It is easy to declare the prefix ‘post-’ a sign of pretentiousness or vanity, or solemnly chaperone it to historical obscurity. ‘Post’ enjoyed its prominence during the 70s and 80s while regimes crumbled and theoreticians tried to make sense of the world after the end of grand narratives and history itself. At least, that was declared.
The prefix gained its notoriety amidst confusion and uncertainty. The feeling was muted but clear – something had ended and something new was beginning. Under the condition of linear time that is how things are – they have a beginning and an end. There is a tendency to think that the end is supposed to signify an achievement, a completion, or a defeat in order to clear space for a new, better future. However, it seems that the grand finale is permanently postponed and rarely anybody wants to talk about it. And there are transition periods – less cherished and often imagined as adhesive material to connect two slabs of time that are carefully placed on a line of history. Many of us know that adhesion is a messy process – full of leaks, spillages and general unease. There is quite a bit of desire to skim through these uncomfortable periods, to fast-forward and reap the benefits of inevitable progress. At least a small, wealthy part of the world tends to act as if they are on a priority boarding to the future. However, quite a lot of people do not enjoy the idea of neat linear progression. Mainly because quite a lot of people live in conditions that encapsulate life in its bare minimum. The ascent of progress becomes only an impossible allure, a never fulfilling prophecy accentuating glaring inequality.
It was important to acknowledge this, or reiterate one more time because the prefix ‘post-’ is also treated as an exclusive privilege of those who are impatiently waiting for their inevitable ‘affluence of the future’. The prefix ‘post-’ is often summoned when irritated people feel that the privilege to undisrupted progress has been violated. You could almost hear an annoyed voice saying: “Well, yes, the old world has ended, so let me devour the new one. I am starving”. And the feast continues.
However, it didn’t take long to understand that neither history nor grand narratives have ended. And if they did, then their resuscitation was quick and immensely successful. The prefix ‘post-’ also appeared to be more prevalent than previously thought. It escaped sophisticated openings or anaemic conferences of academia and infiltrated into a world that zealously resisted linearity. But then how does ‘post-’ survive when linear progression is disrupted and fractured?
The pandemic proved to be an uncanny testing ground for the human condition and the perception of time itself. Trying to capture this unique, fleeting moment, Rupert with Vilnius Tech Park announced an open call to propose ideas about post-pandemic futures. By that time the feeling of unpredictability was rising, so was the impatience. A few weeks into the pandemic, a desire to evoke an invigorating ‘post-’ was increasing. But non-linear time has its own perks. We can rush forward a bit and then look back, adjust some of the things, and continue from a slightly different position while remembering that our temporality is not permanent. In other words, we can be quite speculative and defy the logic of dominant episteme.
In order not to become too annoyed and too future-thirsty, we invited others to share their visions. We received an array of different entries that in different ways imagines what post-pandemic futures can bring.
Under such circumstances it seems appropriate to begin from the ultimate end – the apocalypse. Katerina Sidorova in her essay A Slow Apocalypse: Non-human Species Revelation Extinction, Specie Responsibility and Strategies For Coexistence looks into representation of apocalypse in the popular imagination, primarily through the medium of film, revealing how eschatological thinking entrenches a human-centric view of the end of the world. However, according to Sidorova, despite the recent proliferation of apocalyptic films, we are facing a much different type of apocalypse, one that she calls ‘a slow apocalypse’. Its proximity often renders a paradoxical invisibility of the process, but simply by looking around we can see clear evidence – from extreme poverty to ecological crises – that the world is trudging towards catastrophe. But not all hope is lost, as the essay offers some hints about possibilities to reverse the slow-paced doomsday scenario. And for that reason, we might have to learn how to accept the idea of death.
Ethics of survival and extinction becomes a fugitive backdrop of Guoda Šulskytė’s video work Survival Is Not Fair. Here the apocalypse has happened and we are facing the aftermath, where humans have to adapt more symbiotic ways of existence. Contrary to dominant dismal visual narratives of the apocalypse, Survival Is Not Fair unfolds in a shimmering white environment. Under bright light, the subtlety of moving hands creates a weaving choreography of symbiosis to come. With an eerie elegance, we are reminded about the fragility of existence and the necessity to change our ways of being.
MELT: Loren Britton & Isabel Paehr suggest that we might be moving towards the end of one world – the world based on the binary logic of computing. 1 and 0 were and still are presented as the undeniable building blocks of the digital world. However, recent years more than ever showed how binarity is no longer capable of explaining, let alone nurturing our reality. Etching Towards Non-binary Computing confronts one of the strongholds of binary logic – computing – and evokes vivid examples of soft error, non-binary trees, and bending sensors. In MELT’s entry, cosmic rays become a troubling and inspiring force that threatens an old world of Ones and Zeros, concomitantly revealing a new one.
After one doomsday scenario – a global pandemic became a reality – an (un)expected form of resilience emerged. And it wasn’t rooted in science, human solidarity, or technologies. Instead it appeared as an extractivist impulse that turned the pandemic and human suffering into a resource. With a calm but piercing tone, Dainius Vanagas provides a great example of what can be called Baltic nonchalance in his essay Exploitation of the Pandemic. Without excessive fanfare or virtue-signalling empathy, Vanagas meticulously thinks through a period that shook many but also was hailed as an opportunity. “Business is dead – long live business,” claims Vanagas, and it is hard to disagree.
There were only two places in Lithuania that commemorated the visit of The Saturn Youth Group – an elusive and often forgotten group of rebels treading the threshold between reality and fiction. One was in Kaunas near Ąžuolynas – the Oak Park, the other in Vilnius, near the gallery Atletika. Born in the creative minds of SID YOUNG (Debbie Young and Katerina Sidorova) in collaboration with artist Saulė Noreikaitė, the group brings space age aspirations and combines them with quirky fictioning, critical theory, and art.
Plaques of reality softly fall off, exposing the slushy and flamboyant interior as Pedro Gossler whispers his way into the underbelly of reality in his film OOZE. From the esoterics of real estate and an internet of ghosts to the inner drama of a screensaver’s selection, the film invites the viewer on a ritualistic visual journey. Gossler called the film a response to Peter Sloterdijk’s trilogy Spheres and it is hard to disagree or… agree with him. This ambiguity might be the point – just like Sloterdijk, Gossler seems to abandon dualism and enters a space of coexistence. In the case of OOZE, it is a space of stimulating multiplicity, strenuously resisting axiomatic normality.
Duality is also contested in Augustė Bendžinskaitė’s Hello World, specifically the separation between real and digital, or human and machine. Bendžinskaitė rides the uncanny valley of meaning and agency in the field of AI. Art and creativity, championed as the pillar of humanness and often embodied in the genius of a sole creator, is challenged with the help of adversarial networks, machine learning, and Deleuze. Although millions of years of evolution gave humans a great advantage in comparison to only a few decades of AI development, maybe we are neither racing nor employing AI, but rather creating a new way of understanding the world.
“The world went out like a candle” – a husky voice and yellow subtitles opens up George Finlay-Ramsay’s film poem CASTROCENE. Although “the world went out like a cockerel”, the name suggests that one furry dweller is now left in peace to live his life and maybe even reign supreme. The 16mm camera mutes and blurs colours of the verdant environment just enough to allow the richness of Finalay-Ramsay’s language to blossom. And in the end, nobody really reigns supreme, as CASTROCENE playfully tells a story of a world, where the tip of a tongue tickles and a dainty rodent wiggles.
For the next entry, the reader is asked to stand up, open a window or a door, and take a deep breath. And by deep, I mean really deep and not because someone told you, but because tomorrow or in a few years the smells that you just felt might no longer exist. Ernesta Šimkutė poses a brief, but important question – When will we begin to care for smells? A sense that invokes one of strongest emotions remains a challenge for conservationist efforts. The changing perception and landscape of smells is potentially a vast field for research, especially if we will be able to conserve or reconstruct smells from the past.
Today, when part of the world is struggling with self-preservation while the other is deeply engaged in self-care, the idea of survival becomes somewhat obscured. Johannes Helden’s Foragers Guide combines the two using classic tropes of sci-fi: survival guides and creative writing. Without much introduction, we find ourselves following Helden’s words or voice (the visitor can choose) into an unspecified future, revealing tips and tricks of foraging. As we continue our journey through ventilation tunnels and suburban borderlands, oddly enough the feelings of survival and self-care slowly merge.
But the world has not ended. Hellfires have not taken over the Earth. Not yet. However, as the pandemic drags into the second year, the feeling of loss is rising. Genevieve Costello employs text and sound to (re)create the affective space that shrank as we stayed isolated. In her mixed-media entry Two Letters to Two Friends Written at the Same Time, with Interludes and Introduction, Costello graciously writes for and about the person, capturing the blooming feeling of affection, care, and love. That feeling cannot be pinned down to one definition but rather creates a space of abundance.
Issue editor: Tautvydas Urbelis
Open Call team: Julija Reklaitė, Vitalija Jasaitė, Julijonas Urbonas, Rūta Kruliauskaitė, Tautvydas Urbelis, Darius Žakaitis
Coordinator: Goda Aksamitauskaitė
Authors: Augustė Bendžinskaitė, Genevieve Costello, Pedro Gossler, Johannes Helden, MELT: Loren Britton ir Isabel Paehr, George Finlay Ramsay, Katerina Sidorova, SID YOUNG, Ernesta Šimkutė, Guoda Šulskytė, Dainius Vanagas
Language editors: Goda Aksamitauskaitė (LT), John W. Fail (ENG)
Translators: Agnė Mackė, Skirmante Cairns
Design: TAKTIKA Mantas Rimkus ir Nerijus Keblys
Programming: Andrius Zupkus
Thanks to: Gabrielė Marija Vasiliauskaitė, Julius Čepukėnas
A Slow Apocalypse
A Slow Apocalypse: Non-human Species Revelation
Extinction, Specie Responsibility and Strategies for Coexistence
When speaking of the perception of death and mortality, we unavoidably face the ideas of a total death, a world-wide deadly disaster, or simply the end of the world. The concept of the end of the world has been persistent in most cultures from the beginning of history: floods, walls of fire, and locust invasions, as well as plagues, or even space attacks (meteorites, aliens, the sun ceasing to burn). This has been well depicted not only in religious literature but in fiction, having become especially popular in science fiction and later Hollywood films with the development of special effects, digital technologies, and video editing. Nowadays, followed by The Book of Revelation, we use the word apocalypse, sometimes rightfully, sometimes not. We are talking about a total death of all life on planet Earth, but due to the strong influence of Christianity on Western thought, the end of the world has become a synonym for the end of human history, and human history only.
