19. Keep Hoping Machine Running, Issue 3
This issue became increasingly difficult to connect with. During the process of trying to reconnect with it, others and myself, I felt profoundly disconnected. In the midst of this disconnect something broke open: androgynous technology, or phenomena that come after the hyperreality of the simulacrum has been established. It is the idea that technology contributes to a hyperreal, exaggerated self and sexuality or a dulled abstraction thereof. Both lead us to resemble machines. Consumerism and plastic surgery can create what American culture considers the epitome of femininity, masculinity or, what I am most interested in: neither. Androgynous technology enables us to become exaggerated versions of ourselves or muted, sexless and inanimate. Beauty procedures can anatomically take out as much as they can put in. Either way the self is increased or decreased dramatically from its original biological form, at the hands of medical and technological advances. The desire for androgyny and nostalgia (remember those good ole’ days when you were young?) has reached an all time high. This is why there is a worldwide obsession with adults imitating child pornography in fashion magazines.
Hyperreality, where simulacra live, tricks consciousness into detaching from any real emotional engagement, instead opting for artificial simulation, and endless reproductions of fundamentally empty appearance. Fulfillment is found through simulation and imitation of a transient simulacrum of reality, rather than any interaction with any true reality.
Simulacrum has many variations depending on whom you study (Plato, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche even addressed the idea in Twilight of the Idols but does not name it). I will say in layman’s terms how I perceive it: a representation of something original; a direct copy of the real. The hyperreality is where the copy lives and my thought is that androgynous technology then takes this replica and either neutralizes or heightens it, sans organically distinctive features until our basic mode of existing completely resembles that of a machine.
What is a machine? Androgynous and without sex: androgynous technology.
In its traditional definition androgyny means being neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine. Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures.
Technology synthesizes direct human interaction until it becomes simulacra. It may bring someone in New York visually closer to someone in Japan via computer or phone but then it replaces direct contact one would have otherwise had with their next door neighbor, say through a white picket fence. Androgynous technology is the mechanism by which human interaction, perception, communication and sexuality melt and distort. Again, it is working with the copy and the world that exists therein.
The theme which resonated most with me this past month, and I am not exactly sure how this all fits together but I am certain it does, was loss. Many of us can attest to either having witnessed or experienced incredible loss these last few months. Some has been physical and some symbolic. While I do not overtly address these losses here or in this issue, I feel the subject itself is important to share. Relinquishing can be just as significant, if not more so, as receiving but when it is unexpected and experienced without choice, it can feel as though one’s entire being is submerged in sub-zero water.
The Stranger Song: