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Art and Sound in Dialogue with Posthuman Becoming and Fictioning

Celeste Viv Ly

An exploration into the modes in which art, sound practice, and other forms of cultural productions could be instrumentalised as access points from the present to alternative, egalitarian futures and contribute to the collective posthuman becoming. Specifically, it is examined through affect, embodiment, the concept of the permeable body, the notion of the gaze, discursively constructed realities, vital materialism, and the heterotopia among others. Through the analyses of selected works by Anicka Yi, Pierre Huyghe, and Dora Budor, it considers how speculative and science fiction, the concept of the permeable body, the open-ended interconnected assemblage of entities and agency, the prosthesis, and non-newtonian materials could be potentialised in the construction of the becoming posthuman bodies to obsolete classification and categorisation and envision an ideological and material outside from existent power structures.

In the repudiation of the enlightenment ideals, various approaches in the field of posthumanities have become an anchor and a stating point to rethink the position of the human in connection to other species and the nonliving. To counter the stagnant and repressive structures of liberal humanism that has its foregrounding during the enlightenment, theories by Hayles, Braidotti, and Haraway among others has expanded upon the means of conceptualising the posthuman. Through deconstruction the notion of the ‘natural’ self, the posthuman arises as human intelligence and intelligent machines are produced in interoperation, and the body acts as a prosthesis of the mind. Braidotti recounts the contemporary lineage of and debates around the posthuman in her recent publications and contemplates on the posthuman as capable of fostering possibilities of understanding our already multiplicit and flexible identities in gauging the effects of post-anthropocentric thoughts. In the volatile present, other forms of agency have given new meaning of what is essentially a negation of the previous conjectures we have assumed about life and its other forms. In a recent article responding to the pandemic, Hayles reflects with urgency upon how virality could be a form of posthuman despite how it is often portrayed with an antagonistic undertone. Virality becomes one of the most the contemporaneous modes of posthuman living/nonliving forms that completely dismiss human intentions in a way that the reconstruction of realities by politicians is paused in favour of more fact-based approaches and policies before politics. It also forcefully illustrates other kinds of evolutionary strategies that favour simplicity for rapid proliferation over cognitive complexity adopted by humans in achieving dominance. This not only sheds light upon how humans are species in common in a way that cultural ethnic and other differences could be rendered obsolete in such circumstances of the planetary scale but also on how different species and artificial agents interpenetrate, interdependent with each other in the collective shaping of the shared world.

Referencing the lessons from virality, the strategies that have emerged, and counterstrategies adopted by humans, I would explore how the body mutates and becomes adapted to its various renditions in the contemporary imaginary and the posthuman body in becoming in some of the contemporary artistic practice in the recent decades in response to sociopolitical, ecological and cultural concerns.

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