Yvonne Jones - Posthuman Body(ies) and the 'Me'
Updated: Jun 26, 2022
Posthuman Body(ies) and the Me, follows an earlier research project Peeling the body (Jones 2010) which explored how art could use first hand experience of medical events to consider the implications of notions of the posthuman for the human being,
The human body has evolved into a complex unit, always open to improvement and healing, to prolong life. The general drive in our species is for life, to survive.
Medical and technical advances to this end, have been increasingly incorporated, this development has run parallel with a technological storm. Giving rise to the possibility of a future of 'units', either enhanced as super humans, or going beyond, leaving humans in their wake, with the possibility of becoming an unbounded existence.
So many question
In this future, what becomes of our now-parts, the corporeal, the ‘me’ , the self / subject / the experience of consciousness. Will it be possible to take the ‘me’, as Moravec imagines, and transfer it (with consciousness), into a new body. Maybe we need to unpick what consciousness is before attempting to transfer it. Moravec says ‘that while the white jelly like body may end, the pattern (me) continues ‘. Moravec 1987, Dualism and Reductionism; from proceedings of the A1 and the Human Mind, Yale University). Can there be a continuum in some form of a nowhuman, is it desirable? Will all sense of the ‘me’ cease to exist? What is it, that the dying human ceases to sustain, is there life energy that has action, drive, to continue life in the body, to exist even as the body dies? My project will not supply answers, it will further explore body, and Posthuman Subject, considering possible Posthuman futures, and the options, choices, we have and their implications.
The earlier Project, Peeling the body (Jones 2010), further asked, how, the process of the project could affect an understanding, of the positions of subject / medical object, within a western medical tradition, and in so doing, suggest a more empowered subject.
The conclusions opened new questions, ideas and possibilities for a Posthuman Future. At this point, I positioned myself as "an Emerging Posthuman (feminist) Subject".
My current working practice is with built canvases. Layering canvases of differing sizes. Individual elements are either worked, or left blank. Elements are introduced to each other, and juxta positioned. As the work progresses, the relationships alter and may be further worked. At the point where they reverberate, the elements are secured in place.
I have moved from interrogating the corporeal mass that I am, to asking whether this mass knows itself, and whether it can relay this knowledge outward.
Allowing myself the freedom, to action whatever occurred to me in my practice, resulted in work that revealed the condition of my body, without there being any previous conscious knowledge of it. I considered that the knowledge was in the unconscious, and that the mind opened the way to express it.
Internal Landscape 2. Mind Knowing (Body) (2012) 12"x12" acrylic on canvas
The prominent dark area just to the left of centre was insistent. Every time I reduced it, or altered it in any way, the piece failed to resonate with me, I was compelled to re-construct the area, with fast, heavy brush strokes. The black area beside it, to the right, was similar, but with a less energetic insistence. The work sat this way in my studio, as I attended day surgery, for a removal of a low concern breast area. During the preparation for surgery, a keen-eyed radiologist picked up on a previously unseen suspect area – this new area was cancer, the low concern area was not. Both were removed that day, I returned home. As I walked into my studio that evening, I knew the insistent piece was an expression of my cancer.
I continued to work with built canvases. The Installation, Internal Landscapes, is the result of a residency in the Research Centre for Cancer Immunology, University of Southampton, UK.
Permanent Installation, Internal Landscapes, held at UoS Research Centre for Cancer Immunology (CCI)
Filled with wonder, fear, and curiosity about humans evolving towards Posthumananity I explore how I exist. How my inner self relates internally, and externally. My corporeal unit is site, I explore experiences of body, mind, ideas, emotions, and psychologies, sometimes comparing this with the externality of the internal experience. The works express something of living today, unpicking this “human”.
I do not see mind as superior or even separate to body, although it is sometimes easier to make a distinction. Corporeal Body is not a mere garment on the coat hanger of Mind. The artist Stelarc states ‘the body is obsolete’, I must disagree. I want to explore the ideas and possibilities of future posthuman ‘life’.
At this point my studio practice continues with built canvases, this is open to the involvement of previous practices including video and installation, and /or, new practices generated.
How can my art practice unpick ideas and possibilities of a posthuman future? I sit between the idea of perfected enhanced super bodies of the transhuman and the disassociated unbounded something, that goes beyond everything. I want to know more about the Posthuman Subject, and whether Posthuman Subjects could be a rich resource for the future.
The work X-tant (bottom right in map2 above) is built with layered canvases, brought together to a point of resonance.Different sizes, shapes, orientation, colours, textures, interacting with each other in a relationship.
X-tant canvasses, paint, paste, H46 x W15 x D 5 cm
Extant (Xtant) means currently existing, still in existence, surviving, not lost or destroyed, having existence or life, alive. X represents an unknown quantity or variable, a person or thing unknown. Many of my works begin with X having understood that my journey positions me as subject, developing with the experience and acquisition of new understanding and knowledge. X-tant is an emerging posthuman (feminist) subject travelling, floating, and being tossed across the ocean world within Posthuman Terrains. Emersed in this world it transforms in colour, shape and orientations it meets others, casting its refection onto the surrounding area and material it meets. Sometimes finding itself in a busy region with many new being and materials, while at other times , a simple gliding past, and sometimes even alone. A new world environment of effected bodies emerges, with developing relationships.
Intrigued by the experience within the ocean world X-tant ventures further afield, the Fire world alters its material components, burning away at the overall shape, changing appearance, reducing it to a set of frames as the canvas is destroyed. The fire spits it out as it involuntarily enters the world of air.
Within this world is feels free, moving along with the breezes, passing shapes and objects on its travels. Like a spider's web it collects new material as it travels. A much altered, emerged, posthuman subject. With all the interactions and acceptances each of the other, there is no longer a need to be a feminist, all are treated with respect and acceptance.
Project X-tant, within posthuman terrains