Geopolitical thinking is the default, “natural” model of structuring the social institutions and interactions between peoples and cultures. Fixation on the physical properties of land had locked down in geopolitical borders other aethers of political imaginary, such as air, water, vacuum and digital networks. The nation states are drawing borders upwards into the air and even cosmos as well as downwards towards the seabed for the centuries. Contextualising the present in critical perspective, we are introducing aeropolitics to challenge the naturalness of assumptions about power dictated by convention and convenience, as well as institutional inertia that blocks our abilities to tackle the contemporary crises and our political imagination from expanding its horizons.

How to challenge the monopoly of geopolitical thinking in policy planning and introduce the vital issue of the rights of the air in the decision-making processes of the institutions and agendas of the think tanks producing policies?

During this session, the members of the community are invited to brainstorm on the methods, agenda and actions of political reification of the alternative political imaginary using the existing political infrastructure. The pathway towards political ecology requires destabilisation of the geopolitical focus. This text is an open invitation to co-build the foundation for the development of a long term aeropolitical agenda of engagement with the agents and institutions of political power.

— Denis Maksimov & Timo Tuominen


co-composers: Denis Maksimov, Timo Tuominen, Tomás Saraceno, Alice Lamperti, Roxanne Mackie + …


The philosophy had started from searching for the fundamental elements or political aethers [αἰθήρ, “quintessence”, the element that constitutes fundamental system of coordinates in socio-political design] of life, among which the water, the air and the land were proposed. Aether defines relations towards topos, the living conditions at the specific location, and socio-political metabolic regime there.

The land was ultimately established as the fundamental and exclusive foundation of the imaginary. The Westphalian Treaty of 1648, which ended multiple religious wars in Europe, sealed the shared reality of geopolitics: it legitimised the territorial borders between the European kingdoms and separated the issues of faiths from the right of the sovereign to claim the domination over the territories. From that moment onwards, the imaginary of the geographical border was introduced into the reality of politics as the most sacred parameter of power-holding. This laid the foundation for short-term fragmented planning that ultimately led to a rapidly deterioration environment.

Suprapolitics [supra, “above”, and πολιτικά, “affairs of the citizens” - beyond and outside of borders of normalised political thinking] is a future protocol of the universal equality for all aethers. It opens a gateway towards planetary thinking and emphasises the subjective, arbitrary and functional nature of ‘grounding’ politics in the exclusive boundaries of any aether. Suprapolitics is politically ecological, planetary and atmospheric.

In the context of the climatic and socio-political challenges that humanity and other forms of life face today on the planetary scale, it is clear that unchallenged domination of geopolitical imaginary is harmful - if not fatal.

The principles of respect, freedom, inclusivity and multidimensional thinking can not be reflected in a world obsessed with vertical accumulation of power and uncompromising absolutism of the sovereignty over the land. In order to unleash new horizons of potentiality for our humanity and the life of the planet we need to think beyond binaries and attempt to map politics in the aether where dimensions are potently limitless.

The imaginary of the air is colonised by the primacy of the value of the land. Geopolitics defines how we look at the atmosphere, sees, rivers, oceans and even cosmos and digital networks. Borders are drawn as imaginary lines in the air, on the water, the Internet and cosmic vacuum; borders extruded solely from the land. This hammer that treats anything around it like the nail has to be put to an end.


The air is fundamentally indivisible by imaginary ‘borders’, unlike the land. There are no anthropological markers of permanence, such as mountains and rivers. The air is an essentially fluid aether where only the winds create the shape of the terrain. The air represents the cosmic, interdependent nature of relations between the forces that constitute the physically perceived reality - such as gravity and the Coriolis force. The aether of air highlights the importance of the micro-macro sensitivity of co-dependence within itself and with the other aethers of politics.

The air offers an opportunity to re-think political logic and causality, defined now by the geopolitical thinking. As there are no borders, capitals and accumulation in the air, there are no fixed destinations, homes, nations or cultural determinisms. In the air one experiences the effect of stillness-in-motion: it is the world that is rolling around the still, floating agent. The destabilisation of the geopolitical and anthropological ground of imaginary is apparent. There are no end goals, no autonomies, and no eternal growth. The air inter- and intra- connects everything and everyone; it flows through, in, and around.

The air is a space of emergence. It constantly floats and its unstable processes allow not the growth, but the evolvement of the potential towards possibilities beyond the one projected future. The change and adaptation in floating context towards a better, fairer balance is the only constant.

The fundamentally free subjectivity of the air permits radical deconstruction of geopolitics. The air cannot be privatised, limited, excluded or cornered; and neither can be the political relations within it or based on its principles. Therefore, the Latin geopolitical encoding Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos [“Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.”] has to be removed from the legal language and the air rights have to be freely and equally regarded with the rights of the land as well as the other aethers.

The wind power and solar energy cannot be dominated by any geopolitical power as a physical fuel resource, unlike many other sources of energy, and therefore the air holds the potential of redefining the normal concept of vertical power prone to accumulation and centralised redistribution. The air is one of the potent vessels of supranormal power.

The recognition of the political agency of the air has to be equally shared with the other aethers of politics: land, whose monopoly has to be put to an end, and also water, cosmos and digital space. All the aethers share the potentiality of being platforms for the suprapolitical life beyond the intention of all-homogenising, imperial and colonial normalisation. The convergence of the aethers into networks of transience will unleash a rich future beyond the static understanding of life that is assumed to be ‘natural’ by the current hegemony of geopolitical imaginary, of which we are all a complicit part - willingly or unwillingly.


Clean air is a necessity. It is a prerequisite of life and society. Without preserving it there will be no future.

The pollution of the air for the sake of land-bound developments reached an unprecedented level in the history of humanity and poses an immediate existential risk to human and non-human survival. Minimising the emissions of carbon dioxide is not a debatable question, but an urgent and vital necessity.

The rights of the air and the aerial rights of the living things must be protected in the same rigorous way as the rights of the other aethers, paving the way towards the new social contract based on the principles of political ecology. Aerial rights belong to all the living things on the planet. A Planetary Charter of the Aerial Rights has to be drafted and protected accordingly.

Emerging low altitude flights have to be free from geopolitical control. This will empower individuals to move towards an accessible and sustainable way of flying free of fossil fuels.

We, as inhabitants of the same planet, need to engage with the geopolitical policy-making now in order to transform the monopolistic land-bound thinking into multidimensional pluralistic imaginary - focusing on what politics of the futures can become.


Our humanity has infinite amount of possible futures beyond the unsustainable idea of the perpetual economic growth and accelerating speed. There are paths we can choose from in order to make what is desirable and plausible: what we think we can become and what we are able to imagine and believe in - we can make real.

To unlock another future we have to start from rethinking the limits of the imagination in what human communities can be, where they can be constructed, and how their politics can look like in the age of thinking beyond the exclusivity and primacy of land rights. The holism of imaginary cannot be complete without expanding our minds.

Aeropolis is a political planetary forum transcending the divisions of the cultures and geographies towards one humanity.

Aeropolis is a space of planetary solidarity. It is anywhere. The power of digital networks allows to materialise the solidarity in communicational infrastructures, further embodying its realness.

Humans and all other living things are the equal citizens of the Aeropolis: the space that embraces the Earth with life-granting layered atmosphere. Citizenship therefore is defined as the inherent, indivisible and irretrievable right to live and evolve equally in co-dependence with the other humans and species.

The Aeropolis is politically climatological and the flexibility of the conditions of the air define its future. Aeropolis is a community of citizens that consciously understand and accept their responsibilities towards the planetary context they share. Aeropolis is defined by upholding the principle of active, participatory and reflective citizenry.

Aeropolis defies hierarchies. It evolves from the shared principles and dynamic dialogue about the futures to come and resilience of the humanity’s ethical achievements.The core strengths of Aeropolis are its horizontality and indivisibility. It is the political imaginary we desperately need.

The Penelopiad Project: a Performative Introduction

the dialogue was performed by Jeanne Pansard-Besson and Denis Maksimov at The Palace of Ritual during the opening days of the 58th Venice Biennale Arte in May 2019.

1. Weaving Penelope’s web

They rush the marriage on, and I spin out my wiles. A god from the blue it was inspired me first to set up a great loop in our royal halls and I began to weave, and the weaving finespun, the yarns endless, and I would lead them on: ‘Young men, my suitors, now that King Odysseus is no more, go slowly, keen as you are to marry me, until I can finish off this web... so my weaving won’t all fray and come to nothing. This is a shroud for old lord Laertes, for that day when the deadly fate that lays us out at last will take him down. I dread the shame my countrywomen would heap upon me, yes, if a man of such wealth should lie in state without a shroud for cover.’ Despite their pride and passion they believed me. So by day I’d weave at my great and growing web—by night, by the light of torches set beside me, I would unravel all I’d done. Three whole years I deceived them blind, seduced them with this scheme. Then, thanks to my maids – the shameless, reckless creatures – the suitors caught me in the act, denounced me harshly. So I finished it off. Against my will. They forced me. And now I cannot escape a marriage, nor can I contrive a deft way out.

No one could oppose my task, it was so extremely pious. All day I would work away at my loom, weaving diligently, and saying melancholy things like, ‘This shroud would be a fitter garment for me than for Laertes, wretched that I am, and doomed by the gods to a life that is a living death.’ But at night I would undo what I had accomplished, so the shroud never got any bigger.

To help me in this laborious task I chose twelve of my maid-servants the youngest ones, because these had been with me all their lives. I had bought them or acquired them when they were small children, brought them up as playmates for Telemachus, and trained them carefully in everything they would need to know around the palace. They were pleasant girls, full of energy; they were a little loud and giggly sometimes, as all maids are in youth, but it cheered me up to hear them chattering away, and to listen to their singing. They had lovely voices, all of them, and they had been taught well how to use them.

Though we had to do it carefully, and talk in whispers, these nights had a touch of festivity about them, a touch—even of hilarity. Melantho smuggled in treats for us to nibble on—figs in season, bread dipped in honeycomb, heated wine in winter. We told stories as we worked away at our task of destruction; we shared riddles; we made jokes. In the flickering light of the torches our daylight faces were softened and changed. We were almost like sisters. In the mornings, our eyes darkened by lack of sleep, we’d exchange smiles of complicity, and here and there a quick squeeze of the hand. The shroud itself became a story almost instantly. ‘Penelope’s web,’ it was called; people used to say that of any task that remained mysteriously unfinished. I did not appreciate the term web. If the shroud was a web, then I was the spider.

But I had not been attempting to catch men like flies: on the contrary, I’d merely been trying to avoid entanglement myself.

2. The Killing

‘Quick, report in full on the women in my halls – who are disloyal to me, who are guiltless?’ The women crowded in, huddling all together... wailing convulsively, streaming live warm tears. First they carried out the bodies of the dead and propped them one against another. Odysseus shouted commands himself, moving things along, and they kept bearing out the bodies – they were forced. Next they scrubbed down the elegant chairs and tables, washed them with sopping sponges, rinsed them clean. (...) And then, at last, once the entire house was put in order, they marched the women out of the great hall – between the roundhouse and the courtyard’s strong stockade – crammed them into a dead end, no way out from there, and stern Telemachus gave the men their orders : ‘No clean death for the likes of them, by god! Not from me – they showered abuse on my head, my mother’s too! You sluts – the suitors’ whores !’ With that, taking a cable used on a dark-prowed ship he coiled it over the roundhouse, lashed it fast to a tall column, hoisting it up so high no toes could touch the ground. Then, as doves or thrushes beating their spread wings against some snare rigged up in thickets – flying in for a cozy nest but a grisly bed receives them – so the women’s heads were trapped in a line, nooses yanking their necks up, one by one so all might die a pitiful, ghastly death... they kicked up heels for a little – not for long. (...)

‘But which maids?’ I cried, beginning to shed tears. ‘Dear gods— which maids did they hang?’

‘Mistress, dear child, he wanted to kill them all! I had to choose some—otherwise all would have perished!’ ‘Which ones?’ - I said, trying to control my emotions. ‘Only twelve,’ she faltered. ‘The impertinent ones. The ones who’d been rude. They were notorious whores.’

‘The ones who’d been raped,’ I said. ‘The youngest. The most beautiful.’ My eyes and ears among the Suitors. My helpers during the long nights of the shroud. My snow-white geese. My thrushes, my doves.

3. Cunning gods

The immortals, givers of all good things, stood at the gates, and uncontrollable laughter burst from the happy gods. (...)

Who is to say that prayers have any effect ? On the other hand, who is to say they don’t ? I picture the gods, giggling around on Olympus, wallowing in the nectar and ambrosia and the aroma of burning bones and fat, mischievous as a pack of ten-year-olds with a sick cat to play with and a lot of time on their hands. ‘Which prayer shall we answer today?’ they ask one another. ‘Let’s cast dice! Hope for this one, despair for that one, and while we’re at it, let’s destroy the life of that woman over there by having sex with her in the form of a crayfish!’. Twenty years of my prayers had gone unanswered. But, finally, not this one. No sooner had I performed the familiar ritual and shed the familiar tears than Odysseus himself shambled into the courtyard.

