The spectacle of todayís art, in exhibitions and media, makes me think how boring the human is. In fact, human figure and kind prevail at the core of virtually all art production. And what do we see? A disenchanted being lost and confused, portraying, over and over again, the same old problems of identity, social recognition and purpose. Who am I? What do I do? Where do I go?
Although art changes many times in form, it seems unable to change in what concerns content. Artists are so obsessed with solutions that they never question the problems. The result is endless works, exhibitions, texts and rhetoric about the human body, the human paranoia, the human difficulty to relate with other humans, the human species superiority, and so on.
It is taken for granted that art is solely the expression of human dilemmas. But, and if we consider art as something else? Like a meme (as coined by Richard Dawkins as an equivalent of gene in culture), i.e., an autonomous entity with its implicit rules, behaviour and evolution? An All that is bigger than the sum of its parts? Then, if we canít find a solution, why not try another problem? In particular one beyond human centrality. Where? In life itself, for example. Not exclusively the human life, but life in general. How it happens, how it evolves, how it is and how it could be. And soon questions much more fascinating than the human craze emerge. Can we deal with morphogenesis? Can we launch autonomous forms of life, able to evolve by themselves to a point that they become independent of their creators? Can we make non-human artists that make their own art?
In the last years scientists and a handful of artists are involved with artificial life creation. It is still a moderate exercise. Mostly of these new organisms live inside a computer, some take shape in machines, robots and genetic manipulation. But the process is unstoppable. We already understand some simple mechanisms that are in the basis of all life forms and produce the complexity that is present in nature. We begin to picture perception and intelligence, and soon we will be tackling the problem of consciousness.
As always happens with real innovation, we donít know yet the outcome of such an endeavour. But one thing is immediately acquired. Once we overcome anthropocentrism, a brand new perspective emerges in front of our eyes and minds. Once we stop willing to be the centre of the universe, we discover the universe. And above all, making artists itís much more fun than just making art.
Text published in Exit Express, November 2004