THE POWER PLANT PROJECT
By Isabel Burr Raty
The proper subject of the posthuman convergence is not “Man”, but a new collective subject, as “we-are-(all)-in-this-together-but-we-are-not-one-and-the-same-kind-of-subject” Posthuman Knowledge, Rosi Braidotti (2019)
My artistic research is based on ecological, queer, post-human and de-colonial perspectives, where the sources of inspiration range from Indigenous knowledge and Kung Fu to scientific perceptions of matter and bodies. For the past years my experiments have focused on creating conditions for embodied Sci-Fiction, where the role of the human is deconstructed in commodification processes, to open discussions about “value understandings”. As result I have created hybrid art works that farm human bodies stretching the limits between sex labor and empowerment practices. For example: the mobile Beauty Kit Project, which harvests and recycles erotic juices for the manufacture of gender-neutral beauty products and performs a circular economy model based on pleasure exchange.
With Beauty Kit I crossed the boundaries of art, biology, technology, alchemy, agriculture and economics and became acquainted with new questions from the public. Which led me to think with them about the role different entities can play in the production of green electricity. In the midst of a prolonged pandemic, an accelerated post-natural reality and present Ukrainian war. With the global focus on climate and reduction of CO2 emissions, we have to come up with new sources that can power the needs behind our contemporary lifestyle habits, optimising energy consumption both in the arts and in society.
However, if we want to think - sustainable -, it matters where from do we do that. The cosmos, the planet and ecosystems, seen as non-subjective non-sentient things grants permission to create controllable super-beings. For example, the novel xeno-biology project engineers chromosomes different from DNA and RNA to create useful artificial sustainable biodiversity (Cordis, 2015). In other words, to create new forms of life on Earth, such as synthetic forests. This kind of technology advancements are amazing, but tricky. How far can we go designing life? And how dystopian or utopian the future might be, is still to be seen.
In the meantime, I expand my research to seek for the - super powers from within - examining human body technologies that produce sustainable power. Focusing on how bodies can transmute living matter into more living matter, I move from the notion of - empowerment - to - power generation - in my artistic work. To think about Power, not as something subtracted, but as an added value that never gets lost going from one source to another. By deepening my practice on what eroticism can do, I make use of something every-body has and is one of the strongest sources of the body: sexual energy. In order to de-centre the role of humans within an alternative power system that collectivises the ecstatic. Providing speculative, yet material assets that can help us learn to live with the increasing sun, without relying on developing technologies that uproot ecosystems.
Concretely, over a two-year process I will experiment with the fabulation of an off-the-grid trans-material village centred around a power plant. A green power generator that converts sexual energy into electricity, offering trans-dimensional travels where humans and the more-than-human can shape shift and charge. And, with this village, imagine a self-regulating community of bodies that behave like unstable electrons releasing energy. An energy that allows ecstatic flow to cut through materials, welcoming multiplicity and generating possibilities of becoming.
The indeterminacy of matter, that theoretician Karen Barad refers to in theirs agential realism (Karen Barad, 2007), proposes that at the base of reality, entities emerge from entangled phenomena, not from pre-existing things. The Power Plant project thinks of a village community labor that can help dissolve the illusion of borders between the human and the more-than-human, embodying an integrative meta-physics, which allows to establish intra, trans and extra planetary relationality.
Therefore, I intend to elaborate a body practice that can be performed to turn on and run the power plant, which uses sexual energy to increase the bio-electrical levels of the body. And research on a technology that would allow to collect this energy on a trans-individual level. Meaning, to unite each villagers capacity to produce energy into a single unit that converts it into a collective power source. Subsequently, the practice would be an invitation to donate sexual energy, as well as to enjoy the benefits that comes with it. For example, the production of happy hormones (oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, melatonin, etc.), and the awakening of dormant hallucinogenic neurotransmitters that open up visions.
Furthermore, inspired in Latin American indigenous notions of the micro and macro cosmos being extensions of their bodies, where - non biological kinship offers an affiliation with difference through affinity - (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, 2009); the intention is to develop a village living and agriculture system that is geo-ontology (Elizabeth Povinelli, 2016) based merging the bio and geo. Seeking to take care of the inhabitants, find ways in which the happy hormones and the affects, the emotions stored in the bodies and released with the electricity conversion process, are molecularly incorporated into the crops and housing constituents. Can we use these molecules to irrigate and fertilise the crops we grow? Can the village materials be an extension of my body? Hence, the idea is that the persons enter in a reciprocal feeding loop with the space they live and labor, where the subject: culture/mind could possibly become the object: nature/body and vice versa.
THE PLAN (2022-2023)
Over a two-year process in collaboration with experts of various fields, such as Tantra and Taoist Sexual Kung Fu practitioners, bio-technologists, electro-engineers, hackers, designers, sexologists and indigenous communities, we will create a physical and digital archive of performative, scientific and design figures, around the research development of:
1. An inclusive body practice that increases the energy levels of the body and that could be collectively performed to turn on and run the power plant. Based on training techniques that focus on transforming sexual energy into what martial artists call QI, primordial force, and brain orgasms into an ecstatic life experience.
2. In the lab experiments with the neuro-sexological electro-circuit path and its collaboration with endocrine and microbiota bio-chemical signalling systems, looking at: a. Potential dopaminergic, serotonergic and endogenous DMT molecular expressions and their possible harvesting techniques. b. Electro/magnetic and thermodynamic conversions of sexual energy.
3. Power plant and village technology material experiments with: a. A sensorial, kinetic and digital archive of durable and mobile materials references that collect, generate and transfer energy. b. Interactive capsules performed to distill affects out of the body and sprayed on growing veggies.
4. A digital or analogue approximation model of the power plant and village morphologies, including the agriculture system, that is mobile and regenerative.
5. Reflections on: What are the differences and similarities between extracting, harvesting, collecting, distilling, transfusing and transmitting? What does the research incite? Could we eventually come up with a zero waste platform containing: artistic practices that focus on sustainability, or a recreational drugs production facility or a nomadic community that can survive in extreme climate conditions? Can we develop the first Power Plant project durational experiment in the Atacama desert, the driest space on Earth?
Kersnikova Institute Ljubljana (Sl), Maastricht University Cognitive Neuroscience Department (NE), Yan Van Eyck Academy Future Materials Lab (NE), wpZimmer Antwerpen (BE)
To be confirmed:
Kanal Centre Pompidou Brussels
Note: Private electric engineering research facilities and Neuroendocrinology labs to be found with the mentioned partners.
Administration associate in Belgium:
-Cordis (2016) Final Report Summary - METACODE (Code-engineered new-to-nature microbial cell factories for novel and safety enhanced bio-production), https://cordis.europa.eu, 12 July
-Barad Karen (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, Duke University Press, USA
-Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo (2009), The Relative Native, Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds, chapter VI, Berghahn Books, Oxford
-Povinelli Elizabeth (2016) Geontology: A réquiem to late liberalism, Duke University Press, USA