2022 - 2024

“We think with the entire body, or rather, we have to acknowledge the embodiment of the brain, and the embrainment of the body.” – Rosa Braidotti, Anthropocene Feminism 

“The emergence of feeling and subjectivity is not recent at all, let alone exclusively human.” – Antonio Damasio, The Strange Order of Things

“This ongoing flow of agency through which “part” of the world makes itself differentially intelligible to another “part” of the world and through which local causal structures, boundaries and properties are stabilized and destabilized does not take place in space and time but in the making of space-time itself.” – Karen Barad, Posthumanist Performativity  

CORPUS imagines a future of blended, embodied entanglement between human, machine, flora, and microbiome in the form of a towering AR “symborg”. Scaled to induce ergonomic awe in viewers, the animated, gender-ambiguous figure presents a series of provocations. 

Over the course of approximately 1-2 minutes, the AR figure emerges as a series of constituent metallic, glowing, and organic particulate elements rendered to resemble an ever-shifting blend of pulsing computer code and biological code (DNA). Breathing and gently shifting its weight, CORPUS appears transparent in places to suggest a blurring between the digital and the physical and to underscore the fluid (and often competing) nature of realities we have developed for evolutionary fitness. The soundscape is composed of a blend of heartbeats; fetal, human, whale, cosmos (a recording of black holes colliding), and an AI interpolation of them all. 

My belief is that future life will involve embracing interconnected embodied (and embrained) sources of cognition- microbial, synthetic, and carbon-based. Our bodies will be increasingly mediated not just by technology and quantum media, but also by new viruses and cellular organisms that thrive in, through, and across our bodies. As a holobiont, an “assemblage of different organisms'' behaving as a single entity, CORPUS also intends to evoke the idea of a body politic). I also imagine a differently gendered future, a blurring and expansion of gender identities. The blending of so many life-sustaining sources of encoding will generate new architectures and the positioning of a body as process, versus as object. 

By scaling the artwork to dwarf human-scale viewers, the artwork inverts the assumption of anthrosupremacy and invites a reconsideration of perspective, embodiment, relational engagement, and bioengineering. It may also provoke insight into the complexities and precarities of algorithmically mediated life. I hope to elicit or inspire a reconsideration of scale, embodiment, the particulate/microbial, performative engagement with the artwork, and consideration of digital/analog hybridity. Ultimately, this project will result in documented engagement, conversation, and new methodologies of embodied consciousness. 

CORPUS was originally commissioned by The Berggruen Institute as part of their What Will Life Become? Symposium in 2022. 

– Nancy Baker Cahill, March 2024

Production by Nancy Baker  Cahill and Shaking Earth Digital
Production Manager: Caleb Craig

Please direct all inquires to: 
Jessy Arisohn, 291 Agency  




©2024 Nancy Baker Cahill Studio. All rights reserved.

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