Hybrid Objects

One week ago I was going through the security check at the JFK airport and suddenly a bag appears to be unattended. During the minutes while the uncertainty lasted I found myself caught in a reflection. That was the perfect example of a hybrid object! A physical object, a bag, most probably full of clothes and other personal objects, attached to a fiction, a terrorist attack.

Reaches us

This possibility of a bag that contains a bomb haunted the actual bag (that didn’t contain a bomb) for a few minutes. A virtual bag invaded an actual bag and used it to reach us. The physical object then worked as a channel that allowed a virtual bag to have its effects in actuality.

A hybrid object is basically a physical object attached to a fiction. Most of my attempts to use fiction as a way to intervene reality rely on physical objects located on the urban landscape that ideally are capable of catapulting the passer-by into a fictional world. During my flight that day I wrote a few observations I’d like to share.

Hybrid object coLOUR

I found it quite revealing how fast that object had affected me. I started to review my projects from the ideas that arose on that day. A year ago I was deploying what I called troops of mini-warriors (see http://www.ungravitational.net). Each warrior was a hybrid object, usually a toy attached to a fiction of invasion. For example once I deployed a troop of fishes on barbed wire. The rotting fish was a combination of degradable matter and a fiction of maritime attack in the city of fear.

Now the problem is, I realised, the object alone cannot carry a fiction. The fishes on barbed wire remained a completely obscure intervention keeping the fiction of the city of fear hermetically preserved for the joy of the diggers. The passer by would probably not be catapulted into any fictional world because there was not enough information, the fictional world had not yet become something with enough consistency. The first step is then to build the fiction. Then the object works autonomously as an executable file. Object.exe

The unattended bag worked because the campaign has been so massive that we make the link in a matter of a millisecond. What do I need to do in order to manufacture executable objects, hybrid toys capable of unleashing a fictional infection? I need to build a consistent fiction to what they relate. And that fiction is supposed to work as an alternative to reality capable of interfering with it and subverting it.

Physical to many

However, in order to create such an all-pervasive fiction one needs two things: 1) lots of money, 2) a totalitarian spirit. I certainly lack the first one and hopefully I haven’t got much of the second either. Therefore I started to think of objects.exe that could work as nodes, relating to many virtual objects, leading to many fictional/parallel worlds. A baggage unattended on a platform would then be a hybrid of an actual bag with a finite list of items inside attached to infinite possible baggages with many different items. The physical object would be regarded as a port, listening to different information depending on who is on the other side of the line.

Finally I wondered how could an object unleash a fictional infection when the fiction has not been previously put in place. Can we put the object in a package, a mini-context, that allows it to become executable? Can we work on the setting where the object is placed, work with the traces of something that has happened, to make possible the infection without having to rely on mass produced narratives? What clues can we give to the passer-by that may enable this channel between actuality and other fictional/parallel worlds?


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  • Contact Me

    olga [AT] ungravitational.net
  • Bio

    Olga carries practical and theoretical research in the field of media arts. She works as a co-editor with Furtherfield.org while she pursues a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths. Her research project looks into assemblages of sunlight, human bodies and machines. She is particularly interested on subtle modes of communication across bodies of radically different nature. She looks at the ways in which electronic circuits, computational systems, endocrine processes and neurological happenings intermingle. The tools she develops are speculations about the undercurrents of body communication.
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