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Seeking Syncretism in Post-biological Mixed Reality Real-time Data Transfer Systems Julian Stadon Curtin University of Technology email@example.com
My Research offers a contribution to an emergingculturally orientated discourse regarding syncretic,hybridized agency, particularly in mixed reality datatransfer systems. Recent developments in bridgingautonomous relationships with digital representationthrough mixed reality interfacing, have brought aboutthe need for further analysis of these new „post-biological‟, hybridized states of being that traversetraditional paradigms of time and space. Roy Ascott‟sconcept of syncretism may facilitate furtherunderstanding of multi-layered world views, bothmaterial and metaphysical, that are emerging from ourengagement with such pervasive computationaltechnologies and post-biological systems. Syncretismhas traditionally been regarded as an attempt toharmonise and analogise.
This particular conversation adopts a syncreticapproach to the gathering of disparate beliefs andideologies in order to expand on the topic ofanthropomorphic representation in order todeconstruct our relationships with agents and thearchitecture of autonomy. Focusing on networkedagency this investigation seeks to articulate theneed for dialogue in anthropomorphic socialrobotics to include a more holistic approach, inorder to fully understand the breadth ofrelationships, particularly their effect onconsciousness and identity. In this paper I refer tothe notion of agency rather than the field of roboticsas I believe the notion of servitude applies even tothe most advanced artificially intelligent autonomousrobots.
“One of the crucial concerns of roboticart is the nature of a robots behavior: Isit autonomous, semi-autonomous,responsive, interactive, adaptive,organic, adaptable, telepresential, orotherwise?. The behavior of other agentswith which robots may interact is alsokey to robotic art. The interplay thatoccurs between all involved in a givenpiece (robots, humans, etc.) defines thespecific qualities of that piece.”Eduardo Kac and Marcel.li Antunez Roca Originally published on the Web inLeonardo Electronic Almanac, Vol. 5, N. 5, May 1997.
The Fault of EpimetheusIn this age of contemporary technics, it might be thoughtthat technological power risks sweeping the humanaway. This is one of the possible conclusions of thispresentation. Work, family, and traditional forms ofcommunities would be swept away by thedeterritorialization (that is, bydestruction) of ethnicgroups, and also of knowledge, nature, and politics (notonly by the delegation of decision making but by the“marketization” of democracy [...]
The Fault of Epimetheus[...] the economy (by the electronization of the financial activity that now completely dominates it), the alteration of space and time (not only inter-individual spaces and times, by the globalization of interactions through the deployment of telecommunication networks, the instantaneity of the processes, the “real time” and the “live”, but also the space and time of the “body proper” itself, by the tele-aesthesia or “tele- presence”, a neologism that bears as it stands the whole weight of the contradictions that we shall attempt to think through here). [...]
The Fault of Epimetheus[…] For the moment, let us refrain from asking whether the nature of the human is threatened by alteration or even disappearance, for one would first have to know whether humanity ever had a nature.”Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1. The Fault of Epimetheus
a call for a new definition due to networked consciousnessSecond order cybernetics was very successful in its endeavor to explain our early relationships with robots in terms of interactivity and connectivity however the incorporation of more networked systems of autonomous/anthropomorphic based interactions have created a system of agency that is less anchored in a traditional bio- physical/electro-physical dichotomy
latency within agencyThe core relation to the structure of autonomy is latency in open systems of engagement. All cybernetic feedback systems endure what is known as time-space inconsistency. This is the spatial difference between user and agent and occurs due to latency, bandwidth speed, the paths chosen for data transfer to occur to name a few examples.It is a popular belief that we are now, through a media convergent, participatory culture (integrated socially through a subnet of platforms) creating a collective intelligence that exists in this global village of knowledge (data) transfer.
re/deterritorialisationThis creates a deterritorialised autonomy in that a potentially infinite number of users can participate with agents in this „gap‟. It is in this ambiguous space that robots can truly become autonomous as they are free within the network, emancipated of control and alleviated of the responsibility to respond. While computer scientists detest the effect this has on functionality, artists should embrace this in between space. It is a new millennium version of the gap between painting and viewer, representation and ideas, but it goes beyond dichotomies. It is forever expansive in it‟s invitation to be engaged with.
In Difference and Repetition Deleuze introduces the notion of deterritorialisation (through dispersion) as a “dark precursor” that “relates heterogeneous systems and even completely disparate things.” In order for deterritorialisation to occur there must be some form of agent that can remain constant and self-referent. Deleuze and Guatarri state that: “The alignment of the code or linearity of the nucleic sequence in fact marks a threshold of deterritorialisation of the “sign” that gives it a new ability to be copied and makes the organism more deterritorialised than a crystal: only something deterritorialised is capable of reproducing itself.”
In the same way that a digital device deterritorialises and reterritorialises information through binary code, the augmentation of an autonomous agent into a shared space with the body, creates new opportunities for investigation into technology, the body and identity.
Digital MIXED reality‟s hybridization with physical and biological architectures is constructed by the methods used to connect the environments. The combination and cohesion of heterogeneous elements is generally problematic, particularly when a three dimensional space is primarily viewed on a two dimensional plane.The integration of virtual elements and physical environments relies on bridging the two spaces with dynamic networked interfaces that are simultaneously accessible and able to be openly engaged with, edited and developed. To create integration systems that network physical and virtual data shared locations are required in order to represent the data in a meaningful way, that is inclusive of both environments.
The advent of nanobiology has called for a rethinking of Hayles and Harraways‟ post-human discourse through it shifting our perception of organisms from micro to nano scale.
post-biological digital IDPost-biological, in this sense, refers to a redefinition of the embodied subject which encompasses their location in virtual environments as well as in the physical. This involves the creation, through art practice, of what we might term autonomous agents that are born from data but which take on the appearance of bio-forms and thus become embodied. At the same time these agents are a differential embodiment of the „bodies‟, which first generated that data in their everyday activities.
The existence of „embodied information‟, linked to and yet not the same as embodied selves, creates an interface through which humans negotiate their identities across the boundaries of different reality states, more or less virtual, and yet always involving the mapping or writing of that identity onto „a body‟. By having bodies both material and virtual, humans have become post-biological even as their biology remains the primary point of reference for the data gathering, which enables this transition to occur.
moving beyond post-humanHayles and Haraway deal within this paradigm of gender and traditional western philosophy. This concept of humanism is no longer valid due to biological progression in the field of neuroscience/consciousness. This calls for a discourse that is more inclusive of other organisms. This is further expressed by vision science, particularly atomic force microscopy, digital telescopes etc. The universe is now visible from the extremes of spatial distance.
Post-Biological Discourse Defined in Reference to Real Time Networked Data TransferPost-biological, in this sense, refers to a redefinition of the embodied subject which encompasses their location in virtual environments as well as in the physical. This involves the creation, through art practice, of what we might term autonomous agents that are born from data but which take on the appearance of bio-forms and thus become embodied. At the same time these agents are a differential embodiment of the „bodies‟, which first generated that data in their everyday activities.
CONTEXTUALISING SYNCRETIC POST-BIOLOGICAL DIGITAL SYSTEMS AND IDENTITYWhile they may lose their function without a user, agents do still exist as digital data/archives and often experiences with such entities are remembered independently of any knowledge of the viewer.
IDENTITYBrian Massumi states, “The body,sensor of change, is a transducer of the virtual.”Through existing in these virtual representations, that are directly linked to living bio- systems, we effectively sense, feel and think in a way that hybridizes the virtual with scientific inquiry, and therefore we require a discourse that addresses how this does in fact make us post-biological.
Avatars represent a transient, continually altered identity, usually that of its author and acts as an agent, through which users can engage with virtual platforms. This is particularly interesting when participants can physically interact with a virtual deterritorialised „self‟ in a networked environment and mediate it through physical engagement. The dispersion of multiple virtual agents via mixed reality constructs and expands deterritorialisation to include reterritorialisation, by facilitating a dispersive relationship between the body and its virtual self-referent.
syncretismIt is a popular belief that we are now, through a media convergent, participatory culture (integrated socially through a subnet of platforms) creating a collective intelligence that exists in this global village of knowledge (data) transfer.1 This perspective evades mythological notions of anthropomorphic interaction. Networked robotic systems that use real time MRDT expand autonomous robotic interaction beyond traditional bio-physical/electro-physical relationships and are integral to understanding our relationship with autonomous agents.
syncretismAdopting a syncretic approach to this discourse allows for the inclusion of social networks in dialogue concerning social robotics. Syncretism has traditionally been regarded as an attempt to harmonise and analogise disparate ideologies, socio-political views and fields of inquiry.
In regards to real time digital participationthis thinking interrogates the meaning andconsequences of the possibility of thenotion of „agents‟ and, in doing so, enablesus to question the notion that information,once extracted from the embodied self andplaced within a computer system, becomes„bodiless‟. In posing that question wediscover that, contrary to what we might atfirst assume, data is also embodied.
“Just as cybernetics analogizesdifferences between systems,so syncretism finds likenessbetween unlike things.Syncretic thinking breachesboundaries and subvertsprotocols. Thinking out of thebox, testing the limits oflanguage, behaviour andthought puts the artist on theedge of social norms but at thecentre of human development.”-Ascott
A new mythology for agencyThis perspective evades mythologicalnotions of anthropomorphic interaction.Networked robotic systems that use realtime MRDT expand autonomous roboticinteraction beyond traditional bio-physical/electro-physical relationshipsand are integral to understanding ourrelationship with autonomous agents.Adopting a syncretic approach to thisdiscourse allows for the inclusion ofsocial networks in dialogue concerningsocial robotics.
Final commentsAs art is fundamentally an articulation of the human condition it can therefore be said that syncretism is also a valid method for analysing identity within the post-biological discourse. If we are indeed post-biological then we must exist in syncretic mixed reality state. The hybridisation of augmented reality and virtual environments with physical/biological systems calls for a rethinking of not only posthuman ideologies, but also the way that cybernetic systems function.
Julian StadonCurtin University of Technology firstname.lastname@example.org