BONUS# Bio Is The New Black🐙 Vampyroteuthis as a bioluminescent lighthouse to think under the livings 🦑
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Pour ce bonus de Bio Is The New Black diffusée dans l’émission CPU Carré Petit, Utile de radio FMR, nous vous proposons une adaptation anglaise de la création radiophonique du vampyroteuthis infernalis.
La lecture du texte est interprétée par Wayne Blackwood.
L’origine de cette création est une conférence-performance donnée lors du festival du poulpe édition 2019 à Marseille.
📓Le texte français de la fiction radiophonique a été co-écrit avec Anthony Masure.
Introduction à la création radiophonique
Élancé, au bord du promontoire, tu t'apprêtes à hisser ton corps. Tu esquisses un premier plongeon. Bienvenue dans Bio is the new Black.
Dans ce bonus, j’aimerai te faire découvrir une création radiophonique. Cette fiction, je l’ai co-écrite avec Anthony Masure. Elle est inspirée d’un ouvrage : le Vampyroteuthis Infernalis de Vilém Flusser et de Louis Bec. Nous l’avons présenté une première fois lors du festival du poulpe les pieds dans l’eau, dans une piscine naturelle, au vallon des Auffes de Marseille. J’ai retravaillé cette création sonore pour une conférence organisée par la Vilém Flusser Archives : Vilém Flusser and “his languages”, qui se tiendra en ligne les 29 et 30 juin 2020. J’ai écrit à nouveau cette fiction, en orientant plus franchement mes réflexions sur les vivants. Je l’ai traduit avec la précieuse aide de mon ami Wayne Blackwood qui interprète également ce texte.
Tu es prêt.e ? On y va, je t’emmène dans les abysses du vampyroteuthis infernalis.
Act 1 : The Vampyroteuthis Infernalis
Vampire squid from hell
I’m going to tell you a tale. A story coming from the abyss. A story that interrogates the human condition. It’s o ne about a cephalopod, cousin to the octopus and to the squid, living thousands of meters under the ocean’s surface.
He is our absolute alterity.
This particular species was found in the china seas at the end of the 17th century, during a large scientific expedition: Valdivia. In this era, the German, Carl Chun identified the animal as belonging to the octopus family. Fished it, and brought it back dead to the surface of our lands for closer study.
However, he is neither an octopus nor a squid and baffles our scientific taxonomy. Moreover, his eyes and brain strangely resemble ours.
Tell me Darwin : why have you separated vampys and humans into so many branches on the tree of life? Tell me, can we remove ourselves from your linear model?
Today, we can observe the vampyroteuthis infernalis with the help of a submarine, going thousands of meters deep. Some humans observe them: they call them “Octopus with ears”.
We’ve even built a high pressure aquarium to accommodate him to our floor’s surface in california. We reproduce his habitat to observe vampyroteuthis.
He possesses his own specific order, that of the Vampyromorphida.
The water that I find all around me is at the surface of his underworld, we have to descend, into the deep, to find this incredible vampiric being.
Just imagine for a moment, that the mirror of our existence appears through an octopod creature. A deforming mirror, metaphorical, incredible, impossible. Through this cephalopode, we can find a direction based on total otherness.
What does it look like?
The vampire of the abyss can measure up to 12 meters in diameter. His jelly-like coat varies from black velvet to pale red, depending on the place and the lighting conditions. One membrane of skin links his eight arms, each arm is lined with prickles which could be either fleshy or sharp; inside of this “casing” is black. Only half of the furthest extremities of the length of the arms has suction cups and photophores. The color of his bulging eyes ranges from red to blue depending on the lighting. The adults have a pair of paddle, which resembles fins or ears, projecting from the lateral side of their coat.
When he moves them, the Vampire of the Abyss seems to fly in the water.
From a metabolic view point: everything opposes us.
Evolution has made us two-legged beings, preferring an upright posture and walking. But with this mollusc, it's the other way around: the head coincides with the feet and the mouth is much closer to the anus.
Vampyroteuthis lives in a spiralling world: his line is a circle.
The vampire of the abysses is entirely covered in organs that produce light, called photophores. The animal has a great control over these organs, and is capable of producing flashes of light every fraction of a second, for minutes at a time, to disorient predators.
The vampyroteuthis produces clouds, called sepia, which floats in the water
These biological attributes are the manifestations of intra-specific highly refined communication.
As distant as the vampire of the abyss may seem to be, we share with him the particularity of a psyche beset by an environment of very complex information.