Penelope felt her knees go slack, her heart surrender, recognising the strong clear signs Odysseus offered.
She dissolved in tears, rushed to Odysseus, flung her arms around his neck and kissed his head. I knew that the beggar was Odysseus. There was no coincidence. I set the whole thing up on purpose. I didn’t let on I knew. If a man takes pride in his disguising skills, it would be a foolish wife who would claim to recognise him: it’s always an imprudence to step between a man and the reflection of is own cleverness. The songs say I didn’t notice a thing because Athena had distracted me. If you believe that, you’ll believe all sorts of nonsense. In reality I’d turned my back on the two of them to hide my silent laughter at the success of my little surprise.

Athena held back the night, and night lingered long at the western edge of the earth while in the east she reined in Dawn of the golden throne at Ocean’s banks. Once she thought he’d had his heart’s content of love and sleep at his wife’s side, straightaway she roused young Dawn from Ocean’s banks to her golden throne to bring men light and roused Odysseus too.

He got away with everything, which was another of his specialties: getting away. He was always so plausible. Many people have believed that his version of events was the true one, give or take a few murders, a few beautiful seductresses, a few one-eyed monsters. Even I believed him, from time to time. I knew he was tricky and a liar, I just didn’t think he would play his tricks and try out his lies on me. Hadn’t I been faithful? Hadn’t I waited, and waited, and waited, despite the temptation - almost the compulsion - to do otherwise? And what did I amount to once the official version gained ground? An edifying legend. A stick used to beat other women with. Why couldn’t they be as considerate, as trustworthy, as all-suffering as I had been? That was the line they took, the singers, the yarn-spinners. Don’t follow my example, I want to scream in your ears - yes, yours! But when I try to scream, I sound like an owl.

4. Maids’ choir

We had no voice

we had no name

we had no choice

we had one face

one face the same

we took the blame

it was not fair

but now we’re here

we’re all here too

the same as you

and now we follow you,

we find you now,

we call to you to you

too wit too woo too wit too woo too woo.

The Pythian Games of Futures

AVENIR INSTITUTE. “The Pronaia Foresight Centre and The Thrice-Born Avenirologic Centre”, 2019

AVENIR INSTITUTE. “The Pronaia Foresight Centre and The Thrice-Born Avenirologic Centre”, 2019


First, in this prayer, of all the gods I name

The prophet-mother Earth; and Themis next,

Second who sat where the truth is said 

On this her mother's shrine oracular.

Then by her grace, who unconstrained allowed,

There sat thereon another child of Earth -

Titanian Phoebe. She, in after time,

Gave her the throne, as birth-gift to a god,

Apollo Phoebus, who in his own bears Phoebe's name.

He from the lake and ridge of Delos' isle

Steered to the port of Attic shores,

The home of ships; and thence he passed and came

Unto this land and to Parnassus’ shrine.

He then established knowledge of representation, 

Legitimising beauty into realness.

And at his side, with awe revering him,

There went the children of Hephaestus' seed,

The hewers of the sacred way, who tame

The stubborn tract that first was wilderness.

And all this folk, and Delphos, chieftain-king

Of this their land, with honour gave him home.

Such gods I name in my preluding prayer,

And after them, I call with honour due

On Pronaia, wardress of the shrine 

Of knowledges in endless forms, and Nymphs,

Who dwell around the rock Corycian,

Where in the hollow cave, the wild birds haunt,

Wander the feet of other gods; and there, in the magic mist,

Right well I know it, life-inspiring Dionysos dwells,

Since he in godship led his Maenad host,

Giving the artful truth in aesthesis bare,

Devising punishment for Pentheus normalised. And last,

I pass and sit; and may the powers of divine

Make this mine entrance fruitful in response

Beyond each former advent, triply blest.

And if there stand without, from Hellas bound,

where humans seeking oracles, let each pass in

In order of the lot, as use allows;

For the truth guides whatever my tongue proclaims.

So let The Games begin!


Whilst we are well into the final quarter of the year under watchful eye of father Zeus, and busily going through our 2019 annual planning cycle, we also have a huge amount of exciting business development activities currently underway, some of which are being delivered in the coming weeks. Midas was unwise and we are ought not to repeat his fate. The theme of being agile, responsive and opportunistic is one that now transcends our organisation - Ares’ spear is on our side of the battle, I am sure of it. Gone are the days of rigid planning regimes that cannot be adjusted, refocused or pivoted: we pray to shape-shifter Hermes for giving us good fortune in those. Thanks to our offerings to swift Iris, our cross functional and cross geographic teams have been successfully developing new ways of communication, management and engagement to allow us to make rapid and clear decisions on where to focus our investment. These ways of working, skill sets and collaboration methodologies looking out like the heads of terrifying Cerberus at our scared competitors and set us up with a great platform as we continue expanding the business. Whilst delivering Hephaestus-quality automation and efficiently servicing customers; we are not slowing our change programme, bringing the offerings to purple-winged Boreas to accelerate even faster. Within our company, I have seen many individuals grow closer to the almighty gods in their learning of our platform, products and industry. These changes have created great opportunities for individual people and teams to grow and develop, revisit legacy processes of heroic ancestors and become more expert and specialised in their functional areas. What strikes me is that sometimes, hidden from external view, we have created an organisation with an incredibly deep knowledge, skill-set and expertise in servicing our customers in the best way possible: the great Athene Pallas would want us as her adopted children. 

Finally, as we look to the months ahead, it is with great anticipation that I see some of the opportunities that will come from the developments we have in the pipeline: Nike is in our pocket. For example, the improved product our teams will have access to in order to fulfil customers’ needs faster and ultimately more profitably - effectively avoiding the curse of Midas. Gods are on our side. And we are on the side of the gods. 


On the slope of Parnassus, surrounding the Temple of Apollo-Dionysus, those seeking futures built treasuries and monuments to win the favour of the enigmatic gods and prophecies of mine. For the centuries to come, Delphi is the centre of futuring. The Temple of Pronaia stands as a repository of knowledges in all multiplicity of the forms: a library of ritual and meaning. I am not expected to provide a foresight, as some foolishly think. My task is to confuse those who seem so sure that their version of reality, of the event and of thinking - is righteous. 

Love of money and nothing else will ruin you. Pray to the Winds.  Sophocles is wise, Euripides is wiser, but of all men Socrates is the wisest - the one thing that I do know, is that I know nothing.

Spartans try to bribe me, but they aren't the only ones. I am always inclined by those seeking to receive a foresight or sort of future-reading despite constantly highlighting that is not what I am meant to do by the grace of golden Apollo and joyful Dionysus. It is a Cold War of the plunged offerings: they use the Treasuries as banks for hope and bizarre investments into attempts to establish the ownership over me, thinking that pouring money on Delphi for the sake of their petty egos will make them the masters of the future. They become fools. 

With silver spears you may conquer the world. You are invincible, my son! You will go, return not die in the war. Care for these things fall on me. 

The ritual shifts from intellectual sparring to religious piety via mechanistic head-breaking. My operation is the same as it was before but the context around it has changed in the constant carnival of greed, jealousy and fury. 

Make your own nature, not the advice of others, your guide in life.

They come with the crosses and fanatical talks of a re-born saviour. Their piety is miserably full of self-assurance. Oh how Dionysus must be laughing when he looks at this saviour of theirs! I lock the temple, seal the chasm and hide the Gaia’s navel from the sacrilege. They find it anyway and anoint it to Zeus and this fatherly-boyish patriarchal clan. It would have been be better had they destroyed it. 

Phoibos no longer has his house, nor his mantic bay, nor his prophetic spring; the water has dried up.  All is ended. 


It used to be called ‘a temple’, now we go with more epistemologised terms such as ‘an institution’ or ‘an international organisation’. The Asklepion had been converted in the World Health Organisation. What was The Athenian Treasury is now The Federal Reserve of the United States. The Temple of Athena Pronaia is transformed into the RAND corporation. The temple of trickster Hermes turned into The World Trade Organisation. 

We are happy to inaugurate two associate units of Avenir Institute in Delphi. They will bridge the pasts, the presents and the futures. The Pronaia Foresight Centre, by the grace of shining Athene Pallas, and The Thrice-Born Avenirologic Centre, to the honour of life-inspiring Dionysus. The Pythian Games of Futures, a festival of futures-making, becomes their joint platform where futuring is democratised and foresight is demystified. It is done through exploration of the critical techniques of anticipating futures via mapping the extrapolation of the current tendencies of the present as well as the research practices addressing the unknown unknowns. It is the process of ‘making future’ rather than expecting someone else’s action to manifest its consequences. It will be rejoined in one continuous open conversation in sacred Delphi bi-annually. We will present the programme of events in Delphi inviting the capable minds to enrich the Planetary Library of Futuring. Thank you all for being here and we look forward to seeing you on the slope of Parnassus. 

Avenirologic Hymns to Orpheus, Mnemosyne, Icarus, Andromeda, Prometheus and Dionysus

to Orpheus

To all divine you can sing lovely songs,

Its godly presence you can call upon,

The bright-eyed Athena,

and Dionysos, the dancer,

whose honours among the blessed gods

are the highest;

Please call on Hebe, and Eileithyia,

invoke the great blessings

of Justice and Piety,

call upon the glorious Nymphs,

the lovely Mnemosyne,

And the holy Muses,

all nine, and then upon the Graces,

the Seasons, and the Year,

upon fair-tressed Leto,

and upon divine and revered Dione.

invoke Themis, the diviner,

and then invoke Night, oldest of all,

and do invoke light-bringing Day.

Faith, Dike, please call upon,

invoke dark-veiled Tethys,

and all of the Okeanos daughters;

sweet-speaking Nike,

queenly Adrasteia;

the battle-stirring maiden Pallas;

invoke the Mother of the immortals, Ourania;

Beginning and End, too,

which to all is most important,

ask them to come

in a spirit of joyous mercy

to this holy rite,

to this reverent libation.

Ask them to give us strength and spirit

To topple down the monopoly of the fathers,

the men, the kings, the presidents, nations, the states,

the families, there heritage, the property,

the senselessness of reproduction of existence.

to Mnemosyne

O great mother of a conscious joy!

You gave the birth to nine gold-crowned Muses

Who delight us in feasts and the pleasures of the song.

You give us tool to learn our past so we would not repeat it,

But the humanity proves to be a lazy student.

We pretend to get better at it,

But instead become more cheaply lavish, gluttonous and fakely prudent.

I call upon you, queen Mnemosyne,

free from the evil oblivion that harms the mind,

Strong in resolution towards knowledge, gracious and kind,

You give coherence to the souls of mortals.

You amplify our ability to think,

Remind us of the thoughts we store forever in our breasts.

O goddess, swipe away those who

Can’t see through clearness of your advice,

Who can’t tell past from future, a life from doom,

An emptiness from saturation.

Ward off oblivion from them: although it’d be violent for many,

To see the truth beyond the shades of Dolce and Gabbana,

They will be thankful through the tears of liberation

From the totality of late capitalistic and tyrannic gaze that went bananas.

to Icarus

O Icarus!

The darer, the risk-taker, the dreamer,

You inspire us to fly above the gut from which some of us are looking at the stars.

Your fate seduces, scares and transcends

To the heights of the impossible

For taking actions that allow to scent

The mere existence with the spice of life.

O Icarus!

Let your spirit fly

Above the heads of young and old who’d know

That there is never time that is too late or is too early for breakthrough,

There is no risk too high or low, too crazy to too small.

O Icarus!

Help break the chains of chastity of mind,

Towards unknown, the fog, the unpredicted,

Towards the shores that are and aren’t,

Where matters real and imaginary blend

Into the shapes of dreams that always can turn real

With guts, perseverance and courage {pronounced French}

to Andromeda

O Andromeda!

You needed not the saviours, the sacrifices or the arrogance of others.

The purity of soul of your devotion and resolve

Gives endless hope for all those ills to be dissolved

With prudence and clairvoyance.

I call on you to stand as you alone,

With no men coming to your rescue,

With no mothers to cause your demises,

With no conditions to be set around your heightened spirit.

I call on your clear, reverent roar

To help us to de-objectify ourselves from the song we are assigned to sing

To please another that in turn

Epitomises his position of power, greed and everlasting presence.

I call on you to break the bubbles

Of the superstitions claiming the reality of real,

The normality of normal,

The powerfulness of powerful,

The weaknesses of weak.

Stand for them to be able to show their faces, voices and rigour,

To open their souls beyond the scripts of the imagined duties,

To take their futures into own devices

And make us all desire them as shared.

to Prometheus

The great chain-breaker!

The great enlightener!

The sufferer for freedoms!

The opener of choices!

The sculptor of the nature!

