Cristina Cotruta

CO Design Studio

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    The Age of Post-Human and World Making

    Cristina Cotruta
    Jun 7, '24 4:15 PM EST


    A word which our species has had the tendency to overuse and even abuse throughout its existence; a notion that carries in itself power over any other living being on this planet to such an extent that it has almost become non-tangible to us even; a word which holds the promise of a future or an end, whichever we may choose to spare.


    Figure 1: Creation; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    The condition of being human has granted our society the potential to build a new world within an already formed one, billions of years ago. The perfection of the reality at its beginning stages after the Big Bang  and formerly the creation of our Planet as we know it was somehow insufficient for ‘humans’. For some reason, we delved deep into the Creation process itself and slowly but surely started to change our environment, creating a new emergent world, one adapted to our whims, disregarding anything and everything. The world we now know exists and see every day. 

    ‘Human’ has become an instrument of excuse for changing and shaping centuries, species and ‘futures’. ‘Human’ cannot grasp other beings rather than its own technological development and achievements in Creating. So, what does ’human’ actually imply? What does ‘human’ create? What does ‘human’ become in the end and how does it shape our reality and possible days that are ahead of us? Is it even aware of the degree of power it holds in itself?

    This welcome post puts its focus on the problematic of an already existing world vs a potential one that would emerge if this so called ‘humanism’  is to be turned off, be that by means of technological development, to the degree where it no longer holds its essence and qualities or by an actual physical ‘end’, where a Zero cycle begins and what is left behind the ‘human era’ starts to build itself up. Will this new living space be less breathable and aesthetically pleasing than our artificially constructed environment or will it become more organic, better suited for life itself without our interference within it? Will we head towards a simulated reality, thus disregarding the existing one or will we simply head into non-being and let life run its course, let life become the architect it once was? So to what extent do we, as a species populating this planet and having a primarily direct impact on the future of its existence are we acknowledging our own actions? Are we even aware where the technological era is leading us and is it in our own hands or has it already come up to a point of no return? 

    Professor Dowell's Head
    Figure 2: Professor Dowell's Head; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    In 1925, russian science fiction author, Alexander Beliaev introduced to the world, Professor Dowell’s Head, a novel that willingly or not, touched upon vital aspects of the 21st century reality that was to come and most probably, of future decades that shall surpass us as well.  The story is based on professor Dowell and his assistant surgeon Dr. Kern, who are working together on medical problems including life support in separated body parts. Dr. Kern kills Dowell (in a set up car/asthma accident). Professor Dowell’s head is now kept alive and used by Dr. Kern for extraction of scientific secrets. Continuing his experiments, Dr. Kern transplants the head of a young woman to a new body, to which Dowell is a direct witness with no power in putting these horrors to a stop. 
    The plot in itself is strikingly simple it would seem and utterly disturbing at the same time. But is it? In terms of physicality, the head is alive, functionally sustained by machines, therefore it can process information and be of value to science and overall continue its existence, whilst in terms of the human condition and humanity, it fails to process what is happening to it. The entire book is read from the perspective of this newly emerged life form trying to understand and find its role within this reality as we know it. Is it still a human being since its pertaining humanist characteristics or is it as we now would call it a post-human? Has the change in perception from that newly set up level, constructed a dissimilar perceptibility? And if yes, I would argue to now label our reality as sole, hence it is no longer singular, defined by palpable and somatic experiences. 

    The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

    Figure 3: The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    Starting from Jennifer Gabrys’s statement within the article on Ocean Sensing and Navigating the End of This World5: 
    ‘I consider the question of where this world ends, especially through digital environmental sensing technologies tuned to detecting environmental change. How are worlds delineated, and their endings sensed, within a matrix of catastrophic environmental events and digital sensing technologies?’ I involuntarily start to operate and find congruous issues the author writes about in a very nonchalant almost way. Dowell ‘ended’ his ‘existence’ in a matter-of-fact reality but transposed towards an anomalous expansion. His creation was no longer linked to actual space. These worlds were delineated, yes, but to what extent were they divergent to each other? Was it an ending or just co-existing conditions he himself created? Beliaev’s work derived from his illness and his search for an alternate life, if not in reality, at least in fiction. Organ and brain transplants were a myth, a procedure that only became reality in 1954 with the world’s first kidney transplant.  For the society of the 20th century, the 21st century being would be ‘the post-human’. Then what is ‘the post-human’ in our developed/maybe underdeveloped understanding? 

    Biological evolution implies that populations and species of organisms change over time. This idea can be directly linked to the naturalist Charles Darwin. He defined evolution as ‘descent with modification’, the idea that species reshape over time, give rise to new species and share a common ancestor. Ontological preoccupations regarding ethical considerations of animality are in direct clash with the idea of using computer technology to enrich the physical limitations of the human body. There are a range of philosophical and ethical movements that are unified by their unshakable belief in the supremacy of human beings. But the truth of the matter is that future development implies radically altered entities by means of implants, bio-hacking, cognitive enhancement and other bio-medical technology. And to some extent, they already exist in the ‘now’. This is the beginning towards Darwin’s evolutionist idea correlated to our current era. Can this dissipate our reality as a whole and produce an accelerated road to world ending as we know it?

