Interacting with technology in art has given me, along with many other skills, an expanded ability to understand self. 

This recognition led me to the thought that technology is possibly just a reflection of humanity as we are. In following this thought further, I speculated that technology could only potentially generate/create on that level of being, and even though technology as a man-made intelligence has this capacity to reflect the human condition, to really see that condition possibly requires an alternative perspective. Without it, we recreate and reproduce, like eternal visual feedback, a continuous cycle of human being.

This mirror of our way of being is possibly technology’s greatest potential and power (one that maybe we have not even begun to tap into). However it is also possibly technology’s greatest limitation simply due to the fact that we are the makers of technology, and so we can only learn how to be as we already are via its power. 

I propose that there is the possibility of greater potential for evolutionary thought via seeking to also collaborate with intelligences beyond us, intelligences not made by man. Looking to the creative potential within Nature, intelligences that are laws unto their own. Intelligences that can give a special perspective onto our own thinking, a point of view that is less anthropocentric and reveals the partiality of human agency. 

This ‘anthropononcentric’ point of view enquires more deeply into the potential of artistic collaboration between human intelligence (both man and his technological reflection) and natural intelligences, specifically highlighting the importance of not putting human thought above other species’ ability to think or produce knowledge. Meaning that man is not the determining centre of reality, exploring the possibilities within the intertwining of nature, technology and man. 

The anthropocentric viewpoint on the other hand has Man becoming increasingly the one and only subject, the self-conscious shaper of all. 

Considering western philosophy, one could say that the anthropocentric way of thinking began with Descartes proposition ‘I think therefore I am’. Descartes defined a reality that is not beyond or outside of oneself, meaning that man was able to make reality something that he conceived. Finding this self-certainty the intellectual processes of the ego took hold, allowing man to become more and more the determining center of reality, and human self-consciousness now the quintessential subject. Before this, as the Greeks had understood it, reality confronted man in the power of its presence. According to the German philosopher Heidegger, there is a reorientation that needs to take place for humanity to find the truth. But this passage threaten man's position as the subject - not a journey easily undertaken by the ego/self. 

Heidegger pointed out that scientific enquiries, through prescribed procedures of experiment, objectify Nature thus hindering the possibility of relating to it in ‘the openness of immediate response’. However, artistic enquiries into Nature have the potential to navigate the paradox of self, enabling the possibility of viewing the world as it is and as it reveals itself.

I propose then, rather than using technology as the instrument of our own supposed rise, what if we aimed to enhance our relatedness to nature via technology. A purpose for biotech, self-modification, augmented reality, virtual reality and the like could then be the development of our sensibility towards natural intelligences, rather than solely for the purpose of the enhancement of man as he conceives himself.

Maurice Merleau Ponty in his essay Eye and Mind, cited the modernist painter André Marchand as saying ‘I think that the artist must be penetrated by the universe and not want to penetrate it’. In a modernist context this idea could only be taken phenomenologically, however I want to reconsider it in the light of the age we live in now, in the context of the potential within nature, technology and man. Hence the idea of a practice that orientates towards an ‘Anthropononcentric’ art.

Myvanwy Gibson
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