We can’t be thankful for the miracles performed by you,

As animals we’ve been before your magic touch.

The awful Zeus, a patriarch and masculinity apostle,

Who tricked his way to power for claiming it eternal,

Imprisoned you for lighting up our consciousness.

His minions do the same since dawn of times:

The fathers, the husbands, the brothers, the bosses, the presidents,

The provosts, the directors, the doctors, the teachers, the artists,

The designers;

Few know who is misandrist but normalise misogynist.

Your call to light was accepted, but beyond it

We must go further to the beams of liberties that weren’t provided

As your fate was sealed by the very trickster.

Your liberator, his son, had not seen clearly,

the only half a step he made to free you.

But blind he was to see his father schemings

To mastermind control over the real and the fictitious.

O Prometheus!

I call on you to go on.

To give us light that is brighter,

So we will not leave the caves of present darkness and gloom,

As hopeless and ever repeating the stories of the old again retold.

The daring!

The chain-breaker!

The sufferer!

The survivor!

We stand with light you gave,

And wait for more to come,

With open ears, eyes and souls.

For the potential you saw in us at first

Still there, sleepy, but salient.

to Dionysus

O insewn, inspirer of the frenzied!

You bear life and give the sense to being;

Though always haunted by the rage of normals,

Whose comfort is protected by the sacredness of Hera.

All idols fall, and on their ruins

New ones installed by those who grasped a novel order.

Help us, o life-giver, to gather and to rejoice,

Amidst totality of emptiness in capitalistic Mordor.

Preserve the wine and dance,

Remind the politics of sacred ritual of theatre

And give us hope to overcome horizonless and senseless trance

Of end of history and everlasting present.

O loud, terrifying punisher of Pentheus!

We wait for your ascend with Metis’ wise daughter,

Your loud crying, shining double sister

With whom you’ll put an end to repetitions

Of violent sorrows in the void of crises.

Both you bring justice upon the privilege and repetition,

Upon those blind and unhearing,

Let them unlearn, re-skill and flourish anew

To the potential which all possess but few perform in currents.

To end all ends, to break the wheel,

To cut through self-devouring snake,

To help us stop expecting and start prospecting,

Cut through grip of the Son of Cronos,

Abandon his white-armed wife’s terror,

And look into infinity of worlds to come.

Suprapolitics [1]

It is 1st of August 2045. The polis of Helios, one of the largest lower stratospheric flying stations with more than 150 000 residents, is about to depart into a vertical ascend to float above the Earth at an altitude of approximately 10 km from the bed of Indian Ocean, just several hundreds of miles from the coast of Great Indian Republic. The polis of Ganymede descended here two days ago to replenish supplies of salt water, that will be convert into drinking one onboard. It is also on a mission to exchanging delegations with the polis of Selene.

The idea of a floating city was science fiction just a couple of decades ago, but as it often turns out fiction was much more accurate in predicting the technological future than politics or science. The world, or as kosmoarcheans refer to it, the “oecumene of post-human supracivilisation”, expanded into the sky, oceans and planetary orbits circa 10 years ago. The first poleis — flying, float- ing or orbiting stations — were launched by groups of nolandians in the pursuit of freedom from geopolitical oppression of the nation states and their intergovernmental organisations. The pursuit was fuelled by the failure of the last powerful bastions of the transnationalism on the land, which fell under the pressure of electoral change or revolutions. The battle for a universal redefinition of politics had been lost earlier, although many of those who departed with the first poleis didn’t want to admit it until the critical moment. The “agree to disagree” style of truce was signed by the United Nations and the majority of the nation states with the rhizomatic political network under the common protocol of suprapolitics — Kosmoarchea [2].

Kosmoarchea, the political community of citizens and identities that reject the forced identification and organisation by the national cultures, states and norms, was slowly growing over the decades before formalising itself in 2036. The non-governmental actors from all over the planet — think tanks, research institutes, laboratories and experimental political projects — were working on a common agenda for alternative aethers [3] of imaginary under the protocol of suprapolitics, united by the context of a common protocolled public space in an attempted dialogue with national and international actors to meet the subjectivities of emerging plurality of imaginaries with millennia- old monopolistic tradition of geopolitics. The wide coalition was active in different nation states for years before achieving episodic, localised successes. However, even acquiring the positions of leadership in the institutionally crisis-struck systems didn’t allow them to pass through the fundamental reforms and claim paradigmatic shift in the political thinking.

The political party Avenir Europa took the majority in the European Parliament in 2028 with an ambitious strategy of pushing the redefinition of politics at the heart and the core of its activity. But the European Commission and the Council, led by member states, didn’t share the optimism of this “political avant-garde”. “It is simply dangerous, unacceptable; they question the foundation of human civilisation!” — the President of France exclaimed at the first Council meeting after the elections. The following years passed in muddy battle of the Parliament with other institutions, which was hopeless as the consensus or at least a compromise was more than essential for implementing the first steps towards abandoning the prevalence of geopolitical imaginary.

The rejection of motionless or stability of any kind was a guiding principle for the creation of these multipolitical structures.

It is uneasy, for those who firmly believed in achieving common ground, to remember the “2033–2034: two years of tremble”, when the progressive parties around the world announced the foundation of Post-National Front Avenir (PNFA). PNFA was a coalition of European and non-European political parties and movements, which all shared the same conviction of essentiality to abandon the monopoly of geopolitics. This was taken by the United Nations, international organisations and especially nation states as an act of aggression on “normal” order, in which geopolitics was meant to prevail over any other forms of contextualisation of the political power. PNFA triggered a reaction similar to The Communist International. The various nationalist political groups around the world started labelling the Front as a form of “terrorism”, an existential threat to a civilised society as they know and understand it. It was officially assigned the status of a terrorist organisation in several countries and more followed later on, effectively excluding PNFA parties from the political landscape and driving them underground.

In 2035, after several conflicts between the non-geopolitical state actors and state organisations and agencies, the United Nations and nation states have indefinitely cut all the negotiations with the PNFA and other non-governmental actors such as SpaceX, The Seasteading Institute, Aerocene Foundation, that had been involved in the dialogue on political reforms for years before. This was the ‘alea iacta est’ moment towards critical, survivalist self-organisation for many of them and the moment of realisation that the suprapolitical agenda had to be further evolved independently from traditional geopolitical actors. In exchange for access to the technological advancements, developed by some of the members of the forming Kosmoarchea, the United Nations and nation states agreed on not extending the sovereignty of the land in the neutral ocean waters, troposphere and Earth’s orbit. Kosmoarchea bought time to develop its own independent political agency and presence.

In early spring 2036 the first polis departed from the Namib desert into the lower troposphere. The city of Argos, populated at the moment of launch by just 250 nolandians (as the citizens of poleis were related to then), became a milestone for the Kosmoarchea. The geopolitical actors were openly wishing the project to collapse. However, despite that, Argos successfully tested most of the features of autonomous sustainability and resilience. By 2040, there were 20 poleis with a total population of 36 000 nolandians. The first aquapolitical polis, radical feminist polis of Nereids, started to float in the midst of the Indian ocean in 2037. By 2045 its population expanded to reach 120 000 nolandians. The first kenopolitical polis, Musk, was launched from the Kazakh steppe into Earth’s orbit in 2038. It is now populated by 3 500 permanent residents.

As of 2045, Kosmoarchea unites, under suprapolitical protocol of aethers’ equality, 121 poleis in the oceans, troposphere and the Earth’s orbit with a total population of 3.5 million nolandians. The new poleis are launched monthly under aeropolitical, aquapolitial and kenopolitical protocols. Kosmoarchean Council is negotiating trade and other relations with geopolitical actors, who nonetheless don’t recognise the equal stance of the suprapolitics in relation to mandate of the United Nations geopolitical ideology. The UN and Kosmoarchea agreed on common understanding of the limits of geopolitical sovereignty in the neutral ocean waters, troposphere and Earth’s orbit with major concessions from kosmoarchean side. In fact, the UN doesn’t hide its inferior view on political autonomy of Kosmoarchea, relating to it as ‘continuous experiment’ in official documentation. This approach certainly fuels anti-geopolitical sentiment among growing kosmoarchean citizenry. More and more often the media channels report on the possibility of military conflict between paradigms of the political in the future. However, both sides vehemently deny it, highlighting a symbiotic coexistence and cross-pollination for the sake of the future chances for the humanity survival and advancement.

The size of kosmoarchean citizenry is statistically irrelevant to the geopolitical population; the latter surpassing 13 billion this year. Nevertheless, the desirability and interest in kosmoarchean citizenship is beyond record high: there are hundreds of millions of people who have applied to join the future poleis.

It will be 12 November 2045 when the first summit of Kosmoarchea and the United Nations in New York happens. The summit will signify a symbolic milestone in the recognition of a dialogue between the paradigms of politics. The official agenda of the summit is focused on technicalities of the updates in freedom and restrictions of suprapolitics in relation to geopolitics in the UN’s understanding. The First Kosmoarche will chair the meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations in the General Assembly over two intense weeks of debates. The summit is expected to bring rapturous and critical cleavages, which many suggest are not reconcilable. Both parties insist on the determination to achieve the compromise, although the differences in their understanding of this term will have a potential to break out into a new era of the political struggle for reforming fundamental political imaginary.

[1] Suprapolitics [Latin supra, “above”, and Greek πολιτικά, “affairs of the cities”] - the protocol of universal equality of all viable aethers as platforms for the political relations between poleis and other political entities, including land (geopolitics), water (aquapolitics), air (aeropolitics) and vacuum (kenopolitics).

[2] Kosmoarchea [Greek κόσμος, “world, universe”, and Greek ἀρχή, “beginning, origin”] - the political infrastructure and operational system, which is based on several protocols of political relations, among which are suprapolitics, the political vs. politics and micro political ecology.

[3] Aether [Ancient Greek αἰθήρ, “upper air”] - the substance of specific physical properties, which can be used for platforming operational political systems and protocols of relations between poleis and other political entities.

Avenirologic Hymn to Gaia

Yea summon Earth, who brings all things to life and rears and takes again into her womb - for what is maybe it is time.

To Gaia, mother of all, shall I sing: the oldest one, firm foundation of all the world.
All things that move over the face of the earth, all things that move through the sea, and all that fly: all these are fed and nourished from your store; from you all children and all good harvests come forth, o blessed one, our mother earth.

Trump wants the space force beyond your shores; but drinks Coke Light produced out of your gifts and plays golf on your fair green skin.

O blessed one, mother of all mankind, the giver of life and the taker of life away, for mortal men, happy are those you honour: your fertile earth yields up riches to satisfy all their needs; their cities and their homes are filled with all good things; well-ordered lives of men and women you bless: good fortune is theirs.

And damned immortalists who want to upload their consciousness to hard drives and drift away with Trump’s space force.

Their children sing for joy and delight, exulting in their youth, they dance through the flowers; and over the grass they dance for joy. It is you who bless, it is you who nourish, sacred spirit, mother earth.

And yet those men forgot your sacred navel and don’t allow its story to be told, scaring with punishments.

Be well, be well, mother earth, lovely bride of starry heaven, of starry heaven; and for my song grant me life both full and long. It is you who bless, it is you who nourish, sacred spirit, mother earth, our blessed mother earth.

For I will go on telling stories that are alternative to those that nation states usurped as only true and fair to justify their violence, injustice and despair.

I shall remember you, and another song too.
Mother earth, source of blessed gods and men, all-nourisher, all-giver, ripener, all-destroyer,
Inspirer of growth, yielder of beautiful fruit in due season, foundation of the endless cosmos, many-splendoured lady, with the pains of child-birth you bring forth all manner of life, eternal, highly-revered, deep-bosomed, blessed one, rejoicing in sweetly-breathing greenery, many-flowered deity, delighting in rain; around you heaven’s teeming stars revolve in ever-winding flow most awesome. But, blessed spirit, may your fruits increase, and with joyful heart, look kindly upon us this time and for ever.

And help us crush those who betray your ethos, your respect and gracious valour.

(with the translations of Aeschylus “The Libation Bearers” 127-8 by Jules Cashford; Ancient Greek Homeric Hymn to Gaia and Ancient Greek Orphic Hymn to Gaia by Alec Roth).

The Micropolitical Ecology in The Age of Data

The notion of the Political is fundamentally different from that of the Politics. 

The Political is about domination and instalment of the subjective set of the norms, that statically define the matrix of acceptable socio-political reality, claiming therefore monopoly on political imaginary by the subject possessing power. This matrix is a conscious imaginary, which provides axiomatic set of values, the fundament of the reality - such as, in the contemporary context, a nuclear family, a national state/culture, biopolitics, geopolitics, etc. 

The market of The Political is a professional discipline based on defeating adversaries and winning the ultimate prize of power. Politics, on the other hand, is an everyday human activity, that is rooted in dialogue for synergic coexistence and common action. Politics has to be exercised, cared for and thought about by all the citizens disregard profession - otherwise it is replaced, quite like in contemporary moment, by the theatre of the Political. 