Recent days have proven the rise of eschatological discourse in the masses as well as within intellectual circles. Let us look at current events and evaluate whether the Apocalypse has indeed begun. In doing so, our main goal will be to look beyond the human perspective. This article will cover aspects of death and extinction that take into consideration both human and animal worlds, for we are still considered to be one kingdom – fauna. We will seek solutions for a more harmonic coexistence of the two, which may possibly include slowing down the world’s economic growth and capitalist acceleration. Whilst previously I have been talking about human-animal relationships and power dynamics on a smaller scale, here I would like to speak globally.
In the light of the COVID-19 crisis and recent fires in the Amazon, Siberia, California, and Australia (to name a few), humanity is forced to face other species existing on the planet other than ourselves and take a radically different attitude to interspecies coexistence. With so many species having died in the wildfires, we can no longer exclude these deaths from the count of any global disaster. With a deadly (to some) virus, spreading beyond our control, we cannot ignore anymore its origins. With mankind spreading further and further into animal areas of habitat, we are influencing their existence brutally and directly – many species are facing extinction, and the numbers of others are decreasing by the day. Another impactful outcome of such an expansion is a higher risk of coming into contact with microbes and viruses that do circulate within the animals themselves, and are tolerated by them, but cause higher risk to the human immune system.
Whilst this realisation and revaluation is crucial especially now, with the world’s human population growing steadily, it is still a human-only perspective that we make use of, and the logic of looking at possible “end of the world” scenarios hasn’t changed much through the course of (human) history.
Still, with a recent new millennium and the current state of ecology and global politics, one cannot stop to wonder whether the Apocalypse is approaching at last.
The Biblical idea of the end of the world, followed by The Last Judgement, has had a great impact the mindset of Europeans and manifested itself on many levels. Burial procedures in Europe (not caring greatly for individual graves) as well as have affected the expectations from life. Mystical symbols and numbers described in The Book of Revelation were linked to real historical dates and events: the year 7000 from the birth of Christ, the year 1666 as containing the number of the beast, linking massive diseases or foreign military interventions to signs of the coming end of the world, etc. In Russia, Pseudo Dimitry I and II were both considered to be the Antichrist, born to Earth.
What is important for us here is that this particular ‘end of the world’ was only concerning the human race. The only sources I could find about animals going to heaven are rather speculative and cannot be used for this research. There are a few mentions of pet animals being resurrected with their owners, but even if the sources were trustworthy, we are still talking about exclusive relationships between species, rather than acknowledging all life on earth.
Now, since the end of the world narrative was established, the image of the ‘doomsday’ has been haunting our culture. I’ve mentioned the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, and the transition from the twentieth to twenty-first was not the exception.
It is very easy to track the increased interest in these themes in cinema, thanks to the list of apocalyptic films – with just 4 films made before 1950 and just over a dozen mid-century, in comparison to over 60 during 2000-2010 and even more during 2010-2019. We will not go through each film, but will state that the majority of scenarios have some interesting similarities – most of the causes of the end of the world are human abuse of the environment, or a scientific mistake (there are alien attacks of course, but they do not dominate overall). Secondly, interspecies communication is rather limited (again, with the exception of aliens). There is hardly any mention of animals in the post-apocalypse world. Just like the Biblical end of the world, the Hollywood version only regards human species.
A rare exception here is a 1975 film – A Boy And His Dog, a black comedy set in 2024 after the fourth World War in America, where a young teenager is travelling through a wasteland with his telepathic dog as a companion. The boy is seduced by a young woman who tricks him into a secret underground settlement, where his semen is to be used to repopulate the village. The boy escapes, followed by the woman, who rebels against her forefathers in the underground village and attempts to pursue him to leave his dog behind. Still the boy chooses to murder her and feed her remains to his dog, whom he found nearly starving to death. This undoubtedly dark example is only important to us for one reason – a man ultimately chooses a non-human companion over a human, treating a canine species as an equal rather than a pet (if not food). Yet still, even here the writers chose to anthropomorphize the dog by giving it fully human reasoning as well as speech. This means that even in the wildest sci-fi fantasies it is hard to imagine relating to a non-human species, admitting their right to be themselves.
Coming back to Hollywood-centred apocalyptic scenarios, it is safe to say that most of them are united by the grandness of the cataclysm leading to “the end of the world” and some kinds of post-apocalyptic existence. We can think of massive floods, explosions, virus attacks, robot attacks, war, etc. These images are boldly imprinted in our brains. Coming back to reality, we can try and remember expectations and fears of the millennium. One scary word that was for some associated with the potential end of the world or at least drastic and sudden changes, which mainly had to do with our software systems, machines, and computers more specifically. In parallel we can think of the end dates of ancient calendars – Mayan, Inca and so on. I am relieved to say that as of today none of these scenarios came true.
In fact, there is a very different kind of apocalypse that has slowly but steadily been coming upon many non-human species as well as some parts of the human population living in extreme poverty. This particular apocalypse was dreamed about by many prophets, scientists, and activists, yet still not considered by the mass population, or by many governments. I am talking of course about the ecological crisis, manifesting itself in many ways that we are so used to hearing about that we don’t pay attention to them – climate change, water, air and soil pollution, world hunger, and decreases in species diversity.
I will not go into full details here. My dear readers can educate themselves with, amongst other examples, The Reports to the Club of Rome.  What I want to suggest instead is to attempt to look beyond the human perspective of our history, more specifically, the history of the Industrial Revolution, the Green Revolution (including the beginning of pesticide usage in farming), the growth of cities and urbanised areas, the expansion of industrial areas as well as farm land, the appearance of factory farms, and the constant acceleration of economic growth. All these phenomena are linked to the expansion of cultivated land over nature, characteristic of the Anthropocene (the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment). From the human point of view, these developments have been predominantly glorious, one might say. Here, I am taking a step back and specifying which part of mankind these changes did benefit, as I cannot speak for mankind as a whole. It is indeed First and partially Second World countries that have felt the positive aspects of economic growth. And here again, a correction, as it is the middle class and people of higher income and status that can feel the benefits of this growth to the fullest. In fact, I am talking about a very small percentage of humans. This percentage is opposed to not only large numbers of poorer human population but an enormous population of non-human living beings. To the latter, urban expansion powered by an anthropocentric mentality is nothing but the apocalypse itself.
Once taking from nature reaches such a scale that the latter cannot reproduce nearly fast enough for a durable business model, we can no longer speak of long term economic benefits either. This situation leads us to a utilitarian dead end: while benefiting a very small number of human species in a short term, we hurt numerous non-human species beyond restoration. This result links back to two particular tendencies that have been dominating profit driven human societies – firstly, once again, anthropocentrism, the complete failure to empathise with the other species and base the economy on co-existence rather than invasion. Ssecondly, a voluntary ignorance towards the death of the other, the other being animals, and as provocative as it may sound, populations of ‘undeveloped countries’, ruined by years of war, colonisation, and exhausted natural resources.
Drastic changes in climate expectedly bring more natural disasters – earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, viruses, and diseases. Historically, such events were considered to be a punishment from higher deities upon mankind. Here let’s remember a different example from Christian writing, which is The Great Flood narrative, described in chapters VI-IX of the Book of Genesis. This narrative reveals the decision of God to return the Earth to the state of water chaos that preceded its creation, and then to remake it into the reverse course of creation. The plot is very similar to the parts of the Gilgamesh epic as well as many myths of Atlantis or similar sunken lands that preceded the Book of Genesis: all humans living on Earth have lost themselves in sinful life and must be eliminated. It is then up to Noah, the only man living in dignity, instructed by God to build an ark in which he, his sons, and their wives, together with the male and female of all living creatures, would be saved from the waters.
In this type of a narrative we are looking at a different scenario – selected humans are equal to selected animals and destined to be preserved and repopulate the land. It is incredibly important that animals are taken into consideration, as it becomes obvious that any continuous life would not be possible without them. Yet still, there are several issues with the logic of this type of a myth, as the core of it is just as anthropocentric. Whilst all of mankind naturally had to be executed for their sins, all the animals, apart from the couples chosen by a human (Noah), had to die just the same. It was human and human doings only that had led to the flood, since morality is only attributed to humans, yet all of the living beings had to be swept from the surface of the earth.
In the scenario that nowadays is being acted in reality, the role of Noah is replayed by scientists and animal rights/ecology activists. Yet again we see the reminders of John’s predictions, where similarities can seem as striking as they felt to the people of 1666 who were experiencing city fires, wars, and pandemics.
The only difference is that the traditional exclusion of other species can no longer take place, as the effect we have on nature is now visible, with the COVID-19 crisis, which has shaken the world’s population, being a topical example. Coronavirus does not have one specific culprit. It, like any other infection, arose as a natural response of nature to the actions of humans cutting down forests, developing wild territories, keeping animals on farms, and trading them in unsanitary conditions at meat markets. New diseases can occur both in the wild and as a result of active interaction with it. And the more aggressive the human invasion into wild nature, the more proximal are similar cases. This pandemic, which could can be seen as a sign of Biblical events coming to life, is indeed manmade, and this time has human victims too.
