Sunday, 21 June 2009

Alien-ation/species being/Sim capital

And what could more perfectly encapsulate Cybermarx's concerns in this instance than a preview of the latest instalment in the Aliens vs Predators franchise? (thanks ahuthnance for the tipoff). I concur that Alien[sic] ation "takes on a whole new meaning" in this context, premised, as it is, on the meeting of "sim capital" and the military-entertainment-complex. Moreover, the game may [eventually] prove prescient in the sense that the conditions of its production, in tandem with its explicit thematic concerns, reflect how technoscience, particularly its biological applications, are increasingly playing a constitutive, rather than an after the event role, in the shaping of social relations more generally, (inclusive of the "bioprospecting" taking place in poorer nations; here as well there is an uncanny parallel with the "colonial marines" featured in the Alien series, who have simply shifted such activities "offworld").

I recommend viewing the video to help flesh out Cybermarx's words, but don't even think about wasting your time by not watching it in High Definition. Be sure to savour the unselfconscious commentary by the games developer, as he demonstrates the capital spectacle of "trophy kills", which consist of the evisceration of human victims by the Predators (due to its graphic nature, the clip requires age verification). Here then is the passage on "sim capital" that particularly grabbed my attention:

What is at stake in the development of "general intellect" is nothing less than the trajectory of species being. "Species being" is the term Marx uses refers to humanity's self-recognition as a natural species with the capacity to transform itself through conscious social activity. In the era of general intellect the application of social knowledge to production make this issue urgent and concrete; e.g. the Human Genome Project. Given this context, the recent revival of the concept of species being by authors such as David Harvey and Gayatri Spivak, rather than constituting a reversion to a much-reviled "Marxist humanism," marks a crucial consideration about the collective control and direction of a techno-scientific apparatus capable of operationalizing a whole series of post-human or sub-human conditions. Alienation takes on a whole new dimension when it reaches up to the creation of "alien" - non-naturally occurring - life forms, and when the cut and paste biology of gene splicing and xenotransplants makes the body itself tend toward the status of "digital cultural object."

No comments: