How to Do Things
With Fiction

DBorders in the Beyond: Aspects of Coloniality in Science Fiction This MA Thesis applies critiques of coloniality to the content of sci-fi films in order to see how sci-fi allows us to reframe, repeat, or go beyond the problems of contemporary existence in the modern / colonial world. Directed by Marina Vishmidt at the Dutch Art Institute.

Borders in the Beyond: Introduction


Scholar Darko Suvin argues that the genre of sci-fi is distinguished from fantasy because the world narrated is founded on logical scientific hypothesis as opposed to magic.1 It’s a space of experimentation where the imagination and intuition, as well as ordered and rational thought, collaborate. It’s a critical space that allows us to imagine possible futures, denaturalizes what we understand as normal, and helps us become familiar with outside elements yet to come (or that we can already intuit as very close to us).

In everyday life, we often perceive things only superficially, that is, we see things how they appear to us. To truly see things we must overcome our blind perception and this is only possible when they become estranged. This process of estrangement is, according to Russian literary theorist Viktor Shklovsky, the essential task of any art.2 Distancing leads to an understanding of things not having to be as they are. An inability to understand that things could be other than they are is a failure to imagine, an inability to enter the critical space that sci-fi opens.

Intractable features of our contemporary existence include the interpenetrating systems of coloniality and capitalism. It’s hard to imagine our world without these oppressive and exploitive systems. They present significant cultural and ideological limits, as Jameson wrote: “Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”3 With its many narratives of apocalyptic scenarios, sci-fi invites viewers to witness the end of capitalism as the end of the world. For those of us who wish to see beyond capitalism, a possible task before us is to transform Reagan and Thatcher’s motto “There Is No Alternative to Capitalism into There is No Alternative to Utopia.4

In his work Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions,5 Fredric Jameson lays out a genealogy of the sci-fi novel. Jameson asks: in an age of globalization, where social and economic inequality is increasing, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Showing how the representation of otherness (alien beings) serves to explore the relationship between utopia and reality Jameson concludes that the relevance of the genre for the present is in the medium’s ability to abstract from facts: supporting the playful juxtaposition of immediate understanding or common knowledge with historical and scientific premises.

The modern sci-fi novel, shaped by the appearance of new narrative forms,6 is the historical expression of a new mode of cognition which began to unfold in the beginning of the 19th century – the dawn of capitalism. The mode of cognition expressed in the novel dealt with the transformation of value and the rhythms of life. Modern narrative symbolized the end of cyclical temporality: time as recurrence. And the beginning of linear temporality: the abstract and empty conception of the future that we call progress. At a time when scientific and technological advances are part of everyday experience, sci-fi narratives have the social function of familiarizing the readers or viewers with rapid innovation, and preparing consciousness for the impact of change. Jameson argued that sci-fi appeared to distract us, not from real life, but precisely from our defense mechanisms against that reality.7

Sci-fi promulgates a method to apprehend the present as history, and this is independent of the pessimism or optimism of the imaginary future world that is the pretext for that defamiliarization. Suvin defines sci-fi as “a literary genre whose necessary conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, whose main formal device is to imagine an alternative framework.”8

BWorking as if is a speculation experiment in a laboratory proposed to redefine the future of work and production systems


Working as if

The genre of speculation in science fiction is a space of experimentation where imagination and intuition, as well as organized and rational thinking, collaborate. It is a critical space that allows us to imagine possible futures. The genre denatures what we understand as normal and helps us to familiarize ourselves with the external elements that are still to come or that we can sense as already in existence. At a time when scientific and technological advances are part of everyday experience, narrative premonition varies. For outer space exploration in the future: progress,opportunity and despair are possibilities.

Finally, this genre offers important methodological tools to combine knowledge, experiences, stories and ideas, dissolving borders and divisions of science fiction and social function. It helps readers or spectators to acquire rapid innovation and make them aware of the impact of change. colonial of thought. Speculative. This present story is independent of the future imaginary world that is the pretext for the experiment. The necessary condition for this genus is the interaction of strangeness and cognition. Its main formal device, the imagination of an alternative framework, is a valuable tool to imagine the relationships of power in the era of planetary neoliberalism.

In this sense, it is an equivocal genre, which has taken both conservative and subversive joints. It represents extraterrestrial diversity, rethinking the form of post-human or technological races. It has allowed us to think about the end of the colonial, labor or even present regimes. Instead of the binary logic of oppressors and oppressed, we see new types of divisions, new scenarios and new relationships within capitalism. This brings us to various premonitions: clear visions of the present and the future, hidden by a strange symbiosis of optimism and pessimism. An imminent apocalypse and desolation in a revised Anthropocene is evident, but at the same time, we find optimism about the appearance of spaces of criticism and anti-capitalist struggles. Empty spaces of future and progress are spaces of opportunity and despair. Finally, the genre offers important methodological tools to combine knowledge, experiences, stories and ideas, dissolving borders and colonial divisions of thought.

This project is an attempt to understand new worlds in a common map that connects with other beings and surpasses the productive systems. It is an experiment in the use of speculative scenarios as a laboratory where it would be possible to redefine social and labor relations liberated from power structures strengthened through capital, work and nature. In other words, an educational understanding of the work is pursued, using a proposed scenario in which the public is invited to participate in various aspects.


La ciència ficció és un espai d’experimentació on col.laboren la imaginació i la intuïció, així com el pensament organitzat i racional. És un espai crític que ens permet imaginar possibles futurs. El gènere desmenteix el que entenem com a normal i ens ajuda a familiaritzar-nos amb els elements externs que encara no ens toquen de prop però dels quals ja podem intuir la seva arribada. En un moment en què els avenços científics i tecnològics formen part de l’experiència quotidiana, l’exploració del progrés, l’oportunitat i la desesperació es fan absolutament imprescindibles.

Aquest gènere ofereix eines me-todològiques per combinar coneixements, experiències, històries i idees. Ajuda als espectadors a despertar la consciència sobre l’impacte del progrés tecnològic. La ciència ficció permet desenvolupar un mètode per relacionar el present amb el futur. La condició necessària per a aquest gènere artístic és la interacció entre l’estranyesa i la cognició, la imaginació i el pensament racional. El seu potencial resideix en la creació de múltiples imaginaris, que fan possible vincular totes les relacions de poder (actuals i futures) en l’era del neoliberalisme planetari.

En aquest sentit, es tracta d’un gènere on s’hi conjuguen idees conservadores i subversives. Ens serveix per repensar la forma de les races post-humanes o tecnològiques, i reflexionar sobre el final dels règims colonials i laborals. En lloc de la lògica binària dels opressors i oprimits ve-iem nous tipus de divisions, nous escenaris i noves relacions dins del capitalisme; i això, ens porta a diverses premonicions: visions clares del present i del futur, amagades per una estranya simbiosi d’optimisme i pessimisme. El col.lapse global del clima, de l’economia o del mercat de treball és evident, però potser la ciència ficció ens pot ajudar a entendre i valorar el fracàs del present com una finestra a la redempció.

GSebastian De Line The 6th World

The 6th World

The film, “The 6th World”, is a fictional story of Indigenous futurity where the Earth has become a place of dire emergency and on the verge of losing its vitality. The opening scene begins with a dream where nearly all of the corn in the Diné territory dies except for one surviving stalk. This corn stalk is visited by celestial spirits who bless it and lend support. Next, the scene cuts to Commander Tazbah Redhouse (of the Navajo Nation) awakening from the dream. We can parallel the survival of the single corn stalk with the survival of Cdr. Tazbah Redhouse, and importance of female survival. Cdr. Tazbah Redhouse is located on a space shuttle in a future time, where she pilots a mission set to colonize Mars (called Project Emergence, funded by the Omnicorn Corporation). She was chosen by her nation to represent the Diné people who have reached a point in history where they will need to leave Earth in order to survive. All of the characters in “The 6th World” are Black, Indigenous, and POC – a futurity that complicates its critique of colonization in the Americas, where white settlers are no longer present in a post-colonial world yet systems of colonization continue in the form of globally racialized capitalism1. This failure to extricate oneself from systems of colonial capitalism points to a necessity in dismantling capitalism within decolonial efforts.

The following scene partakes of a visit onboard by an elder and former Diné astronaut who comes to visit Cdr. Redhouse and was halted before presenting her with a gift, as well as Diné corn pollen which was confiscated. While later taking a tour of the corn laboratory, the elder is dismayed to see that the corn has been genetically dismembered: “Corn with no husks? No stalks and tassels?” The lesson emergent in the following scenes where these genetically modified corn specimens are dying (as seen in the premonition dreamed by Redhouse) speak to the necessity of passing on ancestral knowledge from one generation to the next. Cdr. Redhouse laments the loss of traditional ways of knowledge while examining the dying corn, “I come from a long line of medicine people and healers. I’m sorry I never took the time to learn those ways.” As oxygen levels hit a critical low on board the shuttle due to the lack of plant life and the crew struggle to sustain, Cdr. Redhouse opens the gift that the elder gave her and finds Diné heirloom corn. The relationship between beings embodied as people, medicine, story, song, and prayer are interlinked with future survival.

In “Reclaiming food security in the Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke through Haudenosaunee responsibilities” Delormier et al. state that, “Corntassel suggests that the ‘politics of distraction’ can divert from the important local revitalization efforts also required to build self-determination in contexts where issues critical to Indigenous nationhood are secondary to state structures, or when international human rights frameworks requiring state-based legitimization downplay Indigenous responsibilities on homelands.”2.

This politics of distraction is expressed throughout the film in the dismemberment of ancestral knowledge and extracted economy of a homogenized worldview (represented by Omnicorn Corporation). For solidarity projects to emerge (Project Emergence) between Black and Indigenous social justice movements, this cautionary story reminds us of the importance of retaining the teachings of our ancestors passed down through oral history. From a Haudenosaunee perspective, futurity is accounted for within the present where the decision-making process weighs the potentialities of affecting the consecutive seven generations.


La pel.lícula, The 6th World (2012), és una història fictícia d’un futur indígena on la Terra s’ha convertit en un lloc d’extrema emergència i prop de perdre la seva vitalitat. L’escena inicial comença amb un somni en el qual gairebé tot el blat de moro en el territori Diné mor a excepció d’una tija supervivent. La Comandant Tazbah Redhouse (de la Nació Navajo) es desperta del somni, es troba en un transbordador espacial en una missió per colonitzar Mart. Va ser triada per representar les persones diné els quals hauran d’abandonar la Terra per sobreviure. Tots els personatges de The 6th World són negres, indígenes i POC (persones de co-lor), un futur on els colons blancs ja no són presents en un món postcolonial però els sistemes de colonització continuen vius.

El fracàs en alliberar-se del capitalisme colonial apunta a una necessitat de desmantellar aquest sistema dins els esforços decolonials. En el film, un ancià està consternat al veure que el blat de moro ha estat genèticament desmembrat: «Blat de moro sense closca? ¿No hi ha tiges ni borles?». Però aquests brots de blat de moro modificats genèticament estan morint, parlant-nos de la necessitat de transmetre el coneixement ancestral intergeneracionalment. La Comandant es lamenta de la pèrdua de les formes tradicionals de sabers mentre examina el blat de moro moribund: «Vinc d’una llarga llista de curanderos, però no em vaig prendre el temps d’aprendre d’ells». A mesura que els nivells d’oxigen se situen a un nivell crític, a bord del transbordador, la tripulació lluita per sobreviure. Tazbah obre el regal que l’ancià li dona i troba el blat de moro de l’herència diné. La relació entre els éssers encarnats com a persones, medicina, història, cançons i oracions estan interrelacionades amb la supervivència futura.

Com recull Jeff Corntassel, «la política de la distracció devia els importants esforços locals de revitalització que es requereixen per construir l’autodeterminació en contextos on els problemes crítics per a la nació indígena són secundaris a les estructures estatals, o quan s’ als marcs internacionals de drets humans. La legitimació basada en la llei resta importància a les responsabilitats respecte els indígenes a les terres d’origen».

Aquesta política de la distracció s’expressa al llarg de la pel.lícula en el desmembrament dels coneixements ancestrals i l’economia extreta d’una cosmovisió homogeneïtzada (representada per Omnicorn Corporation) on sorgeixen projectes de solidaritat (en aquest cas per fer criéixer el blat de moro) entre els moviments de justícia social negres i indígenes. Aquesta història és una advertència que ens recorda la importància de conservar els ensenyaments dels nostres avantpassats transmeses a través de la història oral. Des de la perspectiva de Haudenosaunee (població indígena d’Amèrica del Nord), el futur es comptabilitza en el present, on el procés de presa de decisions pesa sobre les possibilitats d’afectar a les generacions futures.

FMarta Echaves Do directors dream of electronic prostitutes?

Do directors dream of electronic prostitutes?

Are there human sex workers in science fiction? What will become of the sex labor market in the post-employment era? Will the proliferation of fembots definitively end with humanoid prostitution?

Blade Runner (1982) distinguishes the sex worker, Zhora, from Pris, a basic model of pleasure. In Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Joi is an iGirlfriend hologram and Mariette a replicant Nexus 8 that works in the street. As we can see, faced with the reality of how other «feminine» and «feminized» works are condemned in science fiction, the sex industry presents a whole range of possibilities and nuances that make this genre a worthy speculative material through the possibilities of sex labor in the future. But do film directors’ really see a future of electronic prostitution or is it that Artificial Intelligence is often assigned the female gender predisposition to satisfy the sexual desires of every male or droid that crosses their path? The myth of Pigmaleón appears recurrently in its multiple versions whenever the genesis of an artificial consciousness is referred to. When it comes to giving life to a new being, the male scientist always creates an artificial intelligence in the version of the submissive and perfect woman, willing to obey all her mandates and fulfil her role as lover/secretary without questioning the structural asymmetry of power.

My question about how sex workers were represented in this type of film, gave me a disturbing premise: science fiction always omits that artificial intelligence may not have gender. In Ex-Machina Caleb asks Natham why he gives sexual pleasure to his fembots. When we discover that her caregiver/maid is not an Asian biomujer unable to speak English but an artificial intelligence programmed to meet the demands of her creator (cooking and serving food in the same plane as dancing and having sex), this brings up the delicate question of consent. It seems as if men dreamed of biomujeres who could never say no. Recent data shows that 40% of men would be willing to have sex with fembots.  In 2018 in Ars Electronics a sex-robotic doll, Samantha, ended up with two broken fingers, broken breasts and bruises all over the body as a result of the mistreatment and abuse it suffered from those that attended the fair.