Close your eyes, imagine :
A luminous animal, with a cape.
At first tucked under himself,
He must spread his coat to open to the world
He is literally capable of absorbing the world
He is a harmless vampire
His cape is a lure. A game played on the perception of others
He is ok with feeding himself with the rain of planktons which float peacefully around him
His favourite food is glowing snow that crosses the deep
Man comes from the continents
The vampyroteuthis from the abyss
We aspire to the light
He buries himself in darkness
If our species is relatively recent
his species dates back to the oldest times
He doesn’t tolerate the air that we breathe
Whereas we would be crushed by the pressure of the depths where he lives
He is mollusc
Man thinks in two dimensions.
Vampyroteuthis in three.
Man is cartesian
Vampyroteuthis is dynamic
We experience the earth, we manipulate it with our hands
He absorbs the world, its representation is experiential
We work for God
He works for the devil
“Vampyroteuthis comprehends the world thanks to eight tentacles that surround the mouth, originally destined to suck in food and bring it close to the mouth. Therefore the world apprehended by him is a fluid and liquid world that precipitates into vampyroteuthis. His purpose in knowing the world is to digest it. His eight tentacles are extremities of his digestive apparatus. Here resides the most radical difference between human and vampyroteuthian epistemology: that for man, knowing is a gesture that advances against the world, an active gesture, and that for Vampyroteuthis, knowing is a gesture that grasps the world, a passive gesture. We men know with the aim of resolving “problems”, and Vampyroteuthis knows with the aim of discriminating between the “influences” and impressions” that he suffers.”
(Vilém Flusser, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis , trad. du portugais par Rodrigo Maltez Novaes, New-York, Atropos Press, 2011, p71)
The hand and the tentacle
Two ways to perceive the world
Two diverging arts
Who speaks for the cephalopod? Who for the Vampy? How does the vampyroteuthis infernalis think? What if the vampy possesses his own culture, a specific way of inhabiting the abyss?
Act 2 : Vampyroteuthian Art
In his eternal night the vampy uses light to communicate. He is able to transmit light information up to many minutes, to give them a specific form.
From the tip of his arm, he ejects a cloudy and sticky mucus, bioluminescent, containing innumerable orbs of blue light.
It can be an instantaneous gesture, or a longer movement. His body is his canvas, his tool for transmitting information.
For us, art withstands time: paintings, statues, cathedrals reside in an eternal form.
In the abyss, materials do not last.
But who between human beings or vampyrotheuthis, would like to be forgotten?
Art, the practice we characterise as human, opposes nothingness. It inscribes information in stone, wood, and every other medium. Art is a way to transmit these information for eternity.
From the view point of the vampyroteuthis, human art is derisory. In his liquid habitat, only biological and genetical information can settle in time. The vampy has already established the synthesis of genetical and informational art.
The purpose of art, which is transmitting information into stable objects, doesn’t work: art becomes intersubjective and immaterial.
The vampy does manipulate, however, sorts of objects. Particular objects. Biological objects, living, ephemeral.
He can give form to those clouds, he can emit light, activate the bioluminescence of his body. Certainly, he uses it to escape his predators. But most importantly, to transmit information. This information aims at deceiving its receiver.
Art, for the vampy is trickery
“ it’s rape of another, aiming at the immortalisation in another—art as a strategy of rape, hate; art as trickery, as fiction, as a lie; art as a deceptive appearance, and so as “beauty” –the whole in an orgastic atmosphere.”
(Vilém Flusser, Vampyroteuthis infernalis [1981-1987], trad. de l’allemand par Christophe Lucchese, Bruxelles, Zones Sensibles, 2015, p.61, traduction personnelle)
Our world filled with objects is a perfidious world. The object resists information: the marble remains a marble. And the marble is destroyed over time.
Human art is not the incarnation of the beautiful. Art is the realisation of an individual’s experiences in an object. All at once: his knowledge, his values and his sensations.
It's a way to dialogue with the eternal.
Yet the vampy doesn’t bind himself to objects and isn’t fulfilled through them. For Vampy, eternity is acquired in otherness.
Tentacles, chromatophores, sepia clouds, bioluminescence go beyond objects. The vampy doesn’t rub against the resistance of materials but those of the spirits that reside in others.
What’s happening today while our information is stored in cybernetic programmes? Whats happening now that biological information can be purposely manipulated by design?
