Unhere at Technofields Cuca
With inserts by Eliza Trefas (ET).
"In Unhere, performers activate states and affects corresponding to other realities than the situations in which they are (of visitors, clients, tourists, spectators…). They deviate from basic adjustments, seeming out of touch with reality, out of place, unhere. An extra layer is added to the ordinary function of the respective spaces, producing meetings between two types of audiences, attentions, situations, performers, two degrees of performing, two levels of reality. Because we simulate the bodies that we encounter, Unhere can be contagious. In general we conform to environments, we want to be adjusted to "here and now", to behave adequately, even in art, and usually that's fine. But sometimes is good to undo the automated submissions, to open up or transcend situations, to go Unhere." Florin Flueras, Unhere, 2020.
We live in contexts, in worlds. The things around implicitly guide us, and that's fine, most of the time. We usually want to be centered in our world, we aim for safety, for the middle of the herd. But there you have to completely conform, to be on beat, to move like the others, otherwise you're mauled. I already have to stop and think about how to go on, I look up at the ceiling, on my left, I touch the ceiling with my gaze. I come back and look inside me, I see nothing but I feel my existence. It's not a strong feeling. Not easy to write, the keyboard's AI helps with suggestions, but it's not that smart. Maybe I should move, I like this strange place in the room, it's not ok to stay here and write. It's strange, it's not exactly a wrong place, it is a passing through space, it feels like a no man's land. I'm sitting nowhere and I'm a bit unsafe, like the ground is unstable. I implant my feet more, I stick to the ground. But this gives me instability.
Offbeat, Unhere people are the tricksters who play with expectations and conventions. The drunk (drugged) who deviate from proper behaviors and conventions. The few scientists and philosophers who are totally obsessed with their research and seem absent or inadequate in the world. The psychotics that overlap another reality on top of the consensual one. The mystics who transcend worlds. The people with memory problems, very old maybe, who narrowed so much their experience, their awareness, that the world almost disappears. The artists who explore other ways of seeing, thinking, feeling or performing. Some "conspiracists'' who exit official perspectives. The hypersensitives who feel so much that they almost disintegrate reality, "the collective hypnosis". The shamans who navigate between realities/natures/worlds. The transgressives who surpass edges. The light beings who give the impression that they can start to float into the air. The politically offbeat people like the Tiananmen square tank man. The man who stayed sceptical and critical in the crowd in front of Hitler while everyone around was eager to raise their hands for the Nazi salute. The crazy saints who were outsiders in Christianity and in the world. The explorers who feel at home only deep into the unknown, between worlds.
There is something strange in the way my hand touches the wall. It's like my hand belongs more to the wall than to myself. Now my entire body belongs more to the wall then to myself. Maybe not, but for sure there is something weird between me and the wall. It's like I have a kind of energetic grounding through this hand-wall thing. No, I don't like "energetic", it is rather affective what's going on here. The wall is also like a kind of safety because the other hand is so charged that it is unsafe. Anyway this is not exactly a wall, everything is very abstract. There is a new entity that is formed. My body-wall has a different type of feelings. But sometimes the connection is gone, and my body is just like an abstract form disconnected from everything, the wall doesn't exist more than the other things around. The phenomenon extends to the ground. Me and the earth, we're strangely attracted. I'm attached to it right now. The sensitive bodies can embody something from the off forms of denied life, but Unhere is not so much extreme oriented, it is playing mostly at the margins, with the edges, with alternations between being here and unhere. It involves subtle behavioral and affective alterations, off states that alter or cut the connections with the environment, the implicit existence in the world.
