Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca (ES) Transpermia


The theory of Transpermia suggests some prototypes of new extra-terrestrial life and, by extension, proposes an improvement to our own world. Transpermia was born out of the Daedalus experiment, a set of micro-performances at zero gravity, made during the spring of 2003 in the Star City in the Russian Federation.

Parabolic flight is one of the few techniques allowing zero-gravity experimentation on Earth and the one that comes closest to outer-space microgravity. There are only three agencies that perform this type of flight: NASA, the European Agency and the Russians at the CGTC (Yuri Gagarin Training Center). Ilyushinis an aeroplane used by the CGTC for parabolic flights. This plane, originally a freight trans-porter, has been customised for the task; it is diaphanous and has a padded floor. On each parabol, the aeroplane rises from 6,000 to 8,000 metres at an angle of 45°, before dropping back to the original height. During this period which lasts around one and a half minute, passengers’ bodies experience half a minute of double gravity, or 2G, twenty-five seconds of microgravity, or zero-gravity, and ano-ther thirty seconds of 2G. A parabolic flight usually lasts about one hour and a half. While performing Daedalus, we had to make two flights — on 10th and 11th of April — including six and nineteen parabolas, respectively.

The micro-performances were structured around two devices: the Réquiem bodybot (bodily control robot) and the dresskeleton (a cor-poreal interface of exoskeletal nature). The actions were produced during the periods of zero-gravity. As an experiment, the micro-per-formances yielded varying results.

Réquiem was initially designed and produced in 1999 as an inter-active installation for my exhibition titled Epifanía. Réquiem is a mechanical sarcophagus capable of moving (metaphorically, give life to) my corpse, hence its name.

But Réquiem is also simulator of gestures, a robotic suit capable of carrying out sophisticated choreo-graphies. In its installation format Requiem is hung from a metal support, without my body inside, performing sequences of move-ments triggered by the spectators through means of touch display sensors set up in a room. For the airborne performances, Réquiem was hung by straps in the interior of Ilyushin. When a parabola reached zero gravity, a technician activated a sequence and Réquiem, with me inside it, floated in a certain way. Same as in the installation, the movement of the pneumatic valves was previously programmed on a PLC computer, which ran short movement sequences adapted the duration of a parabola. One of Requiem’s enactments makes it possible to remember, during long periods in microgravity, how we move in Earth gravity. In another, Réquiem embodies the paradox of control: in surroundings where a body can float gracefully, the machine grips, controls and hinders whoever wears it.

This experiment led to first reflections on the absence of gravity. But as I plunged deeper into the results, my interests extended to the other aspects of a conquest of space.

Scientists say that certain remains (stromatolites) show that life originated on Earth more than six hundred million years ago, but the mechanism that gave rise to it is unknown. Among the different hypotheses is the Panspermia theory. This theory suggests that asteroids with biological material crashed on the Earth, giving rise to life. According to this assumption, we can say that the strategy of organic evolution, the evolution of life, is returning, after two million years, to where it came from: space. We can therefore speak of an inverse Panspermia — that is — the Transpermia.

Space is radioactive, weightless and anaerobic. Therefore it is neces-sary to construct foundations for an artificial device that could em-brace extraterrestrial life. In order to exist and reproduce, extrater-restrial life needs (in addition to living beings) science, technology and culture, since natural life, as we understand it on Earth, is not possible in outer space. Artificiality and nature are based in the Earth orbit, which, for me, is a place where everything is conceiva-ble, everything is possible, everything can be done. To me, the Transpermia is the space for utopia.

The Transpermia that I propose is, by definition, a hybrid of nature and artificiality, a hybrid of instinct and reason. This doctrine, still open and developing, advocates a blend that tries to include all exi-stence. Transpermia supports and amalgamates a great number of discoveries that I have presented in my work during the last ten years. These works, based on prototypes such as robots, corporeal interfaces and systemic software, have found a new frame of defi-nition in Transpermia. The Transpermia hypothesis becomes effective in prototypes I organise around four themes: interface, robot, ephe-meral identities and new forms of creation.

