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Established in 1982, Transhumanist Arts was introduced as an "art theory" and the Transhumanist Arts Statement was written to welcome artists and other creative thinkers to transhumanist ideas. By the late 1980s, Transhumanist Arts had become an organization. Today Transhumanist Arts is both an organization and an art period, reflecting creative ideas and artistic projects developed during the period of transhumanity.
In October of 1997, the Transhumanist Arts Statement was sent into space as a transhuman manifesto on board the Cassini Huygens spacecraft. It is the first writings of transhumanity to leave the earth and travel through the Asteroid Belt to Saturn. By this, the meme "We are transhumans . . ." has spread far beyond Earth, out into the Solar System.
As an outgrowth of Transhumanist Arts, the Extropic Art genre represents the aesthetic culture of transhumanity—our ideas about super intelligence, superlongevity, biological-technological interface, intelligence and creativity augmentation, space exploration, the Singularity (or Spike). Extropic Artists are optimists and practical thinkers. Never before has there been an art genre or art movement in which creative thinkers so boldly take hold of the future in a radical, rational and positive way. Never before has there been such a progressive and futuristic synthesis of art, science and technology. Never before has an art Manifesto’s central aim been the advancement of human existence.
Extropic Art is not limited by conventional art forms or modes of the arts. It can indeed be an artifact such as an image, a musical score, a film, or story, or it can be many creative modes of expression, such as innovative ideas and activities.
Extropic Art sub-genres: Automorph—the art of consciously and comprehensively sculpting one’s psychology and physiology "Art as Being". Exoterra is the fusion of art and the universe. These two sub-genres express some of the visions of Extropic Artists.
Automorphing has become an active expression for many transhumans because of rapid interest in how the body might look in the coming decades as well as interest in our continued interface with computers. Most of us want to live indefinitely and in doing so we can now actively set into practice reinventing ourselves and redesigning how we want to look. Automorphing is self-sculpting.
Exoterra, on the other hand, can be works produced by space architects or space educational designers, composers who bring to mind the musical wondrous elements of space, science fiction, space paintings, poems and electronic imaging are all mediums that lend themselves to Exoterra Art. On several occasions, I have been asked how Extropic Art differs from or opposes preceding genres such as Expressionism, Dadaist, Actionism and Conceptual Art. Extropic Art doesn't intentionally differ from any previous genre or movement, it has evolved out of them.
Italian Futurism rejected tradition and worshipped the machine, Dadaist used shock tactics and feared optimism, Fluxus focused on the state of mind of the artist rather than the objet d’art, Conceptualists had great thought and little product, and so on. Yet, these genres have influenced Extropic Art and the Transhumanist Arts period. Futurism allowed the artist to participate in the Industrial Revolution with new tools, Dadaists questioned the "museum dogma," Fluxus generated thinking, Conceptualists went a step further. These genres, from abstract expressionism and Modern Art through Performance Art, have influenced Extropic Art.
The difference between some previous genres and Extropic Art is found in the tools we use and the reason why we are producing art—what occurs in our minds. For the first time in history, transhumans as artists want to live indefinitely, want to live in space, want to augment our intelligence, want to grow more desirable, brighter, more creative.
Art genres or movements either react to the preceding ideas or they mesh ideas from the past with new vision and new tools. Surely, immortality is not a new concept, but how transhumans view immortality is. In the past, immortality was a wish either gained by some religious promise, pseudoscience or by mystical means.
Today, transhumans understand that we have biological limitations and that by intelligent planning we will be able to extend our lives. A similar parallel can be drawn with the idea that "my life is my art"—a theme used in several genres. However, extropian transhumans see our lives as a work in progress as we evolve. The recurrent idea in Extropic Art is that because the tools of our trade are changing so rapidly, as I have stated already in the section on Transhuman History, we must keep up with these changes. We do not have to be driven into a mad frenzy with relentless changes and expense of such changes, but we must at least have an understanding of where it is going. It is perfectly clear that the new tools are heading in the direction of refining and designing and prolonging life. Immortality is on the drawing board.
Another aspect of Extropic Art that is often questioned is its optimism. But why not be optimistic? Why perpetuate the down trodden negativity of the art world that persisted for decades, or the polar-opposite Pollyanna that lacks analytical insight? I’d rather permeate my mind with a positive outlook and implement the skill of critical thinking.
Crack outdated memes and myths and strive toward enhancing a universe of optimism and aesthetic excellence!