Molecula Simianus En Balloonus Animalia Meet Nanotubular Lepidoptera, 2009
Shane Hope's solo show opens at Winkleman Gallery tomorrow, Fri, June 26, 2009:
June 26 – August 1, 2009
Opening: Friday, June 26, 6-8 PM
637 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
Summer Gallery Hours: Tue - Fri, 11-6 PM
more images and info @ Winkleman Gallery
Article via Rhizome.org:
Shane Hope’s sprawling prints can’t be processed with one or two looks. They are built on thousands of tiny details, rather than around a single focal point, and as the eye travels across the picture field, it sees lines and pieces accumulating in recognizable bodies and then collapsing into chaos, or maybe an order that can’t be discerned by the naked eye. Hope calls them Molecular Modeling prints, or “Mol Mods,” and they are informed by his belief that “the molecule is the brushstroke of the future”—that nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on a molecular scale, will transform industry sometime soon. For now, Hope’s tools are coding languages Python and Perl. Because of the Mol Mods’ size he can only work on one screen-sized swath at a time, and because of their complexity, that is all that can be rendered even on Hope’s homemade desktop, which he proudly calls "faster than any factory-built Mac on the planet.”
“Your Mom Is Open Source,” an exhibition of Hope’s work at Winkelman Gallery that opens Friday, features Mol Mods as well as the series “Compile-A-Child,” imagined school assignments by artificial kids (only the latter are reproduced here, because the Mol Mods lose too much when shrunk to bloggable dimensions). Hope’s art is a visual analogy to hard science fiction, a genre where authors base their narratives on projected technologies rather than transposing contemporary dramas to a fantasized, futuristic stage. For viewers poorly versed in hard sci-fi, the conceptual platform of Hope’s work can be opaque; the announcement for “Your Mom Is Open Source” concludes with a mystifying list of keywords, both of his own coinage and borrowed from the fields of his interest. Hope agreed to discuss some of them here.
In an analogy to the breakdown of modern physics near a gravitational singularity, Vernor Vinge defined the Singularity as a theoretical future point which takes place during a period of accelerating change sometime after the creation of a superintelligence, an artificial brain more intelligent and creative than the human mind. Hard sci-fi authors, as well as professional forecasters, realized some two decades ago that nobody could realistically write about anything occurring past this Singularity. Far-flinging extrapolations could be flung no further. Simply put, they realized that we were inching toward inventing the next inventors and couldn't presume to imagine their imaginings. Futurological films and other envisionings became sort of mostly doomed to deploy dystopic dramatic drivel—a.k.a. disasterbation—because it's plainly more possible, however implausible, to picture a future having fallen into decay than having been sustainably built. An exponentially divergent Posthuman technocracy couldn't necessarily be pictured as a trompe-l'œil, for it was as likely that everything would be powderized into fuzzy storms of computational matter as it was that advanced augmentations would invisibly piggy-back upon what looked no different from the current everyday reality.
A Transhumanist actively trend-spots technological trajectories with special emphasis upon feasible applications toward radical yet relatively safe human enhancements. A Transhuman proper accelerates artificial selection by early-adopting resultant enhancements, thereby willfully functioning as bio/non-bio sub-species set on transitioning into a Posthuman. A Posthuman is post, that is to say no longer strictly human... i.e. Homo evolutis. A vitally important take-away assumption of all this: Clearly, we go from growing ourselves to building ourselves.
Nanofacture, aka Molecular Manufacturing / Assembly, is atomic-scaled precise fabrication of, well, ultimately just about anything. Rapid dissemination of this capability could catapult our kind into post-scarcity, i.e. by printing printers. Basically, by developing nanofacturing, we teeter toward twisting objects (and life) into existence at ever smaller scales. The precision placement of atoms is poised to become the new pen, conflating or at the very least problematizing pictorial representation and objecthood.
If you know where/how to look, you'll discover that some of the more awe-inspiring contemporary hard-sci-fi speculations regarding superintelligences involve not so much disasterbatory apocalypses nor runaway self-replicating molecular machines, but rather accounts of augmented children. Additionally, AI field experts now posit that the first artificial general intelligences will aptly be raised in online virtual worlds. And of course, there's Marvin Minsky's answer to whether AIs will inherit the earth: "Yes, but they will be our children." True, we routinely will all to our descendants. The more important latent point here to consider is that we ought to take great care in birthing/building these mind-children. AIs will arise in any case. The good news is that, in the wake of this understood eventuality, plenty of investigations now underway aim to proactively explore issues of machine morality in order to precautionarily engineer friendly AIs.
Not certain I've coined the term “transubstrational,” but I use it to concisely communicate the likelihood of living/thinking/existing in or across substrates. By substrate, I mean the material within or upon which our default, for now human, general intelligence system operates, i.e. biology. As we technologically augment ourselves, we'll ontologically wiggle our way out of the current default substrate of biology and into/across novel material structures. Most are warily familiar with the concept of uploading, that is, the transfer of a personality from the biological human brain to a suitable synthetic computing device in order to allow easier upgrading of intelligence, self-modification, and backup of the self. To counteract the reactionary yet somewhat justifiable concern over what could be considered an essentialization of our ridiculously complex human personalities, some amend that uploading will be gradual, almost unnoticeable, proceeding update by update, right up until we upgrade. Personally, I prefer to explain it in this willful way: We will think our way across.