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Teratology for the Future – Rereading Archives

Eine Arbeit zu spekulativen Illustrationen im Rahmen des Kurses Indigenous Futurism.

Im Frühlingssemester besuchte ich den Sozialanthropologie Kurs Indigenous Futurism: Imaginationen von Zukunft in indigenen Science-Fiction Filmen + Visionierung von Laura Coppens an der Uni Bern.

Ich interessierte mich  für den Kurs um eine sozialanthropologische Perspektive auf den Umgang mit gestalterischer Repräsentation von Subalternen Positionen durch Spekulation und Fiktion zu erhalten.

Für mich war der Kurs sehr bereichernd, da wir viele Fragen aufwarfen, die mir auch im Verlauf meiner Arbeit begegneten. Ein grosses Thema ist dabei natürlich die Frage nach der Repräsentation, aber auch nach der Wirkungskraft von Fiktion.

Als abzugebende Arbeit wurde eine gestalterische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema erwartet. Ich nutzte diesen Anlass um selbst Illustrationen zu schaffen die sich mit meinem Thema auseinandersetzen.

Während dem Kurs haben wir öfters über Indigenität und Agency geredet und die Frage gestellt: dürfen wir (nicht indigene Menschen) indigene Kunst machen? Wie reden wir über subalterne Positionen als privilegierte Personen ohne diese zu besetzen?

Die Fragen sind nicht abschliessend beantwortbar, jedoch ist es äusserst wichtig sich seinem eigenen Kontext bewusst zu werden um zu vermeiden dass Minoritäten exotisiert oder/und ausgebeutet werden.

Für mich war klar, dass ich keine Arbeit über oder zu indigenen Positionen machen will. Zum einen weil ich es als höchst problematisch erachte Indigenität in einer gestalterischen Arbeit die aus meiner Feder stammt zu behandeln, da ich damit zumindest teilweise Gefahr laufe indigenen Handlungsraum zu kolonialisieren. Zum anderen war es für mich ein idealer Anlass die Teratologie weiter zu untersuchen und über Repräsentation von Gender zu reflektieren. Unerwartet waren für mich die Findings, die sich während meiner Suche nach Bildmaterial für die Illustrationen aufdrängten. Um so fruchtbarer war für mich diese Arbeit für die eigene Praxis.

Um einen Einblick in die wichtige Hintergrundarbeit zu erhalten empfehle ich die Prozessdokumentation durchzusehen:

gestalterische Arbeit

Teratology for the Future

The Humanum-fungus

Fungi belong to the largest and oldest living beings. Like the armillaria ostoyae patch, or aptly named humongous fungus, near Oregon. The Humanum-Fungus hybridizations represented the humans desire to give up individuality and become one with the planet. One of the more successful attempts was a movement known as “becoming with fungi.”

In an attempt to deconstruct the human binary system, which was dominant in most of the capitalist countries until the end of the 21st century, a small group of bio-hackers focused on gender in fungi. It was long thought that these organisms consisted of thousands of sexes. By studying the reproductive strategies of fungi, and how the sex of these organisms is determined, these bio-hackers were able to smash the human categories. Especially through the symbiosis with the split gill mushroom Schizophyllum commune, a fungal species that consists of more than 20,000 genders, the “becoming with fungi” experienced a major breakthrough and the Humanum-Fungus was born. 

The Humanum-Fungus is able to undergo a process called parasexuality, which allows reproduction without sex. The combination of genes from a number of individuals occurs without meiosis and fertilization. Even though the Humanum-Fungus don’t necessarily rely on traditional reproduction processes, they are known for their ability to connect with all varieties of (so far known) genders in a fertile and pleasurable way. 


Another concept of the late 21st century that was under scrutiny was “invasive species.” Analog to right-wing populist rhetoric, migration in flora and fauna was slowed down or even stopped. The goal was to conserve the status quo because change was generally perceived, by the white middle-class, as an unnecessary hassle.

One of the ways to combat invasive species was gender-bending chemicals. They were seen as a “cure” for the enormous populations of Asian carp and tilapia plaguing the Mississippi River. The chemicals were supposed to disrupt the reproduction of the species by interfering with their biology. Those chemicals were soon used in rivers and lakes around the world – but they had unexpected side effects.

