Samantha Harvey

is a currently London based video and net artist.

In her work she bridges open source software and data, to create works that are culturally relevant and thought provoking.

An Investigation into what makes us Human in this increasing Age of Technology.

Written by Samantha Harvey

There is no base for the ‚natural‘ according to Donna Haraway in The Cyborg Manifesto, she says nature and culture are reworked; the one can no longer be the resource for appropriation or incorporation by the other.‘ Through technological advancements the cyborg becomes its own whole, ‚a city and cosmos‘. Our human world is woven between and around intersubjective stories we tell each other and create. These two conflicting elements can be seen through the narrative self and the experiencing self, outlined in Yuval Noah Harrari‘s Homo Deus. With often our own self narratives simplifying our actual experiences and lessening the importance of these.

Our experiences are simplified due to thousands of years of adapting for existing in a different world to the one we have created. One in which we had to survive in a hostile environment and understand the world through this lens. However this is not the world we live in anymore, it is one we have built for ourselves based on logical principles of objective reality and intellect, no longer having to physically fight each other to defend your territory, or forage for food. This objective reality being one in which encompasses remnants of our past selves, as if this skewed sense we have of ourselves and our lives is exactly as it seems. Not instead of one in which our brain picks out parts of our personal narrative that suits us, to fit in with the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

It seems now this is an incredibly narrow view of how we can exist as organic conscious beings, we have advanced in science and technology in unfathomable ways and uncovered insights that are starting to show us this isn‘t the reality we exist in at all. Research in quantum physics, VR out of body experiences (Metzinger and Madary) and AI are the beginnings of showing us alternate routes for our future survival.

When you start linking different theories and philosophies together they start to show the fuller picture, science has shown us the quantum world that exists is totally interconnected and works completely contrary to how we believe we function on our individual human scale. There really is no distinction between the individual self, and our outer worlds, this is an illusion created through our conscious minds. With VR experiments you can be made to think you occupy a different body showing a whole new perspective on what you perceived your own fixed ego to be.

This all points to showing us that our existence can be lived in ways that might seem unfathomable at the moment, but that we don’t have to separated from each other as a species, we are more fluid than we realise, in terms of how we perceive our own bodies and deeper connectedness. Of course, there are many sci fi dystopias relating to these theories on the flip side, as we tend to fear what we do not understand. As the same outlook depending on if you come from a place of compassion, or from fear, will have totally different iterations.

But I would like to see a way in which we can go deeper to seeing how these breakthroughs in science can lead us to really understanding what our true natures are, not we perceive them to be. Which is why my visual outcomes are often videos, as a testing ground for these ideas and to also understand them visually, so they become something you might be more familiar with and less alien, therefore less fearful of.

When an algorithm starts to know you better than you know yourself (Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari), when it can predict and calculate things better and faster than a human mind, what will be the remnants of ourselves? If we outsource our ability to have to think for ourselves based on our current predominant ideas, even if we merge with machines, if we do not know ourselves then what will be the point. Basing our accomplishments on our intellectual abilities, end goals, outer appearance, retainment and processing of information, and combined with social ‚norms‘, without encompassing the needs of our emotional selves, environments, individual differences and social values. We will be a series of lost groundless beings floating around in a numb haze. What if we were to start to look at ourselves critically at, as Anil Seth calls, ‚the components of a conscious experience, including colours, smells, tastes, thoughts, and so on‘. Exercising the brain‘s ability to reprogram how we can relate to ourselves, human brains have incredible plasticity to be able to re-imagine a different narrative, but only if the individual is convinced of it themselves.

This series of work seeks to explore and re-imagine ways in which we can exist and see ourselves. This is an incredibly exciting time for change and technological advancements, but it comes at a speed in which we do not have protections in place. Ways to protect what we are, even if we do not understand it. It is not to prevent these happening, but to understand so that we can channel our accomplishments in beneficial ways. Andy Clark believes that the mind extends into the world and is regularly entangled with a whole range of devices, and that we are all cyborgs, in the most natural way. At the moment machines see human life as purely a sequence of decisions, what we click on, and who we talk to; we are quantified into data about our heart beats, friendship networks, locations and facial expressions. But what if these devices and algorithms could factor in the whole range of our conscious experiences, and we merge with their abilities also.

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