A story similar to The Great Flood narrative is taking place in Waterworld, a 1995 American post-apocalyptic action film. As a result of the sea levels rising over 25,000 feet, every continent on Earth is now underwater. The remains of human civilisation live on ramshackle floating communities, using soil as substitute for money, cherishing the last remaining plants, and seeking the mysterious Dryland – the last remaining piece of land, containing both flora and fauna. In a version of events when human actions have indeed caused the death of all the species, the remaining humans are struggling for survival in a broken ecosystem, yet still do not feel direct responsibility. Once the mythical Dryland is found at last, the happy group of the main characters embrace the resources laying beneath as a happy ending, while the protagonist sails back to the sea in order to continue his way of living, highly dependent on ocean life. The moral lessons remain overshadowed by the richness of nature’s involuntary gifts.
We have now looked at some scenarios from religious writing as well as various films and can have a clearer picture of mass death variations. It is easy to split them in three categories, based on species inclusivity of death:
First, the Biblical version – humans and animals dying out. In scenarios like this humans are often promised afterlife;
Secondly, a turn of events as in Waterworld and other similar narratives – all or most of animals die, humans remain living;
Finally, one other possible turn of events that we have not looked into is all humans dying, yet animal and floral life continuing to exist. Here, instead of an example from cultural heritage, I would like to briefly mention a working non-profit organisation – the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Members of the movement, having ecological concerns at the core of their actions, advocate to stop procreating entirely, and for humans to slowly disappear from the surface of the Earth. This particular turn of events could have made a brilliant Hollywood film, although from a human perspective such a scenario is unthinkable, already for the fact of culture ceasing to exist without recipients. No living creature would wish for their kind to disappear completely. And in reality, even the leaders of VHEMT understand the impossibility of such a quest and stand up for conscious procreation, ecological education, and not for mass suicide, even though it might seem so at first glance.
Still, from an ethical point of view, I find this kind of thinking visionary, merely for the fact that the global ecosystem is taken in consideration and moral responsibility codes are finally applied to our own kind in relation not just to each other but to all species, and not just locally (cruelty to animals legislation, etc.) but on a global scale. Considering the Earth as an ecosystem, the pioneers of VHEMT seek the causes of the imbalance which threatens life in general. And if this cause is us, it is our moral duty to cease to exist, allowing the planet to restore itself. This could be the ultimate example of a solution to a classic ‘good deed without personal gain’ dilemma. Which brings us to the final film in our list of examples, and the author’s personal favourite, “The Fifth Element” by Luc Besson. Wrapped in another typical Hollywood ‘good guys save the world whilst killing a lot of bad guys’ narrative, the film has two key points worth noting.
Like many science fiction films, “The Fifth Element” portrays a universe full of interplanetary beings in tight economic and political relationships. Yet one particular species stands out: Mondoshawans, an alien nation dedicated to preserving life in general, even if one’s life has to be sacrificed. “Time is not important, only life is important” is a quote by one of the Mondoshawans, as they die whilst trying to preserve a special artefact, due to save life on Earth. Such a sacrifice of one species to protect another is unheard of for us, as human sacrifice to protect other species has always had a limit, and that limit is our own wellbeing.
Another critical part of the film is the story of the Fifth Element herself, an artificial higher being, presumably designed by the Mondoshawans, destined to save life on Earth. Upon arrival for her mission, the Fifth Element takes the form of a humanoid woman and begins to study the history of mankind. Towards the end of the movie, while exhausted, ill, and weak, she questions whether humans are the species that should be saved, as they destroy anything good that’s ever existed: “What’s the use of saving life when you see what you do with it?”. And indeed, whilst the film positions the end of Earth and life on it as the clear end of the world, globally it would mean only a few species, led by the most destructive and exploitative, ceasing to exist. If we scaled this down to just life on Earth, is our human life really worth preserving if it causes pain and ultimately the real apocalypse to so many other species, according to their perspective?
It is now that we humans can rethink and redefine the meaning of the word ‘apocalypse’ and agree on there being not just one singular end of the world. For each species, the apocalypse is unique and most importantly preventable. The apocalypse has turned out to be of a different kind than has been predicted. This apocalypse is not sudden and unforgiving, but slow and trackable. Every day, thanks to social media, we are exposed to the effects of our economies on the planet: wildlife, domesticated animals, and many non-Western countries as well as the poorer social layers in the West. This apocalypse is observable and maybe perhaps it is exactly why it feels so unrealistic – the myths of water level rising, ozone layer holes, mass hunger, numerous species’ extinction, and mega-viruses affecting mankind – they all are so evident, so near us, that it is impossible to contain the knowledge of these events actually taking place as we go through our daily life. Fear mixes with denial, and another great tool of human mind – ignorance.
But there is no time for ecological pessimism. While it can be hard for us to reflect on the events taking place, while being inside them, we can at least change a viewing point. The world is more than just us humans. Can the apocalypse happen for us and be a grand disaster? Of course, there is still danger of it. But we cannot speak of just one type of apocalypse, when we’ve been responsible for numerous species disappearing. From their perspective, the doomsday has already come and I highly doubt that they had a concept of heaven to comfort them in their final moments.
We can no longer hide from the death that surrounds us, when for many, we have been the cause of extinction. Only by embracing the knowledge of death, and letting death on a global scale enter our everyday life, can we begin to hope for the collective living on Earth rather than the fear of its end.
Links and sources:
1. Backus, I. (2000) Reformation Readings of the Apocalypse: Geneva, Zurich, and Wittenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Burt, S. (2014) Science Fiction and Life after Death. American Literary History.
2. Club of Rome: https://clubofrome.org/publications/
3. Koester, Craig R. (2001) Revelation and the End of All Things. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
4. Mounce, Robert H. (1998) The Book of Revelation. Revised ed. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
5. Newport, Kenneth G. C. (2001) Apocalypse and Millennium: Studies in Biblical Eisegesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6. Rogerson, J. W. (1991). Genesis 1–11. T&T Clark.
7. Voluntary Human Extinction Movement: http://www.vhemt.org/
Survival is not fair
Around 4 billion years ago, unicellular organisms changed the environment and began creating macrocosmic conditions for the further evolution of life. Over time, humans have altered and adapted this environment for themselves; however, this image is not sustainable anymore. Ecological problems and political conflicts, ideological and economic crises as well as rapid technological development have all brought us to the new reality of biodiversity extinction. Today the environment itself is forcing us to adapt to the constantly changing conditions. However, shouldn’t we aspire to more than mere survival?
In this speculative survival fabulation, Earth approaches its primordial state in the aftermath of an ecological catastrophe where humans are able to restore its lost nature by “befriending” organisms that thrive in extreme conditions. The architecture of these living organisms turns into the second human skin that allows human symbiosis with the other species in order to maintain both life forms in harsh conditions. The project features an algae-based biomaterial that forms a vehicle for organisms who thrive in extreme environments to live in close proximity to humans.
A quote in this video essay (“Nature has forgotten us. There is no more nature”) is taken from Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame (1957)
Voice: Polina Cold
Sound and actor: Alfredo Ramírez Raymond
Filming location: Salinas, Ecuador (2020)
Etching towards non-binary computing
Computation is perceived to be binary and immaterial. Zeros and Ones are often presented as the undeniable, immaterial grounding logic of computing. We are troubling this conception by drawing attention to the material processes that computation involves such as etching with acid, dissolving copper, and soldering with flux. Bits are subject to the queering effects of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays cause trouble with electronics: as high energy (often hydrogen) atomic nuclei, they escape the systems of collapsing supernova stars and speed through space at the speed of light. Entering the atmosphere of Earth, cosmic rays interfere with the binary state of bits and thus mess with memory and processing. All sorts of tech devices and systems have been disruped from cosmic rays including: the computerised elections in Brussels (2003), cars (2009), computers (daily) and melting cellphones (2017). From this, we assume that the universe is not okay with binary logic (and other oppressive forces). We have sensed this cue and are pursuing non-binary ways towards otherwise computational futures. This work is a series of etched speculative experiments working towards joining the universe in celebrating post binary computation.
Three etchings towards non-binary computing
We have conducted three etchings to make PCBs that follow other lines of inquiry.
A soft error is an error that doesn’t imply that anything is wrong or unreliable about the system the error occurs in. In this sense, the error is seen as outside of human influence. For example, cosmic ray induced errors are common, expected, and considered “soft”. A soft error can change memory or processing but does not change how the circuit is constructed. Soft errors are already working towards non binary computing:
– as they happen because of cosmic interference, which is something humans have little control over and understanding of.
– they read as errors to humans, because the system that humans have designed makes it only possible to read them as erroneous.
– as these differences are only registered as error, not as potentials.
The non-binary tree draws its shapes from the particle tracks of cosmic rays. The particle tracks can be made visible within cosmic ray cloud chambers. Other than binary trees, that usually split into twos or multiples of twos, the non-binary tree has no definite shape. Within a supernova, particles gain so much energy that they finally escape the system and become cosmic rays, and as such travel through the universe and meet the Earth in random patterns. Transforming again as they intract with the atmosphere of the earth, the cosmic rays become a ‘cosmic ray cascade’ as they split into eletromagnetic, hadronic, and mesonic components that have shifting, unstable and multiple fractures. Reading the cosmic ray cascade as a non-binary tree for computation makes possible to account for unstable and multitemporal realities.
Using sensors that change currents due to touch and gradients of interaction involve more circuits than electromagnetic ones. Rather than ‘on/off’ switches, these sensors propose ways of interaction that make perceptible the always already present socio-technical assemblages between humans, other materials, their senses, and sensing practices. When bending definitions, we ask, how do we bend/squish/touch and transform what computation is ‘supposed’ to be?
