In Yuk Hui’s ‘Algorithmic catastrophe — the revenge of contingency’, the automatisation of agencies cause the unavoidable algorithmic catastrophe which is structurally necessary according to Paul Virilio. As an accident of knowledge, it is imperative to address our material and social affordance when confronted with the repetitive arrivals of catastrophes. The main issue sits on the pondering over whether these catastrophes can lead to the apocalypse in human civilisation.
Aristotle’s definition of 'contingency and luck' can not be determined by other agencies, on the contrary, his definition of ‘spontaneity’ can be determined by thoughts. As all exteriorised algorithms that drive machines are totally detached from the human brain where all the thoughts are generated, human’s beings decide the process of computational automatisation which inevitably causes catastrophes. However, according to Meillassoux, the necessity of contingency becomes the signifier of immanence. In other term, human thoughts could bring allocated spontaneity, which becomes the signifier of uncontrollable contingency. Probably, the immanent property of human thoughts belongs to the causality of the catastrophic phenomena from an anthropocentric perspective.
In my opinion, some algorithmic catastrophe can be seen as opportunities for both mankind and nature. My definition of ‘algorithmic catastrophe’ is however a derivative of the law of nature blended with human intervention caused by thoughts. For example, the increased Keystoneness of jellyfish is caused by both the immanence of jellyfish’s propagation and the rising global temperature. This fact sheds light upon the notion that human intellectual by far is still far away from understanding the complicated automatisation of nature itself. Instead of using the most powerful computer to simulate the processing of thoughts, exploring other organisms for their congenital system of automatisation probably will open more chances to discover the evolutionary pathway for machines. In addition, we should also be reconsidering the notion of an algorithm that it is only detached from human brains. Modern and contemporary botanists have discovered the hyper-sentience from plants, revealing the potential that plants can become a perfect wireless sensor or mediator for information and emotion processing. The improvement of such technologies will indeed transform our cognition from a mechanical reductionism based paradigm to a transfinite state of being where technicity and systematicity are automatically assumed within other living organisms. By including a broader recognition of the universal consciousness as organic algorithms, the algorithmic catastrophe might turn into algorithmic contingency for human to grasp and learn.
As Quentin Meillassoux stated ‘Absolute contingency characterises the aesthetics of the algorithmic catastrophe’, after all, the universally shared emotions in all organisms can collaboratively weave the epiphenomena of kalology. Maybe the most bedazzling contingency is still waiting at the non-material realm of unified field theory that can someday redefine the ramification of our entangled thoughts and emotions.
All materials are perceived through individual lenses that are proportionally and ethnographically biased through the process of observing, manually engagement, and collective thinking. In the long run of human civilisation, culture could be moderately considered as an epiphenomenon that arises from the differential fragment of heritage, but most importantly, the influence caused by environmental and circumstantial factors.
From a perspective of atomic physics and vibration theory, atoms or particles’ (the unit of material) inherent property materialise themselves through the dynamic structures of atomic forces which decides their mass, shape, and texture as well as the deflection and absorbing of different spectrum of light, hence manifesting themselves with various colours and the shadow cast behind. These two phenomena reflect the properties of light as the immanence of being both particles and waves. As Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs) claimed, everything could probably be frozen or condensed light. As light is considered as a form of energy, the initiated approach to discussing materials should be commenced from the discourses on energy — light.
As this might be seemed like a metaphysical ideology, orthodox(mainstream) science never truly embrace these ideas in human history. The reasons vary from political entanglement to the epistemological gaps among different subjects. The unproved or in the process of being corroborated knowledge gaps require more openness and interdisciplinary discourses from a wide range of institutions and organisations from science, sociology, politics to culture study, and art.
To respond to Chris Salter’s question as a start point — “what the world does rather than is”, it is imperative to address this philosophical question based on the interrogation of the universal dichotomy between energy and matter, subjectivity and objectivity as well as doing and being. The notion of ‘Intra-action’ coined by Karen Barad speculates on the fact that the being of materials materialises itself through spacetimemattering that is seen as the notion of doing. These two factors are inseparable but separate from the angle of the human-centroid perspective.
Recently, as reported by MIT Technology review, PDE’s (partial differential equation) unsolvable enigma has been cracked by AI and supercomputers, allowing the human to predict future from planetary motion to plate tectonics. However, my question is, do we really need to primarily concentrate on the past or the future when we can focus on the momentary epiphany. Traditional science leads us to believe each separated state of being rather than figuring out what is the force or energy distribution patterning that weaves the constant dynamic realities. Is it approachable to first identify different realities and then to queer the casualty? Or it is better to make alignment of different subjects by exploring and locating their similarities underneath the logics of development.
In ‘Alien Agency’, the author brings a central set of materials to describe and analyse multi- disciplinary art projects. As quoted in the book “(1) sound, (2) tissue cultured cells, and (3) sensorial matter, such as light, vibration, and chemical, mechanical, or electrical stimuli that we render as taste, smell, touch, temperature, and other forms.”, all materials could provide us a different perspective of observation, logic, and its related scientific methods. This analytical method fortuitously opens the possibility to decentralise the ‘governing position’ of anthropocentrism, allowing non-human agencies, inanimate to participate in the collective making of material memories.
In the end, I would like to elaborate and emphasise a bit more on the utilisation and integration of science, which is intended to be expressed through art with the help of computation. The uncanny expression and phenomena of art do not directly contribute to the course of scientific study, however, it does open more gaps for the audience’s imagination to fill. What matters is the presentation and organisation of different materials and how they intertwine each other by adopting related science and art theory. From a personal angle, there is no fixed procedure to produced either science-based artwork or art-based scientific speculation. These two subjects are constantly mutating through the process of researching, materialising, organising, and endless reiterating without a strict order. With the development of modern science and computational power, these issues are more likely equipped with the right tools to embark on a long journey. Presumptuously, a pathway to achieve an effective or meaningful interdisciplinary project is to delve into the notion of transdisciplinarity through finding connection, correlation between different subjects, in another words, paving the roads among centralised ivory towers and building decentralised agencies to explore our new ways out. Finally, I would like to use Bruce Neuman’s neon tube installation to end this article, “ The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths”.