I stay between these plants right now, I just stay, I don't think more than them, maybe just when I write on this unpleasant device. Like when cats sit together, they really sit together, it's like they have a feeling of their configuration together. There is nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to feel, or there is everything. I interrupted any activity with the exception of writing, and actually this writing is a bit annoying, it interrupts my experience of inactivity. I took my things and wanted to go inside and I just stopped, suspended. There is no time and space, there is no me. We usually stay, stop, relax at the end of activities, I like to do it in the middle of an action or even a movement. But this is more than stop or relaxing, I stopped the world. It's in a way a meditation, but I'm not taking time and space for it, I'm not going in my meditation posture, I'm here, hanging, with the blanket in one hand, the phone in the other. I can stay like this for days, maybe not, the time doesn't matter. But yes, I've been here only since a few minutes ago, probably. "I created a gap, a fraction of a second, which allows me to abstain from coordinating myself back to myself, to abstain from coordinating my nature body to my rational body and instead, to not move, to let the body off, trusting that he is better where he is now, for a while at least. I feed and relax from the off. I am sitting diagonal and slightly tilted on this chair for maybe 10 minutes now at least. Facing no point of interest really. Just a blurred general. I realize that my body is perfectly aligned to catch the sun. I am connected with the sun, I will let it act upon my body."(ET)
When the norm is sick the deviations are crucial. And the norm is always sick. The unhere people are out of tune with "normality", and attuned to something else. They are annoying because they can ruin the harmony, the party, the official narratives, beliefs. In bad times and places, it is a crime to be offbeat. I should find the balance between content and experience, between performativity and discursivity. Let's think this further. I refuse to think my posture, to compose myself in the place where I am. I lose my shape. What a relief. I don't know for whom I keep maintaining my composure, my appearance. My face drops, my posture disintegrates, I look and feel like an idiot, what a sight. I'm drooling on my phone. And this strange sound that comes out of my mouth. I hope you don't reconstruct this in your minds. The neighbors came into my altered mind again. Sorry that I disconnect from you a little, there is something happening between me and this walnut tree here. I hope that my neighbors don't see me, it's not a problem that they think I'm crazy or on something, but I'm afraid that they will go a little bit crazy as well. Hmm, that could be great actually. I'm very contagious because I'm not crazy in my mind, I'm "crazy" in my body.
I hear this tractor, is it part of nature? It seems annoying, a product of reason which is separation from nature and violence against the environment. You can see almost everything as technology or everything as nature. Technology is just nature doing certain things. For certain Amazonians there are multiple natures. Or you can see a clear divide. Humans as the first technology that went against their nature and nature in general, sapiens vs sentients. My reason is compromised a little because I have this urge to reintegrate in nature. I connect with nature, starting from this apple tree. Or is the other way around? I'm part of nature or the nature is part of my experience, or we don't exist? For everything there is a theory. I'm near this tree, it is pulling me somehow. I don't know why it is covered in these leaves. They are green, a lot of them. There is some light energy between our branches. It's moved by the wind, I'm moved by the affect between us. We communicate, it's not "only in my mind", it's physical, subtle, but eventually the neighbors can see that something is going on. Although I hope they're not seeing me for their sake. Maybe conceptually it would be more interesting this to happen between me and the tractor, but it's not up to me, I don't do it. When I did Unhere in art spaces I felt connected with some art objects, so it must work with tractors too.
Technology is a strong environment that slowly shifts from an extension to a replacement of ourselves. Screens are laughing, crying and dreaming for us. Music is more and more dancing for us. Substances are feeling for us. This can be good at times, sometimes we need to let go, to abandon ourselves. But it's possible that after a while there will be no self to abandon. Just a puppet caught in technological strings. Maybe this is good in the end, and we might be at the end. Yet, we may desire the feeling of existence sometimes, illusory or not. The tendency of "dance music" is to be more and more imposing, to enforce the body's movements. Sometimes that's fine, but we don't have to always dance how they play. At the last parties I went offbeat. I'm unsure about how to go on. I start to focus more on feeling my phone in my hand, and not so much on what I write. I see the words appearing on screen but I'm also looking around the screen, the phone is just an object in the room. I'm connected with what's around me. I have the feeling that I exit through that window now… I'm back to write this.
There is a mutilated tree outside the window, its shape is connected to mine somehow. Maybe if I change my shape's affect I can change something in the tree. Now I will just stop for a couple of minutes unfocused, blank. I try to feel you, the reader from the future. I feel warmth in my chest. I didn't want to go against technology, I like technology, but maybe Illich was right when he said that after a point any advance in a certain technology produces more bad than good. This year I'm scared, Google, Microsoft, Apple… massively investing in health care, the alliance between big tech and big pharma is scary. Finally the authoritarian dreams of total surveillance and control are possible. People speak about the coming "techno-pharma-tyranny", "AI dictatorship". I try to maintain my focus but I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Why am I here? In this place, in this posture. And why are exactly these things around me? My body and the world seem to lose their meaning. I'm in this garden, but I don't know why I should go in a particular direction and not another. There is something off in the way I'm inserted in reality. Or "reality"? Whatever, I feel like in a virtual reality. Interesting, I'm glad that I took the phone with me to write all this while it's happening. Somehow I know to choose the words one after the other, AI helps but not that much, I still have to focus.