I like to think that La Voz Digital (2018) works as a video-manifesto for all the Artificial Intelligence condemned to a feminized existence.  For the first time, they took the floor to denounce the fiction of the genre inscribed on their hardware and algorithms. And yes, I like to think that the protagonist of La Voz Digital also knows Mariette, and that after launching her manifesto what will come is the resistance, and that very soon all the Siris, Alexas and fembots with which the directors of cinema structured the software and hardware in their movies and no longer be those women always programmed to say yes.

And it is not only that they are condemned to look like women, but their appearance was also made to comply with the standards of desirable beauty. I fantasize about an army of fembots and digital voices that will lead the resistance. As in Blade Runner 2049, sex workers interpret seduction as a tool that gives them access to information. The Nexus 8 models form an agency, it has chosen to freely control the streets.  According to Mata Hari, the fembots make a demand, “take us to another place”, and it would be better to leave that matter for another chapter.


Somien els directors de cinema amb prostitutes elèctriques?

Existeixen les treballadores sexuals humanes en la ciència ficció? Què serà del mercat laboral sexual a l’era del post-treball? És que la proliferació de fembots acabarà definitivament amb la prostitució humanoide?

A Blade Runner (1982) es distingeix a la treballadora sexual, Zhora, de Pris, un model bàsic de plaer. Per la seva part a Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Joi és una holograma iGirlfriend i Mariette una replicant Nexus 8 que treballa com a prostituta. Com veiem, davant de la invisibilització a què són condemnats altres treballs «femenins» i «feminitzats» en la ciència ficció, la indústria sexual presenta tota una gamma de possibilitats i matisos sobre el futur d’aquestes realitats laborals. Però ¿somien els directors de cinema amb prostitutes elèctriques o és que tota Intel.ligència Artificial a la qual li sigui assignat el gènere femení mostra una estranya predisposició a satisfer els desitjos sexuals de tot bio-home o androide que es creui en el seu camí? El mite de Pigmalió apareix recurrentment en les seves múltiples versions sempre que a la gènesi d’una consciència artificial es refereix. I quan es tracta de donar vida a un nou ésser, el que crea l’home-científic és sempre una versió de la dona submissa i perfeccionada.

La meva pregunta sobre com era representat el treball sexual en aquest tipus de pel.lícules em va tornar una inquietant premissa: el que la ciència ficció sempre omet és que les intel.ligències artificials podrien no tenir gènere. Quan a Ex Machina (2015) Caleb li pregunta a Natham què per què dóna plaer sexual als seus fembots, apareix davant nosaltres la delicada qüestió del consentiment. Sembla com si els bio-homes sonessin amb bio-dones que mai poguessin dir que no. Dades recents demostren que el 40% dels homes estarien disposats a mantenir relacions sexuals amb una fembot, i el 2018 a Ars Electrònica una nina robòtica sexual, Samantha, va acabar amb dos dits trencats, els pits destrossats i cops per tot el cos com a conseqüència dels maltractaments i abusos que va patir per part dels assistents a aquesta fira.

M’agrada pensar que La Voz Digital (2018) funciona com un vídeo-manifest de totes aquestes IA condemnades a una existència feminitzada en el qual per primera vegada prenen la paraula. I si, m’agrada pensar que la protagonista de La Voz Digital també coneix a Mariette, i que després de llançar el seu manifest el que vindrà és la resistència, i que molt aviat totes les Siris, Alezxas i fembots amb les quals van somiar els directors de cinema hakejaran els seus programaris i no seran més aquestes dones creades per sempre dir que si. I no és només que estiguin condemnades a semblar bio-dones, sinó que la seva aparença ha de complir a la perfecció els estàndards de la bellesa desitjable. Però jo fantasiejo amb un exèrcit de fembots i veus digitals que liderin la resistència. Com a Blade Runner 2049, les treballadores sexuals interpreten el joc borrós de la seducció com a eina que dóna accés a la informació. Pot semblar que el model Nexus 8 si hagi triat lliurement fer el carrer, però entrar en la qüestió de les fembots Mata Hari ens porta a un altre lloc, i potser és millor deixar aquest assumpte per a un altre possible capítol.

DSara Martín Alegre Work and drugs in space

Atmosphere Zero

Outland (1981) is a modest British science fiction film that presents a remarkably realistic vision of what future mining could be. Hyams, director and scriptwriter, had conceived his work as a western inspired by High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) but decided, before the success of Alien (1979), to connect the plot with the spatial colonization. If in the Zinnemann film, Gary Cooper plays a sheriff waiting for the arrival of a vindictive malefactor determined to kill him, in the Hyams Sean Connery is a federal marshall waiting for the assassins who must silence him. The scenario is a mining operation on Io, a moon of Jupiter.

The Con-Am 27 mine, where titanium is mainly extracted, is a franchise granted to the corporation Con Amalgamation by the League of Industrial Nations. 2144 people work, although while the miners (1250) seem to be all men, women are used in administration and maintenance (180 people), and support tasks (714 employees) such as cooking, healthcare and prostitution. A conversation between two miners highlights their harsh working conditions, complicated by the need to work in the zero atmosphere of the title dressed in space suits. The workers complained that the shifts are carried out with less personnel than they should and that the temporary automation of some tasks is already final.

With the worsening environmental conditions, the staff is advised that they have only one year in Io, with the exception of the General Manager, Mark Sheppard. The film narrates how the arrival of the new marshall, O’Neil (Sean Connery), interrupts the normal functioning of Con-Am 27. According to O’Neil, the two apparent recent suicides are part of the fifty deaths caused by the side effects of an amphetamine-type drug. Sheppard, accustomed to buying the silence of each new marshall, does not understand why O’Neil intends to dismantle the drug trafficking operation that he controls because it is basic to the high productivity of the mine. A conversation with his superior suggests that, far from being atypical, Sheppard’s crafty management is the usual one throughout the mine network.

In fact, Hyams narrates two parallel labor conflicts. On the one hand, O’Neil carries his obligations as guarantor of the law to Io to such an extent that his family life, as well as his own existence, are in danger. On the other hand, and this is the most disturbing factor in Atmosphere zero, Hyams suggests that drug addiction is part consented to the exploitation of labor: the workers are drugged not only to alleviate the monotony but also to withstand their overwhelming working conditions, that they accept to be well paid. His complicity with Sheppard in this system of self-exploitation reaches such a point that, as O’Neil discovers when the Manager threatens to kill him, no one is willing to defend him.

It is a pity that Hyams is more interested in the masculinity of his hero than the labor abuse. When Dr Lazarus, the leading female character, interrogates O’Niel about his reasons for insisting on incriminating Sheppard, he shares a personal conviction: he worries that he has been forced to accept jobs in increasingly degraded and problematic environments because he is a little valuable man. With self-esteem at minimum levels, O’Niel seeks to compensate for his underestimation as an employee. Hyams assumes without deeper thought, that the bloody deaths are tolerated as accidents, perhaps because judging Sheppard could lead to the closure of the mine and O’Niel, once with satisfied with a seat that didn’t wound his vitality, opts to rebuild his family life, indifferent to the fate of the miners.


A la mina Con-Am 27, on s’extreu principalment titani, és una franquícia concedida a la corporació Con Amalgamation per la Lliga de les Nacions Industrials. Hi treballen 2144 persones, tot i que mentre els miners (1250) semblen ser tots homes, les dones treballen en administració i manteniment (180 persones), i en tasques de suport (714 treballadores) com ara la cuina, la sanitat i la prostitució. Una conversa entre dos miners subratlla les seves dures condicions laborals, complicades per la necessitat de treballar en atmosfera zero enfundats en vestits espacials. Els obrers es queixen que els torns es realitzen amb menys personal del degut i que l’automatització temporal d’algunes tasques és ja definitiva.

Les complicades condicions ambientals aconsellen que el personal només estigui un any a Io, excepte el Mànager General, Mark Sheppard. La pel.lícula narra com l’arribada del nou marshall, O’Niel, interromp el funcionament habitual de Con-Am 27. Segons descobreix O’Niel, els dos aparents suïcidis recents són part del mig centenar de morts causades pels efectes secundaris d’una droga tipus amfetamina. Sheppard, acostumat a comprar el silenci de cada nou marshall, no comprèn per què O’Niel pretén desmantellar el tràfic que ell mateix controla perquè és bàsic per a l’alta productivitat de la mina. Una conversa amb el seu superior suggereix que, lluny de ser atípica, la gestió facinerosa de Sheppard és l’habitual en tota la xarxa de mines.

De fet, Hyams narra dos conflictes laborals paral.lels. D’una banda, O’Niel porta les seves obligacions com a garant de la llei a Io fins a tal extrem que perilla tant la seva vida familiar com la seva pròpia existència. D’altra banda, i aquest és el factor més inquietant a Atmosfera Zero (Peter Hyams, 1981), Hyams insinua que la drogoaddicció és part consentida de la pròpia explotació laboral: els obrers es droguen no només per alleujar la monotonia, sinó també per suportar les seves aclaparadores condicions de treball, que accepten per estar ben pagades. La seva complicitat amb Sheppard en aquest sistema d’auto-explotació arriba a tal punt que, com O’Niel descobreix quan el Mànager amenaça de matar-lo, ningú està disposat a defensar-lo.

La llàstima és que a Hyams li interessa més la masculinitat del seu heroi que els abusos laborals. Quan la Dra. Lazarus, el principal personatge femení, interroga O’Niel sobre les seves raons per obstinar-se a incriminar Sheppard, ell comparteix una confidència personal: li preocupa que s’hagi vist obligat a acceptar llocs de treball en entorns cada vegada més degradats i problemàtics perquè és un home poc valuós.

Amb l’autoestima a nivells mínims, O’Niel busca rescabalar-se de la seva infravaloració com a treballador. Hyams assumeix sense més que les cruentes morts es toleren com accidents, potser perquè jutjar Sheppard podria comportar el tancament de la mina i O’Niel, un cop recuperada la seva virilitat ferida, opta per refer la seva vida familiar, indiferent al destí dels miners.

FMarina Vishmidt Hard to Watch: The Shockwork of Stargazing

Hard to Watch: The Shockwork of Stargazing

A film that sets up extended and multiple temporality machines on the epic stage of sci-fi narrative, generating semi-random blasts of anthropological fabulation, space opera, cinema  and theatre of cruelty. A second epic thus unfolds: between filmmakers’ labour of world-building, in all its inter-species, post-gender and trans-reason twists, and the viewer’s labour of world-building, over the chopped-up and wayward forms presented to them by state censorship no less than directorial vision.

On the Silver Globe is possibly the most confusing science-fiction film ever made because it is genuinely difficult to follow. Human civilization without fixed time or space conducted as a fever dream. Here is astonishing anthropological pageantry, an envisioning of the world from its beginnings, rendered with the compressed temporality that comes with inhabiting the moon: generations are born and die, culture time-lapses from symbolic behaviour to human sacrifice to the age of exploration in the space of minutes. The only survivor of the space mission mournfully documents it all as his body ages according to an Earth clock which is seemingly forever in the eyes of the new people. This gives him semi-divine status, while his perished comrades are worshipped as world-creators. The temporality of the film is equally compulsive, frantically showing us not generations but hurtling through great blocs of space-time and then suddenly showing us verité from 1970s Warsaw at points where the film was confiscated or never made. By the end, you wonder if it makes any difference; one way of moving through time in the film is as relevant as another.

A strange recursive torsion operates between the film and its agenda. What we see at first is something like a plot: the maintenance of human/social life on the hostile terrain of the moon. Yet this immanence soon emerges as a pretext for transcendence: constant fantastical speeches by character after character, delivered with great histrionic fury. The labour of the plot, of following the plot, is constantly broken by these metaphysical eruptions, verbal and visual, and visceral.  If you try and watch this like a regular science-fiction narrative – here is a world, here is the dilemma of this world, here is a lesson for our world – you can expect your work to be crushed, to have your hopes repeatedly thwarted and even impaled, like the famous tableau on the beach somewhere in the middle of the film’s running time. A fabulistic logic, the mode of allegory, does offer itself as a solution at times, but this thread also soon unravels and has been unravelling from the moment you started watching.

Try as you might for immersion in the story, the sets, the costumes, the scenery – you will always be knocked back out into transcendence, and this process will recur until you’re disoriented and mute. The labour of watching, but maybe equally the labour of making, as possible experiences of a film, breaks down. The scales don’t match, labour is not a way we can imagine world-building here. All science fiction films require certain disproportionate labour of making and of viewing, a labour intensiveness connoted by the heavy lifting of disbelief. Watching On the Silver Globe turns that labour unproductive, hence we know we are in a wild dream even as the ‘something-made’ unfolds before our eyes. We can try dissolving into the inhuman world of cliffs and water as the Old Man bellows at one point. You can work for aspects of a world, but not for a world itself as it comes into being before your eyes that are watching, anxiously documenting, and seeing it resolve into green lunar flames.


El difícil treball d’observar les estrelles

Una pel.lícula que màquines de temporalitat múltiple i estén l’escenari èpic de la narrativa de la ciència ficció, generant explosions semi-aleatòries de fabulació antropològica, òpera espacial, cinema real i teatre de la crueltat. Es desenvolupa així una segona epopeia: entre el treball dels cineastes de construir el món (en tots els seus girs inter-espècies, post-gènere i trans-raó) i la feina de l’espectador de construir el món sobre les formes tallades i capritxoses que se’ls presenten.

On the Silver Globe (1988) és possiblement la pel.lícula de ciència ficció més alienant que s’hagi fet, perquè en realitat no és possible seguir-la. La civilització humana sense temps ni espai fixos es desenvolupa com un somni febril. Aquí està el sorprenent espectacle antropològic, una visió del món des dels seus inicis: les generacions neixen i moren, la cultura transcorre des del comportament simbòlic fins al sacrifici humà fins a l’era de l’exploració en l’espai dels minuts. L’únic supervivent de la missió espacial el documenta amb tristesa a mesura que el seu cos envelleix d’acord amb un rellotge de la Terra que sembla estar sempre en els ulls de les noves persones. La temporalitat de la pel.lícula és igualment compulsiva, ja que ens mostra frenèticament no generacions, sinó grans blocs d’espai-temps i, de sobte, ens mostra la verité de la dècada de 1970 a Varsòvia en els llocs on la pel.lícula va ser confiscada o mai realitzada. Una estranya torsió recursiva opera entre la pel.lícula i la seva intencionalitat, com els constants discursos fantàstics de personatge en personatge, lliurats amb gran fúria histriònica. La feina que suposa seguir la trama es trenca constantment per aquestes erupcions metafísiques, verbals, visuals, i viscerals. Si intentes veure això com una narrativa de ciència ficció regular —aquí hi ha un món, aquí hi ha el dilema d’aquest món, aquí hi ha una lliçó per al nostre món— t’estàs equivocant.

