graham day guerra

graham guerra


graham guerra



“The holiday it gave was perfect and if the morning after was disagreeable, it was so, not intrinsically, but only by comparison with the joys of the holiday. The remedy was to make the holiday go on forever.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“It is predicted that the world’s last unpleasant experience will be a precisely dateable event.” So begins David Pearce’s post-human web published manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative. Pearce believes in the next millennium, or so, we will rise above our Draconian existence and be born again into a “psychochemical nirvana”. Instead of describing our ancestors as a bunch of drug addled junkies or as a science experiment gone awry, like the wire-head rodents continually stimulating their pleasure centers, in lever pressing frenzies to the exclusion of all else (even sex). Pearce predicts, nothing less than, the abolition of the mood congruent pathologies of the primordial Darwinian human psyche. In other words our descendants post-human euphoric existence will surpass anything contemporary human neurochemistry can duplicate or imagine. This paradigm shift, made possible by the application of genetic engineering and nanotechnology, will lead to the disappearance of physical and mental pain from human/post-human existence.

Pearce’s manifesto serves as inspiration for this show because it is a rose colored alternative to the apocalyptic visions of the future of humankind, so zealously exploited by everyone, from politicians to religious leaders, in order to keep our populous supplicant and fear ridden. We have so internalized the validity of all the versions of the apocalyptic end of the earth (nuclear holocaust, polar ice caps melting and flooding our major cities, large meteorites hitting the earth, biblical fire and brimstone) that much of our lives are lived in a reactionary response to this anxiety, which we believe is somehow inevitable. We stock our fall out shelters, retreat into gated communities, say our prayers, arm ourselves to the teeth, and wait.

In 2003 Americans spent about 18 percent or 396 billion dollars of our federal budget on military and defense. We have a long history of investing many more billions in the nuclear arms race and such misadventures as the Regan era Star Wars missile defense program, all to ease our pernicious sense of apocalyptic dread. I internalized fears of nuclear annihilation in early childhood as a consequence of family political discussions and the nightly news. Not much has changed in the last twenty years to ally this fear. Both candidates in the recent presidential election wanted us to believe the biggest threat to our security is a so called “suitcase nuke”. Much of their campaign efforts were spent reinforcing fears of future terrorist attacks, and then trying to convince us they could do more to protect us form these perceived threats than their opponent. Yet, no other country comes close to what we spend on defense, the UK has the next largest military budget at 34 billion (2002). Americans may have a heightened sense of apocalyptic anxiety not because we enjoy conflict more than other nations but simply because we perceive ourselves as having the most to lose. In David Pearce’s view your nationality, race, nor sex will let you escape the negative feed back mechanisms at work in all of our central nervous systems. He tells us contemporary humans live on what Michael Eysenck calls the “hedonic treadmill”, a vicious cycle of preprogrammed varieties of psychophysical pain, which is good for our genes in a Darwinian sense, but bad for us psychologically.

This show asks each artist if it is possible to peer into a post-human future free of all physical and mental pain. How will we adapt? How will our “super well” descendants bodies change to reflect their profoundly altered consciousness? Does the prospect of a life lived in biochemical bliss naturalize our contemporary idea of heaven? What does it mean to live in a state of perpetual happiness if we no longer have the capacity to perceive pain? Will the choices of our decedents equipped with the tools of genetic engineering and nanotechnology always be in the best interest of our species?

-Graham Guerra