These etched experiments play with ways of sensing the spectrum of signals that cosmic rays and the universe are sending towards the Earth. In this work we failed a lot in making PCBs that sense non-binary computation: In this failure to make PCB boards that were etched well and had stable soldered connections, we found that by understanding the material queerness of the universe’s cosmic rays, that non-binary perspectives in computing were always already there.
Exploitation of the Pandemic
Every big and significant event in human history provokes great productivity and reflection. It is a natural response to an intensive and transformative experience.
An invisible threat
SARS-CoV-2 is a small virus, invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, it not only easily spreads from one organism to another, but also plants doubt in various strata of the society.
This virus is nothing like the ones shown in films; people do not drop dead in the streets, they do not foam up at the mouth, and their bodies are not taken over by uncontrollable convulsions. Looking purely from physiological and cinematographical perspectives – this virus is truly unimpressive, thus spreading and inciting conflict in the society is even easier. If SARS-CoV-2 was impressive, if it could take people down like a bullet, then it would gain more respect and draw out greater fear.
In such an instance, self-isolation and other limitations would be looked upon far more seriously. There would be no need for fines or threats from governmental institutions – it would be enough to know that by behaving irresponsibly, one may not survive until the morning.
However, this virus is relatively mild, and deadly only for some. Because this virus is not reminiscent of the disaster film scenarios, it is only natural that its veracity has raised some doubts in the society. Doubt, ask any salesperson, is one of the easiest commodities to sell. Therefore, antivaxxers sell it brilliantly (“you will get even sicker if you vaccinate”); vaccine manufacturers sell it brilliantly (“it will be worse if you do not vaccinate”); supporters of opening up the economy sell it brilliantly (“more people will die from stopping the economy than from the virus”); supporters of human life as of the greatest value sell it brilliantly (“the economy can be revived, people cannot”); people who have become hostages of the healthcare system sell it brilliantly (“just look and see how many people with heart diseases, cancer, will die if they do not receive their treatment”); healthcare system curators sell it brilliantly too (“if we do not use the strictest of measures there will be no doctors left to provide any service”). Today every member of society has at least one doubt that they can sell.
If there was a war, a flood, or an earthquake – a visible reality – there would be less doubt. It is hard to manipulate reality when iron bullets plough through the human body, when water is forcing its way through front doors, or when concrete slabs are falling on one’s head. Then, everything is clear, and questions like ‘what to do?’ do not arise.
With a virus, and a not particularly impressive one – everything is different. Therefore, each group of interests can change the direction of the conversation their way and they’ll find relevant arguments. Whether they are correct or not is a secondary matter. The most important thing is to take up a certain position, defend it, reinforce it, and thus take the full advantage of the situation at hand for the beneficial use of personal or collective aims. That is not a battle for the truth, but for the definition of the truth.
In politics, there is a well-known expression: never waste a good crisis. Any calamity is a currency allowing one to initiate new projects or to devaluate the old ones.
Business is dead – long live business
Business grows and prospers when it manages to foresee and take advantage of opportunities, where others did not see them. Such opportunities are fewer when social and economic circumstances are stable. And contrarily – there are more of them when a wave of multifaceted changes turns up.
Still, in this expression there is a hidden contradiction, because unstable conditions of operation for business are rarely advantageous. This is how sales and supply chains are thrown off balance, stable algorithms change along with the behaviour of the consumers, unexpected expenses appear, it is harder to keep up with the financial commitments, and long-term uncertainty settles in. Part of the businesses are wiped out by the crises – particularly those which have to “switch off”, currently hotels, aviation companies, restaurants, and other sectors that are either sensitive to or are directly affected by the pandemic. All of these businesses, which until now had very clear guidelines of operation, have entered the unknown and are forced to find creative solutions to survive.
However, some businesses are strengthened by the crisis,p articularly those that take advantage of the misfortunes of their competitors and rush to fill their places in the markets, and also those who were prepared for the changes in advance and were simply waiting for an appropriate opportunity to deliver. In 2020, widely developed manufacture and service automatisation and digitisation processes have picked up pace. This was encouraged not just by difficulties in trying to directly reach the consumer (whose mobility due to the pandemic has been greatly limited), but also by the inability to ensure that an employee of the company itself will be able to be at work at a predefined time.
Today, all of those who manage to deliver their product or service directly to our doors are the winners. But not only physical products or take-away food – that was familiar long ago, though of course the volumes have increased now. Still, the most significant changes are taking place in the services sector, which is becoming increasingly mobile. For example, digital healthcare. In 2019 only 11% Americans used telephone doctor consultation services. During the pandemic, this number has risen to 46%. In Lithuania, we have also for a long time now communicated with our doctors more frequently on the phone than in person. At the moment it still seems unusual and not particularly efficient – but only at the moment. For a great proportion of people, the desk has moved from their office to their living room. Gyms with personal trainers have climbed into screens, and the same has happened with schools and teachers, theatres and actors.
Some remote business solutions implemented during the pandemic have appeared to be so functional and efficient that they will probably remain when the pandemic ebbs out. They will become the new canon, those that survived the trial by fire and ice, tested under the most complex circumstances, and therefore trustworthy and reliable.
Business is one of the most creative modes of human self-expression – looking at it universally, crises never destroy it, they simply provide stimuli for transformation and renewal.
Science dictates fashion
Science, despite its direct influence on our technological (and therefore social) development, most often ends up at the periphery of the public consciousness. Firstly, because science is complicated and if one wants to talk about it, then adequate preparation or competently communicating science promoters are required. Another reason is that science is often busy with matters that, upon first glance, do not seem directly related to the daily public experience. Many have heard about the Large Hadron Collider, but only a small fraction could explain how this device helps to understand about the nature of the universe. Why? Because the breadth of the universe is one of the most insignificant of our worries – what does it matter, the what and how it is made up?
But science is something else entirely when our dependence on it becomes relevant to our survival: when we read articles written by researchers on how the virus functions, or how it is different from others; when we wait for the vaccine; whether we follow or not the recommendations; when we observe our mental state.
Under such circumstances, science becomes not just a beautiful formula when awarding the Nobel prize, but also gains a concrete and actual form. Science will use this crisis to lure even more investment – not just private, but also governmental, as an increasing share of the population will consciously agree that funds dedicated to scientific research are a new priority.
Also, the pandemic itself has provided scientists with so much material that various dissertations and research related to the evolution of the pandemic, its management, and its long-term effects on the public will flow for decades to come.
To squeeze art out of the pandemic
Unusual situations create unusual sensations, and from unusual sensations comes unusual art. The pandemic provided for creators something to stimulate the imagination and thoughts – a multitude of restrictions, limitations, and obstacles. The inability to do what is usual is reminiscent of popular creativity exercises, which encourage participants to seek out new modes of self-expression. 2020 for artists was like an endless exercise, the results of which may now materialise here or there, but they will flood the scene the most once the pandemic calms down. In galleries, bookshops, theatres, and cinemas reflections of nature and attempts to summarise this tragedy that has shaken humanity will appear. Various perspectives will be explored in depth – that of a doctor, laboratory assistant, policeman, politician, an elderly person trapped at home, funeral home employee, courier, check-out person, priest, sceptic, or child. The phase of thorough in-depth analysis of the transforming experience awaits us, and a great share of actual artists will not miss an opportunity to express themselves on the subject.
Behind them move the numerous art curating organisations. Institutions like Rupert will organise seminars and post-pandemic vision competitions around the world; contemporary art museums and galleries will initiate exhibitions where “the core of identity of the pandemic, the social and psychological isolation cross-sections, difference between prudence and cynicism, sociability and individuality, as well as many other beautified and polished definitions” will be sought; creators in their search for residencies or funding will fill out the applications so that there is room for the word “pandemic”, because funding for projects reflecting on the pandemic, and also for those who are dressing the wounds it has caused will be a priority (the “relevance” clause will be easily met).
Press is the reality
The press and various social media channels got one of the best subjects in the past few decades. Most often the news has its use-by-date – a few hours at best. If interest is maintained for a few days – it means the news is really important. If a few weeks – it is most likely an event that will leave an imprint in the history of a country or even the world. But if it’s a few months, half a year, or even a full year – that is an exceptional meta-state of humanity, which will become a point of reference in tracking time. It is unavoidable that one day we will hear a newsreader speak these words: “<…> is the greatest human crisis since the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Interest in the pandemic in the press has been and remains huge, because it is directly related to one’s fundamental needs: worry about the wellbeing and lives of close and dear ones. Even though in the large part of the world such worries remain a daily affair, in the Western world, however, the situation is somewhat different. Most often here, life is threatened only by old age and accidents, but for that threat to be external and uncontrollable? No, since WWII it has not occurred.
Therefore, this time, interest in news about the pandemic has been exceptional: not the usual curiosity or leisure-time filler, but rather a gripping battle between humanity and an invisible, destructive force. Almost an adventure, it stimulates the thoughts and boils the blood. At least, finally, we have become witnesses of historical events (“we’ll have something to tell our children”).
The pandemic has also allowed us, even forced us, to focus on the information war and fake news phenomena. Even though it is not new, the pandemic and the surrounding vacuum of life have allowed us to grasp its complexity and potential.
Information war is only possible when information is significant and relevant, and when it influences daily public actions and thoughts – and during the pandemic, this is exactly how it is. Even more, with physical reality shrunk, information becomes its replacement. It is impossible to step out into the street and to see what’s happening in the world, since there is nothing to be seen. Just an ordinary day. Thus, we need to read or watch the information appearing on the screen. What information enters our field of vision – such is our reality.
This pandemic has reminded the press of its main responsibility and its complex, controversial role – the role of reality.
More wells will be needed, there is a lot of oil here
The pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 is like a natural resource (and therefore, limited), which will be readily and fully exploited by businessmen, politicians, analysts, and a variety of other mental field specialists. A post-pandemic content flood awaits us: everyone, who can and knows how, will try and squeeze the maximum out of the pandemic, firstly to learn from mistakes made, and to prepare in case it happens again. And later, they will wait again until the next, no less significant event happens, which will once again move the immovable, from which there is profit or loss to be made, but most importantly – it will be something to be talked about, something to be lived through.
But the greatest sorrow is for those who will not be there for that new event; and no exploitation of the pandemic will recover these losses.
The Saturn Youth Group
During the war time group members were located all over Europe, yet, even though the members seemed to be far away from each other, one goal united them – to establish their ground in Saturn and find ways to move there. The prophetic organisation has vanished into the abyss with just a few documents available for researchers.
Scattered diaries, photographs, posters, and models created by the group’s enigmatic members tell us a story of rethinking colonisation on a planetary scale, searching for new ways of coexistence and alternative ecologies. Imagining a happier world on Saturn, the group criticised their contemporary issues of expansion, the nationalistic politics of the world’s leading states, the accelerating economy, and the lack of empathy in society. “The Saturn Youth Group” were big dreamers, but have disappeared, having left little trace, so it is up for us to address their legacy.
Artists: SID YOUNG (Debbie Young and Katerina Sidorova), Julia Carolin Kothe, Saulė Noreikaitė, Indrė Liškauskaitė, Sara Björg, Andrej Polukord
Graphic design: Saulė Igarytė
Original exhibition presented at Atletika gallery in partnership with Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association and VšĮ “Marginalia”.
The plaque travels and is temporarily installed in different cities of the exhibition participants.
Photos: The plaque in Kaunas near Ąžuolynas – the Oak Park, 2020. Courtesy of the artists.
Artificial intelligence and its creative potential
Unavoidably, we encounter new technologies daily and often we don’t even consider how strongly they affect our lives. According to the data of the Rescue Time app, which we can install to track our time spent on the phone, the average time spent is three hours and 15 minutes per day (2019). This statistic does not include the time spent in front of a TV, tablet, or PC screen. In the age of technology, all of it is an inseparable part of our daily life. Our movement and communication are freeing themselves from linear processes and become more active, faster, and more efficient than ever before. Not only the definition of time, but also our concept of space is changing. We can communicate without even leaving our bed.
The Internet is an unquestionable symbol of my generation and an effectively used guide. Towards what distant technological discoveries can we turn our attention? In my opinion, one of the most interesting developments is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its increasingly active implementation in various fields. In 2015, during a conference organised by the Future of Life Institute in Puerto Rico, professionals of various fields split into two groups: those who believed in an unbelievably fast and real opportunity for artificial intelligence to turn into a communal project, which will be able to complete all human tasks (to feel, or create according to Demis Hassabis from Google DeepMind), and those who held onto a more critical point of view and expressed many doubts concerning the progress of this technology (i.e., Elon Musk).
Everyone’s individual encounter with the prominent algorithms forms certain points of view. The use of AI via easily accessible software – such as Siri or Alexa – can form an image of an “executor” or a “professional Google user”. However, is AI only capable of this much? To complete simple and clear instructions and to answer: “I didn’t get that, could you try again?” (Thank you, Siri, I am trying).
Examples showing the improvement of AI can be found in various fields. Also, more often we can see the notice “created by artificial intelligence” next to works of art. An art exhibition that took place in 2018 in Delhi invited artists who work and create in collaboration with AI. Here, for the first time within the space of a gallery, a painting authored by a non-human was presented. However, does AI understand how and why it creates? Can we see similarities between our imagination and the creative processes of AI? Is there room for imagination in this algorithm and what challenges and changes await us with AI entering our society? Can it behave creatively and create something truly new? By analysing examples of AI, I am aiming to gain a greater understanding of its principles of operation and existing creative potential.
Artificial intelligence creations in the fields of art
Design. Designers were some of the first to employ AI help in their field. This decided the appearance of a generic design. How it is exceptional and what potential it provides for designers and consumers alike we can grasp by analysing one of the objects – the first AI-designed chair, which was created by the software Dreamcatcher in 2016. Human measurements were input into the software, such as the height of the chair and what weight it should hold. Also, keywords “Scandinavian style” were provided as well. All the other decisions were sub-coordinated by the software, and in a few minutes, there were hundreds of sketches available to choose from. This chair – The Elbo Chair – stands out with its forms and reduced manufacturing costs, and the design is remarkable for its skeletal structures and dynamic lines. The Dreamcatcher not only creates a useful piece of furniture or a thing; it employs all of its accrued knowledge – its libraries of ideas and images – and offers new solutions. These can be considered a creative act, albeit one still conditioned by humans and decisions made by them. The final variant is still at the mercy of an individual, just like the reasoning behind it. However, AI has designed numerous options in a far lesser amount of time than any human could do. Also, such a rich selection can satisfy almost any taste.
Poetry. Better language model (GTP-2) is one of the most advanced algorithms in the field. From 2015-2018, almost 32,000 articles were published in the USA, all authored by AI. In China, the number is even greater, almost 34,000. Articles were primarily of a factual nature, announcing sport results and similar content. Also, more and more journalists use writing suggestion software. Not only does it choose the correct case and correct grammatical errors, but it also finishes sentences, paragraphs, and does so not only logically, but sometimes by surpassing the abilities of the human author. Similar insights we can detect in John Seabrook’s article in The New York Times: “And yet, sitting there at the keyboard, I could feel the uncanny valley prickling my neck. It wasn’t that Smart Compose had guessed correctly where my thoughts were headed–in fact, it hadn’t. The creepy thing was that the machine was more thoughtful than I was”.
However, AI is used not only for writing articles. Language training models are trained in literature as well, for example, poetry. Truth to be told, these creations, particularly narrative stories, aren’t especially complex. In prose, we can notice logic errors or even leaps of thought. Still, experiments conducted have shown that even professional writers cannot distinguish with 100% certainty the result of human creation versus machine creativity. Numerous poems generated by AI are already turned into poetry compilations and end up as books. The Transformer Poetry book was published in 2019. Its initiator – Kane Hsieh. This book consists of 26 classical poems, by recognised authors, regenerated using the GPT-2 model. Having just a few lines of the original poem, the algorithm interprets and generates the remaining part of the poem. Here’s one example (the boldened part was the excerpt of the original poem, the rest – created by AI):
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for
an angry fix,
The madman’s hands, the maniac’s mind, the mind that takes
as an object of delight, and the lunatic’s body, or any other
living thing for the time…
And so I looked. I walked in a kind of cold madness through
streets I knew,
and I felt the mad passion of human weakness and decay;
I felt it so well that I did not feel much. I stood here, this evening,
when the streets
were dead still with the sound, I stood up at last
Music. In 2019 the first pop music single made by AI, which was the centre of many discussions, was released by Sony. In my opinion, this creation was hardly identifiable as pop music, however, it can work as an artistic experiment. We can test the AI potential on Google as well. AI duet invites human musicians to play together with musical instruments and to improvise in real-time, and N Synth offers possibilities to create new and unique instruments, mixing the potential of other instruments. For example, we chose 70% percussion and 30% flute sounds, and we got the “flutedrum”. The number of variations is infinite and depends on our choices. Mary Flanagan, a famous poet and scholar of humanities has noted, that humans are already capable of creating a good sonnet, so why not use the machine not for the recreation of sonnets, but for creating something new?
One of the more interesting Google experiments is called Imaginary Landscape. The operating principle is simple – you upload any image or photo, and the AI creates a one-minute-long music track for that image. While experimenting freely with this software my attention was drawn not only to the precise evaluation of objects and their materials, but also the sound representation of objects that could be there but are not visible in the photograph. For example, for an empty playground AI assigned the sound of children’s shouts. This interpretative moment, multi-layered seeing of image, assignation of meaning, and combining of different media is a creative dialogue, that is already occurring between a man and a machine.
Painting. In 2018 the aforementioned first exhibition dedicated to AI and its use in creativity took place. The now-famous work of art Edmond de Belamy was presented there along with other seven interdisciplinary artists’ collaborations with AI. In the previously mentioned painting, numerous discussion-worthy elements can be seen. If a machine only repeats what humanity has already achieved and overachieved long ago (the work is significant for its imprecise strokes and abstract lines), why do we see such a strange decision to leave an empty, unpainted area on the canvas? Also, the composition is concentrated on the left. That is not regular for the works of the period (15 – 18 c.) for which the algorithm analysed and generated. Usually, we understand the work of a machine as complete, thus such delivery can be interpreted as an error or as a creative gesture – the machine’s choice to act not according to the rules, meaning to consciously break the rules in the name of the concept.
The painting discussed is just one from the Obvious team’s creative collection. In total, there were eleven portraits generated. This dynasty family tree they created from eleven portraits can be interpreted as the painting genesis of that period and the distinction of the most common features or the study analysis of a progressive artificial intelligence. Either way, this painting had drawn great attention and was sold for $432,500 USD. It looks like AI is moving into the art market despite the deeply deposited controversy.
Imaginative coherence of the generative adversarial networks’ operations
To create Edmond de Belamy, GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks), a machine training network started in 2014,was used. Ian Goodfellow, with his team, provided new meaning for this learning process. The main elements in this network are the generator and the discriminator. They work by generating material and comparing it with real samples, and the purpose of this scheme is to designate and identify the “fake” (the generated output) as “a true and correct image.” By completing the task, GANs can create a third, new value.