    Charles Darwin

    Figure 4: Charles Darwin-The Human; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    2019 was the year screenwriter and film director Steven Knight introduced to the world the neo-noir thriller ‘Serenity’.  The main character is portrayed as a fisherman named Baker Dill living on the gorgeous tropical island of Plymouth, who is reunited with a mysterious woman from his past. She has a dark request of Baker. However, as Baker gets drawn into a dark plot, he comes to find that on the island of Plymouth nothing is as it seems. For the main character as well as the audience, it becomes increasingly clear very quickly that the Island is idiosyncratic and begins to appear less and less authentic as time goes on. We come to realize that Plymouth Island is a computer simulation created by a child in the real world, to escape his abusive home life and step-father.

    Plymouth Island

    Figure 5: Plymouth Island; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    All in all, the idea of having a different dimensionality formulated on the basis of specific life cases by means of algorithmic operations within a digital world, offers an alternative and also the hope to 
    a much better future for those struggling with the unvarying current reality. Both examples shown above portray the desire for discontinuity and evolution from a set reality, bounded and framed in singularity, while maintaining ‘living’ characteristics. Life doesn’t reach ‘an end’, it just evolves into a more complex, neoteric shape. Beginning to exist in one space doesn’t necessarily imply ceasing to exist in the other one. The margin that separates them is literally boundless. We can try to define it and maybe give it tactile characteristics, considering it to be the machine that creates it or even the breathing entity performing the task, but within the sensing technology we own at the moment, this would 
    only be an exiguous interpolation of thoughts and conjectures.    

    The Raising of Lazarus

    Figure 6: The Raising of Lazarus; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    These expansions intertwine, weaving a functional network and a bridge between creation. The alternate reality could well be physical as well as non-physical. In her paper on Ocean Sensing and Navigating the End of this World8, Jennifer Gabrys suggests that: ‘Navigational meshes (referring to sensing technologies) could even constitute parallel worlds, a matrix of programs and programmability that could be rendered and reconstituted. By devising speculative instruments for tuning into these parallel worlds, it might be possible to sense the limit conditions of extractive ontologies, and to navigate beyond endings toward potentialities for otherwise inhabitations.’

    It may well mean that the ‘becoming of post-human’ isn’t necessarily implying the denial of ‘the human’ and the ‘ending’ of a world, but merely a vital evolutional step in a certain point in time, where ‘human’ adopts topical particularities. ‘Human’ as we perceive it, is an insufficient state 
    of being. If judging by its yearning to transcend its survival into eternity, present reality is deficient, already a decline of progress. Gabrys states that these endings might also suggest how the time of the present is ‘already dystopian’9. The timeline of human evolution outlines the development of the human species and that is exactly what 21st century Homo Sapiens is experiencing. Not the descent, but merely an ascension to the yet unknown and desolate. 

    Our world is the basis to creation of an emergent one. We build on and from whatever legacy we already own. We are not creating an obsolete ending for a Zero-cycle, we are merely naturally unfolding an already existing expansion to a much more refined and palpable reality, easily perceived by ‘human’. The entire struggle of Dowell from Beliaev’s novel or Baker Dill in Knight’s imagination is grasping and interpreting their roles within this non-existing existence, the line between known and unknown. Have they ceased ‘to be’ or have they transcended ‘to coexist’ concurrent to their former materiality? Our existence is already synchronized in different spaces at once. Our environment, networks, fields of study, art, visual perceptions are shaped to accommodate ‘non-humans’, machines, technology and data accumulation. We have passed our ‘human rights’ further, to ‘post-human’ entities. It is not a question of whether they exist. It is a matter of understanding where we end and they begin or where emergence from two opposite realities happens.

    Dual Realities

    Figure 7: Dual Realities; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

    ‘Human’ is no longer the central figure in our reality, it has become complacent. ‘Human’ has ‘evolved’ and deconstructed ‘itself’ in the process of playing with creation. The reality emerged is very much artificial and biological at the same time, preserving characteristics of a breathing body but slowly drifting into a more and more non-physical experience. Our world is notably non-existent. People on the streets are mere moving figures, guided by phones, mechanics and automation. We are in the ‘here’ but also in the ‘there’. We coexist in different beings, disparate and very much technologically altered. The Big Bang of some 4 million years ago is making its appearance once more, veiled from our eyes. It’s not going to be ear-splitting or erupting as it once was. The tools of Creation are different. ‘Human’ will slowly drift into ‘Post-human’, allowing for a new era to begin. It will no longer be centralized. It is inevitable, yes. The truth of the matter is that we have unfolded a process, we cannot control anymore. Our lives are bound and emergent from what we have generated. We are no longer same. We are on the ‘edge’ of a world making. Maybe the post-human typology will be able to achieve what ‘human’ has failed to. Wasn’t Big Bang the hope of something new, emerged from clutter and chaos?

    An eerie question then immediately arises: how can artificial creation succeed where biological creation has failed in giving rise to ‘human’ in the hopes of a bright future? Have we failed our Creator and brought in chaos and clutter once more in our thirst for creation and outweigh of the mortal human condition? 

    Big Bang was a mere hope, Post-Human is a mere hope. 

    Tomorrow, Today

    Figure 8: Tomorrow, Today; an original image created by Cristina Cotruta for codesign studio blog. Copyright 2024. Used under fair use guidelines.

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About this Blog

The blog intends to focus, explore and give insights into the dynamic intersection and synergy between Artificial Intelligence and modern architecture. My blog delves into the latest AI tools revolutionizing architectural design, wants to examine their impact on efficiency and creativity and emerging trends in intercompatibility among advanced design software. The main themes: AI tools in Architecture, Innovative Design Solutions, Future Trends and Innovations.

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