The Vampy is the incarnation of the convergence of molecular biology and cybernetics. His world is populated by biological information, ephemeral. And already, its conduct is one of a programmer. The vampy plays with the conscience of its peers. He lures them with biological information, he tricks them. His art is pernicious.
The programmes appear to us. The Vampy lives already in this world of programmes. He knows. He doesn’t try to oppose himself against cultural, genetic, computational relational programmes. In his anatomy, the world is a network of information of a diverse nature. To survive these programmes, he becomes a programmer himself, a player, and manipulates living information. He is at the same time totalitarian power and resistance. The vampy has agreed to the absurd nature of existence. He doesn’t try to make sense of it. Neither should we look for meaning in his actions.
Art becomes intersubjective and immaterial.
With the automation of machines, the object becomes a piece of junk. A merchandise. A consumer product. But, the machine, the device, for the Vampy becomes the organism itself. What exo-somatic devices will we use to orient us in a world populated with invisible and intersubjective conscience?
We live in the world with our values, we inhabit it with our situated vision: our perspective is already a point of no vision. The microscopes and the telescopes open up to us new worlds, through giving us new devices of perception. Uniqueness no longer makes any sense.
We are thousands of living beings, micro-organisms, external forces and dynamics which live in symbiosis. Wanting to give a single meaning to life and to think that we can take control of it, is absurd.
Must we negotiate? Make new arrangements? The art of the object is substituted by an art of meeting and arrangement. Performances and installations.
Imaginary warriors, dualists, of conquest, that of the good guys versus the bad guys, friends or enemies, order or harmony. The weak or the strong. The submissive and the dominant. the master and the slave. The pawn and the player. These imaginations kill us. There are only particular situations, layouts that offer us new ways of being in the world. There is no big battle card of the living to conquer and submit to our laws.
The genius doesn't exist.
We are programmers as much as we are programmed, the players and the pawns. Our art has to become an art of meeting.
Make no mistake
We are not vampyroteuthis and will never be.
We don't live in the abyss, the black darkness of an eternal night.
We are bipedal, who think about the world with our hands.
We must search in him the ambivalence, contradiction and immersion that the surface is keeping from us.
Act 3 : Our Vampyroteuthian World
At thousands of meter deep, the abyss houses an octopodal being
And, if it is possible today, by science, to synthesize an artificial vampyroteuthis or to design a hybrid human-vampyroteuthis, that is not the interest of this fable..
We walk on the surface of the oceans. The fossils of vampy found in the Voulte-sur-Rhône reminds us of this. The vampy was here long before us, squated in the depths, and he’s beginning to leave the abyss. He goes back through geological times and mingles with our digital habits.
The vampy’s world is our own
We are, ourselves, bodies being vampyroteuthized, constantly on the alert of immaterial information, ephemeral, intersubjective. Our critical apparatus must grab at a fluid and centripetal world. We must learn from the vampyroteuthis.
Right now, you are subject to total vampyroteuthising. We are the ones who are being raped by the spirits.
We, humans being of the twenty first century, would be on the verge of being vampyroteuthized.
This may appear strange to you.
He lives thousands of meters deep.
At this distance, the pressure is huge.
Night is eternal, but sound travels very well.
At this distance, only few animals survive due to the lack of oxygen and acidity of the environment
These abysses are also our own.
Let’s think of the contemporary situation, at least the western one, loaded with all kinds of sensors and probes: cameras, geolocation devices, etc.
Let us also think of the masses of information circulating on the communication networks. Bombarded with notifications, e-mails, solicitations, information and misinformation of all kinds, we find it increasingly difficult to find our way around in a world entirely built up of digital data. The technical environment of digital technologies, that of computing and computer programming languages, is a world of the invisible, prey to the worst manipulations, but also open to forms of creation that are still largely unexplored.
Like the vampyroteuthis, we are immerge in this environment
Splashing around in data like fish in a small pool of water, we don't know anymore how to “filter” what goes on in us, which infiltrates our subjectivities without us realizing it.
Think of the great collapses of the living happening and those to come. Their hunt, their provision of an immoral and irrational design..
Think of the exploitation of animal, vegetal and human life. We must try the experience of living as a bird, as a wolf, as a forest, as a coral reef, as a pigeon, as an octopus, like a jellyfish, an algae: the vampy will be our bioluminescent lighthouse in this quest. We must, we humans, designers, artists, scientists, come back to things themselves. Don't tempt the omniscient eye, don't try to lock the living into a big battlefield where we would be the winners.
We are looking for new metaphors and new stories to understand the real.