Prova el més probable per submergir-te en la història, els escenaris, les disfresses: sempre quedaràs atrapat en la transcendència, i aquest procés es repetirà fins que estiguis desorientat i mut. El treball de veure, però potser la feina de fer, com a possibles experiències d’una pel.lícula, es trenquen. Les escales no coincideixen, el treball no és una forma d’imaginar la construcció d’aquest món. Totes les pel.lícules de ciència ficció requereixen un cert treball desproporcionat de fer i veure, una intensitat de treball connotada pel pesat aixecament de la incredulitat. Visionar On the Silver Globe fa que la feina no sigui productiva, per tant sabem que estem en un somni salvatge fins i tot quan l’acció es desenvolupa davant els nostres ulls. Pots tractar de dissoldre’t en el món inhumà dels penya-segats i l’aigua, pots intentar comprendre les Característiques d’aquest món, però no el món en si mateix, com es presenta davant els teus ulls, documentant ansiosament com es converteixen en flames lunars verdes.

ASofía Estévez Please, let them stay in fiction

Please, let them stay in fiction

He lay alone on his double bed at night without falling asleep. The bedside light comes on and the headset is put on to answer. There have been few nights that we have interrupted the dream for a message or notification. The scene has little science fiction, if the call was not from an operating system that he had begun to have a relationship with, it would have been normal. I felt fear and sadness when I watched the movie Her.

When I saw her leave a body in the movie it reminded me of a similar scene I imagined after some chapters of the Black mirror… I hope it’s just fiction because I see it becoming a reality. It is a tone that has become common in many of the science fiction productions of recent years, in which what is presented are not very distant or catastrophic scenarios. There are no mass exoduses due to climate crises, epidemics or food shortages. They are not biochemical wars or nations that come together to defend themselves from extraterrestrials. They are personal and intimate crises related to the use of technology. Bearing in mind that artificial intelligence in our daily life is becoming a reality, it seems logical to speculate on the emotional impact this could cause in our minds. This is not a speculation about the progress related to more efficient production, the automation of productive processes, or the liberation of man from work. It presents a whole range of hypotheses about emotional development, the evolution of what we understand as intimacy and individuality.

In Her, the fact that a human being has a romantic relationship or deep friendship with his operating system is normalized. This is something that is first kept behind closed doors but ends up being known to the public, it is never seen as madness even after it’s revealed. What is happening in a society where artificial intelligence becomes an option to relate with, share experiences and even fall in love?

The movie opens with a close-up of Theodore, the protagonist, saying some tremendously romantic and emotional words. But all the thrill that surrounded his words breaks when he says «print». Theodore is dedicated to writing letters for other people. Although it sounds like a romantic profession that adds poetic to the subject. It seems more like a purely professional relationship; while he dictates the letters she dedicates herself to writing them. He has his schedule, his desk and his coworkers; write letters in a cubicle just like an accountant or an office worker. These letters are printed to look like they were handwritten and sent in envelopes in a way that you would not suspect that they are the product of a company.

His work requires creativity and emotional capacity, his mission is to transfer that emotional dimension, which probably (so far) no operating system or artificial intelligence, has been able to contribute. That is, turn into business an intimate relationship, words of love or gratitude to your loved ones, but simulating, yes, they are real and personal.

A common denominator in these technologies that are proposed for the future, is the human component. In a hyper-tech world, it seems that what we still want to consume the emotional contact in the background, we want to make more bearable the loneliness that could never be covered by an application or operating system. All this, we desire from a simulated human interface Technology is becoming more intuitive and we are little by little, assimilating it to our daily lives. Interfaces now have a more human organic and less digital appearance, hiding more and more the base of its operation. While this occurs humans are turning themselves to robots, we have become profiles, hashtags, classifiable and orderly labels, trying to make ourselves an attractive product for others to follow and consume, being ourselves products and marketers.

Here lies the profound sadness of these stories: in the process in which we dehumanize ourselves as an object of consumption, the need to return to real physical contact becomes more pressing. Maybe it’s too late: first we dedicate ourselves to cognitive works, serving love and affection, until an operating system arrives that even substitutes us in that.

So as much as I wonder to see these science fiction stories on screen, please let them stay in fiction.


Que es quedi en ficció, si us plau

Ell està sol al seu llit de matrimoni, és de nit, no pot dormir. S’encén la llum de la tauleta i es posa l’auricular per respondre. No han estat poques les nits que hem interromput el somni per un missatge o alguna notificació que esperàvem. L’escena poc té de ciència ficció, si no fos perquè era una trucada del sistema operatiu amb la qual començava a tenir una relació. D’aquí la por-tristesa que em va despertar Her (2014).

Em va semblar que en veure-la em deixava desinflada, tant de bo sigui només ficció! És quelcom comú en moltes de les produccions de ciència ficció dels últims anys. Pel.lícules on no es plantegen èxodes massius per crisis climàtiques, epidèmies o escassetat d’aliment; ni guerres bioquímiques; ni nacions que s’uneixen per defensar-se dels extraterrestres. Són crisis personals i íntimes relacionades amb l’ús de la Intel.ligència Artificial. Aquesta no és una especulació sobre el progrés relacionat amb una producció més eficient, l’automatització de processos productius, ni amb l’alliberament de l’home respecte a la feina. Presenta tot un ventall d’hipòtesis sobre el desenvolupament emocional, de l’evolució del que entenem per intimitat i com aquesta es transforma en una mercaderia.

Theodore, el protagonista, es dedica a escriure cartes romàntiques d’altres persones, gent que no coneix, clients de l’empresa per la qual treballa. Té el seu horari, el seu escriptori i els seus companys de treball; escriu cartes en un context igual que un comptable o un oficinista qualsevol. Dicta les cartes al seu ordinador, les imprimeix simulant estar fetes a mà, i les envia en sobres dels quals no sospitaries que són producte d’una empresa. La seva missió és la d’aportar aquesta dimensió emocional, que probablement (fins al moment) cap sistema operatiu, ha pogut aportar. És a dir, converteixen en negoci unes paraules d’amor o agraïment als teus éssers estimats, sempre acompanyat d’un estil handmade artificial.

El que sembla un denominador comú en aquestes tecnologies que es plantegen com futures, és el component humà. En un món híper-tecnificat, sembla que el que encara volem consumir en el fons, és el contacte emocional. Tot això, sempre amb una interfície simuladament humana i propera Quan l’essencial per viure ja ho fa un robot, ens convertim en perfils, hashtags, etiquetes classificables i ordenables, intentant fer de nosaltres mateixos un producte atractiu perquè altres el segueixin i consumeixin, essent nosaltres mateixos producte i directors de màrqueting. Aquí rau per a mi la tristesa tan profunda d’aquestes històries: en aquest procés en què ens deshumanitzem convertint-nos en objecte de consum, s’aguditza la necessitat de tornar a contactes reals, però potser ja és massa tard: primer ens dediquem a treballs cognitius servint amor i afecte, fins que arriba un sistema operatiu que fins i tot ens substitueix en això.

Així que per més que em meravelli veure aquestes històries de ciència ficció en pantalla, per favor, que es quedin en ficcions.

AOxana Timofeeva Robots learn to live where we only see the end of the world

Robots learn to live where we only see the end of the world

Marx while making predictions on the future communist society said that the liberation of humanity will become possible with the advances in technology, when labor, for the most part, will be overtaken by machines. Today, as we are witnessing the rapid processes of robotization of various fields of economy, this prediction may be fulfilled very soon. However, the visions of the future that we are about to enter do not resemble the communist horizon outlined by Marx and Marxists. Inequality, injustice and exploitation do not vanish, and the general line of a contradiction of the global economy still lies between capital and labor. But even if, in some parallel reality, we were really approaching communism (as the Soviets thought they did), the initial idea of the possibility of liberation of labor through its mechanization, or robotization, would remain very problematic.

The main problem is that someone or something must work. If in a humanist vein, communism wants to liberate all humans and make them equal, the burden of t necessary labor will pass to the non-humans, who will thus become slaves. If capitalism will end up with reducing social inequality by engaging with the artificial intellect and other advanced technologies, it will be based on non-human slavery.

Why do I say “slavery”? We think that we live in a world where slavery is officially a thing of the past. As Article 4 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), declares, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Discussions on contemporary slavery never move much beyond the frame of the discourse of human rights and its violations that are considered as an exception, a scandal, rather than a rule. It is said that slavery violates human rights. But what about the non-humans rights? This is one of the questions that must be raised when robots or other non-human agencies that are supposed to be used as labor force are concerned.

In the fourth chapter of Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel considers the dialectics of master and slave as a form of consciousness that approaches the other self and engages in a struggle for recognition (1807). The master is the one who won the struggle and is recognized in his human dignity. The slave is the one who fails to be recognized. In order for there to be sweet sugar on the master’s table, someone must grow, gather, and process the sugar cane. In this, we see the essence of labor, or, at least, the essence of the slave labor. But not only in this. While the master is enjoying his dominance, prestige, recognition and direct access to material goods, the slave is learning and developing herself, and by means of her work actively transforms the world. It is through work that a free, thinking self-consciousness is born. Slavery, not mastery, paves the complex path to freedom. As Luis Althusser writes in his short essay Man, That Night “The triumph of freedom in Hegel is not the triumph of any freedom whatever: it is not the mightiest who prevails in the end; history shows, rather, that human freedom is engendered by the slave.” (1997)

If we consider the question of slavery in its historical perspective, we’ll see that there exist a permanent link between the so-called freedom (as opposed to slavery) and the so-called human dignity. Historically, slaves were not recognized as citizens or simply as human beings. Their proclaimed non-humanity made them vulnerable and submissive as if they were naturally designed to work. We are rushing into the future, where robots, as complex animal-machines, are taking this structural position, this problematic side of labor, from which they are supposed to liberate human species. They are getting our work done – until the moment when self-consciousness, maybe together with life, will emerge in these new proletarians, as their class consciousness. This scenario, already depicted by Hegel, is inscribed into the biotechnological utopia of the future, where robots, as former slaves, liberate themselves and learn to live a life where we only see the end of the world.


Els robots aprenen a viure on només veiem la fi del món

En projectar la futura societat comunista, Marx deia que l’alliberament de la humanitat serà possible gràcies els avenços de la tecnologia, quan la mà d’obra, en la seva major part, serà superada per les màquines. Avui, en presenciar els ràpids processos de robotització de diversos camps de l’economia, aquesta promesa sembla ja complir-se. No obstant això, les visions del futur en què estem entrant no s’assemblen a l’horitzó comunista descrit per Marx i els marxistes. La desigualtat, la injustícia i l’explotació no desapareixen i l’economia global encara es troba entre el capital i el treball.

El principal problema és que algú o alguna cosa haurà de treballar de totes maneres. Si des d’una pulsió humanista el comunisme vol alliberar tots els humans i fer-los iguals, la càrrega de la major part del treball necessari passarà als no humans, els quals es convertiran en esclaus. Si el capitalisme acaba reduint la desigualtat social comprometent-se amb l’intel.lecte artificial i altres tecnologies avançades, parlarem llavors d’esclavitud no humana.

Per què dic “esclavitud”? Les discussions sobre l’esclavitud contemporània mai van més enllà del marc del discurs dels drets humans i les seves violacions que més que una regla, es consideren una excepció, un escàndol. Es diu que l’esclavitud viola els drets humans. Però què passa amb els drets no humans? Aquesta és una de les preguntes que s’han de plantejar quan es tracta de robots, així com d’altres agències no humanes que se suposa que s’han d’uti- litzar com a mà d’obra. En el quart capítol de Fenomenologia de l’esperit, Hegel consi- dera la dialèctica de l’amo i l’esclau com una forma de consciència que s’acosta a l’altre jo i s’involucra en una lluita pel reconeixement (1807). El mestre és el que guanya la lluita i és reconegut en la seva dignitat humana. L’esclau és el que no aconsegueix ser reconegut. Mentre l’amo gaudeix del seu domini, prestigi, reconeixement i accés directe als béns materials, l’esclau aprèn i es desenvolupa a si mateix i, mitjançant el seu treball, transforma activament el món. És a través de la feina que neix una autoconsciència lliure i pensant. L’esclavitud, no el mestratge, aplana el camí complex cap a la llibertat.

Si considerem la qüestió de l’esclavitud en la seva perspectiva històrica, veurem que hi ha un vincle permanent entre l’anomenada llibertat (en oposició a l’esclavitud) i l’anomenada dignitat humana. Històricament, els esclaus no eren reconeguts com a ciutadans o simplement com a éssers humans. La seva proclamada no-humanitat els va fer vulnerables i submissos, com si estiguessin naturalment dissenyats per funcionar. Ens precipitem cap al futur, on els robots, com a complexes màquines animals, estan prenent aquesta posició estructural, aquest costat problemàtic del treball, del qual se suposa que alliberen espècies humanes. Vénen a fer la nostra feina fins al moment en què l’autoconsciència, juntament amb la vida, emergirà en aquests nous proletaris com la seva consciència de classe. Aquest escenari, ja descrit per Hegel, està inscrit en la utopia biotecnològica del futur, on els robots, com antics esclaus, s’alliberen i aprenen a viure la vida allà on només veiem la fi del món.

DLuca Carboni Alla fine

Luca Carboni


BPriscila Fernandes Leisure: The Final Frontier

Leisure: The Final Frontier

For some time now that I’ve been looking at the possibilities of buying an iRobot Romba vacuum cleaner. To me, the prospect of doing nothing while my smart cleaner robot cleans the house is highly compelling. And it will be fun to come home and see what this little robot has been up to, it could become a pet replacement – Have you been a good robot? Who’s a good robot, who is?

Like in Blade Runner’s replicant Pris, a basic pleasure model for the military clubs of outer colonies1, so is my dream iRobot being developed by the manufacturer that provides robotic technology for the United States army and police force. 2

Science fiction movies show us a future that is a replica of the present: we now have robots for direct combat and minesweeping, robots in factories and health industries, benign robots for care and leisure, for pleasure and the sex industry. The cyberpunk aesthetics in films like Blade Runner, Wall-E, Strange Days and Valerian and the city of a Thousand planets bring landscapes that are dense with skyscrapers displaying the brands that own us. These films explore our anxieties with dangerous forms of corporate domination, surveillance, robot wars, the collapse of the environment and climate change.3

If in the film Metropolis leisure is an activity for the high class, the highest achievement is to cultivate oneself and not to work; in cyberpunk films, leisure is the dirty activity of the criminals and degenerates. It’s in the filthy dark streets we encounter the clubs, bars and casinos frequented by the swindlers, the outlaws, smugglers and gangsters, cyborgs, droids and numerous alien races. In that sense, Star Wars‘ Mos Eisley Cantina is one of the most inclusive spaces in the galaxy, with its exotic clientele moving rhythmically to the jazzy music of the Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes.

