Transhumanist Arts was introduced as an "art theory" in 1982. The "Transhumanist Arts Statement" establishes a poetic doctrine of transhumanist expression.
By 1990 Transhumanist Arts had become an arts period reflecting the timeframe of transhumanity—the global transhumanist culture. By the late 1990s, Transhumanist Arts was recognized as an art period and an organization for artistic and innovative thinkers worldwide.
Transhumanist Arts focuses on a positive, meta-creative and enlightened view of human potential, aesthetic design in technology, the prevalence of science, and aestheticism in the future architecture of life.
With the exhilaration of super fast computers, AI, SI, biotechnological breakthroughs, nanotechnology, and prospects of superlongevity, the Singularity, the very contour of art is undergoing a faceliftan emendation. These scientific and technological meta-changes affect the visions of artists. The latest watershed advances occurring in the world around us directly affect the aesthetics of our visions. Our senses are alert, excited, moved, and impassioned by the pulsating rhythm of culture.
Artists and the arts, throughout history, have been a voice and a vision of civilization. Artists, as communicators, reach out to others and introduce insight and vision about society and culture. Artists and the arts bring together the passions, the dreams and the hopes of humanity and transhumanity and express these emotions in ways that touch us deeply
Whether it is high-end electronic or robotic, multi-media pieces, or filmmaking, poetry, fiction, science fiction, video, paintings, music, dance, sculpture, architecture, literature—our work communicates to culture and affects the pulse of culture
What marks the beginning of Transhumanist Arts? The independent film "Breaking Away" (1980) marks the beginning of Transhumanist Arts. The central theme of the short depicts the human quest in overcoming dogma and evolutionary limitations.
Transhumanist Arts was founded in 1982 by Natasha Vita-More (f/k/a/ Nancie Clark) and introduced as an "art theory" (originally, "TransArt"). The "Transhumanist Arts Statement" written to established a poetic doctrine of transhumanist expression: "Transhumanist Arts represent the aesthetic and creative culture of transhumanity…Our aesthetics and expressions are merging with science and technology in designing increased sensory experience…Transhumanist Artists want to extend life and overcome death…If our art represents who we are, then let us chose to be transhumanist not only in our bodies, but also in our values…As Transhumanist Arts comes into focus, as the tools and ideas of our art continue to evolve, so too shall we."
At the onset of the transhumanist movement, transhumanists referred to themselves "transhumans". It was not until the late 1980s that the phrase "transhumanist" took hold. Around this time, Transhumanist Arts theory had evolved into an arts organization. Today Transhumanist Arts is both an organization and an art period, reflecting the creative innovations and artistic expressions of transhumanity.
As an art theory, Transhumanist Arts coalesces the arts, sciences and technologies by recognizing the exponentially growing rate of change in our society. These rapid changes include mass computing power, superintelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, superlongevity, fast-track communications, the Internet and its offspring, space exploration, human augmentation for improving and extending life, and the Singularity. The technological advances directly affect culture and thus the arts in countless ways.
By 1990, 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.
On January 1, 1997, a genre of Transhumanist Arts, Extropics, launched a Manifesto on the Internet, and the movement was champagne toasted in good cheer in Los Angeles. In the ensuing months, hundreds of creative thinkers signed the Manifesto, and others began calling themselves transhumanist extropic artists. In October of 1997, the Manifesto was sent into space 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 Extropics genre represents an aesthetic culture of transhumanity—ideas about super intelligence, superlongevity, biological-technological interface, intelligence and creativity augmentation, space exploration, the Singularity (or Spike). 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.
Other genres of Transhumanist Arts are "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.
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 Transhumanist 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 Transhumanist Arts.
The difference between some previous genres 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, an extended lifespan is not a new concept, but how transhumans view extending the human lifespan is. In the past, immortality was a wish either gained by some religious promise, pseudoscience or by mystical means.
Transhumanists 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, transhumanists see our lives as a work in progress as we evolve. 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. Extreme life extension is on the drawing board."
Today there are an increasing number of artists who are beginning produce art in a transhumanist mode. As humanity steadily advances to the next evolutionary stage, more and more artists will make the shift towards transhumanity.
Transhumanist Arts Trends: From 20th Century Art to 21st Century Art —
Transhumanist Arts of the 21st Century did not appear out of the blue. Much of its content has evolved from art movements and art forms of artists who preceded it. The historical continuity of this art can be illustrated through the early 20th century and even farther back in time though ancient myths and perceptive visionaries. Today, the Transhumanist Arts culture is still forming.
The beginnings of artists engaging in either science or technology and individualism was evidenced in Futurism (Italy 1908) and Dadaism (France 1915). Futurism rejected traditions while glorifying contemporary life by emphasizing two dominant themes, the machine and motion and advocated the fusion of art and science. Dadaism was more a world-view rather than a style. The Dadaist manifestos were often aimed at startling the public into reconsidering accepted aesthetic values. This type of rethinking—employment of technology, science, individualism and the revoking of traditional standards—is transhumanist in scope. Although Dadaists tended to be irrational and negative and Futurism was short-lived, Transhumanist artists are rational and dynamic optimists and intend to live indefinitely.
Abstract Expressionism (1940-1950s) kicked-off the Contemporary Art Movement with predominant concern of self-expression. While the trends were approaching a cybernetic concepts in art with lasers, holography, and neon art, Conceptual Art (1960s-1970s) had enormous influence on artists merely by reflected the artistic mind. The act of thinking became the art form. By offering models for problem solving and engagement in non-art systems (meaning not producing an object of art such as a painting or sculpture or poem); interests in science and technology was at a peak. Soon after, Performance Art (1970s to present) presented an extraordinary open-ended art form where artists’ desire to communicate more directly with viewers than through an "object".
Simultaneously, High-Tech Art (a contemporary art) (1970s) utilized diverse technologies with the sentiment that the more effective the High-Tech Art, the more it transcends its hardware. However, most tech art remains an exploration in technological art rather than a world-view. It is a part of the Art & Technology movement, but its more recent art expresses ambivalence of postmodernism towards technology. It is important to keep in mind that not all tech art is transhumanist in scope. The use of high-end technology or great aesthetic value in subtranshuman concept or storyline does not equal transhumanist magnitude. Elaborate special effects fall short of content when the use of great technology is used to repeat antiquated myths.
Mobility has catapulted our evolutionary desire by affording us the opportunities for exploration. Mobility has catapulted our options for information as we digitize words and ideas across time.
Our words are emanating throughout the rhythmic plug and play landscapefrom Hamlet to AIwith distinctive cultural jargon and digital acronyms while riffing on techno jive.
Now, as in great periods of the past, we stand before extraordinary opportunities in communicating artistic and challenging ideas about the fertile terrain ahead.
Natasha Vita-More, Founder and Director