*Sculptural collaboration with Mari Ouchi@Faux/Real
How are new senses generated? One has the sense that there is some impossible, ungraspable truth
embedded in separation. One feels it in closing one’s eyes, blocking out one sense. An image that only
comes at night—with eyes closed; a scented expression. Here, we already give the image over to data.
The image is only information, the encoding of a present absence. Where presence can only refer to
time, where are you now?
Not here anymore. This is a partial truth, a word, a fragment of my understanding, my sense of things. In an "any more," time and place move inside an undifferentiated comparison; the binding of two elements — "any" thing, as in no thing in particular, and "more" of that no thing, as in "no more." Discovering your absence by a process of elimination. Even if I were to peel away the layers of visual information to try to locate the mystery, I would find some image that cancelled out or replaced, that spoke in contradiction
of the truth embedded there.
This is not a way of reaching you. How can I speak to you from this place of separation? If I make us
speak together in this place, using your words from a time beyond where you are now, what voice have
I produced? Whose memory? Is this getting us outside memory? Memory from the outside? Or is it an
outstripping of memory—robbing its grave—stealing, stolen memory? If a brain is frozen and put into
another body, do we really expect it to do the same things it did before it was frozen?
Life subversion means tunneling through those things that control one's emotions, one's ability to function,
one's well-being—building an underground, allowing a form of resistance to build. Becoming a resistant
object. Freezing oneself in place to move somewhere else, to melt on the floor. Over-heated desire, pathetic
memory; I'm getting all wet in public; my emotion is hanging out everywhere. At a certain point, the trailing
of tears is orgasmic, at another, it is a malady pure and simple. Tears steal the senses away from the visual;
over-code them with memory.
A state change between these two points. The frozen block melts. There is no you inside you anymore.
"What became of us?" / "Do we need couples therapy?"
"An Hermès keychain." / "No, we are couples therapy."
There are two fundamental ways of living in denial: living in denial of a truth one refuses to accept, on
the one hand; living with being denied the things one wants or needs, on the other.
To deny, repudiate, withhold. Already, denial sounds itself within a court of law. Let the proceedings begin.
One denies the evidence; to look at the material and to reject it or to become rejected material. One denies
the evidence of what one is denied in order to keep living.
Koan: from Japanese ko meaning "public" + an meaning "a matter for thought."
The word derives from the Chinese word gong'an, a "public case"—a compound word of the characters 公
"public; official; governmental; common; collective; fair; equitable" and 案"table; desk; (law) case; record;
file; plan; proposal."
The case becomes an object: a table, a desk, the thing on which the law rests; a file, the thing in which it's
A koan is a truth that withholds itself; one that is given publicly; a truth in denial of its object. The koan is
usually a story told by a wise teacher, which is meant to provoke "great doubt;" something which one must
meditate on in order to free oneself from its mystery. The koan becomes an object which one can't get rid of.
Zen Master Wumen once said, "It is like swallowing a red-hot iron ball. You try to vomit it out, but you can't."
When applied to oneself—the law one applies to oneself—the word either regulates the truth or desire.
To be in denial, refusing to face the facts, or to deny oneself of what one desires. To believe that one has
taken possession of oneself in denying what one desires. Living in one form of denial so as not to live in
the other. Denial is a form of dispossession.
In order to confront denial, one must look at the evidence. One turns to the forensics of desire—where did
I begin to want this, have I been foolish to keep on wanting it, at what point did I realize I was never going
to have it, this nearly was mine, what was it?
Guess whose it is? Guess whose it is? /
Guess whose it is? Guess whose it is? /
Objects live in denial. In the same way we must live with our being denied those objects, objects deny us;
they object to our possessing them, turn against the spirit we've invested in them, deteriorate, break down,
scream. Objects change state, get dirty, fall apart, make sounds and then stop.
In theory, objects shouldn't have the power of denial, to be able to speak, to deny, to refuse, to withhold.
Especially those objects we possess and, before that, those objects we've created. Most of all, an object is
possessed by the fact of its existence; how can it begin to object to itself as a fact, to be in denial of its own
movement toward death?
And yet, objects speak for themselves.
An object in denial in the psychological sense—that is, one that refuses to accept the fact of its eventual
deterioration—operates by an information-theoretic definition of death. This concept was invented by a
group of people who believe that the things we ordinarily associate with death (loss of brain function, the
moment when the heart no longer beats) are only "legal death". Death itself is not theoretically necessary.
For these people, the future of death is in cryonics. On an ethical and philosophical level, cryonics rejects
the fact of death, suggesting instead that death only occurs when one's "memories, personality, hopes,
and dreams have been destroyed."
