Natureza Morta-Viva: concept & research

2019 onwards

Hegemonic narratives on both human and non-human life are instrumental in any Western imperialist and colonialist project. At levels trespassing the micro and the macro, they interweave and co-fabricate specific realities that are conditioned by top-down, dominant worldviews. For the sake of its own perpetuation, and to the advantage of its rulers, they prescribe the hoards of default binary ideals that either add or deny worth, access, and mobility to the categorized forms of life that they have produced. The embodied and lived experience of gendered, racialized, classed, and differently abled bodies are in turn contingent on the way beings, things, thoughts, and emotions are ordered. As the effects of global geopolitics demonstrate, such system affects not only the human but also the nonhuman forms of life.

Under the dominance of neoliberal capitalisms, all sorts of environments have been reduced to becoming sites of conquest and extraction for the benefit of the few. Environmental ordering, exploitation, and destruction reflect the social and political conditions that categorized bodies inherit and inhabit: that of being subjugated to preset contexts through which some can move freely, while access is either restricted or refused to other(ed)s.  

As a (possibly unintentional) illustration of this, technologies like Google Maps and Google VR create representations of reality which are often regarded as accurate and to a certain extent neutral. By way of assembling its multidimensional data collection, satellite mapping, photographs taken by Google's staff, and photographs provided by anonymous users are curated into a sort of realistic picture of a world hypothesis, which tends to be taken for granted.

Top-down perspectives more often than not reflect the hegemonic discourses by which they come to exist. Specific worldviews inform the representations of worldviews that create the right circumstances needed for perpetuating the very worldviews of control that shaped its own representation in the first place. An autonomous device in a cycle of biased creations of hollow truths and surfaces that stretch beyond the point of abstraction.

 

But as with most binaries, the seemingly rigid boundary parting the private and the public spheres of life crumple.

 

Hegemonic narratives bring emotional effects to whoever is attempting to exist in the world under such dominance. Affect permeates and transforms embodied experience. Yet, it might tell different stories. Stories of its own. If emotions precede the meanings that pertain to them, affect might self enunciate despite thought and language. Affect, then, might be able to provide an alternative sort of language, before reason could attach specific meanings to the way one feels about the things and events they are struck by. Because of this, poethic narrations of contextualized and lived experience could be useful in unveiling crucial information that might have been hidden or purposefully erased by hegemonic narratives. 

Between the headset and the goggles, blood powers a body. With all their specificities and pluralities, the organic technologies of the human body certainly do collaborate (and merge) with hardware and algorithms in creating current world experiences. But one must not forget that technological devices are designed by specific corporations which are owned by specific individuals; as much as they are made under specific terms of production for no less specific purposes. One must not forget to remain critically aware of what such collaborations might want to impose. However, I try to use these readily available technologies of representation to re-experience familiar things (and the self) with the perspective twist that is brought by a certain critical distance. Occupying the vague dimension that settles between one thing and its own prescribed image, the self is alienated. 

By doing so, I notice that slightly alienating oneself can become a methodology that facilitates a more detached understanding of my own positionality, be that towards the self or the world. It becomes a tool with which to try to look again; to unmake sense of what I believe to know; to challenge the produce of thought that is fed to sight. Consciously alienated, I attend to the representation of things and places which seem to lack the different or more nuanced sort of truth that my memory utters. Consciously alienated, I look for specific things that might be missing, misrepresented, lacking depth, as well as those that might perhaps have been deliberately erased from prescribed images. 

 

Outcomes of this work have been shown at the W139, Nieuwe Vide, and Sandberg Institute, in The Netherlands. Parts of the written research have been featured in the Dutch magazines for arts and culture Simulacrum and Damn, as well as the Canadian journal Cigale (in English and French).