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The Posthuman in the Anthropocene: A Look through the Aesthetic Field

  • Jacob Wamberg (a1) and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (a1)

Abstract

The posthuman summons up a complex of both tangible challenges for humanity and a potential shift to a larger, more comprehensive historical perspective on humankind. In this article we will first examine the posthuman in relation to the macro-historical framework of the Anthropocene. Adopting key notions from complexity theory, we argue that the earlier counter-figures of environmental catastrophe (Anthropocene entropy) and corporeal enhancement (transhuman negentropy) should be juxtaposed and blended. Furthermore, we argue for the relevance of a comprehensive aesthetical perspective in a discussion of posthuman challenges. Whereas popular visual culture and many novels illustrate posthuman dilemmas (e.g. the superhero’s oscillation between superhuman and human) in a respect for humanist naturalist norms, avant-garde art performs a posthuman alienation of the earlier negentropic centres of art, a problematization of the human body and mind, that is structurally equivalent to the environmental modification of negentropic rise taking place in the Anthropocene. In a spatial sprawl from immaterial information to material immersion, the autonomous human body and mind, the double apex of organic negentropy, are thus undermined through a dialectics of entropy and order, from abstraction’s indeterminacy to Surrealism’s fragmentation of the body and its interlacing with inorganic things.

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