The checks and balances in any political system are ought to serve the primary goal of controlling the extent of the accumulation of the Political by professional actors in Politics. The confusion of Politics and the Political leads to driving the imaginary matrix into the space of unconscious and gives the green light to populism, extremist forms of exercising power.

The big data and availability of its large chunks for the citizens create unique opportunity for self-organisation of political space. We propose the framework of the micropolitical ecology as a set of fundamental principles that protect social relations from corruption by the accumulation of political power on the level of communities. The micropolitical ecology should be a protocol of political engagement, that allows to fundamentally put the Political in the check of the protocols of Politics. The Political then, as an inevitably selfish accumulation of power, is to be limited as the disruptive to overall political ecology force. Instead of continuously distancing from citizens through process of delegation of the power to the representatives, the micropolitical ecology is focused on introducing Politics into the everyday space of healthy rituals, just exercising or brushing teeth. Politics is the area that benefits from the algorithmic, data-driven, decentralised innovations in platform-building that allow coordination of citizens’ acts of dialogue and negotiations about accepted universals protocols. It might eventually allow us to leave the vicious circle of violent events of the introduction of new norms, the win-or-lose struggles for overall domination by yet another group of the power-hungry Political space. Politics as a seen through the prism of micropolitical ecology is set to be a space for impactful common interest actions, synergised through decentralised cooperation between citizens.

Theoxenia as Politics for Shared Futures

The term ‘hospitality’ has many distinctive definitions and origins. 

In Ancient Greece one of the most important protocols of diplomacy was called xenia. Xenos (ξένος, “alien”, “foreign”, “strange”, “unusual”, “guest”) is an ambiguous term that had been used in Greek poetry from at least Homer onwards. The interpretation of it fluctuates from ‘stranger’ to ‘guest friend’ all the way to ‘enemy’.

Xenia as a protocol of relating to the Other played incremental role in the narratives that came down to us from Ancient Greek poets. In the last book of Homer’s The Iliad the king of Troy Priam comes to the camp of Achaeans to claim the body of his fallen son Hector and the Greek hero Achilles, abiding by the rules of xenia, allows him to stay and provides food, warm bed and entertainment despite the hostilities on the battlefield and his own personal rage over the death of Patroclus, his closest confidant and lover. 

The respect towards unknown Other was a subject of special importance since (s)he/them could have been a disguised god. The protocol of ancient hospitality could be more accurately defined as theoxenia (θεός “god”), a hospitality towards a possible god who can appear in a disguise of a humble stranger. In the first book of The Odyssey, Telemachus welcomes masked as a maiden Athena in his home and protects her from the rude suitors of his mother. He exercises the ritual of xenia and earns her favour and this act led to change of the heart of the goddess towards his father Odysseus, cursed by her for stealing a sacred statue of Athena from Troy’s temple in order to bring the victory to Achaeans in the 10 years war. Athena’s aid to Odysseus further was earned by his son’s act of hospitality. 

There are several key differences between hospitality in contemporaneity and the ancient Greek protocol of theoxenia. 

First of all, theoxenia is unconditional. Mourning Achilles neither welcoming Priam in his camp in hope for a reciprocity or while plotting a stratagem to use the king of Troy for the sake of some future act of revenge, nor he shows in this way his moral and ethical superiority by being so generous towards the enemy. He simply obeys the sacred rule of hospitality as if it would be an answer to the equation of two plus two. In order words, his approach to hospitality there is beyond selfish: it is ritualistic and cultural rather than opportunistic, pitiful or predatory.  

Secondly, theoxenia protects the perpetual peace and excludes psychological or any other form of violence. Allow me to elaborate here. The contemporary political interpretation of the term hospitality is closely tied with terms like integration, assimilation and tolerance. All three of them are presuming, although not admitting, an act of violence on the subjectivity of a guest/stranger. The agencies of integration and assimilation demand from the Other to assume traditions and norms of the society, in which her/him/them are integrating, as new fundamentals. Ultimately, they violently break the subjectivity that the Other had before the integration or assimilation process had begun. Tolerance of a host to a guest, on the other hand, is a mind construct of the borders of acceptable freedom within the cage of subjective reality defined as principal within the society that is tolerating the guest. Telemachus protects disguised in a clothes of shallow woman Athena from the drunk suitors of his mother Penelope, risking his life, in order to prevent the act of rape that is considered not far beyond ordinary towards the woman of unknown provenance in Ithaca. He places the respect the protocol of theoxenia over the normality of the socio-political order, preventing the violence even as it is justified by local norms, therefore he stands against the local tradition and identity. 

Thirdly, theoxenia is transnational, transcultural and universal. While contemporary hospitality is distinctly different among the people belonging to the same tribes - racially, socially, politically, ethnically, linguistically, etc - theoxenia is equal in the face of any otherness. Trojans are foreigners to Greeks, and all foreigners are considered Barbarians by the Achaeans, having different norms and understanding of justice. Achilles however treats Priam as a relative of his own. Disguised Athena is a traveller of unknown origin, an ultimate foreigner, but she receives protection of the prince of Ithaca. 

Contemporary hospitality is cruel, selfish, hostile and reciprocally economical. We talk about migrants and refugees, nomads and travellers (relating to them as ‘tourists’) as a livestock on the meat farm, economic items, the biomass that is meant to be violently integrated, assimilated, serviced and entertainment if they have money; and at the best tolerated by our ‘normalised’ orders of the societies. The condition of perpetual peace is simply impossible as the inflicted on the Other violence internalises in the form of deep sleeping trauma, which will eventually reemerge. It is not surprising to me, for example, that sociologists from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development report “that foreigners who come to live in Germany tend to remain strangers, even after 50 years and three generations in some cases”. It is not the failure of integration, as it is wrongly portrayed by the analysts - but the failure of hospitality. 

There is a better way to understand, teach about and explain hospitality than elaborating inevitability of cultural, social and political violence, that is meant to be inflicted on the Other who found themselves in the geopolitical space of your norms. In the face of Pangaeac challenges such as climate change, resurgence of narrow mindedness, nationalism and imperialism - it is the time to rid off tribal understanding of the world and explore the universal protocol of humanity within all of us.

FUTURES THEOGONY: libretto of the narrative opera in 4 acts

The narrative opera in 4 acts by Hesiod: Rodrigo Andreiolli, Stella Cristofolini, Helena Doyle, Panagiotis Kontolaimos, Denis Maksimov, Gian Spina, Dimitra Stavropoulou, Dariko Tsulaya, Timo Tuominen, Brell Wilson & others directed by AVENIR INSTITUTE premiered in 3 acts form on April 22, 2018 at Balkan Kino Communitism in Athens, Greece. The full version of libretto is available here: download.


Prologue. The Place That Even Gods Hate.

Intermezzo #1. Cyclops.

Act 1. Athena-Dionysian Justice.

Intermezzo #2. Cyclops.

Act 2. Hephestina.

Intermezzo #3. Cyclops.

Act 3. The Mythological Archetypes of Aphrodite.

Act 4. Medusa. Present!


Power and Utopia

/An excerpt of the chapter from the upcoming 3rd [blueprint] of AVENIR INSTITUTE, steɪt əv nəʊlænd: resisting empire, sovereignty and nation/

The are limitless ways of starting the conversation about power, none of which is ‘correct’ beyond the mix conscious or unconscious ideological pre-suppositions of the speaker(s). Power is transgressive, material and ephemeral at the same time. Power is energy that moves the wheels of political mechanisms. Art theorists speak about ‘aura’ within the objects and subjects of aesthetic and artistic; while in politics we can define a similar undefinable category of energy - ‘plasma’. Plasmatic political actors and institutions, just as in case of art, might not be immediately evident and visible. They are rather perceivable: the invisible and thick thrill in the air in the space of presence of the power-holder. When tourists arrive to Brussels and head to the site of the European Parliament or in Washington to see the Capitol Hill, there are not there (whether they reflect it or not) to see the architecture. They are attracted, magnetically driven towards the space by the power they symbolise.

The language of conversation about power is not an easy subject. The contestation of the field spans beyond any particular discipline as power has infinite ways of manifesting itself and bending the real. 

Power is a solemn and sacred resource of politics and the only versatile matter that combines both material and immaterial essence in indistinguishable synergic mix, form and futures of which is hardly programmable. As Aristoteles famously highlighted, the man is a political animal: meaning that human is a relational subject, specifically in assigning value and defining meaning of things. Relations are characterised by ordering and policing distribution of power in social constructs of the society. Power is not just mere means to reach out for a gain or value, but it is a thing in itself. This important characteristic of power has long tradition of being ignored. You can convert power into anything you want, however you cannot easily make the reverse conversion of ‘something’ into power. For example, the augmented perception without neoliberal capitalist mode of thinking suggests that financial resources can be converted into political power. Indeed, the current matrix of socio-political relations unfairly puts financial resources in the privileged position and can easily ‘seduce’ into trading power for money. Those who do often find themselves doomed and destroyed. The institutional uniqueness and ontological fundamentality of political power proved over the course of history it doesn’t stay loyal or fixate ‘exchange rates’ with any resource. The successful politician is not the one who want to obtain power for the sake of becoming, for example, rich - but the one who values power over any other resource it can be converted into. Political power provides the one who gets hold on it to define norm, reality and value of the things that can it has limitless potentiality to be converted into. 

Power has numerous disambiguations: authority, control, enforcement of the will, etc. The historian of the present and archeologist of knowledge(s) Michel Foucault over the years of working with the notion of power elaborated the field of research that he called ‘cratology’ (from ‘cratos’ - Ancient Greek for power). Cratology, or the knowledge about power, highlights the fundamental difference between ‘the political’ and ‘politics’.

The political, as understood in the early school of political realism, which counts Carl Schmitt and Paul Morgenthau as its core representatives, defined by the latter in the following manner: “…the Political is to be understood as a force that exists within the individual and is necessarily directed towards other people in the form of “desire for power”. 

Schmitt focused his analysis on the figure of a sovereign, as “…is he who decides on the exception”. A sovereign through the imposed domination and exercise of power is the source of justice. Interestingly, the term “justice”, as “righteousness”, etymologically originates in Proto-Indo-European religious cults. The nature of ‘the political’ is theological and the reality, which is constructed politically, is not much different from religious world views. We believe in justice, fairness, freedom as some of us believe in Jesus, angels or afterlife. 

Nietzsche in his opposition of Dionysian, bare life, and Apollonian ‘filter’ of bearable representation of it pinpointed the nature and the appearance of ‘the political’ in a strikingly visual way. The bare essence of life with its animalistic rules, as he was elaborating in The Birth of Tragedy, are so tragic and unbearable that we require the ‘filters’ in order to keep on living it: we require concepts of meaning, such religion and political ideologies, the norms and values of ordinary micro-level living, such as family, children and so on. These institutions and narratives create a distance from the stage where the wild beast of power exercises the bare violence and multiple murders for the sake of getting hold and gripping the structure of the political in the most effective and long-standing form. 

In order to make this bareness bearable, filters create the notion of visibility in social and political life. None of them, any religion or political ideology, are capable of covering the narrative of existence perfectly, although they certainly claim and try to achieve it. As soon as the individual has clear analytical vision, the crack within any of them are omnipresent and disturbing. For that reason the regimes of power, of those Apollonian filters of meaning, need to create a theatrical stage of events with very very accurate lighting system. You cannot afford to make too many things and cracks on the stage visible: as soon as the props and costumes become too ridiculous, the audience stops pretending it believes in it. Just in bad theatre it can cause  the revolt leading to the change of the director, the particular sovereign. Jacques Ranciere in Aesthetics and Politics spoke about this methodology as notions of visibility in politics - as soon as something becomes problematic within the organised image of the constructed by the particular Goliath real, it needs to be actively ignored or even forcefully silenced. The action will largely depend on the character of the regime, but the desirable result is always the same. There is an inherent similarity between sometimes semi-conscious ignorance of particular news stories in the democratic media and violence against the opposition in more autocratic ones: all of them are the methods of controlling the visibility. 

Those constructs lead us to another important notion in conversation about power - utopia. It was discussed since the very beginning of epistemology in a form of Atlantis, but most probably has much earlier forms in unwritten shape. 

Utopia however can be analysed and approached from different perspective: as a strategic attempt to address the ontological problem of ‘the political’ as a source of domination and oppression. The utopian genre was born in Renaissance and appropriated the way we approach utopia as a literature, rather than an attempt to curb the political and power. It is looked at as a form of criticism of socio-political apparatus, escapism from impossibility to inflict a lasting large enough change in politics of the day. 

