Philosophy of Technology

Manufacturing Human_Eve's Choice

On April 19, 2020, the 8th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture with the theme of “Urban Interaction” officially ended. PILLS's main exhibition work, “Manufacturing Human_Eve's Choice,” won the Academic Council Award out of more than 140 exhibitors from 24 countries (4 entries).   Manufacturing Human: Eve's Choice A female puppet, pieced together by a precise computer subdivision, huddles on a luminous glass floor. Wrapped in clear plastic, she attempts to free herself with one hand while holding a bite-sized apple in the other. Each of her joints is productively linked, meaning she possesses the standardized characteristics of a humanoid. The internal and external environments are communicated by pipelines, as if a womb is conceiving her. Her body is bound by membranes while being entangled by pipelines at the same time. The pipelines seem to provide energy to her but also restrain her actions. The puppet lies in a dark room, where the only light source is a glass floor illuminated by LEDs. Artificial darkness and light arrogantly distinguish the world of the puppet from the world of nature. She is being nurtured in a completely artificial womb and seems to be about to awaken in the lost paradise.   The Lost Paradise There were two trees In the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Wisdom. Yahweh said to Adam and Eve, “Do not eat of the tree of wisdom, for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” This is the only commandment God has given to humans. The serpent tempted Eve by saying, “Eat of the fruit of the tree of wisdom, and your eyes will be enlightened, and you will be like God who knows good and evil, and you may not die.” The choice Eve faced, ostensibly between obeying God or disobeying God, was between wisdom and life. Eve's choice of wisdom meant that she hung her life in the balance between life and death and was destined to suffer for her limited life. Compared to the world's other animals, man has neither sharp claws nor fur to protect him from the cold, and with his heavenly body alone, his sphere of activity on earth is so small that any disaster or climatic change can destroy him. Bernard Stiegler, a French philosopher, said that it was because Epimetheus had forgotten to leave these life-preserving attributes to mankind. Epimetheus's forgetfulness also forced Prometheus to steal technology and fire from the ancient Greek gods. For Stigler, this is a metaphor for the destiny of the human race: flaws exist and will inhabit a prosthetic, technological destiny. Unlike other animals, human evolution is not the evolution of life itself. Human evolution is externalized and accomplished in a world constituted by technology. That is, both human ontology and human history are indistinguishable from their instrumental world, and human beings are reinventing themselves as they create tools. The Poisonous Apple The apple is a symbol of the forbidden fruit, which has become a contemporary technological totem since the rise of cyber culture. And the apple that has been bitten off, it seems, has become the symbol of all intelligent electronic devices. Alan Turing's death has made the poisonous apple a religious metaphor for technology. The Internet of Things, connected to the cloud, has become the new living environment for human beings. Marshal McLuhan, a media theorist, considers the electronic medium as an extension of the human being. From another perspective, media may also be an “amputation” of human beings. The ubiquitous Internet of Things has become humanity's new artificial limb. Human beings, inseparable from their smartphones and tablets, have become so accustomed to search from the sea of archives where information can be searched and accessed at any time that their spirit and body have to be redefined. Death has been used to describe the depletion of batteries, and wires and fiber optics are not only the lifeline of the Internet of things, but of humanity itself. André Leroi-Gourhan argues that human evolution is all about externalizing ourselves, while other animals take species adaptation inwardly. Since the Neanderthals, human beings have chosen a cyborg fate in terms of their biological attributes, and have become dependent on externalized technology. The evolutionary history of modern human beings can be seen as a history of the degradation of animality and the enhancement of exogenous technological capabilities, which not only produce humans, but also make them “human” . Manufacturing Human Now that the biological nature of human beings and their abiotic environment have become irreversibly coupled, it is difficult to define the boundary between human ontology and historical shaping. From a physical point of view, the human senses have been completely externalized, with the Internet becoming the most direct source of information for most people. French philosopher Goerges Canguilhem wrote in his book Normal and Pathology, “If the environment is not taken into account, the so-called health will be an empty concept.” Due to the ubiquitous technological medium between the natural environment and the human body, the internal balance of the human body is not only defined by nature but also by technology. This also means that what is called normal can only be normal in an artificial environment, and supported by artificial energy. Michel Foucault, one of Ganguilhem's students, extended Ganguilhem's study of biology to the “soul.” Everything outside the human body is constantly being redefined by psychology, as well as the state of their bodies, by technology and tools. Through the evolution of tools and technology, human is constantly creating a mirror image of his non-biological self, not only creating tools, but also revising the definition of mankind. Adam, in the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting of Genesis, touches God's index finger with his. Eve, lying on the ground, also stretches out her hand reluctantly, as if to touch the viewers of the exhibition, so that they can give her consciousness. The gesture of the puppet undoubtedly places the viewer in the position of the Creator, but at the same time the viewer may see themselves in the puppet. In the ambiguous zone between human and tool, the age-old question of what is human and who is the Creator may resurface. Afterword This exhibition was originally planned to be a collaboration with The Sick Rose and Crucial Interventions series of books launched by Ideal Country to explore the cultural history of the body, the city, disease and medicine, which is why we chose the puppet as the prototype for the work. This was later not realized due to the cancellation of an academic event, which is very regrettable. The series has now been published and will introduce more different and exciting themes in the future.   About the Exhibition The 8th Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (Shenzhen) opened on December 22, 2019 and finished recently. The theme of the Biennale is “Urban Interactions”, which focuses on how technological advances will affect the relationship between cities and people, technology and nature. The Biennale is divided into two sections: “Ascending City Section” and “Eyes of the City Section”. The “City Ascending” section, curated by Jianmin Meng, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Fabio Cavallucci, a renowned curator and art critic, is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning (MOCAUP) in Shenzhen, attempting to explore the relationship between technology and human beings, city and architect, and reality and fiction.

Project Information Project Type: Art Designer: PILLS/Zigeng Wang Design Team: PILLS/Fangda Zhou, Junyu Wen, Jia Weng Production Team: Shanghai Shangtuo Technology, Cloud Chaser Studio Exhibition Design: PILLS/Zigeng Wang Exhibition construction team: Shenzhen Silk Road Visual Technology Co. Consignor (Commissioned by): 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture Curatorial Team: Jianmin Meng, Li Zhang, Danyi Kuang, Shuyang Li, Yuanyuan Xu Special thanks to: Jianmin Meng, Yuxing Zhang, Mengdi Li, Li Zhang, Bin Lu, Yu Tang, Buyun Ma, Na Wen, Wanting Liu, Hao Huang, Botai Dong. Location: Shenzhen (Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning)

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