The principles in which this scheme works are precisely explained by the Obvious team example, which we can find in their manifesto: “Take an art student. His professor asks him to paint a Picasso. The student doesn’t know what a Picasso looks like. So he will start painting, in order to see which direction to go. Every painting he makes is judged by the professor. With time, the student gets better and better at painting Picassos, and at the end of the process, the professor can’t tell the difference between a real Picasso and one that has been produced by the student. At this point, the student is capable of creating new examples of Picasso paintings, at least at the eyes of the professor.” This would represent the GANs system’s training and product, which it is capable of creating.
This Obvious example is reminiscent of the still unknown number of the infamous forgeries, created by a German couple, Wolfgang Beltracchi and his wife Helene. M. Ernst’s La Foret forgery is considered the most profitable forgery affair in history. Instead of an attempt to forge already existing works of art, by mastering the artist’s painting technique, they began painting new works, which were then then presented as having been accidentally discovered and purchased originals. This story can be an illustration of how the GANs scheme works.
The operation principle of the network is also tied to the way imagination works. The correlation with the operations of the neural network can also be seen in M. Heidegger’s formulated three phases of time explaining the development of imagination: ”reception of data into oneness within observation intuition (apprehension) delivers the motion of contemporariness, regeneration of images (reproduction) is like a reminiscence of the past, and recognising by using concepts (recognition) greets us like the future”. By seeing the inherent connections, we bring AI actions closer to our own act of creation, if we say we are capable of bringing about formulas of imagination and creativity. The moment of receiving data guides us to the algorithm’s material selection, the generator delivers reproduction, and the discriminator – recognition. The future is achieved – a new creation.
AI, just like a human, has to make decisions during the creative process and has to experience that unavoidable moment of renunciation for the sake of creation. The amount of input data has to pass the selection to become the adapted and desirable output, that which we consider a work of art. That is one more structural similarity between the functions of human imagination and GANs. “Mental and physical clichés exist – premanufactured concepts, memories, imaginations. That is a very important part of the painter’s experience – even before beginning the canvas is already loaded with objects of all categories, which can be identified as “clichés”. That is dramatic.” [Deleuze G., Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974, 2002]. Therefore, the creator has to be capable of critically evaluating their imagery and other experiences and rejecting them for the realisation of the work of art, so that a conscious act of will takes place, leading to a result. However, AI, even when completing the tasks of rejection and separation, cannot grasp it. “For now, it does not understand what it is doing, whatever significance it may give to its words” [Tegmark M., Life 3.0, 2017]. Assigning meaning (or that how we understand “meaning)” is still taken care of by the human.
Stimuli that are occurring, along with parallels appearing between man and machine’s creative processes, empower us to notice the templates of operation within us. Upon acquiring sufficient knowledge and by converting it to algorithms, we could instil these algorithms into the machines. Maybe we truly are just a sequence of algorithms ourselves, endless and improving. But to be able to discover the algorithm, to be capable of creating and competing with humans in the fields of art, we have to analyse art digitally and adapt objective measures for it. “We cannot design an algorithm in such a way, for it to create a “good song” or for it to find them if we cannot define what is a “good” song. <…> How to evaluate the aesthetic value of the work of art?” [Fry H., Hello World, 2018]. Training of the creative algorithm is slowed not just by the search for the objective criteria, but also by the attempt to adapt them in numbers, and to discover statistical methods, which would decide the material’s aesthetic quality evaluation measure’s appearance and application. AI is yet again directed towards a repetition of human abilities in art, aiming to gather a sufficient amount of data and to find a starting point for the algorithm in the field of art. In M. Valatkaitė’s article about I. Pavliukevičius’s exhibition “Heart Resistant to Water”, the same doubts are raised: “When the doubt is planted whether contemporary human existence is real – occurring within natural, accidental conditions, or whether it is an artificially created one – based on computer calculations, it brings us closer to the leitmotif of Pavliukevičius’s exhibition, which encourages us to think about the similarity between that which is real and what is artificial”. If we cannot define the concept of art, can we say who the creator is? Without being able to define the aesthetic value of the work of art or its significance, can we say, that AI creations are not works of art? I retain the right to doubt.
“Which goal do you want to pursue first?
I’m just beginning to think about that. I’m not sure yet, but I like the possibilities”
–Artificial intelligence monologue from talktotransformer.com
The self-portrait genre formed as an opportunity to use your own skills and to create and reveal a personal, inner world. The self-portrait shows not only how the artist sees him/herself, but also how he/she wants to be seen. The author constructs their own identity. Also, I am intrigued by one of the reasons for the appearance of the self-portrait – the aim to recreate and preserve the myth of the artist as a genius.
This portrait is a self-representation of AI. It is conditioned by my intentions to reveal its creative potential and to share imagination about artificial intelligence’s ability to become an independent and the only creator of art, thus leaving the human to one side, in the position of an audience. An algorithm is used (image scraping) and GANs are used to create the portrait. There are conditions for it: an automated input search (artists’ self-portraits are searched), supervised learning (use of GANs software), and an endless generation of output. This action of self-portrait creation is constant – every 25 seconds we see a newly generated portrait. The process does not develop into a single result. Instead, we are forced to experience visuarrhea [Sabolius K., Furious Sleep (Lith. Inirtingas Miegas), 2012]. We are overloaded with images and changes between them. It represents the continuous learning of AI (generating selective human experience) and refers to certain challenges, which we possibly experience in our life: attempts to fit in society, to realise a desire to become better, to be “enough”, to form an advantageous personal image, which would allow us to compete in chosen fields, for example, in the field of art. This creation of an identity and positioning of oneself is reminiscent of Z. Bauman’s analysed aim for utopia, the concept of which changes from “a good place” and becomes “a good path”, meaning an endless journey to utopia: “<…> for a modernist there is no such thing as the end, mission accomplished, meaning that the objective and the feeling have been accomplished and now it is time to enjoy it. Each episode is experienced as an introduction for the next one” [Bauman Z., Culture in a Liquid Modern World, 2011].
In these generated portraits, we can observe trends. The subject is thoughtful and dismal, and most portraits have acquired masculine features. These similarities of GANs portraits are like an objective analysis of artists’ self-portraits. It raises many questions about how the artists tend to represent themselves, what general features are distinguished, and what style they choose in order to do so. Romantic portraits appearing in the hologram remind of the primary purpose of the self-portrait that was established in the painting tradition – to recreate and maintain the myth of the artist as a genius. Also, these series of portraits reflect the naïve understanding and hope that AI will be capable of not only achieving the level of our intellect but also surpassing it.
The title Hello World refers to an important change in the field of programming – an opportunity to exchange messages with a computer by the use of a programming language. This step marks the first symbol of the dialogue between a human and a machine. About the “connection in which there is almost no boundary between the controller and the controlled” (Fry H., Hello World, 2018]. In this situation of a creative piece, AI has become the initiator of communication awaiting a human response.
This text is based on the bachelor’s dissertation Artificial Intelligence and Its Creative Potential, presented in 2020 at Vilnius Academy Art, Photography and Media Art Department, supervisor Assoc. Prof. Irma Stanaitytė-Bazienė
a film pome2
the world went out like a candle
the world went out like a cockerel3
the sky was deleted
with the upward swipe
of an app no longer required
the war of all-against-all4
left everyone a loser
there was nothing left to say
and no-one left to say it
but from the bottom of it all
in some ancient forgotten swamp
something hairy seemed to seemed to squelch
it swam up to reality’s rim
& got to re-building everything
I – THE WET WOOD
what is this thing?
who makes this scene?
this fecund holy mess?
could cut the neck
of tree one tree and make ten grow?
& did she know
from start to done
that to fill this cup
would serve so many more than one?
II – THE DARK POOL
they say5 that back in the early days
before everything went to shit
a human woman
married a human man
(he was a famous hunter I think)
they moved to his foreign country
& set up by a river pool
he goes off hunting
for days and days
then days it turns to weeks
she at home cooking.
in leather apron,
so she takes to dips in the pool
she just loves that cool caress
but the pool is pokey
so she sticks sticks where it trickles
& the water gathers & swells.
delighted with her work,
she builds another
& another & another
a cascade of aqua park delight.
now she’s less & less on land
& more & more in there
hubby comes home
from long excursion
chatting ’bout needing dinner
but wife’s fucked off
so hub distraught
sits down by pool to weep
by his feet
a moist thing quivers
swims to the river’s meniscus
whispers ‘sorry, but’
slaps its leathery tail & is gone
(or so i heard)
III – THE INFERNAL NOW
well back to the infernal now,
i mean eternal then
things went so far one way
they had to go another
& so verdant is this rodent’s dream
there’s even room
for the odd human being6
1 ‘Castorocene’ borrowed from Ben Goldfarb, Eager (2018) meaning ‘era of the beaver’. ‘Castor fifiber’ (Europe) or ‘Castor Canadensis’ taxonomical names for beavers.
2 ‘pome’ borrowed from James Joyce, Pomes Pennyeach (1927)
3 ‘the world went out like a candle / the world went out like a cockerel’ borrowed from Aleksander Vvedensky God May Be Around (1931) translated by Eugene Ostrashevsky as ‘the world went out like a candle / the world went out like a rooster’ in An Invitation for Me to Think (2013)
4 borrowed from Natan Dubovitsky (aka Vladislav Surkov), Without Sky 2014 ‘In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fifight. Two countries. Two groups of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. No. All against all.’ in turn borrowed from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651) ‘Bellum omnium contra omnes’
5 Myth borrowed by Rachael Poliquin in Beaver (Animal) (2015) from Haida culture, who in turn may have borrowed it from Tsimshian culture (ancient)
6 borrowed from me
Collaborator, Mentor & Director of Photography: Alexander Hetherington
Music: Rudi Zygadlo & George Finlay Ramsay (aka Sissy Fuss), Sarah Davachi
Filmed at Bamff Wildland
When will we begin to care for smells?