The approach towards utopia as a praxeological form of creative criticism, where the radicality of the proposal is balanced by the tactics of making the manifestations of ‘the political’ bare and naked, is much more potent in a sense of potentiality to cause fundamental shift in thinking about the alternatives to the status quo. Our approach to analysis of the notion of utopia as well as its concrete manifestations departs from the premise of it being a critical tool of the state of politics in which ‘the political’, and its agent the sovereign, a Goliath, hides itself under the ideographs of freedom, justice and fairness. Utopia is an analytical gesture of reinvention of the past in order to criticise the present for constructing desirable future. David’s taking on seemingly hopeless struggle against Goliath ended up in valiant success. The role of David in our case played by utopian thinking, while Goliath is the Leviathan of the imperial nation statehood.

Mythology for Queer Futures and Potentiality of Athena-Dionysian Justice

Marble head of Dionysos (from Piraeus, late 4th c. BC) / Marble head of Athena with Corinthian helmet (reign of Hadrian) 

Marble head of Dionysos (from Piraeus, late 4th c. BC) / Marble head of Athena with Corinthian helmet (reign of Hadrian) 

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men’s minds without their being aware of the fact” [1] - claimed Claud Live-Strauss in the introduction to “Mythologiques”. Myths play fundamental role in constructing the compass of ethical and moral orienteers in culture. Mythographies and theogonies are the original source materials of the early utopias, although the concept itself was introduced in particular form more than two millennia later. In contemporaneity, the pastiche of the remnants of the ancient theogonies forms the present grand narratives, that were mistakenly pronounced dead by Jean-François Lyotard. Lyotard was however paradoxically right and wrong in his statement: the narratives “…we tell to justify a single set of laws and stakes [that] are inherently unjust…”[2], indeed, however we are not able to outgrow them. The denial of existence of the grand narratives creates an illusion of freedom from biased judgements, while they are continuously performed on the basis of convictions that are driven deeper into subconscious. Carl Schmitt highlighted in “Political Theology”: “All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development - in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent god became the omnipotent lawgiver - but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these concepts” [9]. Moreover, since the last decade of 20th century “…facts [are] uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent” [15]. This condition is referred to in futures and transdisciplinary studies as post-normal and requires reassessment of the very foundations of epistemological heritage, such as the relevance of the questions concerning the universal “truths”. Critical reading of the archived as historical texts allows to discover the contemporary thingness within them and the disruptive potentiality of unearthing alternative futures.

Our moral ontological terminology of “right” and “wrong”, basic understanding of the ethical concepts of “Love”, “Discord”, “Quarrel”, “Justice” “Social Peace”, “Bad Governance”, “Good Governance” etc.; our biases and prejudices - originate from myths. Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Deleuze and others used mythological basis for constructing cultural, psychoanalytic, philosophical, etc understanding of culture and its dynamics [3]. The potentiality of mythology as a source of alternative shared concepts, archetypes [17], in academia is dimmed by the rise of the dominance of analytical school, pursuing enclosed paradigmatic approach while seemingly embracing interdisciplinary ideas. Just like for a racing horse with blindfolds, the only possible track of movement is still forward at higher speed to a finish line. But who designed the track and why the finish line is where it is?

Theogonies and cosmogonies are numerous and include texts and remnants written down from spoken narratives all around the world: African (incl. Egyptian), Middle and Central Eastern (Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Phoenician, etc), Classical Mediterranean European (Minoan-Cretan, Archaic and Classical Greek, etc), Northern and Central European (Celtic, Finnish, Germanic, etc), pluralities of Indian, Native American and among more sources all demonstrate common traits and recurrent stories. The comparative analysis of the narratives and symbolic references within those sources reveals a lot of interesting connections [4; 12] and similarities.

One of them is Hesiod’s “Theogony”, “…an intensely political poem” [3]. Hesiod “…has selected, compiled, systematized, and transformed into a widely disseminated written document… fully surviving example of a Greek tradition of written theogonies and cosmogonies…” [5]. Muses, he claimed, gave him “the awareness within himself of a new ability to compose poetry about matters past and future” [5]. Interestingly, the researchers of Hesiod’s work indicate petering end of “Theogony”, as if it was cut abruptly by the editor of some sort [5]. Whether it could have been an accident, like burning the essential scrolls in the fire caused by Caesarian troops in Alexandrian Library in August 48 BC, or deliberate destruction by censors at the time of decline of polytheism and monotheistic radicalisation (for example, by early Christian radical extremists), or neither of those options - we are gifted with a fruitful soil for productive speculation. Searching for clues about possible futures in the genealogy of fundamental ethical concepts disguised as various forms of divinities presented in the text is a promising exercise.

“Theogony” is the genealogy of fundamental ethical concepts disguised as various forms of divinities presented in the text, including the concepts of justice, power and sovereignty, which are fundamental for political theory and utopian writing. Paul Morgenthau defined “…the Political… to be understood as a force that exists within the individual and is necessarily directed towards other people in the form of “desire for power” [8], while mentioned earlier Carl Schmitt spoke of a sovereign as “…he who decides on the exception” [9]A sovereign through the imposed legitimised domination and mechanisms of the exercise of power is the source of definitions of “justice”, “righteousness”, which are all etymologically coming from Proto-Indo-European religious cults.

Andrea Brocca.  Hera brings image of Eris in the mind of Zeus after his quarrel with Athena ( from illustrations for Mythology for Queer Futures),  London, 2017

Andrea Brocca. Hera brings image of Eris in the mind of Zeus after his quarrel with Athena(from illustrations for Mythology for Queer Futures), London, 2017

The figure of patriarchal Zeus in Hesiod’s “Theogony” is an embodiment of the order of justice and enjoyed some attention from researchers [3, 5]. The myths about his deeds, his involvement in the conflicts among gods and men, his path to power on the Olympus as well as his relation with children, whose generation is the last of those consecutively described in “Theogony”, carve the concept of Zeusian justice as a sort of everlasting ideal. Zeus cements his sovereignty after the battle with the monster Typhon - the last challenge to his authority. After victory he seems to have established timeless control in a form of patriarchal harmony. The archetypes within Zeusian justice form the socio-political and cultural order we inhabit: with the dynamic hierarchy of virtues being presented in regularly refreshed new aesthetic forms, but however retaining its essential structure. Critical deconstruction of the genealogy of ordinary virtues in “Theogony”, willing ostracisation from the totality of political power in Zeusian justice is paramount for the alternative thinking towards otherness as praxis.Zeus was prophesied to be challenged by the child of his first wife Metis, the mother of wisdom, deep thought and cunning. He supposedly overcome it by outsmarting the solution of his father Kronos, who used to swallow his children to avoid any of them posing the challenge to his rule. Zeus devoured the pregnant wife instead. Later on, Athena “…pealed to the broad sky her clarion cry of war…” [10] from his head after Zeus’s skull was cleaved open following the intolerable headache. He therefore became mother and father to Athena, who never married or mothered a child and was the only Olympian to be entrusted with the ultimate ‘godly nuclear weaponry’, thunderbolts. Athena embodied the continuity and at the best refinement of the concept of everlasting Zeusian justice, according to the most interpretations. But richness and controversial to ‘normality’ character of the goddess [11; 12], her multiplicity in representation of plasmatic in the political, polis, citizenry above nationality, to name the few and potentiality of opposition to Zeusian patriarchy offers a strong foundation for the possibility of alternative futures.

Another peculiar character, Dionysus, the son of the patriarch and mortal woman, who was resurrected twice from the thigh of Zeus and is therefore, like in Athena’s case, count the patriarch as both mother and father. One of the resurrections was possible because Athena saved Dionysus heart after he was torn apart by Titans sent to kill him by the jealous second wife of Zeus, Hera. Dionysus remarkably showed outstanding mercy and saved Hera from imprisonment by Hephaestus, her own unwanted son. Dionysus also notably turned the object of mocking into the weapon and the symbol of power: given him by Titans pine cone stick became thyrsus, his Olympian stuff. He arguably became a model [13, 14] from which ‘the simplified’ figure of suffering gods, including Jesus, emerged in monotheisms. In the Orphic tradition [4] Dionysus has a central role in the pantheon of deities. He is the representation of “zoe”, the authentic, unobstructed by convention and oppression of the mundane existence energy of life, as well as the artistic aura and creativity. His sacrifices and uncompromising nature of personal morality is both a radical opposite and an ideal counter-balancer to Athena in possible duality of alternative archetypes for futures.

“Theogony” contains the potentiality of another of order of justice, perhaps identified beyond the term ‘justice’ itself - namely Athena-Dionysian tandem. Athena is female, yet masculine, while Dionysus is male, yet feminine - they are queer, ‘the Other’ among the Olympians. “Queer is…whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant… It is an identity without an essence. ‘Queer’… demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative…” [16].

Andrea Brocca.  The “Other” Olympians before the storm: Athena, Dionysus & Hephaestus (from illustrations for Mythology for Queer Futures),  London, 2017

Andrea Brocca. The “Other” Olympians before the storm: Athena, Dionysus & Hephaestus (from illustrations for Mythology for Queer Futures), London, 2017

They share special relation to their father-mother and played special roles in impacting the build-up of the European cultural and political archetypes. Athena became the personification of the model of concious, critical and reflective citizenship in relation to polis and representation of “public”, while Dionysus ‘cultivated’ model of ‘authentic life’ and vitality of experience. What would be the legitimate story for construction of the basis in creation of other archetypes, that would challenge the monopoly of current justice - based on union of patriarchal Zeus and jealous, revengeful Hera? And why is it urgent for futures?

The pertaining question and deadlock of critical theory is negative methodology that appear to be not capable of alternative thinking about socio-political order. In conversation with Christian Delacampagne, Michel Foucault highlighted “I can’t help but dream about a criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgments but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes – all the better. All the better. Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I’d like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the imagination. It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the lightning of possible storms.” [6]

Critical reading of classic texts embody the possibility of opening the vortex for alternative meanings of the very fundamental presuppositions - and therefore undermining silent and invisible ethical and moral monopoly of patriarchal justice, disguised as eternal and universal. #notsurprised about ‘Harvey Weinsteins’ is just a drop in the ocean of examples of the appearances and forms of the embedded order in the DNA of socio-political and cultural ideology, hidden by the layer of seemingly different and competing, but in reality fundamentalising it discourses. On the other level we face, for example, the European Union desperate and so far unsuccessful search for ‘new narratives’ to legitimise its vision of united future(s). Neoliberal marketing-disguised forms of engagement with the citizens of the EU fails, especially facing of economic and political crises. The sense of belonging to one culture, one people and sharing common futures is far from being formed - insistence of ‘Christian tradition of Europe’ was arguably one of the key reasons of failure of the European constitutional project. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “Every culture that has lost myth has lost, by the same token, its natural power of creativity. Only a horizon ringed about with myths can unify a culture. The forces of imagination… are saved only by myth” [7].

Myth is a fundamental active agent of storytelling and narrative-building: lifelessness resulting in disempowering it through aestheticisation closes its potentiality and rejects possibility of alternative futures. “Mankind today, stripped of myth, stands famished among all his pasts and must dig frantically for roots… What does our great historical hunger signify, our clutching about us of countless other cultures, our consuming desire for knowledge, if not the loss of myth, of a mythic home, the mythic womb?.. And who would care to offer further nourishment to a culture which, no matter how much it consumes, remains insatiable and which converts the strongest and most wholesome food into “history” and “criticism”?” [7] - wrote Nietzsche more than a century ago, however ‘today’ commenced long before him and continues now. The real alternative to the thickening totality of everlasting present comes not from flying cars and autonomous robots - but from the depth of mythological archetypes and our courage to re-think and develop them.

Andrea Brocca.  Nike emerges from the clash of thunderbolts (from illustrations for Mythology for Queer Futures),  London, 2017

Andrea Brocca. Nike emerges from the clash of thunderbolts (from illustrations for Mythology for Queer Futures), London, 2017

Onward! Towards defining the lightnings for an upcoming storm.

by Denis Maksimov (November 19, 2017)


[1] Marcel Hénaff. Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Making of Structural Anthropology. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London, 1998. p. 108.

[2] Williams, James. “Jean-Francois Lyotard” in Key Contemporary Social Theorists by Anthony Elliott and Larry Ray. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 2002, pp. 210-214.

[3] Stephen Scully. Hesiod’s Theogony: from Near Eastern Creation Myths to Paradise Lost. Oxford University Press, 2015

[4] Gladys M. N. Davis. The Asiatic Dionysos. G. Bell and Sons, ltd., 1914.

[5] Glenn W. Most (ed.). Hesiod: Theogony, Work and Days, Testimonia. Harvard University Press, London, 2006.

[6] Michel Foucault. “The Masked Philosopher” in J. Faubion (ed.). Tr. Robert Hurley and others Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Volume One, Penguin, 1997.

[7] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, trans. Kaufmann, Random House, 1967, sec. 23

[8] Kate Schick. Gillian Rose: A Good Enough Justice. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2012

[9] George Schwab. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985.

[10] C.D. Warner, et al., comp. Seventh Olympian Ode by Pindar. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.An Anthology in Thirty Volumes, 1917.

