In the posthuman condition (we as organic machines and machines as increasingly alive) a new kind of embodiment is happening; the condition of ongoing transformation from virtual, to machine-flesh-embodied and back again.
The sensorium is no longer simply the senses; the notion of meta-senses expands the sensorium to the context dependent greater sensorium, the ensemble of higher order intermediate connections made by the mind to create a whole world of perceptual/emotional/cognitive experiences. These memory and meaning laden but relatively fragmentary experiences are continuosly integrated to become the stable (but fluid) thing we call the self.
In the posthuman condition this greater sensorium is expanded prosthetically and so our minds, our selves are distributed across hybrid platforms. In a reciprocally interacting process, what is expanded is not only how we perceive/transform information but what we in turn create with our distributed selves to perceive. In this reciprocal process, successively elaborating the form, shape, sound, touch of virtual reality means we are also transforming ourselves. This powerful transformation is moving inexorably in a direction, towards a self which is fluid, a self which is natively distributed and prosthetically extended across technological platforms; and a self whose orientation and interest is turning away from the natural and turning preferentially toward synthetic experience.
I have always been interested in intimacy. The power to engage in the brushstrokes of a Velazquez portrait, or in Rembrandt's Toilet of Bathsheba, depends upon creating a feeling of intimacy with the flesh (the paint), and with the mind, the mind of the character in the painting, the mind of the artist, and the mind or world of the painting itself.
My 3D computer animations bring a new subtle slow, deep and complex emotionality to a 3D character. In Rose Breathing (2003), a synthetic rose, whose petals are reminiscent of flesh, rhythmically opens and closes in human like respiration. In Yawn, and Woman Waking_Paper Dissolve (2006) a virtual monochrome gray woman, mysteriously natural yet obviously artificial, undergoes a series of ambiguously but deeply expressive transformations, blurring the boundaries between the "real" physical world and the virtual one. At times she looks almost human, at times more canine or reptilian or like a planetary body orbiting in space. The viewer is induced to wonder: "What is she thinking? What is she feeling?"
In my newest 3D computer animations (in progress) I am bringing a sensibility to the virtual world beyond the hype and newness, to a more settled level of assimiliation, the moment in a relationship when there begins to be a feeling of comfort, a transition from uncertainty, unknowing, to some predictability and with that a sense of freedom, hope, naturalness and humor. In Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Real animals are prized over their electric imitations. It's a bit frightening to wake up one day noticing a change in this attitude- the synthetic things have their lives too, and maybe they are just as, if not more, interesting.
Andrea Ackerman Bio
Independent artist and writer Andrea Ackerman lives in New York. Exhibition venues include the San Jose Museum of Art (Brides of Frankenstein curator: Marcia Tanner), Wood Street Galleries (Allure Electronica), La Galleria d'Arte di Monfalcone, Chelsea Art Museum, New Forms Festival and others. Public collections include the San Jose Museum of Art. She has spoken at San Jose Museum of Art, Kingston University (London), New Media Caucus Panel "Can Geeks Be Humanists"? CAA 2007. Her writings include the catalog essay for the exhibition "Can We Fall in Love with a Machine?", Wood Street Galleries, and "Synthetic is More Sensuous", an essay for an upcoming issue of Senses and Society compiled by Niran Bahjat-Abbas.