Humans invent tools that invent new humans. While this dynamic has shaped civilization for centuries, the invention of artificial intelligence is forcing a radical shift in consciousness. Thinking machines are inventing the new human mind. For the first time in recorded history, our inventions are invading the very fiber of our being. Machines are re-scripting the story of life, biologically and psychologically. We are no longer the children of nature. Together with our machines, we are re-inventing nature; and Frankenstein promises to re-invent us in return. History will look back on this time as a definitive break in the archetypal canon, but with what understanding? If technology advances without interruption, our time will mark a period of tremendous enlightenment. If technology is interrupted, our time will be mythological and truly unbelievable. The legacy of our civilization is sublimating into fragile machine memory. It has never been more important to record who we are now.
Kelly Heaton, January 2018
I've recently read seven of Carlos Castenada's books (about to start book eight). They're packed full of content for artists, especially Don Juan's concept of "seeing" and the nagual (as contrasted with the tonal). This image makes me think of Don Genaro and the miraculous dreaming stunts that he performed to try to awaken thick-headed Carlos. Genaro was a live wire to be sure.
The children born into recent generations have an intimate relationship with machine intelligence. Technology is not a mere instrument of mankind -- it shapes our identity, and machine intelligence is influencing consciousness like never before. Computer-mitigated experience may be artificial, but it is no less "real" to the mind than natural phenomena. Computers have infiltrated the inner sanctum of human beingness. Arguably, our sanity is more vulnerable to Grid failure than our physical survival. As for whatever legacy endures beyond this fragile time in history, imagine the incredulity of future generations. Our stories will seem as far-fetched as flying saucers in the Hindu Vedas. What ordinary Earthling would believe that humans could encode intelligence on a silicon wafer the size of a flea, let alone sculpt the genome of living organisms?
What’s sad about this image is the replacement of ancient archetypes (the sun, for example) with archetypes that will not last (the light emitting diode, for example). Every generation and even civilizations are destined to die, but the archetypes have remained for thousands of years and united us with our ancestors. Our connection to this continuum of human meaning is profoundly comforting and is the basis of human identity (i.e., Joseph Campbell). When a civilization departs from natural, timeless archetypes and adopts symbols that depend upon man’s current technologies, then the loss is infinitely greater — our symbols will perish, and there will be a break in the story of human history.
I'm working on an aesthetic to merge nature, electronics, and psychological states -- which reflects my experience of the world. This is a recent sketch.