0001 — INTERFACES — new models for perceiving and intervening in the world

01 Dresskeleton: a corporeal interface with an exoskeleton nature. The interface is operated by various manual switches and sensors that interpret body movements.

02 Neurohelmet: a cerebral interface. Reads neural connections. Allows remote control action. In the future this will be a very popular interface and will come in a range of models.

03 Tactile net: reproduces tactile sensations thanks to vibrators lo-cated in the epidermis that provide tactile stimuli.

04 Taste-ball: a small ball that emits chemical molecules and sends taste information to the taste buds located at the tongue.

05 Magneto: an interface that controls a sense of self-perception. It controls the inner ear carbon crystals and produces sensations of turning, leaning and giddiness.

06 Telesensor: a prototype for a complete bodily tele-experience. The telesensor includes a tactile net, nasal spray, tasteball, head-phones, screen glasses. The telesensor is connected to the bio-elec-tric information of a rabbit, a donkey and a fly.

07 Telexotica: a prototype translator of exotic perceptions. For example, it allows the bats’ acoustic vision.

08 Ultrainterfaces: a global system of automatic interfaces without human intervention, allowing control of the climate and over- exploitation of planetary resources.

09 Hand totem: a variable behaviour interface that manifests itself through sound, texture, consistency and temperature, by the means of touch.

10 Kissing gloves: gloves with mechanical tongues that kiss and suck.

11 Licking machine: a wheel with warm, moist tongues. Provides a massage of variable intensity.

12 Biting machine: a flying interface with mechanical jaws. Bites of varying intensity.

13 Lecherlab: an all-in-one emotive prosthesis. Includes Tactile net, Kissing gloves, Screen handle, Licking machine, brush, Taste-ball.

14 Fat-2-energy: a transcriber interface that converts human fat into electric energy. Used to power light bulbs, cellphones, laptops, cars.

15 Vocalometer: a translation interface. A symbiotic mechanism made of a collar and a neurohelmet that allows the user to speak any language.

0002 — ROBOTS — new models as metaphors for life

Machines are metaphors for organic life and robots are their prime exponents. Mechatronics and transgenics may combine to produce a new type of robogenic organism.

16 Stigmabot: robots with symbolic functions, intended for artistic tasks, like voodoobots or soundbots.

17 Biobot: robots incorporating features of bacteria and plants. This robot vitalises plants and people.

18 Bodybot: parasitic robot. Applied externally to a body of living or-ganism, it can make it move. Useful for controlling animals like dogs. Control of children. Taxi girl. Help for the handicapped.

19 Endomuscular net: a suit that monitors bio-electricity of a muscle and makes use of its energy. It allows the user to experience gestu-res that are difficult to learn, like certain forms of dancing.

20 Molecular printer: a post-industrial robot capable of manufactu-ring any object from a scan of its molecules.

21 Robogenics & Mechatronic transgenics: robots that blend gene-tics and mechatronics. The pathway to a new evolution.

0003 — EPHEMERAL IDENTITIES — other identities and experiences as the setting for new knowledge

The ephemeral identities are conceived as new fields of experience, touching, rational and fantastic. Those new forms of identity will be additionally equipped with new interfaces and robots of corporeal transformations that can be contro-lled owing to chemistry and biogenetics.

22 Biofashion/Live clothing: clothes from organic cells. Post-fashion of varying appearance. Flowers, butterflies, snakes, fish, eye tissue, termites.

23 Protein gun: a pistol firing enzymes that change certain characte-ristics of body tissue.

24 DNA spray: alters or adds new sequences to the human genome. Mermaid, centaur, goat, harpy.

25 Red Molecule: emotive identities, genetic mechanism allowing the body to change according to mood: flowery body, prickly body, hairy body.

26 Pharmastics: a new generation of transpermics, new states of awareness. No side-effects, no addiction.

27 Flowersex: a garden of delights. Sexual practice inspired by floral sex strategies. Post-sexual hybrid identities allowing orgies.

28 Chimeric sex: hybrid identities allowing bestiality.

29 Mushsex: a multisexual strategy taking advantage of the multi-ple sexual shapes of mushrooms.

30 Domotic systematurgy: a device allowing systematurgic metho-dology at home. Experience of multiple strange identities.