Climate change and the extinction of biodiversity are leading us to a future where due to more frequent viruses and disasters, lives will be significantly compromised. We can consider the current period as a trial, during which we learn to deal with the disease that occupies our daily life and to reevaluate the importance of the surrounding environment in our lives and the lives of others.
Humanity’s dependence on physical and virtual spaces and the desire to improve them have become more robust because of the desire to stretch our experiences. The experimentation and development of virtual spaces – familiar or fictitious – mainly rely on stimulation of sight and hearing senses. However, these experimentations with two out of five senses are rather limiting. For instance, the sense of smell also assists us in understanding our surroundings and generating emotional responses. What is our connection to scents? How do they affect human, animal behaviour, and the states of plant life? What are the histories of smells?
According to scientists, in comparison with other senses, the sense of smell can evoke the strongest emotions and memories. “Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb, the structure in the front of the brain that sends information to the other areas of the body’s central command for further processing. Odours take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory”.1 The strangest thing is that the smells unavoidably surround us daily, and yet they’re still hard to grasp and describe. If the variety of smells gradually vanishes due to the changing environment, is there a possibility that we will lose the ability to recall them?
Even though we collect and protect objects and sounds, the odours of different environments, subjects, and objects are not preserved. Therefore, we do not know what has been lost in the past. In what way could we keep smells and secure them for future generations to experience? How can we archive individual and global memories with scents which would enhance our isolated everyday lives?
1. Colleen Walsh, “What the nose knows”, February 27, 2020, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/how-scent-emotion-and-memory-are-intertwined-and-exploited/
Foraging in the city, an introduction
1. The Sediments
The stairway in the southwest corner of the archives will take you all the way down to the flood. Find the service hatch at level 32, wade across the tar lake, work your way up the smaller walkways and ladders until you reach the main shaft.
Levels 25 to 20 is called the Haze. Here, on the concrete ledges, you’ll find a quietly fluorescent yellow lichen (mut. of Chrysotrix). Grind to a coarse powder, blend gently with near-boiling water and stir into a thick stew. Tastes like sugary dust, but rich in protein and zinc. Make sure all parasites leave before serving – don’t be alarmed when they slither out of the pot cursing you. (The heat doesn’t harm them, they’re just pissed off).
Pro tip: Set up camp on one of the wider shelves and spend the night in the Haze. Watch subterranean lightning strike inside the mist, briefly illuminating this four-hundred-metres-high-X-ray-expanding-ribcage of a vast hollow.
Stay safe: Don’t stray below 32th. The deeper you go, the older and weirder the inhabitants. They remember everything but have no interest in the present.
2. The Underground
The faint overhead glow of broken mall skylights marks the end of the Haze and the start of the constructed levels: flower-clogged sewers, forgotten service tunnels, post-war cemeteries. And the subway. Can’t believe it still runs (even the L), though I’ve never seen anyone use it, except for that one time. The insides of the cars are covered in purplish salt residue. Force the doors, scrape it off, use for seasoning – if you don’t mind where it came from. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some of the salt scratchers graffiti.
The vending machines in stations are still being refilled, an automated process. If you have a cracked keycard, use that, otherwise an iron rod will do the trick. The Sylvain protein bars are decent, and the beers (in a vending machine!) are beers.
There’s a space below the platform on 9th and 4th that you can sleep in. I left my lamp there, in case she comes back.
Batdaws live in the ventilation tunnels. Stay clear of them, unless your peace offering is generous. Follow their calls from a distance and they will lead you to the commercial underpass and the flowering trees. Here look for badger droppings dotted with puffin beaks (the birds drop their beaks whenever they see a badger – it grows back out again). Roast and sprinkle with purple salt, eat as snacks.
Pro tip: Chew the flowers from the trees, and time will turn soft and slow. Not bad.
Stay safe: Watch out for skeleton service trains.
3. The Holloways
As you approach the surface the tunnels gently fade into dusky ditches arced by intervowen trees. The maps keep changing, something re-weaves the branches at night. Meditate on this at an intersection until you see fireflies.
Where they hover, you’ll find patches of b12-enhanced nettles. They make for a good soup. Drop a synthesized dumpling – or any protein blob of vegetable origin – in there if you have it.
At the outskirts of the holloways you’ll find the painted cave. Leave your third and receive what you didn’t find (yesterday I picked up mushrooms, orange spinach, dark chocolate, fern batteries).
Nb. Only one forager allowed at a time in the cave. It’s completely dark, use your light to illuminate the tables with offerings, and memorize the temporary maps shaped from twigs and branches. Photographs and drawings forbidden.
Pro tip: There’s an abandoned treehouse in the canopy above the cave, if you need a place to sleep.
Stay safe: If encountering a badger, caution is advised.
4. Street Level
The compost heap of the higher levels, with the occasional neo-dandelion on top of the waste (with patience it might turn into shitty wine in a year or two, fermented with sugar). The vertical gardens are a good source for greens, though you need to decontaminate them first.
Follow a moth if you see one, it’ll sooner or later amble into a mall to find a nootropic birch to feast upon (or an onion, but you probably already knew that).
The coded goutweed in the parks lost a lot of it starches in the last decade, and is now edible as is, though an acquired taste. Eat raw or lightly blanched. Theres a lot of looting, if so inclined. Oh, and language declines into poetry on street level, the
elephant ribcage on the square meditating
A material that expands in fluid, it can be shaped, dried, woven
Yes they mix bitters in it, but you can chew thru it
(if you’re dedicated enough)
they think it’s semi-alive. Take a biopsy from an approving being and build from
Stay safe: Don’t mess with the moths.
Pro tip: The blobby excretions covering the streets is not great food but pound it flat and let it dry in the sun, it becomes like white leather. My entire outfit is made of the stuff…
The small forest (alder, rowan, oak) in the penthouse of the Sakamoto building is brimfull of funnel chanterelles. Gather their dew, just a few drops will turn spoiled water drinkable and make your surroundings flow and glow. I woke up in the 100 sqm bathroom with Arctic starflowers (non-edible, wasteland indicator species with bronze colored leaves – good for soothing moonburn excema) sprouting from my mossy puke.
Scrape the mildew from the glass wall and admire the view. A few hundred meters to the southeast: the rooftops of the housing project on 1st: where fields of flesh-and-concrete-eating verbascum/matricaria hybrids stand up to 5 m tall (love to see them thrive after being pushed out by non-natives on lower levels). Their roots infiltrate the structure, slowly processing the concrete into an intensely fine soil. A squirrel I knew went through the roof last week, tumbled through seven floors — the seven spherical dust clouds rising like a chain of beads, reminded me of something.
what does solidarity within a species mean
pick the pickled turnip, slice it, decode the signs the sky at night
the quiet fall birds, innumerable in the flooded shelter…
Pro tip: Trade turnips for friendship (with squirrels).
Stay safe: Don’t climb any buildings with mulleins on top.
The borderlands pt. 1 & 2
The suburban borderlands, endless. The gardens are key: close to the centre the nondescript lawns of the 20th century; further out they progress into semi- controlled wilderness. There’s an overgrown mansion in the west reach where they use flamethrowers to keep the bamboo at bay. Lurk in the shadows of the neo-English park and watch the hovercrafts trying to take off, while enjoying a light meal of pear wood splinters, elderberries, yarrow, followed by a few select orchids from the derelict greenhouse.
…what to say about ”agency” in beings with non-nervous systems, being part of the herbivore foragers, am I blinded to injustice by my own prejudice? I’m pro the faux meat factories, but they were all shut down in the third wave, some friends of mine broke into one and managed to start the systems again, I might invest in that –
And my favourite, the forgotten industrial area by the port. It’s flooded during night – forage in the dried out fields, parking lots and riverbeds at
early dawn. In the riverside park there’s a sculpture of a giant armadillo, its back appearing, disappearing as the tide shifts and covers it with microcrabs: in the rising sun they glow like tiny lamps, at dusk they’re translucent – constantly scuttling, quietly humming, thinking of something unknown.
…what good is it if you love all these things but can’t feel it? It’s like arguing with a cat irritated at a fly. I hear a faint sound all the time, a distant choir rising in the walls, coming up from the underground, the humming of things I’ve forgotten, the wild uncertainty of living. Is the verbascum inside the walls here too? Did she return to the space below the underground platform, is she there now, I mean right now? Or still lost in the Haze? I need to go see.
Pro tip: Take a bath in the tide pools.
Stay safe: This area is reasonably safe. But avoid local rainfall, it will bruise your skin.
Two Letters to Two Friends Written at the Same Time
Two Letters to Two Friends Written at the Same Time
Instructions: Proceed with the content in the order of its presentation. Listen to each audio track in its entirety while doing nothing else. Read the texts that follow while listening to nothing.
Last Night Phoebe Ordered Takeaway Katsu Curry, This is a Japanese Curry that is Brown and Delicious
Phoebe’s cosmopolitanism is a fun pleasure I love see shine
Probably because I didn’t learn Phoebe first like this. I first learned Phoebe who eats very comfortably mouth munching words aloud with hummus on her cheek happy or focused. I first learned Phoebe who is the young student not dropping big dollars on too nice things. I first learned Phoebe who cried outside of night clubs because of broken heart not because she was drunk but did need company. I first learned Phoebe who swore that any boyfriend would be familiar with her smelly farts early on in their relationship.
Phoebe is a big city native. It’s in her freckly skin. I really only learned it after she extended her opinion that the hinterland of denmark wasn’t dramatic enough to justify its lack of amenities. she was stomping through the streets of little copenhagen with trajectory and her shoulders eased through the phone I could hear bustling legs and watching eyes and things to look at and relief of floating phoebe telling me about it all.
