What animal is so naive to come into this world as a naked and crying infant, completely vulnerable, helpless, and an easy prey for any predator? Newborn lamb or giraffe’s babies can walk within a few hours, but it takes humans years and years to learn to take care of themselves. Yet, despite our physical vulnerability, we’ve proven not only able to survive, but even to dominate the planet. How come?
Unlike other animals, which have specific organs, skills and reflexes that enable them to survive in their proper environment, humans have never been placed in an environment for which we are specifically equipped. The human physique implies that there is no such thing as a ‘purely’ natural environment for us. We are system animals: technological beings by nature.
We tend to think of plastic as a cheap, inferior and ugly material used to make children’s toys, garden furniture and throwaway bottles. But as an experiment, imagine for a moment a world in which plastic was extremely rare, like gold or platinum, and plastic objects were devastatingly expensive to produce. One would encounter plastic objects only at special occasions; one would see and touch very few plastic objects throughout one’s lifetime. I know it’s a challenge, but try to imagine, for the sake of our experiment, that plastic was scarce, available only to the happy few, and the masses lived in a world of wood, pottery and metals. Ready?
By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT
Now look around you and grab the first plastic object in your surroundings. Look at the object. Study the object. It doesn’t matter whether it is a coffee cup, a cigarette lighter, a pen or a plastic bag. This is a special moment. You are now holding one of the few, delicate pieces of plastic you will ever get to touch. Feel how durable it is. Feel how light it is considering its volume. Feel how strong and rigid it is, or how very flexible. Get a sense of how easy it must have been to mold. Understand that it could be molded into something else again. If plastic weren’t such an omnipresent material, we would realize that it is beautiful. We would realize what a disgrace it is that we throw away so much of it.
We Domesticated Ourselves
Our bodies are maps of our ancestor’s social lives. We evolved, physically and behaviorally, in incredibly complex social groups. Such intense sociability may have favored the very traits we favor in cows, horses, dogs and cats. We may have domesticated each other.
The Soul is a Plastic Bag
In the film Plastic Bag, the title character spends a lifetime (or more) on a quest for a creator not even aware of his existence. A stunning short by Ramin Bahrani, director of Man Push Cart and Goodbye Solo, Plastic Bag is both a postmodern spiritual pilgrimage and an ecological fable. It is strange, wry, and by the end it had my eyes welling up like the Deepwater Horizon.
Plastic Bag makes a fitting companion to Grizzly Man, and not just because the ponderous tones of Werner Herzog give voice to the Bag’s 18-minute monologue. Like Timothy Treadwell, the Bag is an artifact of human civilization searching an impassive world for a sublime, and entirely fictional, true connection.
The Institute for Digital Biology
“The Institute for Digital Biology researches next steps in the evolution of the internet, where websites and services develop into living creatures.”
This scenario lives in the mind of Walewijn den Boer, graduated from KABK in 2010.
During the exhibition, visitors were able to feed a colony of microscopical pop-up creatures, save Chinese websites from a pageview-shortage, preserve an Amazone tribe from extinction by subscribing to its homepage and view a short documentary on how the living internet established itself.
Having Invented the Gods, Perhaps we can Turn into Them
My name is Jason Silva. I’ve spent the last 5 years hosting and producing a tv show on Al Gore’s Emmy-winning Current TV network and I’m a fellow at the Hybrid Realities Institute exploring human/technology co-evolution. My goal is to inspire you by acting as an ambassador of ideas. Here we go.