The Free Man – with AI, 2019
© HEAD – Genève
The Free Man – with AI, 2019
© HEAD – Genève
ƒ in between the Levels of the Organic
© HEAD – Genève
ƒ in between the Levels of the Organic
© HEAD – Genève
ƒ in between the Levels of the Organic
© HEAD – Genève
Playing at Being Human Between AI, animal and plant life: an artistic and philosophical experiment
© HEAD – Genève

Plessner Transposed. Between Philosophical Anthropology and Video: The ‘Ex-centred’ Actor

October 2018 to August 2021

Leading institution: HEAD – Genève
Project manager: Frank Westermeyer
Team: Frank Westermeyer, David Zerbib (HEAD – Genève), Sylvie Boisseau
Financing: HES-SOHEAD – Genève
Publication Edition Naima
Interview Issue-Journal
Event

This artistic research project consists of an investigation of the potential of video transposition of the anthropological theories of Helmuth Plessner (1892-1985). His original concept of "excentric positionality" (the idea that the characteristic of the human being is a certain excentricity in relation to his living and spatialized body) as well as his anthropology of the actor (the idea that in this eccentricity, every human being is like playing a theatrical role), are put to the test in filmic situations, in order to explore the experimental figures of a character whose only role would be that of being human.

Publication :
Playing at Being Human Between AI, animal and plant life: an artistic and philosophical experiment

Co-edition HEAD - Genève and NAIMA, Berlin, 11. 2021.
This e-publication, giving access to two videos and one text, resulting from a collaborative research conducted by the artists Sylvie Boisseau and Frank Westermeyer, and the philosopher David Zerbib proposes a video-philosophical re-reading of the work of Helmuth Plessner. In his philosophical anthropology, he defines human being through his belonging to the living, as an organic being, on the same plane as the plant or the animal. This philosophical approach is an effective theoretical tool that yields original perspectives on the crisis of anthropocentrism, and which redefines the place occupied by humans and their capacities in relation to the non-human, living or technological. The piece fully activates Helmut Plessner’s thinking, but not merely by representing his concepts. It instead experiments with new hypotheses examined through a sense of play, drawn upon a very close collaboration between the two artists and the philosopher. They question and enrich one another’s practices and tools in their joint elaboration of the films and text that make up this work.

Video :
Boisseau & Westermeyer, The Free Man – with AI  (Germany / Switzerland), 2019.

“The human being asks a question, and the machine provides the response”. This was the mechanism that Boisseau & Westermeyer used to confront ƒ, their main character. What happens when the informational content is optimised and becomes accessible on a permanent, unlimited basis? Does the algorithm know ƒ better than ƒ himself?  Can ƒ’s personality still be detected? Is his perspective on himself still his own, or has it become that of the algorithm? Are his aspirations his own, or has he internalised the algorithm? The questions that The Free Man – with AI raise seem to unfold ad infinitum, but what happens when every uncertainty is resolved?

Video :
Boisseau & Westermeyer, f zwischen den Stufen des Organischen, (ƒ in between the Levels of the Organic), (Germany / Switzerland, 2021.

ƒ is tiring of the possibilities that his hypersmart car offers him. He no longer wants to use its technological improvements to transcend the limits of his own body. Can he experience himself in a new way by embodying every stage of organic life, both animal and plant? Inspired by this line of inquiry, he ultimately decides to view the world first from the standpoint of a quadruped, and then, from the immobile position of a plant.

Text:
David Zerbib : The human, the dog, the robot, and the water lily. A philosophical and aesthetic anthropology of the case of ƒ, 2021.
How does video experimentation allow Plessner's concepts to be updated, and how do they in turn open up possibilities not only for the artistic issues raised by the figure of ƒ, but also for the anthropological and ecological challenges linked to the crisis of anthropocentrism? Tracing the deployment of the question of ƒ, explaining Plessnerian theories, comparing the case of ƒ with other artistic and philosophical figures dealing with the relationship between the human and the non-human, proposing analytical tools such as the "positional field", this text seeks to elaborate the conditions of an anthropo-excentric aesthetic.  

 




 

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