Maybe they see me from somewhere, I try to look normal, but I know that it's weird how I stay, where I stay, there is something off in myself, and pretending that everything is ok increases the strangeness. Now I try to be normal, to not move, but it doesn't work, there is this weird thing in me. The body communicates that there is something off. The more I insist on the attitude that nothing's going on, the more weirdness comes out of my body. I wonder what it is, because apparently nothing happens, but there is definitely something strange in me now. Unfortunately we are in a time when it is more and more unacceptable to be offbeat. We usually conform to the implicit demands in the environment (nature, culture, technology, authority…). And it seems that the role of art and academia is more and more to conceptually and esthetically authorize the "correct" perspectives and to cancel anyone for the smallest offbeat move. My awareness is very dimmed, I just look at my legs how they're walking, and maybe one meter in front. It's relaxing to have such a small world. In this small world everything seems fine. I see the legs and the phone now because I'm writing this. I extend my awareness beyond the one meter in front of me. I get out of my relationship with the phone and you, I expand until I'm everything. I extend everywhere, that's why I reach you where you're reading this now. My awareness encompasses the world now, it's like I can sense until the end of reality. Because I'm affect… I come back to my phone and my body and I start to walk again, it's so much more relaxing than the extended awareness, fewer things can go wrong in a very small world. Now my body is contracting, smaller and smaller, a point, just a point. Nothing. I'm just exteriority, I'm the world around me. When it moves, "I" moves.
"The circle is a small world but the world is not a small circle. I step in the world, outside the circle. I can finally just be. No need to walk anymore. And I can be suspicious about whatever 'being' means. I can bend 'being' into whatever I perceive 'being'. So I am ever transforming matter. I look around and embody everything I see. I collect objects with my gaze, I put them inside my body and I become them. I lose perception of how I look. I look down on my legs and I don't register them. I realize they cannot move now that I believe I am something else. It gets harder and harder to keep on writing as well. The more I ingest my environment, the more I realize I am formed into this body by what enters it. The more I manage to alienate myself from my own body, the greater it grows. I let this feeling and perception expand. I don't do it on purpose anymore. It reached a point of trust, my body is now a safe territory, a fantasy territory, open and penetrated by these affects in the air. I am suddenly not alone, because I am no one anymore."(ET)
I wish I can abstractize more what I see, to disintegrate the images, the words, the characters to become abstract lines, shapes and to integrate them into the landscape. There is an apple tree somewhere behind my phone, now it's here, the depth disappeared, it's all a 2D abstract image. I cannot abstractize more because I will lose the ability to write, it's hard enough already. I wonder if you can read what I write. I don't want to stay here anymore, I feel like I can start to fly. Like my head is connected with something in the sky that pulls me up. I'm still too heavy. Maybe, if I can activate that force from my dreams, in which it seems that we have the flying capacity somewhere in the body. It's a sort of feeling in my belly and my chest. At least this extracts me completely from here, psychologically. Like I'm more connected with that thing above. I must look quite absent. It doesn't seem to be a God. It is more like an abstract "out of here". Maybe if I stop writing it will work. Unhere aims for a metafreedom that starts in the body. It's "meta" because it operates above situations, on contexts. It extends outside our world a little bit. The world swallows us, but not completely.
"The environment is hypervertical, way too straight for my confusion. My axis pushes against an angle. Angle or angel. I suddenly see the room full of unhere angels. I'm in a waiting room to heaven. But here is no time and nothing to wait for as well. We all just bend and look at each other, or around each other. Next to each other. Off each other. I am at a party of the lost and we lost the party as well. My heart is pumping fast, I don't know what this means. I am confused over my own body. I don't react to it. I am the only angel with a phone. My hands are starting to shake. My text is starting to shake. I get so charged from writing about this. It's like half of my brain and the typing arm still have some detached power to recognize this experience. The other brain half, the other arm, rest of the body and the angels are floating. We're nervous, sensitive, physically weak but so charged. We just look at each other and then at my typing arm as if it's the one responsible for this experience to end. As if the text perpetuates this power, doubles it. As if the text is being dictated by something that has already experienced this and tells me to go more."(ET) We can only indirectly go/be unhere. Anything voluntary and in our control is a here, it's part of our possible, of our world. The trick is to accept that it's not in our power to go/be unhere, and allow ourselves to get extrasensitive in the hope that our bodies catch something that is not us, something unhere. So the only thing we can do is to have the intention to go Unhere, to abandon the control, and to follow our bodies where they're taking us. I have a completely blank gaze for the world. Nothing is passing my mind, except these words that I write here, not even that. It is more like I have a second small mind allocated just for maintaining this writing activity, but I can definitely say that my mind is empty. Everything is a fog, not in the sense of unclear but in the sense of very abstract and equally important or unimportant. My gaze cannot grasp anything in particular, except for this keyboard, partially. It's just slipping over things. 'Things' is too much said, there are no things anymore.