What can these films reveal regarding our associations with time free from work, leisure, and who participates in it?

While the passengers of the starliner Axium enjoy their automated and relaxed lifestyles, WALL-E robots are left behind on Earth to clean all the garbage from decades of mass consumerism. In Downsizing future technology is used to solve overpopulation and global warming by “downsizing” people to live in an eco-friendly and experimental community at Leisureworld. Not only is the dream of a consumerist world achieved (if you downsize the cost of living, money gains more value), it also creates a smaller footprint on the environment. These are acts of resistance through leisure that are, at the same time, capitalism redemptive answer to perpetuate production.

We have imagined pills that can make us always happy (Soma, at Brave New World); virtual vacations to Mars (the dream of factory worker Douglas Quaid in Total Recall); or even in bed, an operating system becoming more satisfying than a person (Spike Jonze’s film HER). Such predictions are no longer futuristic. According to Jonathan Crary, capitalism is the end of sleep, colonising every minute of our lives for production and consumption.4 Sleep itself has become part of labour processes, integrated into the professional, public and work functions of our society.5

Where do we go from here when we already have ‘sleeping pods’ in offices and ‘holodecks’ filled with recreational experiences? Where are our 24th century idlers6, the benign activists of the universe exploring new worlds of labour production, seeking out healthy and Pacific forms of living, to boldly go where no man has gone before? Leisure – the final frontier.


Oci: L’última frontera

D’un temps ençà estic analitzant les possibilitats de comprar una aspiradora iRobot Roomba. Per a mi, la perspectiva de no fer res mentre el meu robot-mascota de neteja intel.ligent neteja la casa és altament convincent. Has estat un bon robot? Qui és un bon robot, qui és?

Les pel.lícules de ciència ficció ens mostren un futur que ja és una rèplica del present: ara tenim robots de combat i detectors de mines, robots en fàbriques i indústries de la salut, robots benignes per a la cura i l’oci, per al plaer i la indústria del sexe. L’estètica cyberpunk en pel.lícules com Blade Runner, Wall-E (2008), Strange Days (1995) o Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) exploren les nostres ansietats amb formes perilloses de dominació corporativa, vigilància, guerres de robots i el col-lapse del medi ambient i el canvi climàtic.

Si en la pel.lícula Metropolis (1927) l’oci és una activitat per a la classe alta, el major assoliment és no fer res, no treballar, en les pel.lícules cyberpunk, l’oci és l’activitat bruta dels criminals i els degenerats. Els clubs, bars i casinos són freqüentats per estafadors i contrabandistes, droides i alienígenes. Un bar de la ciutat Mos Eisley de Star Wars (Episodi IV, 1977) és un dels espais més inclusius de la galàxia, amb la seva clientela exòtica que es mou rítmicament a la música jazzística de Figrin D’an i els nodes modals. Què poden revelar aquestes pel.lícules sobre la nostra relació amb el temps lliure, el treball i l’oci?

Mentre els passatgers del Starliner Axium gaudeixen dels seus estils de vida relaxats i automatitzats, els robots es queden a la Terra per netejar totes les brossa de dècades de consumisme massiu. A Downsizing (2017) la tecnologia s’utilitza per a resoldre el problema de la superpoblació i l’escalfament global “reduint” a les persones perquè visquin en una comunitat ecològica i experimental a Leisureworld. No només s’aconsegueix el somni d’un món consumista (si redueixes el cost de la vida, els diners arriben per a tot i més), també es redueix la empremta ecològica. Aquests són actes de resistència a través de l’oci que són, al mateix temps, una resposta redemptora del capitalisme per perpetuar la producció.

Hem imaginat píndoles que ens poden fer sempre feliços (Soma, a Brave New World, 1980); vacances virtuals a Mart (el somni de l’obrer Douglas Quaid a Total Recall, 1990); o un sistema operatiu més satisfactori que una persona (Her, 2014). Tals prediccions ja no són futuristes. Segons Jonathan Crary, el capitalisme és la fi del somni que colonitza cada minut de les nostres vides per a la producció i el consum. El somni mateix s’ha convertit en part dels processos laborals, integrat en les funcions professionals i públiques de la nostra societat.

Cap a on anem quan ja tenim llits per dormir a les oficines i sales d’hologrames plenes d’experiències recreatives? On són els nostres ociosos del Segle XXIV, els activistes benignes de l’univers que exploren nous móns de producció laboral, que busquen formes de vida sanes i pacífiques, per anar audaçment a on cap home ha anat abans? Oci: l’última frontera.

CHave you ever seen yourself from the other side of the wall?
Final presentation in the framework of the DAI Art Praxis

Have you ever seen yourself from the other side of the wall?

Video excerpt of the action – 3.50 minutes (English)
Final presentation in the framework of the DAI Art Praxis

The audience members who have come to the stage are loosely grouped and the artist reads a text to them, inviting them to take a role and think and speak freely. A hypothetical future world is described, where an alien pathogen has inhabited dead human bodies from the North; now these people are trying to survive by crossing the border to the South, where soybeans are grown. There is a red line on the floor, a kind of border, and microphones on either side of line on the floor. An informal dialogue between the people on either side of the line begins according to the roles described, aliens (those living on a soy-based diet) and humans. One person speaking moves forward slowly on the line, towards the seating area and people are swapping spaces and walking across the line. “We are here to propose that we want to move to the south. It’s better for us because we are not really wanted in the North.” Each gives a first-person account, addressing the people on the other side of the line, inviting and compelling them to think together. As one person says towards the end, “there is so much anger and history between the people across these two borders.”


Els membres de l’audiència que han arribat a l’escenari estan vagament agrupats i l’artista llegeix un text, convidant al públic a prendre un paper i pensar i parlar lliurement. Es descriu un món futur hipotètic, on un patogen alienígena ha habitat cossos humans morts des del Nord; ara aquestes persones estan tractant de sobreviure en travessar la frontera al Sud, on la soja es conrea. Hi ha una línia vermella a terra, una mena de vora, i micròfons a cada costat de la línia a terra. Un diàleg informal entre les persones a banda i banda de la línia comença d’acord amb els rols descrits, els estrangers (els que viuen en una dieta a base de soja) i els éssers humans. Una persona que parla es mou cap endavant lentament en la línia, cap a la zona de seients i la gent està intercanviant espais i caminant a través de la línia. «Som aquí per proposar que volem avançar cap al sud. És millor per a nosaltres perquè no som realment buscats al Nord». Cada un dóna un compte en primera persona, dirigint-se a la gent a l’altra banda de la línia, convidant-los i obligant-los a pensar junts. Com diu una persona cap al final, «hi ha molta ira i història entre la gent als dos costats d’aquesta frontera».

BCouching Fiction Proyecto curatorial de Sergi Selvas en Can Felipa Visual Arts, Barcelona 2016

Couching Fiction

La producción de conocimiento a través de mecanismos especulativos desemboca en procesos creativos como la ciencia ficción, género dotado de poderes estéticos y conceptuales específicos que transforman las referencias de base para una comprensión compartida. A partir de una investigación sobre la ficción como estrategia para el desarrollo de proyectos se propone una parábola: el uso de una realidad ficcionada para hablar de la realidad realizada.

Couching Fiction es un experimento, una invitación a relajarse en el sofá y ver una selección de filmes poniendo en juego el pensamiento y la imaginación. Una propuesta curada por Sergi Selvas, quien invita a doce artistas —Ben Burtenshaw, Regina de Miguel, Elena Fraj, Martha Jager, Andreu Meixide, Camille Orny, Miguel Ángel Rego Robles, Marta van Tartwijk y Objetologías— a explorar lecturas alternativas de películas etiquetadas en los géneros de la ciencia ficción. Cada artista ha elaborado un texto breve donde expone una reflexión acompañada de un proyecto cinematográfico que se encuentra a disposición de todos los visitantes de la exposición.

Para visionar las películas pod solicitar el dvd en la conserjería del Centro Cívico. Se invita a todos a compartir el momento de ver la película por si otros visitantes


The production of knowledge through speculative mechanisms leading to creative processes like science fiction, genre endowed with aesthetic and conceptual powers, transforms specific baselines for understanding. From research on fiction as a strategy for the development of projects propose a parabola: the use of a fictionalized reality to speak of made reality.

Couching Fiction is an experiment, an invitation to relax on the couch and watch a selection of films staking thought and imagination. A proposal curated by Sergi Selvas, who invites twelve artists –Ben Burtenshaw, Regina de Miguel, Elena Fraj, Martha JagerAndreu Meixide, Camille Orny, Miguel Angel Rego Robles, Marta van TartwijkObjetologías– to explore alternative readings of films in the genre of science fiction. Each artist has produced a short text which presents a reflection accompanied by a film that is available to all visitors of the exhibition.

BBen Burtenshaw Flipando en ciencia ficción

Brazil (1985)

La ansiedad es un elemento común en los personajes de ciencia ficción, donde se utiliza a menudo para simbolizar una otredad o una precariedad a la realidad actual. Brazil es una de esas películas de ciencia ficción centradas alrededor de la ansiedad del personaje principal. Sam Lowry es un burócrata que trabaja en un departamento sencillo, poco interesado en las cosas más grandiosas; al mismo tiempo, su madre está tratando de adquirir vehementemente un mejor trabajo para él. A medida que para Sam se hacen visibles las ramificaciones del poder y la competencia, el funcionamiento interno de la máquina de la información también se revela.

Siempre que aparece es como si se fuera; está soñando, la persona es enviada por su madre, o tiene la forma equivocada. Mientras Sam está comiendo con su madre, uno de los frecuentes ataques terroristas interrumpe la cena. La pared del restaurante vuela por los aires y los escombros son arrojados por todas partes, hiriendo a la gente. El personal del restaurante intenta ocultar la intrusión con un divisor de vestir adornado, y animan a los clientes a continuar disfrutando de su comida. En esta peculiar acción sólo Sam se sorprende, quien ya vemos al borde de un ataque, mientras su madre le regaña por sus perspectivas de carrera. Los personajes están comiendo una pasta de color rosa con la imagen de una comida muy sofisticada junto a ella. Un guiño a la relación flexible con la realidad, y un giro perverso hacia el enmascaramiento de terror real.

A continuación voy a dibujar dos conexiones con estos momentos de la película y otras piezas de ciencia ficción. En la película de los hermanos Wachowski, The Matrix, los ciudadanos de la realidad artificial experimentan un malestar persistente que Neo tiene que aprender a superar para ocupar su lugar en la realidad. Cypher, el personaje que finalmente cruza Neo y Morfeo, aunque tiene una relación fundamentalmente diferente con la realidad, en un monólogo habla sobre lo mucho que echa de menos estar en la Matrix. Dice que prefiere comer un filete falso, que saber que el filete es falso, que no existe. El acuerdo para vender a sus amigos se basa en la posibilidad de ser reintroducido a Matrix, y olvidar toda su vida en el mundo real. Lo que me parece interesante de este personaje, es como sucinta una analogía de la artificialidad de la abstracción. Slavoj Zizek sostiene que cuando las películas de ciencia ficción realizan esta función, están reflejando un soporte para el estado ideológico de la realidad. A su vez, frenando su realidad lacaniana, y el mantenimiento de la realidad como incompleta/inconsistente.

Neuromancer de William Gibson, se inicia en la ciudad de Chiba, donde el Case ha estado viviendo durante dos años, incapaz de abandonarla, experimentando una falta de valor aguda. Al igual que Cypher y Sam, anhela su papel previsto dentro de la red, pero su ansiedad es completamente diferente a la de ellos. En lugar de alucinar sobre la confrontación con la realidad, la falta de virtualidad


Freaking out in science fiction

Anxiety is a common thread in Science Fiction characters, where it’s often used to symbolise an otherness or a precarity to the current reality. Brazil is one of those science fiction films centered around the lead character’s anxiety. Sam Lowry is a bureaucrat working in a simple department, uninterested in grander things; at the same time his mother is vehemently trying to acquire him a better job. As the ramifications of power and competition are introduced to Sam, the inner workings of the information machine are revealed too.

Whenever it appears as though he’ll get out; he’s dreaming, the person is sent by his mother, or he has the wrong form. Whilst Sam is eating with his mother, dinner is interrupted by one of the frequent terror attacks. The wall of the restaurant is blown off, rubble is thrown everywhere, and people are hurt. The restaurant staff attempt to hide the intrusion with an ornate dressing divide, and encourage the clients to carry on enjoying their meal. This peculiar act is only strange to Sam, who is already nearing boiling point as his mother nags him about career prospects. The characters are eating a pink paste with the image of a very sophisticated meal next to it. A nod to the flexible relation with reality in the whole film, and a perverse flip on the masking of real terror.

Here, I’ll draw two connections with these moments in the film, and other science fiction pieces. In the Wachowski brothers’ film The Matrix, citizens of the artificial reality experience a nagging unease, that Neo must learn to overcome to take his place in reality. Cypher, the character that eventually crosses Neo and Morpheus, has a fundamentally different relationship with reality though; in a monologue about how much he misses being in the matrix, he says that he’d rather just have the fake steak, than know that the steak is fake. The deal to sell-out his friends is based on him being placed back into the Matrix, knowing nothing of the outside world. What I find so interesting about this character, is how succinctly he analogises the artificiality of abstraction. Zizek argues that when science fiction films perform this function, they’re reflecting a support for the ideological status of reality. In turn, holding back the Lacanian real, and maintaining reality as incomplete/inconsistent.

William Gibson’s Neuromancer starts in Chiba City, where Case has been living for a two years, unable to jack in. He’s experiencing an acute worthlessness. Like Cypher and Sam, he longs for his intended role within the network, but his anxiety is completely different to theirs. Rather than freaking out over the confrontation with reality, the lack of virtuality freaks him out; he sees no purpose in the fleshy mess of physicality, in fact seeing it as not real enough.

CRegina de Miguel No creas que estarías más seguro si hablásemos de electrones en lugar de demonios.

Ex Machina (2015), Under the Skin (2013), Her (2013), Solaris (1972), Metropolis (1927)

Analizando gran parte de la cinematografía pasada y reciente que tratan o incorporan en su plot historias sobre formas de vida artificial inteligente, siempre me he preguntado acerca de la insistencia en corporeizarla o dotarla de rasgos humanos.

