non-masculine, non-normal, non-young, non-healthy, disabled, malformed or enhanced peoples”[7] into posthumanist discourse. Similarly, Haraway depicted animals as companions and talked about kinship with the nonhuman agent in a symbiotic relationship, based on the theory of symbiogenesis by Lynn Margulis. Taehoon Kim’s photographic series intended to visualize this process of becoming-animal metaphorically.



Alexander Augustus' video series "Anger" was based on the artist's futuristic sci-fi story about transplanting the human mind into a non-human body or robotic body for eternal life. The story starts 20 years after the covid-19 pandemic and how rich and privileged would have acquires a transhuman body, titled Shell, to prolong human life or access to eternal life. Through his satirical narrative and Haraway-like sci-fi storytelling, "Anger" portrayed England's oligarchic structure and denounced the wealthy and privileged upper-class members. 



Jinsoo Chung's video explored the differences and similarities between the bird's eye and the human eye. Thanks to drone technology and its economic accessibility, creating a cinematic experience and bird-eye view are easier. However, in Chung's video, the drone's backward movement felt very unnatural and diverted the understanding of the human and non-human experience of flying. It is essential to benefit from technological advancement. Moreover, it is critical to accept that learning from animals, and other non-human organisms are possible, and technology can help. In this video work, the feeling of the drone movements' artificiality reminded us that one cannot fully mimic a bird, but allow them to explore and experience from animals' perspective.



How does memory function? How do sleeping and dreaming work? For decades, neuroscientists have been researching these questions. Hyung Jun Park's installation, "Sleeping Memories" deals with these questions of neuroscience studies about memory and sleeping. These research topics are connected to cybernetics and transhumanist discourse, and AI development (i.e. machine learning, deep learning, etc.). Recent research about machine learning shows that resting or sleeping can accelerate an AI's learning and memorizing process.  Similarly, in humankind, sleeping improves and supports the learning process. Hyung's installation explored these ideas and brought together a large number of images, and envisioned the concept of a sleeping human brain, which is a 3D printed object.



The last project in the online exhibition is a four-chapter essay, presented as four separate videos. Joo Young Huh’s text, “The Running Girl Manifesto,” was titled after Iris Merrion Young’s article “Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment Motility and Spatiality” (1980), which argued against Irwin Strauss proposal that gender roles were defined biologically. Whereas Young claimed that gender roles were learned within the culture, and biology cannot claim male is superior to the female.  Joo Young Huh also presented Haraway’s fact vs. fiction argument to discuss how language also impacts the division between gender roles and their manifestation through biopolitics. Similarly, Judith Butler and Karen Barad argued about the performativity of gender roles. According to Butler, gender roles and queer bodies perform their gender. Joo Young Huh explored these discussions through her childhood memories of gender roles and hegemonic attributions on the female body.



The online exhibition After the Organic Body manifested posthumanist aesthetics in an experimental display to discuss human-animal kinship, unethical features of the transhuman body, biology oriented gender attributions, and neuroscientific research on human and machine mind. Covid-19 pandemic impacted cultural life and accelerated the digitization of human intellect. The transformation was already kicked off in different online social media platforms and forums, and their face recognition and face filter tools in the last five years. These features allowed queer performativity into virtual reality; however, it came with hate speech, fake news, and many other unethical practices. In conclusion, it is crucial to consider that voices of feminist posthumanism are strong critiques of heteronormative, western, and human-oriented discourses and visual art practices are tools to fight against anthropocentric language both in online and offline environments.





Written by Tuçe Erel – Berlin, December 2020

Tuçe Erel: 
a curator, art writer and art professional, based in Berlin and a member of  >top Transdisciplinary Project Space(TopLab: the first community biolab in Berlin)

https://tuceerel.com/ 








[1] Nick Land, “Hypervirus,” in Fanged Noumena: Selected Writings (1987-2007), ed. Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier, 2nd ed. (Falmouth, New York: Urbanomic, Sequence Press, 2012), 383–90. P. 383-4
[2] Oliver Krueger, “Gnosis in Cyberspace? Body, Mind and Progress in Posthumanism,” Journal of Evolution and Technology 14, no. 2 (2005): 55–67.
[3] A. Niccolini and Jessica Ringrose, “Feminist Posthumanism,” Sage, 2019, http://www.academia.edu/download/60782186/FeministPosthumanism20191003-54072-179ilg4.pdf.
[4] Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century (1985),” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991). P. 150
[5] Cary Wolfe, What Is Posthumanism?, vol. posthumanities, 8 vols. (Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 2010). xiii
[6] Krueger, “Gnosis in Cyberspace?”
[7] Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (Cambridge, Malden: Polity, 2013).P. 68.

비평 - 투이스 에렐 

**한국어 번역본은 업로드 예정입니다.  

이미지를 클릭하여 각 전시관으로 입장 - Click Images to enter exhibition rooms -
Project by Metanode Berlin