[11] Rebecca Futo Kennedy. Athena’s Justice. Athena, Athens and the Concept of Justice in Greek Tragedy. Peter Lang Publishing, NY, 2009.

[12] Susan Deacy and Alexandra Villing. Athena in the Classical World. Brill, 2001

[13] James Rendel Harris. The Origin of the Cult of Dionysos. Reprinted from the Bulletin of John Rylands Library. April, 1915.

[14] Rene Girard. Dionysus versus the Crucified. MLN, Vol. 99, No. 4, French issue, Sep. 1984, p. 820.  

[15] Funtowicz, S. and Ravetz, J.. Science for the post-normal age, Futures, 31(7), 1993, pp. 735-755

[16] David Halperin. “Queer Politics” in The New Social Theory Reader by Steven Seidman and Jeffrey C. Alexander. Routledge, 2001.

[17] Carl G. Jung. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Princeton University Press, 1968.

This Storm Is What We Call Progress

Denis Maksimov/AVENIR INSTITUTE reading "This Storm is What We Call Progress"

Denis Maksimov/AVENIR INSTITUTE reading "This Storm is What We Call Progress"

“ ’Tis but a tent where takes his one day’s rest

A Sultan to the realm of death addressed.

The Sultan rises and the dark Ferrash 

Strikes, and prepares it for another guest.” 

Difficult, indeed, it is, judicially to handle a subject where even probable truth will hardly gain assent. In the affairs of war we excel those of our enemies, who adhere to methods opposite to our own. In our manner of living we show an elegance tempered with frugality, and we cultivate philosophy without enervating the mind. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. 

And yet we pass the soundest judgements, and are quick at catching the right apprehensions of things, not thinking that words are prejudicial to actions, but rather the not being duly prepared by previous debate before we are obliged to proceed to execution. Envy will exert itself against a competitor while life remains; but when death stops the competition, affection will applaud without restraint. Moreover, we may hence conclude that there is great hope that death is a blessing. And if it is a privation of all sensation, as it were, a sleep in which the sleeper has no dream, death would be a wonderful gain; for thus all futurity appears to be nothing more than one night. 

To conquer we have need to dare, to dare again, ever to dare!

Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. History teaches us that no oppressed class has ever come into power and cannot come into power, without passing through a period of dictatorship, that is, the conquest of power and forcible suppression of the most desperate and mad resistance which does not hesitate to resort to any crimes, such has always been shown by the exploiters. And by the hundreds of thousands today we find our own people have become impatient, turning away from your white nationalism, which you call democracy, toward the militant, uncompromising policy of black nationalism. There is no system more corrupt than a system that represents itself as example of freedom, the example of democracy, and can go all over this earth telling other people how to straighten out their house, when you have citizens of this country who have to use bullets if they want to cast a ballot. 

We are new brooms; let us see that we sweep the right rooms. For it is monstrous that the feet should direct the head. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your love. For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches; for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count invaluable. Neither do I desire to live longer days than I may see your prosperity and that is my only desire. I have ever used to set the Last Judgement Day before mine eyes and so to rule as I shall be judged to answer before higher judge, and now if my kingly bounties have been abused and my grants turned to the hurt of my people contrary to my will and meaning, and if any in authority under me have neglected or perverted what I have committed to them, I hope God will not lay their culps and offenses in my charge. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. 

To be a king and to wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. In such a time of necessity those who act in the name of God are not those who, citing Bible quotations, wander idly about the country and spend the day partly doing nothing and partly criticising the work of others; but those whose prayers take the highest form of uniting man with his God, that is the form of work. I encourage you from time to time and always in respectful manner to question my logic. If you’re unconvinced with a particular plan of action I’ve decided is the wisest then tell me so. But allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now - no subject will ever be taboo. 

Except of course the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing it up: I collect your fucking head! Now, if any of you, son of bitches got anything else to say now is the fucking time!

Ours is a righteous cause. The enemy shall be defeated. Victory will be ours. 

The text was read publicly by Denis Maksimov (Avenir Institute) at the opening lecture-performance of the total installation "Storming" by Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai in London. It features quotations (in the order of appearance) from Omar Khayyam, Pericles, John F. Kennedy, Socrates, Georgres Danton, Petyr Baelish, Vladimir Lenin, Malcolm X, Lady Astor, Elizabeth Tudor, Adolf Hitler, O-Ren Ishii and Vyacheslav Molotov. 

Imperialism post-ex-ante

AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'Imperialism post-ex-ante', installation/lecture-performance, Projeto Fidalga, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017).

AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'Imperialism post-ex-ante', installation/lecture-performance, Projeto Fidalga, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017).

Thomas Hobbes introduced the idea of Leviathan as a corporeal representation of a nation state. The sovereign, as a unified body of all, represents the common consciousness of a nation state and possesses the ultimate political power which converts into the exclusive right of legal violence against its parts. The body is, as any other objects, a subject to gravity - but in this case to anthropological gravity. The nation as a man is mortal and vulnerable to psychological and physical sickness. The syndrome of post-ex-ante, or freaktional imperialism, has a history of recurrence in nations that went through the imperial stage of development.

After the Age of Discovery and consequential creation of the truly global empires, the man became global with his components being the various elements-states in the interconnected system of political economy. Before we get to specificity of post-ex-ante imperialism let us look into the stages of imperial development.

An empire is different from a nation state by the desire of expanding and dominating the rest of the Oikumene, the world as it’s known to them. An empire seeks ultimate power to define the norm in social, political and cultural life across the whole. For example, The Persian Empire looked into the conquest of the Ancient Greek polises as an opposing lifestyle and The Roman Empire desired to ‘civilise’ the Barbarians all around known Europe.

AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'Imperialism post-ex-ante', installation/lecture-performance, Projeto Fidalga, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017)

AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'Imperialism post-ex-ante', installation/lecture-performance, Projeto Fidalga, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017)

Empires start with an ambition. Much like Brazil in 19th century, new empires seek to be reborn from their shallow past and create new symbols of the great beginning: with the myths of life-giving rivers, such as Ipiranga, or sacred trees. The Neo-imperial ambition is the lungs of the Leviathan: they breathe with fresh energy, devotion, readiness to sacrifice and to make the leap forward to achieve the next stage of development - the status of the present empire.

There can be only one present empire in the Oikumene at time. It exercises complete ethical, political, moral, economic and cultural superiority over all new empires, transcendent empires (which we will discuss later) and nation states. The present empire dominates over them actively through a dictation of the modes and the mechanisms of normalisation. The current present empire, the United States, does not need to justify itself: the Hollywood, just as the model of the liberal democratic political system, must be imposed or copied.

Present empire always lives in the condition of an everlasting present. It takes its dominant position as constant, never-changing reality by default. It tries to extend this present to eternity, offering only one future world and therefore being in conflict with the very idea of possible, alternative futures. There is only one future for a present empire - where ‘now’ is permanent.

All present empires, sooner or later, regardless of their desire, fade into the condition of a transcendent empire. At this stage, the empire enters the state of being a former holder of the position of defining the normal. Russia has a population of around 140 million people and accounts for less than 3% of the global GDP (2017), but the so-called ‘Russian world’ is about 0.5 billion people strong. Reappropriated Russian culture is spread all over the globe: Russian literature, ballet, and political history are researched in the universities abroad with more authority than at their origin. The transcendent Russia flows far beyond its physical borders. To some extent it can control how, by whom, where and when its heritage is appropriated, used and analysed, but in general it loses the authority.

The Freaktional syndrome of transcendental empires relates to a condition in which the empire desires to return to its present condition in the past - and regain the control over defining itself and the ‘normal’ for everyone else. It desires that so much that it wants to skip the neo-imperial stage of a new formation, and rather base its acceleration to a present state on the basis of nostalgia and reclamation of the heritage. It can initiate strategic and tactical tricks in order to amplify its position - if not through real resources then via symbolism and image-making. Those tricks could include fueling regional conflicts and distorting the balance within immediate perceived adversaries by activating and supporting crippling internal conflicts. Freaktional transcendent empire returns from the condition of being asleep into aggressive actionism.

It is important to mention though that not all transcendent empires inevitably obtain freaktional syndrome. German Empire had it at least twice in 20th century, but after the Second World War it actively tries to stop its resurgence in any form by legal, cultural, educational, economic and political means.

AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'Imperialism post-ex-ante', installation/lecture-performance, Projeto Fidalga, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017).

AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'Imperialism post-ex-ante', installation/lecture-performance, Projeto Fidalga, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017).

You have already noticed that empires related to here as sentient beings, as if they had consciousness and feelings on their own. They are Leviathans inside of meta-Leviathan of geopolitical magnitude, which is in itself not a sentient being but rather a pastiche of powers where dominating one defines ‘the weather forecast’. China is the world’s labourer and engine of its economic growth, and it might be claiming quickest transition from neo-imperial to the present state. South Africa and India, on the other, could be at the point of entering the neo-imperial stage of self-realisation.

The process of transformation, establishment and diminishment of empires is circular and repetitive. The avenir, the potentiality, of an exit out of this circle into a space of multiple possibilities exists in the currents of an institutional twilight. Global corporations, such as Google or Facebook, accumulate power that could eventually allow them to challenge the hierarchy of the distribution of power relations - including the current geopolitical imperial order. The border between institutional forms within and outside of the imperial form becomes more and more blurred. Can the new, post-imperial paradigm of actualising, sharing and defining the ultimate power be born out of it? It could be a kairos, just like Perseus grabbing of the Aegis of the goddess Athena: a unique intuitive opportunity seized by the global society, which could turn it into a kind of a rhizomatic meta-state. But it can be a thanatos as well, and instead of using the shield to hide from Medusa aka Apocalypse and cut her head, we will end up being turned into lifeless stone.

Post-VR: Society and Politics

(This text is an extended version of the lecture-performance text, that was presented at Futurice offices in London, UK.)

illustration by Denis Maksimov/AVENIR INSTITUTE

illustration by Denis Maksimov/AVENIR INSTITUTE

The advent of the Virtual Reality (VR) challenges the structures of the society and the political systems with new opportunities and risks. While the coefficients of happiness are posed to gradually replace the GDP per capita as the indicator of prosperity, chance has become an unacceptable notion in the society where we can supposedly have complete control over our “organic” lives. What role can the VR play in the design of futures?

‘Futures Cone’ (or vuvuzela if you like) is one of the benchmarks of the trans-disciplinary field of futures studies. There is no singular ‘future’ per se: futures are a combination of infinite probabilities that constitute scenarios of dynamic plausibilities. Out of all ‘possible’ scenarios, the ‘plausible’ constitute a smaller group, while ‘probable’ are the ones most likely to come to be. ‘Preferable’ futures, on the other hand, are the ones that we could identify as scenarios wishful thinking - however, reality more than often invalidates them. The strategic foresight mission is to develop the tools that would bridge ‘probable’ with ‘preferable’, making our vision for the destination closer to present, singular ‘reality’.

The vision of ‘preferable’ is changing over the time, depending on the resource and material bases on which the scenarios for futures are developing. Decades ago the idea of progress and purpose was built around the notion of ‘economic growth per capita’, following the philosophy of utilitarianism that was introduced a couple of centuries ago by the English scholar Jeremy Bentham. He assumed that happiness of the citizens can be calculated in material resources that they possess.

In recent times, with the advent of the post-industrial age, knowledge economy, neoliberal banking, digital and other characteristics of ‘the economy now’, the notion of ‘product’ has come under the pressure of re-definition. The Western economies are not growing at the rates they used to - and most likely would not reach new unimaginable heights. Even if they did, in the present socio-political structures the individual would not linearly benefit from it. This leaves the populations of the economies under the impression of an age of stagnation at the best, or that of a degradation at the worst.

Due to the absurdity of the concept of a continuous exponential economic growth, a shift in the mindset becomes necessary. In the last years the idea of ‘Gross Happiness Product’ (and ‘happiness’ as the product) is gradually replacing the traditional progress as a measure in the strategic planning papers of the leading Western world think tanks, such as the OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development). As the accumulation of material goods becomes impractical due to the destructive nature of accelerating rates of consumption, this reformulation of value in post-material terms comes in to provide alternative routes for preferable futures.

But as the Western world struggles with post-material formation, the so-called developing world is catching up on the industrial grounds, challenging the perceived traditional geopolitical order and raising a conflict on the level of fundamental values. All of that is happening - in contrast to other historical periods - in a single ‘reality’. The reality, as we now know it, is a place of intersection in time and space that is shared by all of the actors simultaneously: via facebook lifestreams, internet news feeds, tweets, etc.

This single ’reality’ appears and feels overpopulated. It is competitive, since its entering in conflict ethical and value systems. It is polluted with ever-increasing amount of information about the world’s complexities from an infinite number of perspectives. The pressure of coexistence between the alternative visions of morals, ethics and politics is becoming more unbearable for the different actors. For example, a cleavage of American and British electorates between pro-nationalist, pro-liberal and those who choose to abstain, paints a picture of the fundamentally fractured visions of futures co-existing in the same time-space. What if the possibility to generate alternative realities will be offered for the situations where compromise is not obtainable? Imagine the VR fused with augmented reality set that can provide to both Israeli and Palestinian opportunity to see Jerusalem as their sole capital.