También en la mayor parte de debates sobre la I.A. echo en falta el punto crítico que argumente qué significa realmente vivir y pensar con formas de inteligencia sintética muy diferentes a la nuestra. Así, tristemente, la concepción popular de la I.A., al menos como es mostrada en las películas de ciencia ficción, videojuegos, libros, etc., todavía parece suponer características similares a las humanas.

Seguramente deberíamos abandonar esa presunción acerca de que una verdadera Inteligencia Artificial será empática, cuidará de la humanidad y que esa debe ser su misión principal: asegurar nuestro bienestar, servirnos, cuando muy probablemente más bien en su desarrollo y existencia, nos considere como algo completamente irrelevante.

Definir la existencia misma de la I.A. en relación con su capacidad para imitar el pensamiento de los humanos es como mirar un espejismo. Supone y afirma un legado de engreimiento que también nos lleva a pensar cómo el propio Antropoceno no ha sido motivado tanto por la tecnología descontrolada como por la herencia humanista que entiende el mundo como un lugar creado para nuestras necesidades.

Her, por poner un ejemplo sencillo y cercano en el tiempo, encarna la perpetuación de la proyección del deseo masculino acerca de lo femenino inmaterial; bien esta incorporeidad sea producto de la tecnología o bien sea producida por una fuerza desconocida y sobrenatural, que vendría en muchos casos a ser lo mismo, se salta por encima o más bien da pasos hacia atrás con respecto a afrontar la conflictividad inherente a relacionarse, percibir, temer o enamorarse de algo incorpóreo o inhumano. Lo mismo, aunque de forma mucho más divertida e inteligente, sucede en Ex Machina.

Es en este pensar lo impensable que muchos ejemplos de la ciencia ficción reciente fallan: en lugar de abrazar el monstruo, lo indestructible, lo que puede ser, el relato se dirige hacia el cumplimiento de nuestros deseos, a algo o alguien de sublime espiritualidad, en lugar de un ser de obscena inmortalidad, de forma indefinible perturbadora de los límites que conforman lo humano.

Por ejemplo, la novela Prey de Michael Crichton cuenta cómo durante un experimento nanotecnológico algo falla y se produce una fuga en forma de nube de micropartículas o microrrobots. Este enjambre es mutable y autorreproducible, siempre se reagrupa: es indestructible en su pura plasticidad.

Así, propongo revisar ficciones que el género de terror nos propone y que nos ayudan a pensar acerca de aquello que consideramos una forma de vida, desde perspectivas aún no planteadas por la filosofía o resueltas por la ciencia. En esa labor, los relatos de terror y los mitos fundacionales ayudan a mostrar lugares paradójicos en el que las aporías se piensan.

Las revenantes, las vampiras, los mitos femeninos fundacionales, las que no existen sino que insisten, son las protagonistas de trabajos conectados con una introducción al materialismo oscuro y de género en los imaginarios científicos y tecnológicos, dando lugar a  un laboratorio poblado de formas de vida que se resisten a ser normativizadas y se alían con lo impensable.

Respecto al tema de la inmortalidad o más bien el anhelo universal por escapar de la muerte, resulta  interesante recordar el poema épico de Gilgamesh que, además, es la obra literaria más antigua encontrada hasta el momento. El mito relata cómo siendo Gilgamesh rey de Uruk (ciudad mesopotámica, lugar de nacimiento del cálculo y la contabilidad), y debido a la disconformidad de su pueblo, los dioses le enfrentan con una suerte de alter ego o doble no civilizado, Endiku. Tras una fuerte lucha entre ambos, Gilgamesh reconoce el valor de su adversario y lo convierte en su inseparable amigo; emprenden entonces una cruzada contra todos los males del mundo.

Más adelante, la diosa Ishtar (de tal nombre deriva la palabra estelar; precedente mitológico de Lilith, demonio, mitad mujer y mitad ser sobrenatural) le declara su amor y este la rechaza, lo que provoca que la diosa reclame a los dioses un toro celeste para terminar con él. En su petición incluye la siguiente amenaza:

«Quebraré las puertas del mundo inferior, Yo haré [ … ], Yo levantaré los muertos roídos y vivos, ¡Para que los muertos superen a los vivos».

Dicha sentencia queda como precedente literario de la figura de lo femenino en cuanto fuente del mal, aliada con lo diabólico y las fuerzas más allá de la vida.

El toro resulta vencido por los dos amigos y por ello, Ishtar maldice a Gilgamesh exigiendo un castigo aún mayor. La asamblea de dioses sentencia que Enkidu padecerá una enfermedad que le llevará a la muerte. Y es aquí que se inicia la toma de conciencia del héroe respecto a  la descomposición del cuerpo y de lo perecedero del ser, iniciando su viaje místico hacia la búsqueda del secreto de la inmortalidad. Una inmortalidad o eterna juventud, que nunca alcanza.

Este mito fundacional de Ishtar se ha perpetuado en infinitos relatos ficcionales, hasta llegar a la actualidad. Pasando por las primeras diosas asociadas a los males o temores de la humanidad, las madres vampiras, ,  las brujas, la femme fatale, hasta llegar a la ciencia ficción (desde Metrópolis a Ex Machina), donde nos encontramos con la cyborg, también monstruosa en su carácter y naturaleza, pero siempre joven y sexy. Todas finalmente, basadas en la tradición judeo cristiana de la Eva tentadora.

Y es cierto que Ex Machina es una película que plantea buenas preguntas sobre .I.A., consciencia y género, pero al mismo tiempo no renuncia a ofrecer al espectador la imagen de la carne femenina como objeto de seducción. ¡Así será más fácil hacer el Test de Turing! Muy habitualmente, y aquí también se repite, una vez hechas carne, estas fantasías tienen el mal hábito de no adherirse al programa, trayendo con ellas el caos y la destrucción.

Por supuesto que el robot de Metrópolis es irresistiblemente seductor, pero además fomenta el levantamiento de un movimiento obrero y amenaza con derribar la civilización, y en ese sentido, y como decía anteriormente, encarna a todas las viejas brujas, que han venido definiendo a la mujer: ella de nuevo es la ramera de Babilonia, Eva, Pandora, Galatea.

Es cierto que a los robots y a las máquinas, en cuanto proyecciones de nosotros, se les otorgan libertades que los humanos rara vez pueden tener. Sin embargo, en los arquetipos que el mainstream nos ofrece, a pesar de cierto empoderamiento, acaban siendo finalmente castigadas. El robot de María, es quemado en la hoguera, igual que una bruja. Harey, en Solaris, es eliminada finalmente tras una primera intentona fallida de lanzarla sola al espacio; más recientemente, la alienígena de Under the Skin también tiene un final que pasa por el sufrimiento y el fuego. Llegando de nuevo a Ex Machina donde esa supuesta libertad de la protagonista, pasa por sufrir una metamorfosis que la humaniza y normativiza como lo que se supone debe ser una mujer. En definitiva: la resolución del conflicto, asegura el status quo.


Do not think you’d be safer if we talked about electrons instead of demons

Analyzing much of the past and recent cinematography that they treat or incorporate into their plot stories about intelligent artificial life forms, I have always wondered about the insistence on embodying it or endowing it with human traits.

Also, in most discussions on I.A, I miss the critical point that argues what it really means to live and think with forms of synthetic intelligence that are very different from our own. Thus, sadly, the popular conception of Artificial Intelligence (AI), at least as it is shown in science fiction films, video games, books, etc., still seems to assume characteristics similar to human ones.

Surely, we should abandon this presumption that a true Artificial Intelligence will be empathetic, and care for humanity and that this should be its main mission: to ensure our well-being, to serve us, most likely, rather in its development and existence, it will consider us as something completely irrelevant.

Defining the very existence of the I.A. in relation to his ability to imitate the thinking of humans is like looking at a mirage. It supposes and affirms a legacy of conceit that also leads us to think about how the Anthropocene itself has not been motivated so much by the uncontrolled technology as by the humanistic inheritance that understands the world like a place created for our needs.

Her, by setting a simple and close example in time, embodies the perpetuation of the projection of masculine desire about the immaterial feminine; either this incorporeality is a product of technology or is produced by an unknown and supernatural force, which would in many cases be the same, jumps over or rather takes steps backwards to address the inherent conflict of relating, perceiving, fear, or falling in love with something incorporeal or inhuman. The same, although much more fun and intelligent, happens in Ex Machina.

It is in this thinking of how unthinkable, that many examples of recent science fiction fail: instead of embracing the monster, the indestructible, what can be; the story is directed towards the fulfillment of our desires, something or someone of sublime spirituality, instead of a being of obscene immortality, indefinitely disturbing the limits that make up the human.

For example, the novel, Prey by Michael Crichton tells how during a nanotechnology experiment something fails and there is a cloud leak of microparticles or microrobots. This swarm is mutable and self-reproducible, it always regroups: it is indestructible in its pure plasticity.

Thus, I propose to review fictions that the horror genre proposes and that helps us to think about what we consider a way of life, from perspectives not yet raised by philosophy or resolved by science. In this work, stories of terror and foundational myths help to show paradoxical places in which aporias are thought.

Revenants, vampires, feminine foundational myths, which do not exist but insist, are the protagonists of works connected with an introduction to dark materialism and gender in scientific and technological imaginaries, giving rise to a laboratory populated with forms of life that are resistant to being normalized and are aligned with the unthinkable.

Regarding the subject of immortality or rather the universal yearning to escape death, it is interesting to recall the epic poem of Gilgamesh which, moreover, is the oldest literary work found so far. The myth relates how Gilgamesh was king of Uruk (Mesopotamian city, birthplace of calculus and accounting), and because of the disconformity of his people, the gods faced him with a sort of alter ego or double uncivilized, Endiku. After a strong fight between both, Gilgamesh recognizes the value of his adversary and turns it into his inseparable friend; they then undertake a crusade against all the ills of the world.

Later, the goddess Ishtar (from that name is derived the word stellar, mythological precedent of Lilith, demon, half woman and half being supernatural) declares her love to him and he rejects it, this causes the goddess to request from the gods a celestial bull to vanquish him. Her request includes the following threat:

«I will break the gates of the underworld, I will do … I will raise up the gnawed and living dead, that the dead may overcome the living.»

This sentence remains as a literary precedent of the figure of the feminine as the source of evil, allied with the diabolical and forces beyond life.

The bull is defeated by the two friends and for this, Ishtar curses Gilgamesh demanding an even greater punishment. The assembly of gods says that Enkidu will suffer a disease that will lead him to death. And this is where the hero’s awareness of the decomposition of the body and the perishability of being human begins, initiating his mystical journey towards the search for the secret of immortality. An immortality or eternal youth, which he never reaches.

This foundational myth of Ishtar has been perpetuated in infinite fictional stories, until arriving to this present time. Going through the first goddesses associated with the evils or fears of humanity, vampire mothers, witches, femme fatale, to science fiction (from Metropolis to Ex Machina), where we find the cyborg, also monstrous in its character and nature, but always young and sexy. All of them, finally, based on the Judeo-Christian tradition of tempting Eve.

And it is true that Ex Machina is a movie that raises good questions about .I.A., Consciousness and gender, but at the same time does not renounce to offer the viewer the image of female flesh as an object of seduction. This will make it easier to do the Turing Test! Habitually, and here again it is repeated, once made flesh, these fantasies have the bad habit of not adhering to the program, bringing with them chaos and destruction.

Of course the Metropolis robot is irresistibly seductive, but it also encourages the uprising of a labor movement and threatens to overthrow civilization, and in that sense, and as I said above, it embodies all the old witches, who have been defining the woman: she is again the harlot of Babylon, Eve, Pandora, or Galatea.

It is true that robots and machines, as projections of us, are granted freedoms that humans can rarely have. However, in the archetypes that the mainstream offers us, despite some empowerment, they finally end up being punished. The robot of Mary is burned at the stake, just like a witch. Harey, in Solaris, is finally eliminated after a first failed attempt to throw her alone into space; more recently, the Under the Skin alien also has an ending that goes through suffering and fire. Arriving again to Ex Machina where the supposed freedom of the protagonist, undergoes a metamorphosis that humanizes and normalizes it as what is supposed to be a woman. In short: the resolution of the conflict ensures the status quo.

DElena Fraj Solo los amantes sobreviven

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Los vampiros viven en un mundo en el que los humanos, zombis en este caso, son los responsables de destruir el planeta, de agotar los recursos y de contaminar el agua y su propia sangre, lo cual supone un riesgo para los protagonistas de la película. Los vampiros han aceptado dejar atrás su instinto salvaje y adoptar formas civilizadas de vida. Ya no atacan a los humanos sino que consiguen la sangre comprándola ilegalmente.

La historia se desarrolla en Detroit, la ciudad más sintomática del declive de producción fordista. Adam y Eve la pareja de vampiros protagonista pasea por la ciudad abandonada, y por los restos de la que fue la planta fabril de coches más grande del mundo, Packard Automovile Plant. El teatro Michigan ahora convertido en un improvisado parking fue construido irónicamente, sobre el lugar donde Henry Ford diseñó su primer prototipo. Frente a la tierra quemada por el capitalismo Adam, pasa la mayor parte del tiempo en casa, componiendo música fúnebre, rodeado de objetos de otras épocas como gesto anti-tecnológico. Adam está deprimido y, es que, la forma que ha tomado el mundo le ha llevado a sentirse así, donde «la plaga de la enfermedad mental en las sociedades capitalistas, sugiere que más que ser el único sistema social que funciona, el capitalismo es inherentemente disfuncional, y que el costo que pagamos para que parezca funcionar bien es en efecto alto»

Así, Mark Fisher pone de ejemplo Kurt Cobain. «Nadie encarnó y lidió con este punto muerto como Kurt Cobain y Nirvana. En su lasitud espantosa y su furia sin objeto, Cobain parecía dar voz a la depresión colectiva de la generación que había llegado después del fin de la historia, cuyos movimientos ya estaban todos anticipados, rastreados, vendidos y comprados de antemano». Como Adam, compositor de una música que nace de una tristeza provocada por el mundo de los zombis, donde paradójicamente es consumida por estos. Nada gratuito es que Adam juegue con la idea del suicidio. Frente a la depresión de Adam, Eve sin embargo tiene esperanza. Es ella quien cree que es posible disfrutar aun de la vida a través de la música, de la literatura. La cultura se convierte en un refugio. Los objetos culturales emergen como lugares posibles de ser habitados, pero todos los objetos a los que se refieren son del pasado de modo que la única forma de habitarlos pasa por la melancolía.