And that's where the octopus of the abyss comes in, whose geographic and temporal remoteness acts as a mirror of our contemporary condition. We have to go down into the abyss.
Without light, at thousands of meters deep, maybe even further, the ocean region where the Vampyroteuthis Infernalis lives, is an environment with poor oxygen. This darkness, this condition of the invisible, is comparable to the fascination we feel for “black boxes”, technological devices which are shaping our daily lives. Henceforth, could we learn from the octopus how to “navigate” with ease and elegance in this rain of plankton? Could he teach us to “sort out” what is unintelligible to us?
To seek in the octopodal model, a new way of telling the world that flows in us.
To seek in his deception ways to guide us in this world.
We need to create other para-natures, “methods parallel to the natural sciences, but which advances in the other areas of the real.”
We could create other ways of perceiving the world.
The Nature that we see is a nature of modern biology and natural sciences.
It's a unique nature. This uniqueness doesn’t exist.
We need to create new entities, new stories and new images.
🔘 Le bonus a été shippé avec les moyens techniques de Bio is the new black. Une émission complète en français a été diffusée dans l’émission CPU. Retrouvez l'intégralité du programme, des extraits et nos sources sur le site cpu.pm/138 et sur la plateforme ausha.
👩🏫 Le podcast est présenté à la Conference 2020, Vilém Flusser and His “Languages”, organisé par la Vilém Flusser Archive les 29 et 30 juin 2020. Le texte ci-dessous présente la conférence dans laquelle s’inscrit la version anglaise du podcast.
Vampyroteuthis as a bioluminescent lighthouse to think under the livings. Some mutations : From 1981 to 1991.
Full article : here
Vampyroteuthis Infernalis is known to be a philosophical fiction (Moles). Flusser describes an abyssal creature, opposites in every points with human. From 1981 to 1991, the book mutates with the writing process of Flusser engaging with letters, oral dialogues, essay writings and traduction. There is a genealogy of the vampy from the french version to the brazilian one. The fantasy becomes little by little the metaphor of the human postmodern condition within the media. Thus, the vampy as an apparatus, could permit us to navigate in the cybernetic world we inhabit (Citton). This gesture might be to consider this biological animal as a way of thinking in the information age. One opposite movement is also possible, and, as far as we know, not yet explored. It is the following:
How can the philosophy of Flusser's programs, embodied in the phenomenology of vampyroteuthis, serves as a lighthouse in the "moment of the living" (Worms) that we are going through nowadays?
By comparing the different versions of the vampy from the french to the brazilian one, we propose to analyse the vampyroteuthis inputs to the thinking of the livings. In this regard, the french version, which is the first unpublished version of the tapuscrit given as a gift to his friend the artist Louis Bec, deals with an important scientific context. First, we have to note the existence of the french molecular school of biology with Jacob and Monod, and the presence of thinkers such as Bergson and Canguilhem. In this moment, the late 1960, biology is linked with the code by DNA discovery: that’s the moment of molecular biology. With phenomenology, Flusser enables us to inhabits deeper living aspects such as randomness and necessity. He explains how these two concepts are linked into programs (Post-History). Without footnoting him, Flusser quote here the french biologist Monod.
Also, the current proposition wants to present another mutation into a media creation, in an episode of a podcast that we create, called, Bio is the new black. The vampy here becomes a text and an radiophonic creation reading by a comedian, that goes with a mobile website.
Biography Elise Rigot
Elise Rigot is a doctoral student and a teacher at the University Toulouse - Jean Jaurès. Her thesis in design (LLA-CRÉATIS and LAAS-CNRS) deals with the f(r)ictions between design and nano-bio-technologies. She is the author of a podcast (FR), Bio Is The New Black, dealing with design and bio-manufacturing technologies.
🌊 Fonds sonores de la création radiophonique :
- Epliglottis, album Selfish Rituals, Tranquility
- Radio Phaune, Tiny Tunes, Metamorphoses: Frog
- Radio Phaune, Tiny Tunes, Metamorphoses: Water
- Robertina Šebjanič, Aquatocene
- Cheryl E. Leonard, Confluences
- Epliglottis, album Selfish Rituals, Star Crossed Align
- Yell, FountainPainPot
- David Toop, Dry keys echo in the dark and humid early hours
- Radio Phaune, Tiny Tunes, Metamorphoses: Starfish
🎹 Musique :
- 1. Para One et Arthur Simonini, Bande originale du film La Jeune fille en Feu, (2019)