Deviation-based virtual worlds-realities can provide an alternative to frustrations within the singular worldview. Michel Foucault challenged the notion of normality on a theoretical basis and offered a political solution to the problem via abandoning ‘the normal’ and embracing otherness and deviation through the means of political empowerment. Fighting racial, religious, cultural and sexual biases as well as others had become the core struggle of the neoliberal world, and it seemed to be achievable through critical education and domination in the entertainment industry.

However, the continuous rise of the so-called ‘alt-right’ and other new conservatives forces has challenged the current generation of the critical school, led by Jurgen Habermas, as being out of touch with the overpopulated reality. Conciliatory, multicultural and poli-layered model for a contemporary democracy, in which all of the various groups of interest are able to find compromise through mutual respect of each other views, seem to have been crushed into the wall of desire to return back into the safe space of simpler versions of reality. The complexity of the socio-political structures, accumulation of technological risk and environmental challenges are some of the headaches of the contemporaneity, and they are being escaped from through the democratic process of voting for the simple and the unrealistic solutions of making everything understandable again. Needless to say, it is leading to self deception as the complexity is not removed, but merely avoided until it cannot be ignored. Being unattended, it might lead to an utter dystopian collapse. The entertainment industry has already outlined many variations of its possible coming through sci-fi movies, TV shows, books and the likes.

Moving away from the probable scenarios to the preferable - and at the same time plausible - virtual and augmented realities can provide the bridge to cover the wide gaps between where we are now and where we want to be. A complete replacement of the complex reality with a simpler one provided by a VR set is perhaps not possible due to the presence of the prior memory of the complexity as the ‘really real’: the sense of dissatisfaction of self deception is similar to the destructiveness of a drug-addict realising that the moments of joy are only temporary ‘ups’ on the overall downhill road. Just like in the aftermath of visiting a theme park or watching a movie, the return to the empirical ‘real’ seems like the inevitable end for the escape from the clouding complexity of the present.

Sensations of psychological remedy gained by diving into high-quality immersive worlds (alternate realities) can ease tensions in the competitive and complex structures of the contemporary world. This can allow for a new post-democratic form of delegation of power in the ‘really real’, where the complexity is handled dynamically, and provide a path for futures full of opportunities to further realise the human potential in the quest of proving or disproving the hypothesis of its limitlessness.

Present Visuality and Thingness of Trans-Ethnography in the Context of Unrealised Future in the Past

courtesy of Liva Dudareva (METASITU)  

courtesy of Liva Dudareva (METASITU)  

In 1922, the Soviet Union was established on the basis of the principle of national self-identi cation for nationalities within its borders. The borders that were drawn by Bolsheviks for the new Soviet socialist republics created new geopolitical entities, that required symbols and ethnographic history for legitimization. Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow was founded in 1918, right after the October revolution, and was gradually expanding collections of the artefacts of the cultures of the Eurasian region since its inception. The excavation expeditions of the Soviet archeologists and ethnographers were working in the context of gradually transforming Soviet ideology, where the initial decision of national self-identi cation of new republics of the Soviet Union was dictated by the strategic intention of the group of Bolsheviks, led by Joseph Stalin with support of Vladimir Lenin, to  ght ‘Russian chauvinism’. The decision implied necessity to accelerate transition of bureaucratic documentation, school education, etc. into national languages of ethoses in the areas, which in many cases had no writing culture appropriate for Bolshevik methods of possible conversion. The objects and things of ethnographic signi cance were appropriated as symbols of national self-identi cation.

Between 1918 and 1922, in anticipation of the World revolution, the Bolsheviks were divided on the issue of how administrative borders within the future Soviet Union (as a part of new Socialist and later Communist world) would look like. One of the strongest positions implied lining out the map of the country in sectors disregarding historical, ethnographic, geopolitical, etc. cartography. If that scenario have been implemented in reality, organisation of Moscow Museum of Oriental Art collection and its appropriation would reveal a different set of narratives behind the things that matter.



Today we are living at a time when notions of disparate nations, cultural identities and borders have become even more problematic and ambiguous as a result of a greater economic, cultural, political and technological interconnectedness across the globe. As a result of a process of globalization that denies time, space and place, today there is a “disturbance of our notions of the past” which also results in a “crisis in our imagination of alternative futures” (Andreas Huyssen, 2003, p.2) Yet, while the original dream of a united Communist world has not been realised, it is even more necessary to acknowledge the interrelations across the world and rethink the existing narratives reinforced by old-fashioned museological approaches to be able to imagine the future ethnography of our material world.

The current display of the Oriental Art Museum which is based on the distinctiveness of separate places is in fact a product of the modernist project and observes cultural speci city only in spatial isolation while neglecting interactions with the beyond. As the cultural geographer Doreen Massey explains: "‘Cultures’, ‘societies’ and ‘nations’ were all imagined as having an integral relation to bounded spaces, internally coherent and differentiated from each other by separation. ‘Places’ came to be seen as bounded, with their own internally generated authenticities, and de ned by their difference from other places which lay outside, beyond their borders." (Massey, 2005, p.64)

Massey’s proposition of a ‘relational geography’, on the other hand, necessitates seeing cultural identities as interrelated, as well as sharing the same time and space. Her claim that “identities/entities, the relations ‘between’ them, and the spatiality which is part of them, are all co-constitutive”, challenges the modern conceptualisation of difference that was based on distinctiveness of places as re ected in culture. (Massey, 2005, p.10)

Here, we would also like to refer to Peter Osborne, who discusses the contemporary “as the time of the globally transnational”. Accordingly, the concept of the contemporary refers to the present as a world-historical moment, not only de ned by one place and time but shaped within a relational geography of co-existing places and times. Osborne speci cally highlights ‘con-temporaneity’ as what best expresses the temporal quality of the historical present, meaning

“a coming together not simply ‘in’ time, but of times: we do not only just live or exist together ‘in time’ with our contemporaries – as if time itself is indifferent to this existing together – but rather the present is increasingly characterized by a coming together of different but equally ‘present’ temporalities or ‘times’.” (Osborne, 2013a, p.17)

Based on these ideas around the spatial and temporal recon guration of the present, we would like to propose a trans-ethnographic approach to the existing objects in the museum, which interweaves temporalities and expands into other times that include not only our present but also the future.

Bureau for Public Insecurities: a conversation between curators Denis Maksimov (DM) and Caroline Carrion (CC)

curatorial duo DNV [dan'etvɐzmoʐnə], Caroline Carrion and Denis Maksimov

curatorial duo DNV [dan'etvɐzmoʐnə], Caroline Carrion and Denis Maksimov

DM: Conversations about insecurities in modern life seem infinite. What do you think?

CC: Borders are socio-political conventions, so it seems only fair that notions of territory and limits, both in their material as metaphorical meanings, would be blurred and somewhat fluid in moments when certain paradigms about civilization are being revised.

During the still young 21st century, we have been watching the emergence of an economic crisis (leading to social convulsion) all over the world, from the EU and the US to the BRIC countries, accompanied by the outbreak of terrorist groups, like ISIS or Boko Haram. We must keep in mind, when looking at such phenomena, that the idea of crisis is essential to the functioning of capitalism, especially in its current neoliberal form. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that local historical processes and idiosyncrasies can be disregarded. The effects in material well-being that result from this growth in insecurities are very different for the European middle-class compared to those experienced in Latin American, for instance.

DM: Poetry is, from a practical perspective, useless when it comes to the issue of dealing with risk to material comfort. However, its emotional and psychological effects are, from my perspective, invaluable. Is it possible to reveal the essence of this treasure we possess, which is becoming more and more rare in light of growing materialism, consumerism and omnipresent culture of entertainment?

CC: I’m not sure if it’s useless from a practical perspective. In the short term, this uselessness is unquestionable, but long term, poetry has the revolutionary potential of affecting opinions and world views, reaching the core of contemporary modes of understanding the self and the other, which necessarily will create material impact–thus the importance of poetic approach to the issue, as you mentioned.

I believe that critical forms of thinking, from aesthetic philosophy to social theory and psychoanalysis, attempt to reveal the essence of this treasure, as you called, but they can only do it within their own language, in the form of knowledge and information. The experience of real revelation can only come from art itself. In times like ours, when entertainment is more powerful in mind-shaping than any propaganda conceived by totalitarian governments, being in touch with art can be a transformative experience. For me, this is particularly true for the fruition of visual art forms, with their immediate impact and variety of interpretations.

Even with all the possible criticism that we can, and should, make, we must acknowledge the essential role that the art market plays in the diffusion of art, and the possibilities it creates for artists to make a living. On the other hand, experimental and independent art exhibitions are fundamental for works that stretch beyond the bounds of the market’s dictates. As for us, as curators and art critics, I believe that we can do our part to expose treasure by creating a forum for the artworks to be known and seen.

DM: Mitigation of risk is not the same as avoidance of risk. It is indeed about reaching the point of being at peace with living in a world of constant flux. Any sort of “promise” that all our systems provide us are as ephemeral and uncertain as an economic forecast. So why do we keep building the castles of predictability, all those foresight models and “2050s” plans? Isn’t it better to communicate to the public that living in constant unpredictability is the norm? I don’t want to sound Marxist, but from my perspective, it’s all just grounding for the usurpation of power and control of resource distribution systems.

CC: I couldn’t agree more. And this control you mentioned doesn’t happen exclusively within the realm of social hierarchies, but also in our understanding of subjectivity. The rigid and univocal comprehension of identity, sexuality, gender, political affiliations, etc., is directly related to the control of material prosperity. That’s why, in my opinion, the deleuzian concept of devir [‘what is to come’, ‘emergence’] remains so important–after all, the devir is always a devir-minority.

It is interesting, though, to notice how the appearance of social mobility and gain of freedom are essential for such societal systems. The austerity imposed by neoliberalism is only acceptable with hope of future personal prosperity. If it were clear to all that financial gain remains in the hands of the 1%, while the costs and crisis are paid by everyone, changes would come quicker than ever imagined.

DM: I feel contemporary art is among the very few mediums, where the conversation about the fundamental problems of the neoliberal capitalistic totality, foreseen by Theodor Adorno, is still possible. Do you agree?

CC: Yes. Despite being inserted in a multimillionaire market, one that isn’t always legit (as we are getting to know better now, with the leak of the Panama Papers), contemporary art is a platform for critical thinking. While some artists engage in openly politicized practices, others assume a critical posture by insisting on slow and artisanal modes of production and adopting anti-consumerism lifestyles; either way, they point to alternative lifestyles and create a point of disruption, no matter how minimum it is, within the established order.

Identity and univocality are one face of totality; oppositions and plain dialectics are another. Just by existing, contemporary artworks points to multiplicity and question totality.

DM: I really love neologisms – they allow language to stay alive and erode the power of institutional oppression. I find them so important in fighting attempts to close up any subjectivity in opposition to strictness of the objective view of “the winner”. History is always written by the victor, and reality is narrated by those who possess the means to alter the rules of storytelling. How would you describe “danetvozmozhno” [dan'etvɐzmoʐnə] neologism meaning from a universal perspective?

Giuditta Vendrame in collaboration with Fiona du Mesnildot, 'Mixed Passports', 2015

Giuditta Vendrame in collaboration with Fiona du Mesnildot, 'Mixed Passports', 2015

CC: I am a lover of neologisms myself, as I am of etymology. First of all, I believe it’s significant that “danetvozmozhno” derives from a colloquial expression. The original term in Russian means “yes, no, maybe”, but never at the same time. It is my understanding that it all depends on context and intonation. As a neologism, “danetvozmozhno” represents an utterly grey zone, where “yes”, “no” and “maybe” are indiscernible and simultaneous – a space of complete uncertainty that, contrary to the original expression, creates no hierarchies of power between the utterer and the receiver, as both of them are in the same undefined position. It means the coexistence of exclusionary categories (affirmation, negation, and possibility), which is basically a way to summarize the permanent flux condition that you already mentioned.

DM: Brazil is going through very intense period of political and economic turmoil. In the upcoming exhibition “Bureau for Public Insecurities”, art sort of steps in to address the issues in which socio-political and economic institutions seem to fail. Do you think art can and should replace the failed structures functionally? I see it as the main problem with so-called “socially engaged art” for me. I believe art can inspire, instigate, motivate but should never function, promote or propagate because at this moment it stops being art and turns into design, which serves particular goal and betrays aesthetics.

CC: For sure: either design or propaganda, which is even worse. As I mentioned before, one of the most powerful aspects of art, in my opinion, resides in the production of multiplicity, that is, in the fact that it has no final function and provides no final answers.

