BOT I draws from the past in order to contemplate the present. In the 1950s, Isaac Asimov presented the collection I Robot examining robotic life, and introduced the “Three Laws” of robotics. In the early 1970s, Samuel Beckett presented a ranting isolated mouth in a black theatre - his piece on alienation titled Not I. BOT I draws from these two classic texts to devise a monologue addressing contemporary alienation. The monologue repeats the promises of techno-capitalism, of telepresence, of connection, of uploading consciousness, while problematizing normative views of the primacy of Western scientific knowledge production; the conquest of the body; the benefits of computing; the militarization of robotics by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency; biopiracy and indigeneity; the increasing trafficking of women over the internet for sexual exploitation through enforced prostitution; and the proliferation of e-waste.
An autobiographical monologue, a discursive rant, this relato of my love/hate relationship with the divisive and inclusive problematics of emerging techno-culture draws on Jackie Orr’s Panic Diaries; the future cunt of the VNS Matrix Manifesto for the 21st Century; the predominantly male and white conferences of the Foresight Nanotechnology Institute in Silicon Valley; popular futurist and author Ray Kurzweil’s view that human uploads to advanced computing mechanisms is a “natural” evolution; the Methuselarian Foundation leader Aubrey de Grey and his Longevity Escape Velocity concept wherein human aging, and concomitant death, will be escaped; texts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; digital divide frameworks; and other sources that reference Pilar's lived and techno mediated experience.
Feminist art conference, ontario college of art and design, toronto, canada, september 26, 2015
This performance of BOT I was held inside a dusty drawing studio at the Ontario College of Art and Design as part of the Feminist Art Conference. Pilar redesigned the piece entirely, beginning with quick remarks while stuffing electronic wires into her mouth and throat to the point of retching. She then gave birth to electronics stuffed into her abdomen, and later interacted with video of the monologue to split the focus of the audience between the live and the mediatized. She ended the piece with a lullaby to a broken tablet that had emerged from her body.
In the talk back afterwards, hosted by Maria Belen Ordonez, many audience members expressed their discomfort with their own inability to attend to the live body when a media element is present. Pilar wanted to bring out this tension between the live and the mediatized as the constant in our mediatized screen driven present - what artist/philosopher Jeanne Randolph calls our 'state of manic distraction.'
FROM INTERVIEW BY FEMINIST ART CONFERENCE ORGANIZERS FOR THE FAC BLOG:
In your artist’s statement, you touch on the tension between technology’s capacity to connect and radically disconnect its users. BOT I seems to interweave technological and personal narratives in a way that straddles these boundaries. Can you speak to this tension, in both your own work and the wider world of technology?
BOT I is a performance where I situate myself - through my desire, love and hatred, through my abjection, (ex/in)clusion, my lack and my fill - within the brutally accelerated matrix of globalized neo-liberal techno-capitalism. Technological and personal boundaries and tensions have been, are and will be annihilated. What is dissent within the technological hyperbole feed? My dissent is an articulation of my own entangled ideological interpellation into capitalist salvation narratives prevalent since the mid-20th century, it is a denial of the particular form of reason and control brought forth in the West through the clock/measuring of time/capitalism/labor and exploitation. BOT I is a sublime dissent, a full negation catalyzing a full imagination.
Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto advocates for a postmodern feminism predicated on affinity rather than identity politics — i.e., on shared concerns versus attachment to a gender, race, class, etc. As a Colombian artist working in an American/Canadian milieu, how do you negotiate this aspect of the technological feminist model? Do you see a power in this emphasis on affinity over identity?
As a diasporic Colombian artist, the entropic elasticity of my bent geometry curvature is neither deformable, nor compliant. Not to be a random wormlike object, or a thermal mechanical stiffness, but rather, I want to open up all the loops shuttered, despotically jammed and terroristically hijacked by Western ideological prospecting. I want to glitch Northern settler approaches to power relations. Haraway provides a powerful reframing of identity and affinity in the Cyborg Manifesto and in subsequent multi-species work, but I, a proliferative microbiome, seek an alterity outside of what Castro Gómez calls the ‘hubris of the zero point.’ Thus, my nascent negotiation and inhabiting of my own unintelligible discourse – my own interspecies, non-linear, non-unitary, inter-epistemic language.
Photographs by Patrick Keilty.
GALERIA STUDIO CERRILLO, SAN cristobal de las casas, chiapas, mexico, 25 de septiembre, 2010.
PRESENTACION EN ESPANOL.
Un discurso... Pensamientos y memorias... a velocidad frenetica
Impresiones... El aislamiento siempre aumentando
Artista de performance Praba Pilar presenta su nueva tecno-obra performatica, BOT I. El autor Samuel Beckett nos dio Not I, Asimov nos dio I Robot, y ahora, desde el centro mundial neo-colonial de nano-bots de San Francisco, California, Pilar nos ofrece BOT I. El cuerpo en esta tecno-locura? La Agencia Militar de Proyectos Avanzados? Biopiracia e indigenismo? Robots Militares? El trafico de mujeres sobre el Red? Basura Electronica? Autobiografica y contemporanea, esta interpretacion en Spanglish de las delusiones e ilusiones de la era tecno cultural nos saca Afuera, A Este Mundo…..
Photographs below by Cisco.
radical philosophy association, eugene, oregon, November 13, 2010.
BOT I is a non-linear, rapid delivery monologue designed to overwhelm the audience with the language, conflicts, corruption, desire, ideas, exclusion, inclusion, love, hate, lack and tragedy surrounding the development and deployment of emerging technologies. During this live performance my body is almost naked, covered only with transparent plastic keyboard cloth, and illuminated solely by the images projected on it. There are 150 images projected in the performance, made up of technologized images, military weapons, e-waste, manufacturing work and other references to the text. I chose the images and lighting scheme to simulate my own interpellation into the techno-sphere, as I am only visible through what I am critiquing.
ARENA THEATRE, WRIGHT HALL, UC DAVIS, CALIFORNIA. February 11, 2010.
Written and Performed by Praba Pilar. Directed by Nitza Tenenblat
Praba Pilar worked with director Nitza Tenenblat to develop the first iteration of the full performance of BOT I. Tenenblat assisted with developing the final script, the delivery of the monologue, and designed the staging, drawing on Beckett's 1960 play Happy Days, in which the main character 'Winnie' is subsumed in a mound.
In this iteration, we created a mound of computer junk, and Pilar performed the monologue from inside the mound. Subsequent to this production, Pilar and Tenenblat were unable to continue working together. Pilar then restaged the piece and presented it solo.
Photographs below from video recording taken by Erika Hannes, which was subsequently lost in a computer melt down.
Open_borders: Improvisation Across Networks, Distance, Timezones
ADRIENE JENIK and charley ten
Actions of Transfer: Women’s Performance in the Americas, UCLA, CALIFORNIA, November 1, 2008
Praba Pilar was invited by Adriene Jenik to contribute a 2 minute improvisation to "Open_borders: Improvisation Across Networks, Distance, Timezones." This live streamed event included performances and communications across borders in real time, including improvisations at UCLA and across the Americas.
This improvisation became the basis of the full performance of BOT I.