Once entering the water cycles and taken up by humans through drinking or eating fish, the chemicals did their work on some individuals. Quite a few humans were in particular sensitive to biological interferences and their biological thresholds started to become blurry. On the other side were the eels, then a favorite staple in parts of Asia, which were also extremely susceptible to the chemicals. Not long and the first Humanum-Angulliformes were born.

Half human, half eel, these people are highly adaptable while also being resistant to changes in the environment. They can live as well on land as in water and are able to change their genders according to their needs and preferences – a gift from the chemical altered DNA, now present in them. 

It is believed, but not quite certain, that the gender-bending chemicals specifically affected the ribbon eel in a drastic and unforeseeable way. This eel has been long known for being able to change its gender during its life span. It seems that the released chemicals did not make them infertile as intended but altered their gender in a way to be receptive to interconnect with human genomes.

The Tentacular-Translators

Some humans enhanced their ability to connect to non-human species by obscure and semi-occult techniques of tentacular thinking and practice. The first translators emerged out of the desire of a few humans to shed the human category. They wanted to get rid of human exceptionalism and faux individualism to connect with their environment on a deeper level. 

Some use cyborgian technology to do so and some do not. But the Tentacular-Translators are always entangled beings and adept weavers of stories. They do have a deep understanding of and connection to all kinds of human and non-human matter. Their work is tentacular. They have no stable genealogy and inherit almost no fixed categories, although they are often figured and storied as female. When the Tentacular-Translators first arose, they were hunted down and exploited for their particular skills, to find solutions for crop failures and stock market flash crashes, in an attempt to restore the capitalistic tradition of exploiting the earth.

Facing environmental crises on a global scale in the end of the 21st century, we were living in the ruins of capitalism with only little knowledge about our surroundings beyond our homes and offices. Only when we had fully accepted the failure of the economy, our relations to nature changed. The Translators were reintegrated into society. This was the salvation for many communities, and they formed a new kind of shamanistic caste. Not only did they become translators of matter, they also became weavers of stories of mater (the mother), so that we will never again forget about our place in the world

The Pan-Trickster

Through the practice of obscure and mystic practices the followers of the Pan-Trickster were able to incorporate many of nature’s most fascinating abilities of transformations. Nobody really knows about the inner workings of this community, but Pan-Trickster are known for a high degree on experimentation on their own bodies – made possible by a highly fluid and unstable mindset.

Quite often they express gyandromorph qualities or to be more precise: perform and parade them! They are shape-shifters and masters of disguise. They are fundamentally ambiguous and defy binarity and all common gender roles. They often only display identifiable traits to seduce or become more relatable for their partners. Besides that, they venture in shapes that are hardly imagineable.

They were some of the earliest to copy gender (and other) metamorphoses found in animals to express their identities and to deliberately shatter old paradigms. They cannot be described and placed into a category by which they may be recognized and removed. The Pan-Trickster is the ambiguous made flesh, the neither-neither – neither this, nor that, but also not “not” these things

The AEI Cyborg-

In the early ages of the cyborg biomechatronic, body parts were commonly used to enhance abilities for entertainment, medical reasons or warfare. The AEI, Artificial Emotion Intelligence, was originally used for market research on consumers’ emotional engagement but soon found its way into the subcultures of the emotional isolated hikikomori and related communities. It was a way to preserve the status quo, which is acute social withdrawal while satisfying the basic needs of social interaction on an intimate level. This all happened on the layer of software.

After venture-engineers had developed the first kinds of biomechatronic interface to AEI the Cyborg-Medianus was made possible. It allowed cyborgs to plug in to human emotions and not only have better human-emotion analyzation skills, but also empathize much more with them. The Cyborg-Medianus was intended for isolated humans to interact with their loved ones on a deeper level or to cure emotional disorders. 

As many other technologies it was soon abused for economic reasons. But an unexpected side effect was observed. The “Innerview Effect” – a cognitive shift in awareness, reported by most Cyborg-Medianus, often while experiencing others from an inner perspective. From this inner empathy, the interwovenness of all emotions became clear to them. Furthermore the conflicts that divide people became less important and the need arose to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this interwovenness. Not surprisingly, many Cyborg-Medianus work in politics and are able to lead societies through various Poly-Humanitarian crises.