Updated: May 30
Material research for Bxianuran - Collage, AI image enhancement.
Bxianuran, first encounter.
She is covered with eyeholes screaming out the fluid sound of a squad of mating frogs. Her tones are tuned to the rhythm of my blood flow. With her translucent leg-harm she reaches out to my hand and caresses it, her rhizomatic limbs are rooted in the pond’s mud but she can reach each and every kin by extending her limbs to sounded directions. She can be found only in humid forest as she needs to feel surrounded by other wet-kins. I say she because my language has not yet found the right way to name her (and might never, hopefully), she is they in many ways but never he or at least never a he that was used in my times. She changes to them often as she is made of many limb-entities. When she needs to move, the limbs detach from her body to form new mutation which will be same yet different, made of the same flesh yet with a different DNA. She is asexual. Her skin is fragile, yet she cherishes it as it is the same tissue that had her mutate into this new body she gets along with very much. It was a long process of acknowledging her own perpetual change and impossibility to set a fix entity to this body that was constantly shape shifting. Her mates from the pond hinted her on the relatively high possibilities that it was the pollution from anthropogenic activities, and the stress it generated on her and her fellow organisms, that made her mutate, her and her skin. As a juvenile frog she began witnessing changes in the population surrounding her, unexpected limbs became a new fashion after a long time for everykin to adapt. The hardest for her was to acknowledge that her whole life circle, role in the ecosystem and her favourite symbiosis (notably with the tarantula) were going to be changed by this new body. She would have to adapt to herself and so would everykin around her. Retrospectively, mutating remains the best part of her life.
Material research for Bxianuran - Collage, AI image enhancement.
Back story - Loud thinking, on the research
1. On thinking mutant bodies
I have a body; I speak and look at frog mutations from this body. The experience I have of frog is from body to the image of a frog body, real and represented. What attracts me in thinking frog mutation is that it allows me to speculate on my own mutation in an expiation manner, thinking about fact-fiction frog mutation is like thinking of an extension of my-‘self’ as post-being. To see the discontinuity of an infected body as a possible site for poetic encounters and happy-decaying material for storytelling. To see the posthuman mutated and infected body as not-so-dramatic, not-so-human-anymore-but-its-ok. It allows me to think of death, our death, the death of humanism (and not humans as such necessarily, especially that a considerable amount of human bodies are not allowed being human within humanism) as a site for new narratives and considerations on the very notion of what makes us-I human to this day.
Research board for Bxianuran.
Research for Bxianuran - Free association word map.
2. On mutant imagery
In the visual imaginary I grew up with (white middle class french-occidental kid from the 90-2000s watching a lot of anime, playing pixelized video-games and drugged on cartoon network), non-human animal-mutants were often presented as either supra-human, super-hybrids, super-strong, super soldiers (e.g. most of the enemies to combat in games like rayman, zelda, villains in Power Rangers.)… basically, as weapon bodies muscle-piles-looking-like-human-animals. Or, as pet-assimilated-cute-suspicious-companions (e.g. bear in bonne nuit les petits, pingu, pikachu). Both of which tend to make me think that they perpetuated sexist and racist tropes and as such are extremely problematic. [ I here mention only references I have from childhood and is open to counter examples and/or additional suggestions. ]
Research for Bxianuran - Frog mutant iconology draft.
3. On mutant frog imagery
As in the cartoons I watched before, frogs were also either semi-god-weapons or suspicious human hybrids (I could not find much cute frog-like chimeras). In this case, and from my research position, it feels to me that those representations also played a role in the dispossessing of frogs of their actual mutations. To some extent, I believe that those representations cast shadows on real non-human animal mutations induced by anthropogenic activities. And that this absence of representation of mutation as such or as something neither super-powerful nor cute is problematic in our own understanding of mutation – something that changes bodies and their environments for ever, something that may generates post-human bodies.
Research for Bxianuran - Frog witch companion iconology draft.
Research for Bxianuran - Frog pop. monster iconology draft.
4. On fabulating bxianuran
With this iconographic research and the speculative creation of Bxianuran I try and re-present a frog mutant from the posthuman perspective I work and think my own body with. This perspective is nourished by theories and ideas found in posthumanism theory, post-phenomenology, hydro-feminism, some aspects of Umwelt theory, queer ecology and by the fruitful encounters with other researchers from the posthuman residency who’s approaches, and reflections clearly have an impact on the work I currently develop. This said, this speculation is not pretending to be all-encompassing of the issues I mentioned, my visual language is situated and is also a reflection of my own body in current mutation. It is a proposal to think with which is open to evolve/mutate rather than a statement about..
5. Bibliography (in progress - very likely to change soon)
Álvares, C., 2021. Bestiaire en marge. Medievalista on line 277–296. Blackman, L., 2017. “Loving the alien”: a post–post-human manifesto: Co-Editor of Subjectivity: Lecture given at ICA Miami, November, 2016 reproduced as part of the 10th Anniversary issue of the journal Subjectivity. Subjectivity 10, 13–25. Bogost, I., 2012. Alien phenomenology, or, What it’s like to be a thing. University of Minnesota Press, London. Clutterbuck, J., 2021. Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things: by Jane Bennett, Durham, Duke University Press, 2010, 200 pp., $24.95 (paperback), $94.95 (cloth), ISBN: 9780822346333. Educational review (Birmingham) 73, 515–515. Elkins, J., 2016. Social Networks of Non-Human Seeing. Antennae the journal of nature in visual culture 91–103. Kay, S., 2014. Post-human philology and the ends of time in medieval bestiaries. Postmedieval a journal of medieval cultural studies 5, 473–485. Lewis, T.E., Owen, J., 2020. Posthuman Phenomenologies: Performance Philosophy, Non-Human Animals, and the Landscape. Qualitative inquiry 26, 472–478. Morgan, C., 2019. Avatars, Monsters, and Machines: A Cyborg Archaeology. European journal of archaeology 22, 324–337. Morton, T., 2013. Hyperobjects : philosophy and ecology after the end of the world, Posthumanities ; 27. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. Shaw, R., Shiwaku, K., Takeuchi, Y. (Eds.), 2011. Disaster education, 1. ed. ed, Community, environment and disaster risk management. Emerald, Bingley. Siegel, L., 2019. Bodies of water: posthuman feminist phenomenology: Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Australian Journal of Environmental Education 35, 145–147. Wall, C., 2022. Climates of Mutation: Posthuman Orientations in Twenty-First Century Ecological Science Fiction. [online] Hdl.handle.net. Available at: <http://hdl.handle.net/10315/38423> [Accessed 4 May 2022].
Project by Juliette Pénélope Pépin.