-"Molecular Repair of the Brain," Ralph Merkle, writing in Cryonics magazine, 1994.
Two sciences of separation: forensics and cryonics.
An object in denial can be cryogenically preserved—vitrified, turned into glass—the process by which
the memory or the body hardens into the same substance as a screen or a mirror. Death is defined as
the loss of memory, when the person's memory can no longer be retrieved. Even if it appears to be gone,
sometimes things come back. As long as the person or thing still has its memories. There's still hope.
What becomes of an object no one will remember in five years? Is it dead? (If I don't remember it, who
will? Is that how I possess it?) How does one extend the life of an object through memory?
One of the first members of the cryonics movement called himself FM2030 and wrote a book called
Are You a Transhuman? He proudly diagnosed his condition, saying, "I have a deep nostalgia for the
future." FM2030 gave himself his new name from a contempt at the binding between a person’s name
and their past and his personal prediction that he would celebrate his 100th birthday in the year 2030,
the year by which he believed people will have stopped aging. FM2030 legally died in the year 2000,
and his body still awaits the celebration he left the world to come back for. His corpse was vitrified and
is currently held in cryonic suspension.
A familiar form of denial is that of the one who leaves with the intention of coming back. Denial can be
a way of leaving a trace, a way of getting back home. But one can equally be in denial of where one is
headed, in denial of our futures. Futures, taken in an economic sense, means we part ways with the
intention of fulfilling our contractual obligations: a price we agree on today, which we will pay out at a
later date. The law of us becomes one of diminishing returns.
Perhaps things have a second life. One can accept the things that come after what one wanted at first,
knowing that the new things will take one ever farther away from the thing one first desired, only in the
hope that one day the first thing will be yours.
Did you know that the word loan originally meant “to leave?”
One tells oneself, I'll work for now, until I no longer feel this pain. We'll spend some time apart, work on
ourselves, and then come back to what was really important to us. In the work, time contracts; pain
becomes porous, oozes out of every surface—cellular, microbial, diffuse. Then, the memory becomes
osmotic, and things that came in one way go out another; different membranes.
At what point does sensing become senescent? When do the cells of memory deteriorate, not because
of any cancer or virus but because of age itself? The fact of deterioration. When do futures become
Can we store our memories cryonically? And is it necessary to freeze them? Even after we think they're
gone, they can still fill a room like a musk, like a mask.
What of the miscegenated memory? His and hers. Blending like two skin tones touching, changing one
another's chemicals, like two scents that fill a room not becoming one smell but their two different smells
and the third that their being together apart makes.
FM2030’s saying reveals the truth of the transhumanist’s nostalgia for the future—the future freezing
itself in the past. Like a frozen computer screen. What appears to be the new, to even be a process of
renewal, is, after time passes, the glassy surface of the old man's skin, frozen.
The transhumanist's vision of the future poses a question of space and of substance. How will there be
room for new people if all the old ones are preserved? What happens to the bodies of the new people
who must take care of these old bodies, these vessels of memory? Where do new memories, people,
objects go? Will the future only consist of the highly paid, the already preserved, and the formerly
The same questions could be posed about ideas, about zeitgeists, about love. How will there be room
for the new if we keep preserving a nostalgia for the future?
This is where forensics comes in. One must be ruthless in taking apart the corpse after it has been
preserved. Allowing the rot to set in is a way of observing the process. It remains a question of senses.
The cryogenic mode is a way of preserving a preexisting set of perceptions, ways of seeing. It operates
through a regime of images, a vision of the future. Within an optic regime, physiology becomes a trick
of the eye, a mind-body problem; a vitrified brain in a glass jar; perceiving through a layer of glass;
seeing the future in a screen.
Rather than asking how to prevent the loss of our memories, how can we turn to loss as a mnemonic
device? Is loss a way of remembering our bodies?
The evidence has been laid out on the table. On the hand, an additive mode of production and
remembrance—3D printing, cryogenic preservation—the body as a code which can be endlessly
reprinted, preserved and destroyed in equal measures. On the other hand is a subtractive mode—
allowing things to melt, letting the singularity of an object reveal itself by pouring out; accepting death
as part of the equation, as the only thing proper to each of us; remembering the event, the one chance.
Forensics is a vascular science, digging into veins. The keychain hangs from the scalpel. The instrument
holds a different kind of memory than the object that is preserved, nostalgic, frozen; the forensic objects
becomes, rather, a language, a sentencing, a law of leakage. The instrument is a horn. Something
comes out of it in the same place where it appears to disappear.
Now, we speak together, you silently, the object becomes a memorial. It will deteriorate, like us, over a
long time. We ask,
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Anicka Yi and Jordan Lord