Hyperstitions of the future:
the unenlightenment


In recent times, there has been a debate about an ontological turn, in which cosmology overpasses the nature and culture dualism, which has been seen as the crisis of modernity[1].

In the category of image-animism, what is at stake is not an illusion of life, but the effect of images on life: their spiritual, sensory and affective powers, as when an image performs the cultic functions of banishing divine forces, or in modern terms to use a phrase by Walter Benjamin, when cultural images “hit the spectator like a bullet”.

In fact, technology is no longer prosthetic. There is no longer a duality between west-east; north-south; centric-peripheric, and the post-colonial attempt to dissolve a Eurocentric view of the world is either naïf or hypocritic.

To accept an hyperstition (neologism coined by the CCRU to describe the effects and the mechanisms of apocalyptic postmodern crisis in culture) of unenlightenment as a fair ontology of the contemporary art and culture, should be in my opinion, taken in consideration to the present debate regarding the production of new knowledge. What has been seen across reflexive disciplines such as aesthetic critique, philosophy or sociology seems to reveal a tendency to keep an on-going process of cultural reconceptualization, demarked by social codifications, which remain somehow in a search for limited models and the specializations of each one’s sub-areas of studies.

What I hope to bring to such conversation is a more spontaneous set of reflexive experiments that don’t pretend to become a model, but that has the potential of open tools and for transitory results. I also propose a new regard on western ontologies out of their post-colonial strains, that seem to have crucified European thinking towards a unbared crisis. Therefore, a set of different territorial experiments through the use of emphasized illusions and dissymmetry taken from the green ray qualities, that, at the very end, provide, in my opinion, a set of strategical documentation-as-artefacts, that devolves to the sphere of the observable phenomenon, the illusion of a -self acknowledgement. What is at stake is the converging of global capitalism with local animism, which forces one to play between illusion and delusion; therefore the production of artefacts in the form of new rites of passages, in the sense they are momentary and transitorily stages of -self critique, simultaneously connected to a non-human, or technological world, act as a form of liberation from the idea of historical enlightenment – the conception of acknowledgment, power, love, and the -self.

If naturalism - a European conception, that brought to tension the oppositions between nature and culture (Descola 2013, 122) - has succeeded in dominating modernization, it is because modernism brought the epistemology between nature and technology: implying that nature should be mastered by technology and through its own laws.

I would like to elaborate the possible reversing of such approach. Thus, how cosmotechnics - if one takes Yuk Hui’s analogy between nature, culture and technics – may have a roll in giving new directions to a technicity that is actually transformed by nature and culture? Would this allow European naturalism from modernism heritages to acquire a new meaning?

I suggest that artistic research might bring some clues, as an operative tool of cosmotechnics. That is, if the means of art provide unique open models of research, any use of it would benefit ontological thought that instead of confronting modern technology would include the non-human in its liquid process. Therefore, the production of artefacts might become of value as open forms of acquiring new directions of existence.

The major question regarding future hyperstitions is in what way non-western ontologies, such as animism, and sci-fi phenomenon, might enter into dialogue with Westernized capitalism and thereby transform the current trend of global technologies.

As Yuk Hui mentions in On Cosmothecnics for a Renewed Relation:

The arrival of modern technology in non-European countries in past centuries has created a transformation unthinkable for European observers. The concept of an ‘indigenous ontology’ itself has to be questioned first, not because it did not exist but because it is situated in a new epoch and transformed to such an extent that there is hardly any way to go back to it and restore it. This is precisely the reason that we have to conceive a cosmotechnical thinking from the standpoint of these ontologies without falling prey to an ethnocentrism. The transformation triggered by modern technology not only happened in non-European cultures in the course of colonization, but also in European culture, with the significant difference that, for the former, it is through the import of such advanced technological apparatus as military technologies, and for the latter mainly through technological invention. [1]

On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, Simondon writes:

We precisely would like to show that a robot does not exist, and that it is not a machine, as much as a statue is not a living being, but only a product of imagination, of fictive fabrication, and of the art of illusion. (Simondon 2012, 18)

The green ray phenomenon is one clear example of the possibility of a knowledge, that despite the physics, confirmed throughout technological devices, becomes only completed throughout a reflexive cosmology, which needs to be set up within geographical specification. To only think in the potential of observer vs technology vs nature would conditionate its perception, beyond which is the unknown and the mysterious.[2]

Although, like Yuk Hui refers on Cosmotechnics:

“(…) this is by no means to mystify the cosmos again, or a proposal to go back to the pre-modern cosmology, but rather to develop new epochal sensibilities which allows us to re-appropriate modern technology, not only to repurpose it but also to invent cosmotechnics of our epoch.”[3]

In that case, artistic research brings to practice (in the way Phillipe Descola relates to technicity or technology) an operational value which undermine the homogeneous technology and allies aesthetical strategies that are set up within the proper specifications of its geographical and cultural contexts - here lie the major contributions of this research.

[1] In The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Hui 2016b), Huy uses China as an example in order to explain how traditional knowledge was destroyed or undermined during the process of modernization. However, he also argues that a “going back” is no longer a real option, since it is impossible in view of the current geopolitical and socio-economic situation Déborah Danowski and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, in their book The Ends of the World (2016), criticized Latour’s failure to recognize the advantages and resources of the “small populations and the ‘relatively weak’ technologies of indigenous people” (95).

[2] reference to Martin Heidegger concerning the anticipation of the Unknown as the task of poets, as opposed to the self-enclosing technological force (cf. Hui 2017).

[3] HUI Y. (2017) On Cosmotechnics: For a Renewed Relation between Technology and Nature in the Anthropocene inTechné: Research in Philosophy and Technology ISSN: 1091-8264

21:2–3 (2017): 18-19

[1] HUI Y. (2017) On Cosmotechnics: For a Renewed Relation between Technology and Nature in the Anthropocene inTechné: Research in Philosophy and Technology ISSN: 1091-8264

21:2–3 (2017): 1–23