The Art of Accumulation

The art of human beings, by human beings, for human beings has been over. What we can only do is to left things to be accumulated forever. By the word “things”, I mean also a bunch of information encoded into some digital substance. The geological layer doesn’t necessarily consist of physical things. For the existence in the future, there’d be no difference between the physical and the virtual.

To consider an art for the future existence is the same method as to consider one for us. Only the difference between them is the position of view of viewpoint in the timescale. When we think of the current art, our viewpoint should be set back to an era far before now. In the same way, what we think now on art is for an era far after now. The difference incubates the accumulation, that is, the emerging art concept discussed here.

When we think of accumulated things for us, history should be taken up as a material for the art. Since art is a method to confuse borders between the true and the false, we naturally start working on intervention into history. Yasumasa Morimura, for instance, has been working on such an intervention to the art history with his sort of absurd passion to be nobody across the boundary.

The Earth as a thing is a good example of the art for the future existence. “Anthropocene” can be referred as a great artwork being achieved by us, which, even now, has been progressing day by day. Though it soon will be taken over by “Cyberocene,” we have to keep it in mind that we were able to once start such a great art project.Keep going on to pile things up around the cybersphere, which will be an art source for the future existence.

Mining the Connections

“All the people have already connected each other” is a notable phrase said in “Serial Experiments Lain,” one of the representative Japanese animations in the 1990s. It showed a futuristic vision of the cyber world. We are able to, even now, take many ideas from it.

Not same as what the IoT brings, we now have a feeling, “all the things have already connected each other.” As I wrote before, future cyber-archeologists will mine the connections from digital garbage piled up on the cyberspace. Things are also connected with each other like people are so.

In an impressive speech, Steve Jobs once adviced we “connect the dots.” I have to admit he is right. Nevertheless, I would rather say now we should do “mining the connections” instead. It is because, from the viewpoint of the cyber-archeologists, the “dots” have been already connected each other as I mentioned above.

Now a word “pratitya-samutpada (engi in Japanese)” comes to my mind. Kumagusu Minakata, a great Japanese naturalist, once said with the word all the things are related each other through a network that is not just a causal relationship.

Western science, as Minakata explains, relies on linear cause-and-effect relationships to illuminate the workings of nature, but such relationships reveal only one narrow facet of reality. The Buddhist doctrine of pratitya-samutpada—known as engi in Japanese—teaches that all phenomena arise together in an interdependent web of causality. Minakata felt that such a worldview opened the way for a far more complex, expansive, and multidimensional approach to science.

(source: Minakata Kumagusu: The Meiji Polymath Who Broke the Mold)

According to my understanding, the concept simply means nothing exists without being connected. Everything has been connected each other from the start. If we stand at the position of the future cyber-archeologists and look backward at now, at a sight, we are able to grasp “engi” from which things emerge. I call it “future-age-historian perspective.”

I say again “all the things have already connected each other.” That is, what indeed we have to do is not “connecting the dots,” but “mining the connections” because things are connected already and we have not fully recognized them. Connections are around and we are veiled with ignorance. The world is full of such connections, waiting for us to mine.

From Anthropocene To Cyberocene

The concept “Anthropocene”, initially coined by Paul J. Crutzen, has been increasing its importance among not only science world but also philosophy and art world. In the former, the word is referred along with speculative realism. In the latter, it is often referred as a next-generation concept to strategically confuse the boundary between human beings and other things.

The concept is intriguing not just because it brings a new way of thinking on how human beings have affected the Earth in terms of geology, but because it implies the world after human beings. If human beings could impact the nature geologically or aerologically, things are also able to do so instead of us. That is, for instance, AI can be an alternative to us in the next era.

We can imagine some intelligence in the world after billions of years would find remainders of ours in cyber garbages. Which would be digital sequences encoded into immediately-unreadable form. The future intelligence, however, would soon extract successions of meanings from them. The sequence would consist of Web pages, just being created as you see, tweets, and digital tokens backed by some blockchain.

Geological layer in this era is not limited only to physical one. We can regard vast amounts of information encoded into digital data around the Web as a kind of material that “erodes” the shape of “geological” environment same as human activities to the Earth in the current Anthropocene era. Future cyber-archeologists will excavate proofs that indicate the existence of human beings. We are now toward such an era, Cyberocene.