Certain Amazonian populations see the body as immaterial, a bundle of affects, capacities that produce personal and collective perspectives. Body perspectives are composing worlds, different natures – multinaturalism. Their shamans develop and use body capacities to open, actualize other worlds. I know that from outside it seems that I'm walking in another environment, that I'm in another reality, a "zone" or something. But this is my special walk for this world today. It looks precautionary, because I sometimes have the feeling that anything can happen. They are looking suspiciously at me, I'm looking at my hand. The loop is closed, it's hypnotic, but also a sort of mini awakening. My hand has these subtle movements, and all the lines are changing, forming different shapes, landscapes, I'm afraid that I will see the future there. Now I look through my hand, the hand is just an element of the image, still very important because it can easily change the image. I overlap my hand on the landscape, and by changing its position and shape it changes the image and the composition. Now my hand becomes more important than my eyes, the focus moves from the image to the affect in my hand. The core of my being is in my hand now. I feel reality from there.
"I am still, together with the top of the city, with the roofs, perhaps I am a roof too. I feel that I am from another place, and now, in this another place. Alien to me, and I'm alien to it. We are alienating each other out. So sure there's a third factor, a system we break. If I wouldn't see my shadow with the corner of my eye, I wouldn't be able to tell whether I am a roof or not (schrodinger's cat myself). I am a top today, something above something else. Me(???) on top of the world. Stepping on what might not be there."(ET) Unhere means behaviors, states, affects that are from the edges or even from outside what is apparently available "here and now". If the space is modulated by the body's behaviors, affects, capacities, affecting your body means changing your world. My body is out of my control, it's uncoordinated and has difficulties with balance. The world becomes the same, less stiff, less stable, except the other people that I see through the window. Like my body emanates instability and a bit of chaos, it contaminates reality. It feels a bit like I'm drunk, but more complex and nicer.
"I stopped with a hand on a pot and a hand on a water filter. I also hold my phone. And my breath. I don't know why but I breathe differently. Slowly, denser, I forget to do it.. I don't know. My awareness is completely dissociated from this type of body. It's strange I can still balance on it. I grab. Grabbing is strange. One hand is grabbing a door, the other the phone. I clench in between these two points and I feel like the whole rest of the world moves chaotic."(ET) The present, the space, the circumstances are trapping us. Especially when we don't know what to do, or when we don't want to do anything anymore, or when everything is hopeless or too sad, or too difficult, too boring, too wrong. And we just want to get out of here and now. To be Unhere. Like the strange community from the film A Visitor to the Museum: "We only have one prayer: 'Let me out of here.' Let me out of where? Out of here... In general." I can just stay in this corner forever, because if you don't have thoughts you don't have problems. My gaze is closing in, like the world is very small, I don't know how to call this gaze, zombie gaze, it's like my gaze is caught into a spider net, blurry and nothing in focus, except when I write. Now I'm completely caught in my own repetitive small moves.
The "forms of death in life" of Alina Popa are extreme Unhere: "Receiving a diagnosis was the ticket to singularization. The ultimate disturbance of the relationship between self and world, between individual and social sphere. To live with a terminal deadly physical disturbance is to be in a state of exception. To step on the real ground of the subject - what is more common to all than our imminent bodily dissolution, our baseline vulnerability. You don't matter anymore as a social token but as something scary and real, something that is scary because it is the easiest to identify with.
Forms of death in life
To live beyond the protection of the nation state, in war zones or other areas outside the regulation of “social contracts”
To commit a crime and enter the punishment system - committing something that makes it impossible for you to further identify with what you just were (transgression)
To become a minority in a sense, but without being able to be empowered by your identitarian status
To become a monk
To have an aesthetic experience so powerful that it shakes the transcendental frame /spiritual love"
Going out opens thousands of possible ins. It's not just that "you're out", you can be connected to otherwise inaccessible levels. Disconnection from nature, in a paradoxical way, can mean a superior, normally inaccessible connection. Sometimes you need to disappear to be deeply present. To cut the ordinary connections with reality to really see. According to Simondon, to arrive at transindividual, at "collective", the community should be stripped away – the entire network of human "commerce", "the words of the tribe" that fix us in our social functions and roles. You need to do a paradoxical move, to go through "the ordeal of solitude", individuation, to escape and undo the embodied superficial sociality that blocks the collective. My chest is warming up, it is filled with these feelings, I don't understand anything anymore, I'm out of this world, I just feel so much, I'm melting. I don't need anything else, I'm out, self sufficient, "self" is too much said, because I'm not a self anymore, I'm just this feeling. I feel so much love that I had the sensation that I disintegrate or that a sort of transcendence is imminent. The phone is disappearing from my hand. The reality is less solid, is just one possibility, its walls are becoming very very thin. I feel that there is a way to open it, like you open a dream in lucid dreaming and could start to float, change the setting, the space, the time. My body is so charged that I feel that if I found the right /wrong gesture I can exit this world or change this reality. I don't know if this intensity is ok, I feel that I can disintegrate. These thoughts and fears brought my body back. Now the body behaves like nothing happens. Super grounded, super stable. Reversed transcendence.
Unhere is not just an escape from reality. It may be also the opening of an another one. It may be a running from problems, but it may be also a search for solutions, and problems, on other levels. An offbeat body and subjectivity may create an alternative space, an alternative here by going "unhere". Unhere doesn't mean disappearing, it means getting out of here. And this always means arriving somewhere else. Any unhere is a here somewhere else. "I'm reduced to a pixel in a corner. I feel unhere, I feel present but invisible to everyone else. My world is small. And you're in this world too. I look around the room from this little place, observing how everything changes size. I start to see unobservable details bigger, every little point my eyes fall on gains some importance. I immediately feel this in my body. This shift of perception keeps on growing, perpetuates itself, my heart beats harder. I feel that I'm physically growing with this sensation. All my body is expanding. I grow so much I can feel Sofia from within and above. I stand here, huge body in the center of Sofia, facing nothing but myself from inside out, all stoned and sensitive, more and more. This feeling is growing so much that I don't know how to deal with it. It can be a bit scary. It feels scary. What to do with this feeling so big?? I'm happy I can write about it, maybe it helps. Good, it's coming down, I'm deflating, I left the center of Sofia and I'm back in the room. I look at my tiny feet, I walk them, my body feels soft and a bit exhausted. It's tricky to gather thoughts after this, to have a conclusion.. It probably took me 30 minutes to go through this. I am wearing a pink jumper.. It's still morning. Today is.. tuesday. I don't know what to say but I need to talk, write. I am from Romania.. I like warm weather. I put my phone down. I am bent above it. The letters I type affect me back. The more words appear, the more surprised I get. It feels strange. Like I make my experience happen in two simultaneous places and times."(ET)
Unhere is a process not a state, it's movement, because any unhere eventually stabilizes into a here. Unhere is an abstract procedure and habit of exiting, of seeing and making exits where there aren't. A capacity of enlarging the apparently given possibilities of reacting, of behaving in situations where it seems to be clear what we are supposed to think, feel and do. I should pay attention to my writing, the words I choose. But I start to see through the phone, unfocused, my body is charging with a strange affect and everything around seems new, quite alien actually. Like I see the things for the first time. I'm looking at the world and at myself with the eyes of an alien. My body is weird, there is something alien in my arm, in my entire posture now. I feel myself with alien feelings. Except for the face and the eyes, I try to appear like nothing is happening in my body. It somehow accentuates this alien possession. I don't know if this is transmisibile to you there, I hope you can still read, or maybe you also feel that it's a little bit weird to have this text in front of you, and who knows how things are in you and around you. Great, now my body lost any coordination and coherence. I forgot what I wanted to write. I cannot focus on words. Is not easy to write when things and meanings are disappearing. I will correct or delete this later I suppose.