The desire of presenting the “Bureau for Public Insecurities” came from Brazil’s current situation and from the perception that it is not a local problem. By that I mean the world is entering an era of growing insecurity and precariousness. The artists invited to take part in the show approach matters of relevance for the current socio-political agenda, without the intention of solving them. When Giuditta Vendrame, for instance, presents an installation and a performance based on her research on how to get passports from several European countries, she isn’t providing a service or attempting to promote the acquisition of passports as a solution for a more secure way of living. Her action questions the idea of nationality in itself, the pertinence of the concept of nation in contemporary global societies and the power relations implied in the concept. There’s a certain ironic approach shared by many of the works in the show, which is also ironically titled–after all, we are creating a fictional “Bureau” that offers no 'real' service.

DM: Do you think "insecurity profiles" are different or rather similar in global cultural contexts? The exhibition will feature the selection of European and Brazilian artists, who will create or adapt works for the Bureau and create a sort of Frankenstein out of insecurities originating from very diverse environments and historical moments.

CC: It’s hard to say for sure, and I am actually very curious to see how the artists will interact and which departments will arise from this encounter. In the context of globalization and neoliberal capitalism, many uncertainties are common to different societies. Concerns with the means for assuring rent and food, fear of urban violence, doubts about one’s professional future are probably shared "insecurity profiles". The risk of losing basic rights after the rise of a totalitarian regime, or the imminence of terrorist attacks are, in turn, “profiles” that vary according to the location–the first one is very present in Brazil at this moment, while the second isn’t really a concern for most Brazilians (which cannot be said of Europeans, for instance). No matter how different our lives are, every one of us can be fit in at least one “insecurity profile”, and that is the point of the Bureau, to address the only shared certainty we have: uncertainty.

We have hardly yet begun

written by Denis Maksimov for Node Center for Curatorial Studies  

image by Node Center for Curatorial Studies

image by Node Center for Curatorial Studies

One artist and one theorist explore the darker side of our endless quest for ‘progress’.

From conversations with machines to Walt Disney’s ‘experimental prototype for a community of tomorrow’, Joseph Popper’s video We have hardly yet begun will take you on a journey through a history of corporate visions of the future. Mixing ‘top-down’ proposals with science fiction visionaries, the video connects and contrasts various ideas of progress along with hopes and fears for things to come. Popper’s video is a starting point for curator, researcher and theorist Denis Maksimov to delve into the murkier waters of our paradoxical relations with the future in his text below.

Watch and read on to find out how corporations sell their products by tapping into dreams of the future and why we should combine different fields of knowledge to close the gap between our imagination and potential realities. 

screenshot of  We have hardly yet begun , 2015, Joseph Popper. Originally produced for The Victoria & Albert Museum, London © The V&A

screenshot of We have hardly yet begun, 2015, Joseph Popper. Originally produced for The Victoria & Albert Museum, London © The V&A

Can you begin to remember the futures? Every single moment of the present creates potential and desirable scenarios. The history of progress is a continuous endless race from the point of ultimate uncertainty towards a fictional finish line of total predictability. Today, we enjoy the possibility of keeping in touch with people across the planet, crossing vast terrains and oceans, while simultaneously gluing a sticker on the web camera of laptops, afraid of being spied upon by Big Brother. The idea of the technological panopticon* as an instrument of an omnipresent observation system is therefore sublime: both fascinating and terrifying at the same time.

There are many ways of dreaming about the future.For some, it can be an escape into individual reality as a consequence of an unwillingness to face the currents. The realm of aesthetic freedom seduces science when non-hierarchical thinking is evolving faster than the institutions of knowledge verification within the field of science will allow. Scientific thinking enters the mode that it appears to despise in our present-day: fiction,which can be considered the result of an extrapolative doodle about the potential application of something the scientists haven’t even closely approached.

Today, knowledge creation and its verification mechanisms are still predominantly separated by disciplines: economics, literature, physics, history and so on. This separation of knowledge limits the speed of human pace towards possible progress. The mental gap between the image of a possible future and the institutional restrictions of its arrivalbecomes unbearable. The frontier between the ‘fictional’ and the ‘real’, so evidently uncrossable before, is violently penetrated in the moments when formerly fictional ideas become suddenly materialized: air flight, voyage into space, etc. These moments liberate the mind into free float. We have been finally heading into the future of infinite possibilities and abandoned restrictions. When will we arrive there and if it happens – how is it to live there?

There is a Soviet anecdote: “the future is certain, it is only the past that is unpredictable”. The ultimate certainty of the future is plain: it is going to come regardless of whether we have a place in it. The future is a flimsy construction subjected to anthropological gravity at a certain point of intersection between time and space. The strength of the pull towards the usual ground is defined by human-centrism in acting, thinking and dreaming. And we have hardly yet begun to depart from fundamental egoism behind the conviction that the Universe is turning around us. The future is fascinating, merciless and situated within the perfect chaos of storms.

*A panopticon is a proposed architectural model for the most effective prison. Developed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the structure requires one single guard in a central observation tower who is able to watch any prisoner at any moment of time. This creates the feeling for the prisoners that they are indeed being watched at all times, effectively constantly controlling their own behaviour.

The Nationless Pavilion: for the Future of Community after Nation State

The Nationless Pavilion Laboratory heald by Denis Maksimov, image of the Leviathan, Sale Docks Venice 2015. Photo © Mohamed Keita

The Nationless Pavilion Laboratory heald by Denis Maksimov, image of the Leviathan, Sale Docks Venice 2015. Photo © Mohamed Keita

Political crisis of today is dictated by outdated nation state model of mapping the world. While all the other systems already spilled over with economy, art, science going global, nation state still draws the lines on the geographical map.
Political power and it’s redistribution is the heart of the issue. Advancement of human civilization, apart of providing technological leaps, also demanded more transparency and visibility from power. It has always been ‘catch and run’ game - with new strategies of mystification of political power into institutional forms of different kinds. Authority redistribution mechanisms always tend to appear impersonal as their function is to communicate idea of being ‘detached’ from the matter of defining good and bad, right and wrong. Ethical, moral and aesthetic judgment seem to appear to naked eye as something defined and proved by centuries of common societal work, where standards of normal are the result of careful, almost Darwinist selection of what is better for all. The mythology of this process was first supported by the narratives of religious dogma and power, while today it’s mostly relies on fear and ignorance. Ulrich Beck rightly highlighted one of the core characteristics of a modern life as the detachment from understanding of the basics of how this ultra-complicated world of ours works. Experts are supposed to decide what is good and bad, while comprehension of the verification mechanisms of their expertise is not an easy task for commoner. Expert networks include government, academia, economic and cultural elite, which are all intertwined through multiplicity of intersections within the hierarchies of confirmation of their expertise validity.

The Nationless Pavilion, Nation 25 Under Construction, Installation view, Sale Docks, Venice 2015 © Nation25

The Nationless Pavilion, Nation 25 Under Construction, Installation view, Sale Docks, Venice 2015 © Nation25

Epistemological processes of knowledge production and legitimization is strategically anything but transparent. The fundamental principle of the whole mega-structure is collective responsibility as silent conspiracy, bordering with plain nepotism. If I am demystified and going down, you are going down with me too, because the whole structure of validity behind our claims is constructed on mutual presumptions. The web of artificiality of social and political order demands almost religious belief in it’s realness. And if the certain structure is central to the multiplicity of these hierarchies, it’s guarded as a sacred cow by more than silence. It is supposed to actively reinforced by the actors in production of new ways to confirm the validity of ideological structure. It’s notoriously easier to imagine the end of the world, than end of capitalism not because of capitalism’s irreplaceability, but due to dependency on it’s rules and mapping of the roles and functions in socio-political matter overall majorities of the elites, contracted in unwritten and unsigned, but mutually understood by majority of them. When John Locke was speaking about social contract between state and citizens, he should have envisioned probably that not all the citizens sign the very same contract. All animals are equal, but realness, designed by the collective responsibility as silent conspiracy for value production and legitimization, proves that indeed some animals are more equal than the others.
The process of development of the Nationless Pavilion in the context of the 56th Venice Biennale ‘All the World’s Futures’ was launched in order to critically reflect on this complex subject. The chosen point of departure, the grounds of contemporary art, is strategic: because having the conversation about this at any other ground is by default ideologised and exists in opposition to dominating meta-narrative. The task of the curators seemed at the best impossible and at the worst plainly naive - can we envision possibility of alternative narrative of social construction beyond the known format  the nation state?

Full version of the text by Denis Maksimov in DoppioZero International

The dilemma of superposition: robot companies and human imperfections

'Ghost in the Shell', 1995

'Ghost in the Shell', 1995

In the animated movie Ghost in the Shell, a computer program that has advanced to a level of human thinking claims it has reached the criteria to acquire human rights and thus requests an asylum - only to be rejected as entirely absurd, from the point of view of the security agencies that deal with the case. What defines a difference between a being which is running on artificial intelligence and form of traditionally conscious life? The case itself has not been heard at the court yet, where the legal precedent of a dispute about defining the waterline between artificial and natural might have to be drawn.

The first entirely automated company has been created and it has attracted some $120m of investment from anonymous investors. What is significant here is not the amount of investment, but the fact that contemporary form of capitalism allows to run a company with no human involvement. The ultra-utilitarian society of infinite effectiveness, which appears to be the ideal of the currents, is actually inviting artificial intelligence to replace humans - humans who tend to make irrational decisions. The society of absolute rationality where the turn from the only possible road of uber-efficiency is a malaise that inevitably leads to necessity to eradicate humanity as imperfection, an obstacle on the way to perfection. 

Timo Tuominen/AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'AI-dentity', 2016

Timo Tuominen/AVENIR INSTITUTE, 'AI-dentity', 2016

While moving on those tracks towards ‘the ideal’, lets call it ‘a totally optimized society’, morality and ethics must be gradually replaced with standards and models, based on cause and effect logic dictated by the definition of value. How the value of in this acceleratingly effective totally optimized society will evolve? In the logic of meta-ideology of utilitarianism, the value is maximization of the production of the material and immaterial products with minimal losses and costs. Ethical and moral choices often contradict the efficiency as they present alternative definition of value: a human life. Therefore we arrive to aporic contradiction of value as it’s defined by the capitalism that is obsessed with material optimization - driving automatization to its extreme to cut off transactional costs of irrationality - and the value of human life, which is irrational by its very nature. The possibility of a war between these value systems becomes apparent: the contemporary contradiction is already provoking conflict, which is mediated mostly through culture and ideology. 

Coming back to the example of an automated company, what is perhaps even more interesting, is the possibility of this entity becoming sentient. Typically in speculations of highly sophisticated robots, or androids, they are owned by humans as slaves with no rights or even a theoretical possibility of being an independent actor in the legal world of humans. They are forever only machines, much like a toaster or a vacuum cleaner. The artificial intelligence is not yet where it could compete with the human capabilities, but should this day come, the AI could be implanted into a company structure such as this, making the company ‘a being’ itself. How will this ‘being’ will then develop its value system? Will it see human error and irrationality, poetry and spontaneity as something valuable and worth preserving or will it be rather an obstacle for biopolitical (or AI-political?) spread and colonisation of the other planets, solar systems, galaxies? How the AI will see it’s purpose and will be it build up on the premises of human-defined ‘draft’ or would it be developed independently from it? 

However, in this scenario, if a sophisticated AI is placed to operate a company and acquires a new form of AI-dentity, it should, as ‘a being’ and ‘company’ at the same time, have the same legal rights as physical and juridical entity. The AI finds itself then in superposition of identity from how the term ‘identity’ understood nowadays. These rights include important aspects, such as owning capital and property. But will it want to? Capital is the source of power and definition of hierarchy in human society, and there is no guarantee, beyond human-centric thinking, that AI would be sharing the same value system.

'Blade Runner', 1982

'Blade Runner', 1982

Another possibility the legal arrangement would enable is the "robotic" company to create physical agents to represent itself on the streets, thus becoming eerily "real". The multiplicity of superpositioned identity of a company would be then complemented by a physical manifestation: being a whole and a unit(s) at the very same moment. Given a few predictable technological advancements, it could choose to create a robot that is able to mingle and act as a human, just like Blade Runner was depicting already decades ago.

If anyone would be to harm the robot now, for instance, the company could sue the offender on the basis of owning the physical robot as a machine aka property. Or speculating further, such a superpositioned identity of a company-unit(s) will manifest a new resourceful form of being, and therefore an attack on one of its units could have unpredictable repercussions and consequences for the offender. The company-being could, for instance, cease to provide services to the rebelling individual, should it, or one of its subsidiaries, be in the service sector. This could facilitate for an entirely legal attack on the offender in several subjective ways at the same time, in which one action of the other creates multiple retaliations. Can a one-dimensional human cope with such complexity in the new condition or are they doomed to be neglected and be extinct as less sophisticated form of life, ‘being’ a subject to the very organic process of Darwinistic natural selection?