The theme of this year’s edition of CGW KRAKERS is Change. Change is one of the basic modalities of modern times. This applies in principle to all areas of everyday life, ranging from surface recognition of phenomena to deep structures that might change the way human beings function in the world. As an imperative change often becomes a marketing strategy or a tool in positive psychology. In humanities, often a ground for ostracizing traditional normativity, change is, in turn, present as an opportunity and manifestation of freedom. The development of digitization and technology made it possible to integrate virtual reality into everyday human life, which seems to have blurred the concept of reality itself. A transformation can also be noticed in the area of art, which has noticeably been exploring the new opportunities it has been presented with along with the raising importance of new media, as well as actively referring to the issues that a person faces with the adoption of a constantly accelerating rhythm of change.
A picture does not reflect the landscape of contemporary reality. The classic form of representation – landschaft – is no longer able to catch up with the dynamism of the 21st century. The impression of changeability has been further strengthened by the development of cinematography, which at the same time presented and actively influenced the transformation. And yet, never before has Change ever never occurred in such an obvious way as a process, both in the deep and surface layers. Seemingly helpless, Change has developed self-defense techniques. Its subtlety is based in its very core; the deeper the processes it differentiates, the more it seems to dissipate in front of our eyes.
In marketing, positive psychology, or the phenomenon of coaching, change is a promise of a better life, a synonym for happiness. If a demand, Change flaunts its presence, straightforwardly asking for internalization. Change is a unifying strategy. The subject has become a public space; it is a representation created by a constitutive self from the building blocks of readily available formulas of the “ways of life”. Change is inscribed in the modern myth of success. One now gets to achieve happiness almost exclusively by way of reconfiguration – the embodiment of the possibilities selected by the consumer culture.
The humanistic discourse tirelessly discovers, creates and contests the relationship between human practice and its narrative which remains a paramount element of the dynamic. This applies to our status in the world, the relationship to our own physical body, or the issue of normativity in the debates regarding gender. A tug of war, building bridges, discovering new lands required a sense of general relativity – a necessary condition for a critical reflection. The twentieth century is the beginning of a rebirth. Change, if conscious, marks individuality, demonstrates decisiveness. On the surface, we have never been more free. Transhumanism has become a truth.
Adaptation has ceased to be an issue in the new environment. The rapid development of technology dominates other aspects of life. Life passes in a state of never-ending scientific revolution, everyday life is a new patent, an improvement, a toy that is accepted as a fateful gift. To let yourself be late to the party means to lose a day out of one’s life. Competitiveness in this respect is an absolute requirement. Change is present in the current dynamics and the crisis of trends – permanence. The speed is constantly increasing, the picture becomes blurred, the shapes become indistinguishable, the movement is no longer perceptible.
The annexation of virtual reality, though a relatively recent phenomenon, has become an involuntarily indispensable extension of the mind. Reflection in this case is unnecessary, it reduces productivity, hence making progress less progressive. After having reached a certain speed, one should not slow down, on the contrary, the desired outcome is to quicken the pace even more. Speed is a standard, change is normal.
Societies subject to technological hybridization have developed a new model of functioning in the environment. The dualism of physical and virtual reality could only defend itself in theory. Reality, however, includes every space that one adapts. The virtual dimension means both an opportunity to create new forms of expression and a threat. A human being, viewed as a binary value stored in the cloud loses its corporality in favor of a simulated set of features. One becomes computable, and hence easier to control. Artificial intelligence does not have to take on an anthropomorphized shape. A. I. is a properly programmed algorithm with the potential to become a supervisory instance.
Science does not respond to all human needs – that much is obvious. The positivist myth of development does not cover the entirety of life as a phenomenon. Secularization is a swing with a double-edged sword – it releases a beam of energy that has to find its outlet. Should the New Age turn in the 1960s be considered a short-lived historical phenomenon? Or maybe it aroused in people a need to look for quasi-ritual performances – jogging, meditation, astrology, science-fiction? Mediation in reference to the transcendent is individual. Practice is dependent on locality, knowledge is to be established empirically. There is no monopoly on the Truth.
Change is a multifaceted issue, it relates to the broadly understood concept of perception, thinking about own experiences in the context of habits and the way of describing them, and also often becomes the object of artistic reflection. Art is an area of changing the canon, concepts, relations and practices. Art is an alternative; it is a space for subversive interventions. Currently, we can see either a fascination with technology, whether of an affirmative or fatalistic character, penetrating the medium of post-internet, or violent resistance expressed in situational trends, especially interested in the issues of experience and perception.
The issue of experiencing one’s own corporality in the context of normative changes as well as physical interventions still requires illumination in cultural awareness. The body fulfills an integral role in the shaping of identity, is a key element in social communication and, therefore, requires special attention. This notion is the seed of mature reflection and practices flowing from such. However, it is an extremely burning one when juxtaposed with the problem of superficial and deep change actively affecting the human being like never before. It is connected with the notions of dissatisfaction, strangeness, incongruity, regardless of whether in relation to oneself, to others, or to the environment. It is a loneliness in the middle of a network of relations, a problem which, while seemingly a natural outcome of the development of civilization, poses a challenge to mankind.