31 Teleidentities: a neurohelmet connection to foreign identities. Mood feedback.

0004 — NEW CREATION — models of activity in transpermic utopia

The transpermic utopia presents us with a world in which work and money disappear. Creation is the main human activity. New forms of artistic creation.

32 Biolectric dance: a new form of choreographic creation.

33 Butopolis: the creation of fantasy cities by means of a mega molecular printer and the neurohelmet.

34 Plug drama: an interface connecting computer theatrical scripts to actors’ brains.

35 Pharmasound: fabulous pharmaceuticals providing very specific musical or dramatic experiences.

36 Kaironetics: random seed creator. The seeds produce: old people, pods, butterflies and carnivorous plants.

37 Transpermia: a creator of bacteria that will be sent into space to populate new worlds. New organic evolution.

Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca

Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca (ES)

Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca (Moiŕ, 1959.) is well-known on the inter-national art scene for his mechatronic performances and robotic installations. A founding member of La Fura dels Baus, he worked in this company as an art co-ordinator, musician and performer from 1979 to 1989. In the nineties his avantgarde mechatronic performances combined such elements as bodybots (body-controlled robots), sy-stematurgy (interactive narration with computers) and dresskeleton (the exoskeleton body interface). The themes explored in his work include: use of biological materials in robotics (as in JoAn l’home de carn, 1992), telematic control (on the part of a spectator of an alien body in the performance Epizoo, 1994), expansion of body movements with dresskeletons (exoskeletical interfaces) used in the performan-cesAfasia (1998) and Pol (2002), involuntary choreography with a bodybot (Réquiem, 1999), and microbiological transformations in the installations (Rinodigestió, 1987 and Agar, 1999). He is currently working on the spatial artwork titled Daedalus.

In the early nineties his performance Epizoo caused a commotion on the international art scene. For the first time a performer’s body movements could be controlled by the audience. By operating a video-game, a spectator interacts with a bodybot worn by Antúnez, moving his buttocks, pectoral muscles, mouth, nose and ears. This performance stresses the ironical, and even cruel, paradox rising from the coexistence between virtual digital iniquity and the perfor-mer’s physical vulnerability.

Since the eighties, Antúnez’s work has been based on a continuous observation of how human desires are expressed and in what spe-cific situations they appear. First in the tribal performances of La Fura dels Baus and later, on his own, he expressed this interest by creating complex and in many cases hybrid systems, hard to classify. Antúnez’ works respectively belong to the fields of both visual and scenic arts.

From the early nineties, incorporation and transgression of scientific and technological elements in Antúnez’ work and their interpre-tation by means of unique and specific devises, have produced a new cosmogony — warm, raw and ironic — of traditional themes such as affection, identity or death. In his works these elements take on an extremely human dimension that causing a spontaneous reac-tion in the audience.

Antúnez has presented his work at numerous international venues: La Fundación Telefónica in Madrid, the P.A.C. in Milan, the Lieu Unique in Nantes, the I.C.A. in London, Kapelica Galleryin Ljubljana, Cena Contemporanea in Rio de Janeiro, the Barcelona MACBA and the DOM Cultural Center of Moscow. He has performed at the Inter-national Festivals EMAF, Osnabruck Germany, Muu Media Festival, Helsinki, Nouveau Cinéma Nouveaux Médias, Montreal, DEAF Rotterdam, Spiel.ArtMunich, and many others.

Antúnez’s work has appe-ared in the following publications: Il Corpo Postorganico by Teresa Macrě, ed. Costa&Nolan Milano;Body Art and Performances by Lea Vergine, ed. Skira, London;Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca performances, objetos y dibujos by Claudia Giannetti, ed. MECAD Barcelona, and the catalogueEpifanía published by Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, among others.

Antúnez received many awards: the first prize at the Festival Étrange, Paris, 1994; the Best New Media Noveaux Cinéma Noveaux Médias award, Montreal, 1999; the Max New Theatreaward, Spain, 2001; the FAD award, Barcelona, 2001; the Ars Electronica award, 2003; Prix Ciutat de Barcelona, multimedia, 2004.