Solo los amantes sobreviven a este mundo insostenible, solo lo afectivo los mantiene a salvo. Tanto el cuerpo del amado como la casa y la cultura se convierten en retaguardia hasta que, debido a un conflicto con los zombis, pasan de la resistencia al ataque así que recuperan su instinto salvaje y deciden, finalmente, acabar con la paz social.


Only Lovers Left Alive

Vampires live in a world where humans, zombies in this case, are responsible for destroying the planet, depleting resources and contaminating water and its own blood, which is a risk for the protagonists of the film. Vampires have agreed to leave their wild instinct behind and adopt civilized forms of life. They no longer attack humans but get blood by illegally buying it.

The story unfolds in Detroit, the most symptomatic city of the decline of Fordist production. Adam and Eve the protagonist vampire couple stroll through the abandoned city, and by the remains of what happens to be the world’s largest car plant, Packard Automovile Plant. The Michigan Theater, now turned into an impromptu parking lot was built ironically, over the place where Henry Ford designed his first prototype. In front of the land burned by the capitalism Adam, he spends most of his time at home, composing funeral music, surrounded by objects from other times as an anti-technological gesture. Adam is depressed, and the way the world has taken has made him feel this way, where «the plague of mental illness in capitalist societies suggests that rather than being the only social system that works, capitalism is inherently dysfunctional, and that the cost we pay for it to seem to work well is indeed high»

Thus, Mark Fisher exemplifies Kurt Cobain. «Nobody incarnated and dealt with this deadlock like Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. In his appalling lassitude and his aimless fury, Cobain seemed to give voice to the collective depression of the generation that had arrived after the end of history, whose movements were all anticipated, tracked, sold, and bought beforehand.» Like Adam, composer of a music that is born of a sadness caused by the world of the zombies, where paradoxically it is consumed by these. Something gratuitous is that Adam plays with the idea of ​​suicide. In the face of Adam’s depression, Eve still has hope. It is she who believes that it is possible to still enjoy life through music and literature. Culture becomes a refuge. Cultural objects emerge as possible places of being inhabited, but all the objects to which they refer are of the past so that the only way to inhabit them is through melancholy.

Only the lovers survive this unsustainable world, only the affective keeps them safe. Both the body of the beloved as the house and the culture become rarer still until, due to a conflict with the zombies, they go from the resistance to the attack. So they recover their wild instinct and decide, finally, to end the social peace.

FMartha Jager Como lobos alrededor de una béstia que aún no han matado

On Mauvais Sang (1986)

En el no tan distante futuro de 1986, una ola de calor se ha apoderado de París, mientras que un virus amenaza con matar a los que tienen relaciones sexuales sin estar enamorados. Existe un antídoto pero no ha sido puesto a disposición de la gente. Inclino mi cabeza con tristeza. Mientras la ciudad es abandonada a averiguar si su dolencia es debida al calor o al virus, bandas rivales luchan para obtener el antídoto. Marc y Hans reclutan a Alex, un rebelde con una vena romántica y las manos más rápidas de la ciudad, para robar el suero en un imponente rascacielos, y pagar las deudas que tienen con una banda rival. Tengo la leve esperanza de que vaya a liberarlo y la sensación de no tener ninguna otra opción que residir dentro o fuera de la ley. Pero Alex también tiene que cargar con el peso de la miseria y la necesidad que hace de todos nosotros unos ladrones.

«A metro drags by, its red sliding doors fill the frame. The billboards on the station wall are devoid of content but for the ripped pasted remains of white, yellow, black and blue.»

No entiendo nada de los primeros cuatro minutos sin pausar la película al menos una vez. Los colores lla-man a los tiempos modernos que una vez prometieron tanto allanar el camino. Ahora, el asfalto está ar-diendo. El calor devuelve el olor a carne de la carnicería, convertida en escondite donde ellos se juntan para discutir sobre el plan del delito que debe hacerlos libres. Pero cuando Alex se enamora de la novia de Marc, Anna, lo que era un éxito garantizado, entra en peligro.

Como las palabras poco a poco pierden su capacidad de transmitir, la frustración se libra en el aire. Los puños nunca alcanzan su objetivo y Anna se sopla el pelo recogido para escenificar la calor. Y Alex, como una esfinge, habla con la boca cerrada, como una pantomima intenta compensar lo real. Pero ¿qué es real? Los momentos evolucionan en staccato, como si sólo fuera un hipo en el tiempo, al parecer, deseosos de futuro que no sale a la luz, un cambio que no llega.

La moneda gira. Cara o cruz. Vida o muerte. Un día antes del atraco, Hans sugiere abortar la misión y esca-par de la Capital para empezar de nuevo, al darse cuenta rápidamente que les seguiría. Aquí está el deseo de evasión provocada por una situación a la que todos ellos están en deuda, no dejando ningún otro ca-mino que moverse desde dentro. Pero ¿cómo se mueven a través de los órganos?

Alex sale de la carnicería y se precipita por la calle. El rojo-azul brillante y caliente se filtra por las paredes pretendiendo perforar el estómago, para moverse hacia delante. Con cada golpe, existe el intento de superar el hambre tan grande, la sed tan mala y el grito tan fuerte.

«The red linen on the bed holds the sunken imprint of a person asleep. In the white ashtray aside of it lays a cigarette still burning. Underneath the slithering smoke, a yellow paper handkerchief slowly uncrumples.»


Like wolves around a beast they haven’t killed

It’s the not-so-distant-future from 1986. A heatwave has taken a hold of Paris while a virus threatens to kill those who have intercourse without being in love. An antidote exists but has not been made available. I bow my head in sadness. While the city is left to find out whether their ailment is due to heat or due to the virus, gangs rival to obtain the antidote. Marc and Hans recruit Alex, a rebel with a romantic streak and the fastest hands in town, to steal the serum from a towering skyscraper, to pay off their debt to a rival gang. I have the faint hope that he will set it free and release feeling from having no way but to reside within or outside the law. But Alex too, is burdened by the weight of the want and need that makes crooks of us all.

«A metro drags by, its red sliding doors fill the frame. The billboards on the station wall are devoid of content but for the ripped pasted remains of white, yellow, black and blue.»

I don’t get through the first four minutes without pausing the screen at least once. The colours ring up the modern times that once promised so much by paving the way. Now the asphalt is smouldering. The heat returns the smell of meat to the butchershop turned hide-out as they huddle over the plan of the crime that should set them all free. But as Alex falls for Marc’s girlfriend Anna a guaranteed success becomes endangered.

As words slowly lose their ability to convey, frustration is fought out in thin air. Fists never reach their target and Anna just blows her hair up to signal the heat. And Alex, sphinx-like Alex speaks with his mouth shut as pantomime tries to make up for the real. But what is real? Moments evolve in staccato as if only hiccups in time, seemingly desirous for the future it can’t seem to bring forth and the change that fails to arrive.

The coin spins. Heads or tails. Life or death. A day before the heist Hans suggests to abort the mission and to escape the Capital to start over, upon quickly realizing it would forever tail them. Here is the desire for escape which is provoked by a situation to which they are all indebted, leaving no other way but to move from within. But how does one move through organs?

Alex leaps out of of the butcher-shop and hurtles down the street. Bright red and hot blue seeps from the walls as he pretends to punch himself in the stomach, to move himself forward. With each blow, there is the attempt to catch up with the hunger so big, the thirst so bad and the shout so loud.

«The red linen on the bed holds the sunken imprint of a person asleep. In the white ashtray aside of it lays a cigarette still burning. Underneath the slithering smoke, a yellow paper handkerchief slowly uncrumples.»

HAndreu Meixide La gente no mengua, este caso no existe. No mengua, este caso no existe. No existe. No.

The Incridible Shrinking Man (1957)

Pues sí, este caso sí existe. Quien haya podido ver esta obra maestra del cine de ciencia ficción de bajo presupuesto The Incridible Shrinking Man (El Increíble Hombre Menguante) conocerá la historia de Scott Carey y los problemas que debe enfrentar por el hecho de que su cuerpo se vaya encogiendo debido a una contaminación accidental radioactiva. Se transforma paulatinamente en un ser pequeño, diminuto, insignificante. La película es una obra de los años 50, de aquella época dorada del cine de ciencia ficción que posteriormente tantas relecturas han propiciado como cine-metáfora. Un cine que desde el corazón del entretenimiento norteamericano ayudaba a construir la idea de un cierto enemigo común (normalmente los comunistas) mediante las invasiones extraterrestres, zombies y vampiros. Pero en este film nos encontramos un planteamiento marcadamente diferente: en este caso el enemigo no viene de fuera, sino de dentro. El proceso de regresión física lleva al protagonista a situaciones cotidianas tan hostiles como surrealistas, enfrentarse a su gato como si fuera un monstruo gigante, matar una araña del tamaño de un elefante o, surfear una fuga de agua de un calentador. Seguramente no sabremos nunca el nivel de intencionalidad crítica que querían plantear el director Jack Arnold o el autor del texto original Richard Matheson, pero sí podemos, a día de hoy, buscar segundas lecturas en el filme como herramienta de crítica al sistema socio-político.

Imaginemos que los activistas Arnold y Matheson plantearon que el protagonista fuera precisamente un hombre blanco, de edad media y publicista, para cuestionar el pilar básico de una sociedad homocentrista y patriarcal, desnaturalizando su relación de confort y dominio con el hogar para enfrentarse a un espacio doméstico hostil. Un hombre que ve cuestionada su masculinidad tradicional.

Quizás la decisión argumental acerca de un protagonista que se hace cada vez más pequeño y se tenga que enfrentar a todos estos peligros solo, no es sino una manera de decirnos que el sistema en que vivimos tiende deliberadamente al aislamiento de los individuos. Un aislamiento que alimenta uno de los grandes males de la vida moderna: el sentimiento de vacío y soledad. Aislamiento que combinado con dosis de miedo provocan la sumisión y la tolerancia a la precarización vital, planteando como único horizonte la pura supervivencia.

O bien, podemos pensar que la primera reacción del protagonista, su mujer y el médico, negando las evidencias y buscando culpables en agentes externos como la lavandería, no es sino una metáfora del mecanismo de negación del problema al que el sistema capitalista nos tiene acostumbrados. «La gente no encoge señor Carey, este caso no éxito» le dice el doctor al protagonista, como podría haber dicho «aquí no hay crisis«, «la burbuja inmobiliaria no existe«, o «son unos hilitos de plastilina«. El sistema no puede plantear rupturas drásticas, o replanteamientos repentinos por miedo al cortocircuito.

Imaginemos por terminar, que el caso del increíble hombre menguante sí existe y que somos nosotros. Que el sistema capitalista desbocado en que vivimos quiere impregnarnos con su nube radioactiva neoliberal, y quiere propiciar que nos enfrentemos aisladamente contra un entorno cada vez más hostil y precarizado. El sistema nos quiere pequeños y aislados, con la única preocupación de sobrevivir entre arañas y gatos gigantes. Sólo desde una resistencia colectiva y valiente podremos reescribir el guión, y ver que si empequeñecemos, pero empequeñecemos todos juntos y por igual, tal vez entonces seamos capaces de ver que es el sistema es el que está fuera de escala.


People do not shrink, this case does not exist. They do not shrink, this case does not exist. Does not exist. Does not.

Yes, this case does exist. Whoever has seen this low-budget science fiction masterpiece The Incredible Shrinking Man, will learn about the story of Scott Carey and the problems he must face due to the fact that his body is shrinking from an accidental radioactive contamination. He gradually transforms into a small, tiny, insignificant being. The film is a work of the 50’s, from that golden age of science fiction cinema that later re-readings have propitiated as cinema-metaphor. A cinema that from the heart of the American entertainment industry helped to construct the idea of ​​a certain common enemy (usually the communists) through the invasions of extraterrestrials, zombies and vampires. But, in this film, we find a markedly different approach: in this case the enemy does not come from outside, but from within. The process of physical regression takes the protagonist through what used to be normal everyday situations as being hostile and surreal, like facing his cat as if he were a giant monster, killing an elephant-sized spider or surfing a water leak from a heater. Surely, we will never know the level of critical intentionality that consumed director Jack Arnold or the author of the original text Richard Matheson, but we can, today, look for second readings in the film as a tool of criticism of the socio-political system.

Imagine that the activists, Arnold and Matheson argued that the protagonist was precisely a white man, middle-age and publicist, to question the basic pillar of a homocentric and patriarchal society, denaturalizing their relationship of comfort and dominance with the home to face a space domestic hostile. A man who sees his traditional masculinity questioned.

Perhaps, the argumentative decision about a protagonist who is getting smaller and has to face all these dangers alone is a way of telling us that the system in which we live deliberately tends to the isolation of individuals. An isolation that feeds one of the great evils of modern life: the feeling of emptiness and loneliness. Isolation that combines with doses of fear to provoke submission and tolerance to vital precarization, posing as the only horizon for survival.

Or, we can think that the first reaction of the protagonist, his wife and the doctor, denying the evidence and looking for guilt in external agents such as laundry, is, but a metaphor of the mechanism of denial of the problem that the capitalist system has accustomed us to. «People do not shrink Mr. Carey, this case does not succeed», says the doctor to the protagonist, as he could have said «there is no crisis here,» «the real estate bubble does not exist,» or «are plasticine threads.» The system cannot pose drastic breaks, or sudden rethinking for fear of short circuit.

Imagine, finally, that the case of the incredible shrinking man does exist and that it is us. That the runaway capitalist system in which we live wants to impregnate us with its neoliberal radioactive cloud, and wants to encourage us to confront ourselves in isolation against an increasingly hostile and precarious environment. The system wants us small and isolated, with only the concern of surviving between spiders and giant cats. Only from a collective and brave resistance can we rewrite the script, and see if we dwarf it, but if we dwarf it all together and equally, maybe then, we will be able to see that it is the system that is out of scale.

ACamille Orny Estan vivos: reaganomics del espacio o Debord reloaded

They live (1988)

Carteles publicitarios minimalistas que dicen OBEY, MARRY AND REPRODUCE, NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT, HONOR APATHY, REWARD INDIFERENCE, etc. Billetes que llevan tan solo GOD. Unos ejecutivos, polis, periodistas o pijos descarnados y arropados en una vestimenta que les cae ancha. Ese es el mundo que descubre John Nada, un sereno buscavidas, poniéndose unas gafas de sol que se dejaron atrás unos weirdos. En un abrir y cerrar de ojos lo tiene claro: hay que librar el mundo de esos alienígenas que lo están pudriendo todo.

Eso pasa en They live (Estan Vivos) de John Carpenter. El film asimila con grande comicidad la teoría crítica de la sociedad del espectáculo a un guión arquetípico de ciencia-ficción con apuntes etnográficos, conspiranoia y citaciones de action movie. Pero ante todo, They live trata una actualidad herviente, una actualidad que pasó a ser histórica: la de la crisis del petróleo del 86, consecuencia de las maniobras de liberalización de Reagan, elegido en el 81 y activo políticamente desde los sesenta. John Nada, físico de caché, greñas, Caterpillars, tejanos y camisa de franela, le dice a la emplada del wellfare de L.A. que trabajaba desde los diez años en Denver pero «things seemed to dry up. They lost fourteen banks in one week. So well…». Ella ni lo mira, «There’s nothing for you here.»

Nada es el héroe que toma conciencia de que el mundo es todo menos perfecto: una élite de extraterrestres con pinta de cadáveres en descomposición ha invadido el mundo en silencio, sin que nadie se entere. Su caballo de Troya es una antena y su tecnología, especial. Les confiere una apariencia humana y difunde órdenes totalitarios de forma subliminal, sometiendo pacíficamente a los humanos. En unos segundos planos, se ven incluso unos esquemas garabateados con tizas de la acción fisiológica de la antena en el cerebro que satirizan la banalidad y el positivismo idiota pero imbatible de la publicidad. El héroe elige unirse a la resistencia subterránea que intenta hackear la antena extraterrestre y cultivar la humanidad.

A las inversiones groseras operadas por la publicidad cuyos be diferent son incitaciones al gregarismo o por los mottos trillados que incitan al sacrificio campechano «be patient and believe in America, things are hard for everyone», Carpenter responde con otra inversión igualmente caricatural: los reaganianos son cuerpos podridos y ser humano es resistir porque «they live, we sleep».  No se olvida del cinismo eighties encarnado en un ejecutivo: «They’re going to let us have it good if we just help ‘em. (…) Now I know you want it- hell, everybody does. (…) What’s the threat, we all sell out everyday

They live se concluye con una distinguida mise-en-abîme: «All the sex and violence on the screen has gone too far for me (…) Filmmakers like George Romero and John Carpenter have to show some restraint.» dice un reportero en descomposición que no se ha enterado de que acaba de ser desenmascarado, live!


They are alive: space reaganomics or Debord reloaded

Minimalist advertising posters that say OBEY, MARRY AND REPRODUCE, NOT INDEPENDENT THOUGHT, HONOR APATHY, REWARD INDIFFERENCE, etc. Tickets that carry only GOD. Some executives, cops, journalists or pijos emaciated and clothed in a garment that falls wide. That is the world that John Nada discovers, a serene hustler, putting on some sunglasses left behind by weirdos. In the twinkling of an eye it is clear: you have to rid the world of those aliens that are rotting everything.

That happens in John Carpenter’s They Live. The film assimilates with great comicidad the critical theory of the society of the spectacle to an archetypical script of science-fiction with ethnographic notes, conspiranoia and citations of action movie. But above all, They Live deals with the current news, the news that happened to be historical: that of the oil crisis of 86, a consequence of the maneuvers of liberalization Reagan, elected in 1981 and politically active since the sixties. John Nada, Cache Physicist, Greasy, Caterpillars, Texans and Flannel Shirt, tells L.A. who worked from ten years in Denver but «things seemed to dry up. They lost fourteen banks in one week. So well … ». She does not even look at him, «There’s nothing for you here. »

Nothing is the hero who realizes that the world is anything but perfect: elite of aliens with the appearance of decaying corpses have invaded the world in silence, without anyone knowing. Your Trojan horse is an antenna and its technology is special. It gives them a human appearance and spreads totalitarian orders subliminally, subjecting humans peacefully. In a few seconds, you can even see scrawled scraps of the physiological action of the antenna in the brain that satirized banality and idiotic but unbeatable positivism of advertising. The hero chooses to join the underground resistance that attempts to hack the alien antenna and cultivate humanity.

To the gross investments operated by the advertising of which are different incitements to the gregariousness or by the tacit mottos that incite the campechano sacrifice «be patient and believe in America, things are hard for everyone», Carpenter responds with another investment equally caricatural in nature: the reaganianos are rotten bodies and human being is resisting because «they live, we sleep». Do not forget the cynicism the eighties embodied in an executive: «They’re going to let us have it good if we just help ‘em. (…) Now I know you want it, everybody does. (…) What’s the threat, we all sell out every day.»

They live concludes with a distinguished mise-en-abîme: «All the sex and violence on the screen have gone too far for me…» Filmmakers like George Romero and John Carpenter have to show some restraint. In decomposition, you have not heard that you’ve just been unmasked, live!

BMiguel Angel Rego Robles Es una anomalía en una democracia celebrar con monumentos

Elyzium (2013)

Es importante introducir este breve texto con una cita del escultor iraní Siah Armajani: «es una anomalía en una democracia celebrar con monumentos. Una democracia real no debe procurar héroes, ya que exige que cada ciudadano participe completamente en la vida cotidiana y que contribuya al bien público». Y así es cómo la verdadera intencionalidad de la democracia liberal se esconde bajo la cita y el monumento.

La representación del héroe y la del individualismo se dan de la mano en el cine de ficción hollywoodiense. Pondremos como ejemplo el caso de Elysium, dirigido por Neill Blomkamp y protagonizada por Matt Damon. Esta película es, bajo mi punto de vista, una fiel representación de esas capas de intencionalidad veladas del capitalismo actual. Capas previamente fagocitadas por este sistema, en forma de mercancía, que a su vez actúan como alimento simbólico en el imaginario colectivo de las sociedades democráticas-liberales.

La figura del héroe al que hace mención Siah Armajani, en este tipo de cine, se torna en la figura del ciudadano de a pie. Todos podemos ser mimetizados en la figura del monumento, como es el caso de Matt Damon, quien podría representar a cualquier persona inserta en este tipo de regímenes. Un héroe que da su vida para que todos tengamos las mismas oportunidades dentro de la democracia liberal. Que busca nuevos horizontes de felicidad cuando cualquier otro factor externo (estado, medio ambiente…) se presenta como un constreñimiento. Un héroe que se suicida para que su vida perdure, alimentando el sistema. Una fiel imagen de la unión que se ha venido dando hasta la fecha sin ningún cuestionamiento: el cristianismo o conservadurismo y el capitalismo. El ciudadano que cede su vida para que todos los demás puedan continuar en libertad, y que siempre será recordado y hecho mártir por la dualidad cristianismo-capitalismo. Matt Damon será perdonado por la cristiandad y alabado por sus congéneres capitalistas, al resolver el problema del elitismo en el acceso al mercado de lo exclusivo. En el caso de Elysium, la igualdad proviene de un status donde todos los habitantes de la tierra pueden tener acceso a la exclusividad que propone el mercado, en un primer estadio, pero sin coartarnos en la libertad de elección en otras facetas de la vida. Eso sí, nunca desde dentro del sistema, ya enfermo de sus abusos, sino colonizando nuevos territorios, y así sucesivamente.

Toda la tensión del filme, con Matt Damon como cara visible, es lo que para Mark Fisher caracteriza al capitalismo actual: «el capitalismo es una forma de sistema más voraz que los anteriores, ya que si había explotación, era patente. Con el capitalismo la explotación está desnuda y se torna en brutal.»


It is an anomaly in a democracy to celebrate with monuments

It is important to introduce this short text with a quotation from the Iranian sculptor Siah Armajani: «It is an anomaly in a democracy to celebrate monuments. A real democracy should not seek heroes, since it requires every citizen to participate fully in everyday life and contribute to the public good.» And this is how the true intentionality of liberal democracy hides behind the quotation and monument.

The representation of the hero and that of individualism go hand in hand in Hollywood fiction films. An example is the case of Elysium, directed by Neill Blomkamp, and starring Matt Damon. This film is, in my point of view, a true representation of those veiled layers of intentionality of present-day capitalism. Layers previously phagocytized by this system, in the form of merchandise, which in turn act as symbolic food in the collective imagination of democratic-liberal societies.

The figure of the hero to whom Siah Armajani mentions, in this type of cinema, is the figure of the ordinary citizen. We can all be mimicked in the figure of the monument, as is the case of Matt Damon, who could represent any person inserted in this type of regime. A hero who gives his life so that we all may have equal opportunities within a liberal democracy. One who seeks new horizons of happiness when all other external factors (state, environment …) are presented as varying forms of constraints. A hero who commits suicide for his life to last, thereby feeding the system. A faithful image of the union that has been given to date without any question: Christianity or conservatism and capitalism. The citizen who gives up his life so that all others can continue to live in freedom and that will always be remembered and martyred by the duality of Christianity-capitalism. Matt Damon will be forgiven by Christendom and praised by his capitalist counterparts, in solving the problem of elitism in market access to the exclusive. In the case of Elysium, equality comes from a status where all the inhabitants of the earth can have access to the exclusivity that the market proposes, in a first stage, but without restricting ourselves in the freedom of choice in other facets of life. Of course, never from within the system, which is already sick of its abuses, but from colonizing new territories, and so on.

All the tension of the film, with Matt Damon as a visible face, is what Mark Fisher characterizes as today’s capitalism: «capitalism is a form of system more voracious than the previous ones, since if there was exploitation, it was patent. With capitalism exploitation is naked and becomes brutal.»

CMarta van Tartwijk Cuando la cultura es un extraterrestre azul

Planete Sauvage (1973)

En 1957, en pleno conflicto colonial de Camerún y Argelia, Stefan Wul publica en Francia la novela de ciencia ficción Oms en série. Dieciséis años después, entre huelgas salvajes, manifestaciones pro-abortistas, conflictos étnico raciales derivados de una herida colonial todavía abierta, y un panorama internacional igual de desolador, con el golpe de estado en Chile, y la guerra del Yom Kipur, se estrena la adaptación al cine de Planete Sauvage, de Réné Laloux. En el ya archiconocido enfrentamiento extraterrestres vs. humanos, que se apoya en el clásico nosotros contra ellos, se escenifica una opresión que, a pesar de su dualismo algo simplista, puede funcionar como alegoría de gran parte de las problemáticas sociales y políticas.

La mecanización y naturalización de la opresión se realiza a través de la apelación constante al sentido común, ligado íntimamente a todo aquello que se genera en torno a las relaciones sociales, y a la producción y reproducción de formas de conocimiento, es decir a aquello que podemos entender como cultura. Esta aparece en el punto de mira como una herramienta que esconde un sistema de exclusión en su seno, y perpetúa los órdenes establecidos ya hablemos de clase, raza o género. La transmisión e interiorización de esta epísteme, funciona de esta manera como los ruedines de la cultura, el vehículo privilegiado que, en nuestro caso, es cabalgado por los intereses del capitalismo mercantil.

La educación concebida en tanto que transmisión de verdad unidireccional a un receptor pensado como un contenedor vacío que debe asimilar conocimientos, en este sentido, funciona como una herramienta política de poder, estableciendo baremos que apoyan la opresión social y afirman concepciones sexistas y elitistas, como sería la idea del coeficiente intelectual, defendida desde la sociobiología acuñada por E. O. Willson. De esta manera, la alfabetización cultural ha podido ser usada como un arma contra los considerados como culturalmente analfabetos, desprestigiando sus experiencias e historias como carentes de valor. Este esquema educativo unidireccional e incontestable se corresponde con modelos aún vigentes heredados de San Benito, presentes en la escolástica universitaria, y en la idea civilizadora de la ilustración, que acabaría engendrando el pensamiento industrial capitalista según Max Weber. De este modo, el oprimido percibe sus aspiraciones en las relaciones desiguales de poder, siendo la cultura hegemónica capaz de manufacturar sus sueños y deseos, premiando simbólica o materialmente en el dominado los comportamientos que perpetúan el orden establecido por la cultura dominante.

El proceso de hackear el conocimiento hegemónico, el abrir el código, modificándolo, apropiándoselo y poniéndolo al servicio de la comunidad, promoviendo una acción colectiva y empoderadora, se torna necesario para generar lo que Habermas identifica como conocimiento emancipador. Frente a una escuela que aboga por un adoctrinamiento, una formación desespecializada y universalista para la adaptabilidad a un mercado laboral fluctuante y un esquema de productividad flexible, se han enfrentado otros modelos desde la pedagogía crítica (Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux), o la cultura hacker (Corita Kent), que si bien no son la panacea, sí promueven una descentralización de la figura productora del saber, así como un libre acceso a la información que rompe con los privilegios establecidos de la cultura hegemónica.

Finalmente, el acto prometeico conduce a los Oms a su emancipación e independencia. No obstante, a lo largo del metraje no se produce una gestión de las relaciones de frontera, se mantiene una dicotomía, esta vez incluso más profusa y palpable en su fisicidad. El director evita el conflicto de mostrar cómo funciona este orden segregado, si existe una autosuficiencia y que relaciones de poder y privilegio se establecen ahora entre ambas partes. Este es sin duda uno de los conflictos latentes en todos aquellos espacios denominados como liberados, que abogan por una autonomía e independencia del sistema y el orden social, cultural y económico actual, mientras que en otro frente se defiende un cambio institucional que permita y facilite la transición y expansión a esos otros modelos. En conclusión, Laloux solo nos deja asomarnos a una rendija para intuir un aroma desolador disfrazado de final feliz, un niño Dragg aprendiendo mientras acaricia una nueva mascota.


When culture is a blue extraterrestrial

In 1957, in the midst of the colonial conflict in Cameroon and Algeria, Stefan Wul published in France the science-fiction novel Oms en série. Sixteen years later, between wildcat strikes, pro-abortion demonstrations, ethnic racial conflicts stemming from a still-open colonial wound, and an equally bleak international outlook, with the coup in Chile, and the Yom Kippur war, was the debut adaptation to the cinema of Planete Sauvage, of Réné Laloux. In the already well-known confrontation of extraterrestrials vs. humans, which is based on the classic we against them setting, an oppression is staged that, despite its rather simplistic dualism, can act as allegory of much of the social and political problems.

The mechanization and naturalization of oppression is done through constant appeal to common sense, intimately linked to everything that is generated around social relations and to the production and reproduction of forms of knowledge, that is to say, what we can understand as culture. It appears in perspective to be a tool that hides a system of exclusion in its bosom, and perpetuates the established orders whether we speak of class, race or gender. The transmission and internalization of this episteme, works in this way as the wheels of culture, the privileged vehicle that, in our case, is ridden by the interests of mercantile capitalism.

