Spanish multidisciplinary artist Carlos Saez interviewed by Antoine Schafroth on the insatiable need of the human being to become a creator, transhumanism, machines fetishism, upcoming projects and more.
Would you qualify your practice as transhumanist? If yes, could you give me your definition of this concept?
My artistic practice is based on ideas and concepts derived from the relationship between human beings and technology. These concepts provide me fuel, so to say, to develop my exercise. My research in this area leads to personal artistic exercises; there is no big development or dissemination like someone specialised in the sector would do. I like my position as a voyeur fascinated by something that happens in our environment, and I satisfy my interest by learning from truly qualified and pioneering thinkers. Of course, I elaborate my own opinions about it, but I like my spectator condition. Perhaps it makes more sense to ask ourselves if we are already a transhumanist society or if we have always been that. Transhumanism is usually referred to as the interest in transforming the human condition through the development of technologies that improve its capabilities in physical or intellectual form. Can we only refer to the latest digital technologies, or can we also include the telephone as a tool that amplifies the range of our voice? The gods harshly punished Prometheus for stealing and delivering fire to humans, his creation. It is a perfect example to represent the insatiable need of the human being to become a creator, something reserved until now for the gods. The term can be understood as a philosophy, ideology, a period in time if you need to, but also as something intrinsic to the human condition. Every technological advance is an evolution (for better or worse) of the human species, and we have always been creating and improving ourselves.
If you could develop one part of your body through technology, what would you change, and what possibility would it bring to you?
First, I would go for a monkey tail till I decide what else to do. Just for aesthetic purposes, I find tails very attractive. Besides this, I might be more interested in establishing communication with animals or nature in general.
Where do you find your inspiration? I notice that you are mainly using recycling material to create news pieces. Is there also something to recycle theoretically to understand your work?
My interest in machines, their meaning, and their aesthetic comes from a place inside me too deep to explain. Admiring and collecting and creating pieces that respond to this imaginary is sort of a fetish I always had and never questioned myself, so I can’t really answer that.
I like the ideas proposed in texts like Bruce Sterling’s Dead Media Modest Proposal, which propose an archaeological look at the technological remains of recent times to understand the times we live in. It’s interesting the communicative capacity some objects have even after losing their function or the information that once flowed through them. Boris Groys explains it very well by comparing it with the Roman aqueducts, through which water flowed during a long period of history, and now, empty, they are still standing, fulfilling a communicative and aesthetic function. Groys, in turn, compares these constructions to data centres and poses a scenario in which these new constructions cease to have their current use. I often create sculptures from pieces designed to perform a function, and this aesthetic of “purpose” is transmitted to the final ensemble. Also, creating machinery of the future from past objects generates a certain anachronism in the present that I like.
Can you describe to me your ideal world? What should stay and what should disappear?
To relocate part of our interest in evolving and improving the machine to the human and social. To become “posthuman” or however you want to call it, by using technology as a tool to reach a new state of self-understanding and new values. The research and development that improves the species and its environment should stay. The curiosity for knowledge, the ability to create, should stay. The access to information and the ability to communicate should remain. But all this should be redirected and be less conditioned by financial interests. The capitalisation and absolute centralisation of information should disappear.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m developing different projects simultaneously. One of them is an open-source software for performance artists who work with video in and sound. I’m also raising a warehouse with my friends Jose Martí and Rita Delgado to provide art studios and residences to artists we love in my hometown, Valencia, Spain.