Phoebe will wallow in her bed all day until she’s done, Phoebe will swallow in her room alone with books and diaries and inky drink quill pens in fat plastic tubes of color although i think she used to use ink from pots (me too, because of harry potter, just 5 years in advance of young phoebe, because that is our age difference). Phoebe will dust her shoes for a week, during which she will meet her mom’s ashes and old drugs in jewelry boxes and tell friends about it as anecdote including those who live far away and want stories from home. Phoebe will toss over herself a woolly marbled cape upon leaving the house and dangle tiny purses off her wrists kept in place by what she calls her frog hands because her best friend Jana who was also once her big bully but isn’t any more calls them that. Phoebe will sling on her rucksack too with all the other stuff like loose papers and bandaids and old LRBs for auntie moira in ireland or italy and by her bicycle with the widest of handle bars i’ve ever seen she shoots across london listening to kendrick lamar or lil trina or lil kim or lil genevieve to friends’ or to her once strict and then soft polish orthodontist in Angel for her adult braces or to the Red Lions Boys Club with the photoshoots and music parties or to see bethie who’s involved in a mixed sex love circle while also making a traditional fam or to claire newly in south who hasn’t found her yoga studio yet or to the poetry library for a couple of hours where there is no one she is romantically interested in or to exhibitions by way of the exhibition card gifted to her by her dad with becky in central or to her therapist Rocío in west who i love by proxy for her big belly breath so relaxed and takes the piss out of us to who else in north north north.
north london girls squad. that’s right that’s us.
Across all the little streets nearest in sneakers called trainers which Phoebe calls SENSIBLE trainers when i ask what shoes she is wearing these days if bunions are bad she will see the doctors a block away about this soon not for the bunions but still for her foot and then she might go back to wearing kitten heels but probably only after lockdown if we are being realistic. Phoebe is a true gal about town.
Friends and lovers and teenage boyfriends mothers. Thank-you baskets of bubbles for soaking or drinking to the others making marionettes and garden sticks for children and sarcophaguses these types of artists and parents exist in north london. Soft touchers protruding bellies against tees on park runs Phoebe herself has gray hairs now she says that she wants to get out and flirt with the young boys before she can only catch the over thirties like me and V even if he is handsome he is old, what can she say. dad simon and his best friends and exgirlfriends multiple actually american even, and their friends and friends of friends who i’ve met at christmas she sees us all and i get to hear about it. what’s the goss.
Phoebe is a friend pal boundful of energy to exercise and expunge when she feels like it which isn’t always but when it is she is doing all the lovely city things like crying at Anne Carson in public and hustling people away from Barbara’s bench when she’s been patient long enough she’s allowed to growl • It’s my dead mums birthday • She’s tried a studio for poetry but didn’t need it and fun nonetheless to meet beautiful architects and look out new windows from desks transient others will use after she does like the bath, an important fixture for Phoebe, she likes the bath with a pink scrunchie in her hair the things Becky calls HAIR BOBBLES and after uses she uses a huge rose-covered bath towel for her skin and a more huge solid magenta bath towel for her hair and then plays with painted robes for coital moods or red clown onesies when she’s feeling homey or bloated or party excited or work flowing she likes the “caf” where she can exercise flirtations and other dispositions in a rich but contained environment hugged even more wholesome by its woodlands protected by Snelly Woman of our Dreams, and friends and dad can visit and girlfriends can pick things up and drop things off. Phoebe is a philanthrope of london wildlife fund she gives amply in bosom big or small.
i think i see you Phoebe, as much as one can see from afar specifically your cosmopolitanism i mean i see you with our our old clothes cleaning corners and i see you topless sponge painting pink and orange and yellow and i see you tacki-taping your human-sized baby photos into the doll’s-sized doll’s house and the tacki tape is preferably blue. Phoebe you are a landlady by inheritance by chance that is tragic but this flat, our flat that is really your flat, this flat, well, it’s four stories high heaven of this old british city the greenest city in the world with a sense of fashion and i largely credit you for it. maybe from chance can be choice because you are a very good landlady and possibly it is a great trade for a philanthrope of london wildlife.
To be seen in all the ways or at least the many ways and to be adored from all the angles or at least multiple angles, this might be a task for only the angels to do. angel is your middle name and like your cosmopolitanism it is a treat i love see shine you didn’t choose it either but i wear your angel on my backpack in baby pink like you being born in a big city, i wear your angel in gold medallion on my head set by gum chewed two pieces strong. you have chosen many things like the angels you give and your things of choice tie up nicely and sometimes shittily in the crochet bundle with your tiny baby head popped out while your dad takes another photo of little baby phoebe that keeps us company while we pee and poop and chat to each other and smile at ourselves and leave single tea cups in the sink at night because cleaning is done by someone who cleans and we exist and we should be seen, like you taught me i’ll never forget.
Hey doctor my fingers
my fingers are bubbling !
my wrists can’t twist !
Hey doctor !
i can’t see the sky
Food for Thought
All this to say, while you continue to develop your work and figure your shit out, why don’t you live with me in a comfortable environment that is supportive of day to day happiness, joy, and wellbeing? With me, in this other place here, we could find a flat that is big enough and affordable. A cheap(ish) roomy place! If it feels right we can move somewhere else together after, in a chilled way, not in a depressing drawn out high pressure way. Once things are clear as to where it makes sense to go and where to stay. After we actually feel like we know each other. At New Years your friends asked how we met and laughed that really works? I said yes it did. Instead of wallowing in misery alone waiting in sad empty life raft beds, why don’t you move here with me.
Let me tell you, it could be good.
It could be so good, in fact, that I’ve written up a list of things that will certainly be an improvement if we were to live together in X starting this January for your special consideration. Tell me what you think.
Things that will be nice if you live here with me
- We can have a nice apartment to live in (in not shabby condition) and with people we like (ourselves) and that is near other people we like to hang out with (together and separately).
- We can have active and exciting sex lives again.
- We can have active emotional and physical intimacy again. Face kissing. bum cuddles. hugs. “You are adorable” uttered between (our) bodies in leg-hair-touching proximity while I drip into your pupils.
- We can have creative sound play again. Did you know that our synths have never lived together? Mine keep asking me when they will visit again, they share the same blood we cannot keep them separate forever. We can take turns role playing student and teacher while they get acclimated.
- We can eat together sometimes and watch nature things on ARTE. I can climb on you and make you a puppet.
- We can do drugs together and dance.
- We can do our work separately in our totally pumped up awesome spacious individually designated studios and we can drink club mate alone, yet, together. the cat can visit us each.
- You can bounce off me your music instrument ideas and I will ask you loads of questions.
- We can make each other drawings and tape them to the walls and put secrets in each other’s writing pads. We can attach things to the animals and plants.
- We can read to each other science and history books in the bathroom.
- You can listen to my art and theory ideas for 30 seconds and then zone out while I keep talking until I figure it out with another friend and I will try to forgive you and not feel sad about it.
- We can do yoga together, I can teach you. We can play the bamboo game we bought that time from the place up the street. I can write lying on my belly and press up against your sides and you can talk with your friends on TeamSpeak. I can go on a walk and you can lie in bed until 14.00 and I will come back with a pain au chocolat. Your mom can come visit on Sundays.
- We can take a train to go to the mountains the old ones and we can speak French until I am angry or you are exasperated.
- We can get a cheap car so we can even more easily go to the mountains and take our friends too and I can play american car music while I drive.
- We can move again, wherever our lives might take us (with the car?!)
- If we end up really not getting on, we can say we had some cool moments and shared a great love and tried to care as best we could and we wish each other well and we can feel sad about it until we can feel less sad about it.
- If we end up being even more in love with each other, we can have kittens that we stack in backpacks while we trek Nepal and we can cup each other’s faces while we say “You are my Big Love.”
- We can go to the movie cinema for something stupid funny on when it reopens and we can be at ease.
- You can complain aloud to me in person (i.e. more often) and I will side with you if it’s a real issue and problem solve solutions together, and, I will side with you if it’s complaining-as-activity and I will take the piss.
- We can cook in a clean kitchen that can be small-city large instead of big-city small. We can listen to music coming through proper speakers while we chop and meals can be, actually fun. We can eat tortilla the nights we are very lazy and put dishes in a working dishwasher. I’ve got one.
- You can take me outside and show me the constellations.
- Our surprises repertoire can expand beyond our wildest dreams while retaining select originals of hubba bubba, lottery tickets, pleasurable pens, happy balloons, mango yogurt with the bits.
- The doctors here can properly cut your hemorrhoids and until they do I can sit on the bathroom floor with you while you misery pain poo and look at your computer.
- You can vacuum and heavy clean biweekly-ish and I can sweep and tidy daily-ish.
- You can put the blanket on me when I’m very exhausted and need your mountain socks. I can feel you crawl into bed later and smile under my eyelids.
- We can share our clothes and your underwear and dress matching and walk around the city just like that.
This is what I’ve come up with for now. In reflection,
maybe i only love you because you’re beautiful
since that’s all we have to talk about.
your black eyes can keep me until i can’t open them anymore.
2019 Zine, Welcome to the Doll’s House of Pain xoxoxo by G & P
Bathroom – warm fuzzies family baby blue and sportswear
Toilet – phoebe amoeba grief on plastic cape
Bedroom – wedding day dreams joy double spread we marry becky and matt
Kitchen – fuck u mofo love lil trina and Big Bear atlantic city poo sack face tatts
Living Room – ill decadence needy needy teetering florals are you home yet ralph lauren
Garden – hangover shame perky anxious art student or art teacher ice coffee n sliders going to flea
Hallway – sleezy, ass n titties simple
Under Bed – genevieve orthodox dress death paralysis
Nowhere Room (Desk) – productivity mind spiral cynar hot italian mom fluoro rain trousers
* ALL SHOT AT HOME WITH PHOTOGRAPHER ADDIE.
* KEEP IN MIND TOES.