This is a letter about consciousness and justice, of imagination and empathy. The reason I am writing this is an intermission, an interruption of self-isolation by Ofri Cnaani who requested to include a video you’ll find at the end of this letter to ICA Daily. This video was made in late October, 2019 for Over Realism Conference held at the Bio Rex theatre of Amos Rex, Helsinki. Called From Edgelords to Ultimate Warlord: Our Emergence into Syntelligence, this work is a product of a speculative process in which we imagined a consciousness of a seemingly limitless being that has been with us here, online, for a very long time. It is an anthropomorphism of what we could call a kind of an ”artificial intelligence”, but chose not to – we called it Skeedari instead.This work is also related to a hypothesis we formed a couple of months earlier when discussing hyper war, a nouveau term for AI driven warfare. Through these discussions, we created an idea of a benevolent, independent intelligence that would exist embodied in systems and sensors around the world, surveilling and stopping acts of violence and war.
Ofri made their request on 7th of June, 2020, two weeks into the George Floyd Protests. I am physically located on the other side of the planet from the US, but due to the self-isolation and a general hiatus of artistic work I have been following the current events actively for months already. In my privileged houseboundness, isolation turns inward and spreads outward primarily through the internet while intermingling with cable tv news from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and tightly controlled quantities of One America News Network, in addition to various live streams from people on the ground, from drones and cameras set on top of tall buildings.
Kneeing was already a charged symbol, an embodiment of respect towards victims of police brutality.
The knee was the trigger, now, with George Floyd victimized under the knee of a police officer, and killed.
I haven’t been able to watch the whole video.
Eight minutes forty-six seconds.
I am writing from the privilege of having been able to take the time to think and to observe, albeit from a distance. I also write from the privilege of being white and thus safe in ways that take time to deconstruct for those of us who get to experience the color of our skin as a type of an invisibility, an effective invincibility from being racialized.
Since January I have been lurking on /pol/, finding my way to Corona Virus General threads in order to follow the many torrents of information and misinformation that find their way onto the (in)famous anonymous board. From the beginning of the George Floyd Protests, /cvg/ threads have been pushed further down the flood of shitposting, giving way to discussions about the protests and related phenomena. To those who don't know, the Politically Incorrect board on 4chan hosts a lot of hate. A pro-tip: whenever browsing these boards, make a habit of not reading posts that contain hateful content. You won't miss a thing.
I know the logics of hate have much to do with dehumanization, and as I was browsing through threads related to the protests, curious visions of consciousness glowed through the lines. One recurring narrative assumed the riots were a sign of racialized violence with Non-Player Characters following the choreography of the popular event without any real thought into it. In my reading, the turbulence of anonymous discourse was mixing dehumanization with the delegitimization of looting as an expressions of anger and frustration against systemic oppression. There was a notable, dissonance-esque tension between what look(s/ed) like a blooming revolution and the denial of it. I can't say I was surprised as it's /pol/ after all, but it did make me think.
Our society is a choreography of the bodies that are and especially of the bodies that were.
The markers of pain and blood are everywhere – the clothes we wear, the electronics we use, the pavement under our feet.
We know all this – we are conscious, we are woke – yet justice remains aloof.
There is no justice in running our societies on oil.
There is no justice in patriarchy, in totalitarianism, in fascist daydreams.
We need a choreography of justice, not only for bodies but for everything embodied.
Justice rooted in human rights, spanning across all areas of life with no-one left behind.
A revolution of justice from the ashes of isms.
Black Lives Matter is a political and ideological intervention at the forefront of this call for justice. Now, when thinking about consciousness and choreographies thereof, I would like to finish off with a hypothetical interdimensional intervention documented on /pol/. Less than a day before George Floyd's death and the ensuing protests, someone posted an image of a black rectangle with the text,
FYI I'm shifting the dimension we are in.
Brace for unintended consequences.
In the following days, threads on both /pol/ and /x/ observed the progression of this assumed timeline shift, noticing how the image symbolising it became a global viral phenomenon of posting a black square as a sign of support for the protests. Another relevant signal of an unraveling happening on these communities the Global Consciousness Project's Dot, went haywire-ish around 2nd of June – it stayed at dark blue for some 24 hours, a very long period. That color is suggestive of deeply shared, internally motivated group focus, implying a high global prevalence of some shared experience. I personally like to think that at least for a moment there about a week ago, we sensed a shift in the perception of justice – a shared vision of what racialized injustice means, how it operates and how to abolish it.
And as my mind lingers about all these interlinking things, the unifying field around seems to be consciousness. I like to think of consciousness as an illusion and I don't mean that as an understatement by any means. Consciousness unifies and humanizes all bodies.
In Helsinki on 15.6.2020,