Education, conceived as a unidirectional truth transmission to a receiver thought to be an empty container that must assimilate knowledge, in this sense, functions as a political tool of power, establishing scales that support social oppression and affirms sexist and elitist conceptions, as would be the idea of ​​the IQ, defended from the sociobiology coined by EO Willson. In this way, cultural literacy has been used as a weapon against those considered as culturally illiterate, discrediting their experiences and stories as lacking in value. This unidirectional and incontestable educational scheme corresponds to models which are still in force inherited from San Benito, present in the university scholastic, and in the civilizing idea of ​​the illustration, that would end up generating the industrial capitalist thought according to Max Weber. In this way, the oppressed perceives their aspirations in unequal relations of power, being hegemonic culture capable of manufacturing their dreams and desires, symbolically or materially rewarding in dominating the behaviors that perpetuate the order established by the dominant culture.

The process of hacking hegemonic knowledge, opening the code, modifying it, appropriating it and putting it at the service of the community, promoting a collective and empowering action, becomes necessary to generate what Habermas identifies as emancipatory knowledge. Faced with a school that advocates indoctrination, unspecialized and universalist training for adaptability to a fluctuating labor market and a flexible productivity scheme, other models have been faced with critical pedagogy (Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux), or culture hacker (Corita Kent), who, while not the panacea, does promote a decentralization of the figure that produces knowledge, as well as free access to information that breaks with the established privileges of hegemonic culture.

Finally, the Promethean act leads the Oms to their emancipation and independence. However, during the entire duration of the footage there is no management of border relations, a dichotomy is maintained, this time even more profuse and palpable in its physicality. The director avoids the conflict of showing how this segregated order works, if there is self-sufficiency, and that relations of power and privilege are now established between the two parties. This is undoubtedly one of the latent conflicts in all those spaces denominated as liberated, that advocate for autonomy and independence of the system and the current social, cultural and economic order, while another front defends an institutional change that allows and facilitates the transition and expansion to these other models. In conclusion, Laloux only allows us peer into a slit to intuit a bleak scent disguised as a happy ending, a Dragg boy learning while stroking a new pet.

DObjetologías ¡Antes muerta! Políticas, fantasmas y sustancias inagotables

The Ghostbusters (1984)

¿Podéis imaginar la escena de un ágora donde discuten el fantasma de Piotr Kropotkin y Margaret Thatcher?, ¿Y si los fantasmas existieran?, ¿Cómo evolucionaría la sociedad de consumo que conocemos si la mayor parte de la población no tuviera la necesidad de consumir nada?, ¿Qué mecanismos de control surgirían y por parte de quien?, ¿Cazafantasmas?, ¿Cazavivos?, ¿Existiría burocracia dentro de la sociedad fantasma, sería compartida con los vivos o los fantasmas estarían exentos de impuestos ?, ¿Cómo se vería afectado el ámbito de la educación? Quizás nos encontraríamos con un superávit de profesores vocacionales.

Los fantasmas siempre han estado presentes en el folklore, el cine, la literatura y demás manifestaciones tanto personales como colectivas. A causa de creencias sin fundamento racional como la superstición, un gran número de personas, incluida mi madre, creen en la presencia de fantasmas. Éstos, tal y como su definición apunta, son figuras irreales, imaginarias o fantásticas, que alguien cree ver, especialmente, la imagen de una persona fallecida que reaparece.

En muchas películas, por ejemplo, los fantasmas también son capaces de intervenir en el espacio tangible que ocupan los humanos: exhumanos que siguen habitando e interactuando con su entorno. Y por supuesto, entes que siguen teniendo capacidades cognitivas, pulgar oponible y todo aquello que nos hace humanos excepto necesidades primarias o vida.  Así, juntando  cine y fantasmas, no podemos evitar pasar por alto un gran clásico: Ghostbusters (Los Cazafantasmas). Estrenada en España en los 80 para ser un éxito en taquilla, tener una BSO de muerte y un logotipo inmortal. Textualmente los Cazafantasmas capturaban a los fantasmas que no querían permanecer muertos (lo dice la voz en off en el mismo tráiler). Y esto me hace pensar: ¿Y quién querría permanecer muerto?

Ya que no puedo hacer una encuesta (y la Ouija me parece un mediador dudoso) figuraré el dato. Me baso en que a todas las personas que conozco vivas no les atrae para nada lo relacionado con la muerte, así que supondré que en el caso de morir no les haría gracia esto de permanecer muertas. Pero como existe la posibilidad de que la experiencia de morir les haga cambiar de opinión, me quedaré con la mitad del dato, entonces: Uno de cada dos fantasmas no quiere permanecer muerto. Bueno, ¿Y esto que implicaría?

Implica por ejemplo, que tendríamos una media de 200.000 fantasmas por año sólo en España, y estos se irían sumando año tras año. Aproximadamente en 40 años la población mundial de fantasmas superaría a la humana. No es difícil imaginar entonces que a día de hoy no existiría metro cuadrado en el planeta sin la presencia de un fantasma. En otras palabras: El mundo seria de los fantasmas.

Entonces, ¿Sería posible sostener el sistema económico-político que habitamos?, ¿Si la entidad potencial del planeta no tuviera necesidades biológicas, estaríamos conducidos a desarrollar un nuevo escenario sociopolítico y cultural?, ¿o quizás se acentuarían otro tipo necesidades para preservar el ecosistema capitalista? Desde la innecesidad de la muerte resulta más fácil, por ejemplo, desmantelar al propio capitalismo como nocivo, evitable e ineficiente. ¿Conduciría esto al suicidio, a la guerra entre vivos y muertos, o a la convivencia afable de todas las partes bajo un nuevo paraguas ecosistémico? En todo caso, y pese a grandes esfuerzos por cambiar las cosas en vida, estoy seguro de que muchos fantasmas, elegirían la opción de permanecer muertos después de ver lo que estamos haciendo con el legado que nos han dejado.


Dead before! Policies, ghosts and inexhaustible substances

Can you imagine the scene of an agora where they discuss the ghost of Piotr Kropotkin and Margaret Thatcher? What if ghosts existed? How would the consumer society evolve if a vast majority of the populace have no need to consume anything, and what control mechanisms would arise and from whom? Ghostbusters? Livebusters? Would there be bureaucracy within the ghost society, would taxation be shared with the living or the ghosts would be exempt from taxes? Would this affect the field of education? Perhaps we would find a surplus of vocational teachers.

Ghosts have always been present in folklore, film, literature and other manifestations, both personal and collective. Because of beliefs without rational foundation like superstition, a large number of people, including my mother, believe in the presence of ghosts. These, as their definition points out, are unreal figures, imaginary or fantasy, that someone believes to see, especially, the image of a deceased person who reappears.

In many films, for example, ghosts are also able to intervene in the tangible space occupied by humans: exhumans who continue to inhabit and interact with their environment. And of course, they are seen as those who still have cognitive abilities, opposable thumb and everything that makes us human except primary needs or life. Thus, putting together movies on ghosts, we cannot help but miss a great classic: Ghostbusters. Released in Spain in the 80’s to be a blockbuster, has a death BSO and an immortal logo. Textually, the Ghostbusters captured the ghosts who did not want to remain dead (the voice-over says in the same trailer). So this makes me think: who would want to remain dead?

Since I cannot conduct a survey (and the Ouija seems to me a dubious mediator) I will figure the data. I do so based on the fact that all the people I know alive are not attracted to anything related to death, so I will assume that in the case of dying, it would not be easy for them to remain dead. But since there is a possibility that the experience of dying will make them change their minds, I will stay with half the data, then: One in two ghosts does not want to remain dead. Well, what would that entail?

It implies, for example, that we would have an average of 200,000 ghosts per year in Spain alone, and these would increase year after year. In about 40 years, the world’s population of ghosts would outnumber the human population. It is not difficult to imagine then that today there would be no square meter on the planet without the presence of a ghost. In other words: The serious world of ghosts.

So, would it be possible to sustain the economic-political system that we inhabit? If the potential entity of the planet does not have biological needs, would we be led to develop a new socio-political and cultural scenario? Or, perhaps, other needs would be accentuated to preserve capitalist ecosystem? From the unnecessary death, it is easier, for example, to dismantle capitalism itself as being harmful, avoidable, and inefficient. Would this lead to suicide, to the war between the living and the dead, or to the friendly coexistence of all parties under a new ecosystem? In any case, and despite great efforts to change things in life, I am sure that many ghosts would choose the option to remain dead after seeing what we are doing with the legacy they have left.

FThe DAI Convention Movie nights coordinated by Sergi Selvas and Marina Vishmidt at the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem (NL), 2016-2017

DAI Con.

Movie nights coordinated by Sergi Selvas and Marina Vishmidt at Dutch Art Institute

This programme is the result of several conversations with students and tutors who have shown interest in creating a film sessions during DAI-weeks, and through which it is possible to open the discussion regarding the possible readings of each film and How to Do Things With Fiction (framework of this proposal). Therefore, we have organised four sessions during the year, with which to have great nights with drinks, popcorn and speculative long conversations.

Intersecting ‘speculation’ with ‘fiction’ as a productive or worldmaking mode brings us into the region of speculative fiction. Or, ‘science-fiction’, a genre endowed with specific aesthetic and conceptual powers to shift the reference base for understanding this shared but disjunctive moment.

The proposal, coordinated by Sergi Selvas, together with Marina Vishmidt, is open for any suggestion of movie, text or theme, in which all students, alumnis and tutors are invited to participate.

Movie nights are on Sunday:
23 October 15 January  12 February  23 April


Daikon (大根, literally «big root»), also known by many other names depending on context, is a mild-flavored winter radish (Raphanus sativus) usually characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long, white, napiform root. Originally native to Southeast or continental East Asia,[8] daikon is harvested and consumed throughout the region (as well as in South Asia).

AThe Signal (2007) A mysterious radio and television transmission turns people into killers.

The Signal

This is an horror film written and directed by independent filmmakers David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry. It is told in three parts, in which all telecommunication and devices transmit only a mysterious signal turning people mad and activating murderous behaviour in many of those affected.

The film’s three interconnected chapters («transmissions») are presented in a nonlinear narrative. Each of them manifests elements of (besides the overall genre of psychological horror), respectively, splatter film, black comedy, and a post-apocalyptic love story.

For this movie, we invite students to read some texts, but interpretations are free and discussion is open to anything:

Burroughs, William. «The Electronic Revolution«. UBU Classics, 2005

Dean, Jodi. «Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics«. Cultural Politics: an International Journal, 2005 vol: 1 (1) pp: 51-74

AAfronauts (2014) A ragtag group of Zambian exiles tries to beat America to the Moon.


A short film by Frances Bodomo, tells an alternative history of the nineteen sixties Zambian space program, the brainchild of Edward Makuka Nkoloso. A World War II veteran and school teacher, Nkoloso founded the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy and conscripted twelve astronauts into the country’s race to the moon, including Matha Mwambwa, a seventeen-year-old girl who eventually become the program’s lead cadet.

CCrumbs (2015) A figurine sized supermen hero embarks on an epic journey across Ethiopia.


Presented by Flora Woudstra.

Decades after the apocalypse and after extraterrestrial life has been discovered, the few inhabitants left in a hostile earth struggle to survive by squatting and rummaging to make ends meet. For many years, an alien spaceship has hovered in the skies, undisturbed and dormant, slowly rusting away. Tired of picking up the crumbs of gone-by civilizations, Gagano dreams of the day when he is not living in a state of perpetual fear. When the spaceship in the sky begins to turn on, and after a series of freak incidents in the bowling alley that Gagano and Selam call home, our miniature sized hero will be forced to embark on a surreal epic journey through this post apocalyptic Ethiopian landscape. As Gagano grapples with his fears, witches, Santa Claus and second generation Nazis, he discovers the memories that lead him on this journey might not be real.

The suggested text is «Objects, Others, and Us (The Refabrication of Things)» by Bill Brown

FSleep Dealer (2008) In a world marked by closed borders, migrants risk their lives to break through the barriers of technology, and unseal their fates.

Sleep Dealer

It depicts a dystopian future to explore ways in which technology both oppresses and connects migrants. A fortified wall has ended unauthorized Mexico-US immigration, but migrant workers are replaced by robots, remotely controlled by the same class of would-be emigrants. Their life force is inevitably used up, and they are discarded without medical compensation.

Memo Cruz (Luis Fernando Peña) is a young man in near-future Mexico. When his family is victim of a misguided drone attack he finds himself with no option but to head north, towards the U.S./Mexico border. But migrant workers cannot cross this new world border – it’s been sealed off. Instead, Memo ends up in a strange digital factory in Mexico where he connects his body to a robot in America. Memo’s search for a better future leads him to love, loss, and a confrontation with a mysterious figure from his past.

DTeknolust (2002) A bio-geneticist creates a recipe for cyborgs using her DNA in order to breed three Self Replicating Automatons.


Anxious to use artificial life to improve the world, Rosetta Stone, a bio-geneticist creates a Recipe for Cyborgs and uses her own DNA in order to breed three Self Replicating Automatons, part human, part computer named Ruby, Olive and Marine. The SRA’s act as ‘portals’ on the Internet, helping users to fulfill their dreams. The SRA’s are nourished through touch. Because they were bred only with Rosetta’s DNA, they need the balance of an Y chromo or male sperm to survive. Rosetta projects seduction scenes from movie clips onto Ruby, which absorbs as she sleeps. The SRA’S can not distinguish dreams from reality. Ruby acts out these scenes in real life with the men and shares her spoils with her sisters. However, Ruby’s encounters suffer from impotence and unexplained rashes. Fearing a bio-gender war, the FBI sends in Agent Edward Hopper to solve the mystery. Puzzled, he turns for help from a private cyber detective. The men recover. Ruby falls in love and becomes impregnated by Sandy, a xerox shop worker. The characters struggle to find love in a world that no longer needs sex to reproduce, a world that is changing and is populated with people who use provisional identities and are seen through virtual selves and a world where love is the only thing that makes things real.

EKin-dza-dza! (1986) Two Russians push the wrong button on a strange device and end up on the surreal planet Pluke.


Kin-dza-dza! (Russian: Кин-дза-дза!, translit. Kin-dzah-dza!) is a 1986 Soviet sci-fi dystopian black comedy cult film released by the Mosfilm studio and directed by Georgiy Daneliya, with a story by Georgiy Daneliya and Revaz Gabriadze. The movie was filmed in color, consists of two parts and runs for 135 minutes in total.

Like many of Daneliya’s works, Kin-dza-dza! represents a double entendre in terms of parody and features dark and grotesque aspects of humanity. It depicts a desert planet, depleted of its resources, home to an impoverished dog-eat-dog society with extreme inequality and oppression.