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(ILR) Erfan Ghiasi: A Deep, Big, and Weird Research On The Historical Objects Of The Future Civilizations

Case Study

A Deep, Big, and Weird Research On The Historical Objects Of The Future Civilizations

My presentation will delve into the installation project I undertook during the summer of 2023 at O gallery in Tehran, titled "A Deep, Big, and Weird Exploration of the Historical Artifacts of Future Civilizations." This project draws inspiration from various sources, ranging from the ideas and concepts of CCRU’s Hyperstition with its emphasis on technology, to Reza Negarestani’s "Cyclonopedia", a groundbreaking work in theory-fiction, and Jason Babak Mohaghegh’s "Night: A Philosophy of the Last World."

A concise overview of the Hyperstition aspect of the project:

The project constructs a hyperstition narrative revolving around a fictional character, Dr. Faramarz Keyhani, whose name translates to "Dr. Beyond the Boundaries of Cosmos" in Farsi. According to this hyperstition, in the final months of 2022, Dr. Keyhani receives a call from a colleague in Susa, alerting him to the discovery of an unknown gate in the Bahpal hills. Accompanied by Dr. Hamedanian, a scientist, and Hedayat Faraz, one of Keyhani’s Ph.D. students, they journey to Susa to investigate this mysterious teleportal gate. Upon arrival, they encounter a luminous gate at night, prompting their exploration.

Despite efforts to locate its source, only the light itself remains visible to Hamedanian. Keyhani collects a sample of the gate for detailed analysis using Carbon-14 dating. Meanwhile, Faraz, known for his adventurous spirit, seeks information from the locals and encounters an enigmatic old woman named Bibi Rabe’e, who resides in an abandoned house with her sheep. She reveals that similar gates appeared nearly a century ago in Tehran, a phenomenon documented in the Sur-e Esrafil weekly journal.

Additionally, she references a mystical book titled "Bab al-Abvab (باب الابواب)" authored by by Aimen al-Tustari (ایمن تستری), brother of Sahl al-Tustari (سھل تستری), which prophesies the appearance of such gates in the future, signaling the end of time. Despite Faraz’s efforts to share this revelation with Keyhani, the latter remains skeptical. However, Hamedanian returns weeks later with astonishing results from the dating process, indicating that Susa’s gate originated fifty thousand years in the future. Concurrently, Keyhani receives reports of a similar teleportal gate appearing in Neyshabur, relayed by a colleague in Khorasan.


My presentation includes two sections titled:

1. Artificial Intelligence,

2. Radical Revolution

For each section I explore one aspect of the project. First section explores the reason I used AI technology, as a medium for speculation, to generate images of a fictional story, and the second section is devoted to create connections between the concepts such as Hyperstition, teleportal gates, and Woman, Life, Freedom revolution. Developing the concept of revolution, I make reference to William Burroughs’ term One God Universe (OGU) vs Magical Universe (MU) and explore the qualifications and contrasts of these two realms as stated in the Lemurian Time War text in “CCRU: Writing 1997-2003” book.

Intelligence and the Artificial:

The Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), a collective of thinkers and scholars affiliated with the University of Warwick during the 1990s, delved into a wide array of subjects concerning technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and culture. Through my exploration of CCRU and their writings, I observed a strong emphasis on technology. AI served as a crucial medium for speculative inquiry within their projects. For instance, Midjourney, an application, extensively employs AI by utilizing an extensive database of images captured and generated across various periods. AI-generated images aren't conjured out of nothing; rather, each pixel is derived from comparable images sharing similar characteristics within the database. The project also intersects with the concept of Accelerationism, which examines how technology and AI might expedite social and cultural shifts, potentially instigating profound societal transformations. By employing AI and envisioning alternative futures, the project fosters an accelerationist speculation towards an unfamiliar reality amidst the uncertainties engulfing Iran's socio-cultural landscape. Furthermore, the term "cybernetics" finds its roots in the Greek word "kubernētēs," meaning "steersman" or "governor." Essentially, cybernetics encapsulates the notion of systems capable of self-regulation, adaptation, and communication to attain specific objectives or maintain equilibrium, drawing parallels with a steersman guiding a ship.

That being said, the project also navigates new possibilities and potentialities for the future Iran by using a teleportal gate as a metaphor for change and revolution for they both are inviting their audience to different relations in a different time and space.

Radical Revolution:

Hyperstition is a concept developed by the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) that blends elements of philosophy, science fiction, and cultural theory. It refers to the idea that certain narratives, myths, or speculative fictions can have a tangible effect on the present and future, influencing the trajectory of reality itself. The term "hyperstition" is a portmanteau of "hyper" (meaning beyond or above) and "superstition." It suggests a form of superstition that not only reflects beliefs about the world but actively shapes and produces the world through its effects on collective consciousness and behavior.

According to the CCRU, hyperstitions are self-fulfilling prophecies or narratives that gain power and efficacy through their propagation. They operate as "engines of cultural transformation" that catalyze changes in thought, perception, and social organization. Hyperstitions blur the boundaries between fiction and reality, as they are capable of influencing events and outcomes in ways that defy conventional causality.

In William S. Burroughs' conceptual framework of the Lemurian Time War, "OGU" and "MU" take on specific meanings related to the conflict between different temporalities, ideologies, and realities. These concepts are part of Burroughs' broader exploration of language, consciousness, and the nature of reality, as well as his interest in speculative fiction and mythology.

OGU (One God Universe) represents a monotheistic, authoritarian worldview characterized by a singular, all-encompassing deity or principle. This universe is often associated with centralized control, hierarchical structures, and rigid belief systems. The OGU represents a form of cultural hegemony that seeks to impose its singular vision of reality on all existence. It embodies the forces of order, control, and repression within the Time War narrative.

On the other hand, MU (Magical Universe) represents a more open, decentralized, and dynamic conception of reality. MU embodies a state of transcendence beyond dualistic thinking and conventional categories. In the context of the Lemurian Time War, MU represents a countercultural force that resists the imposition of OGU's authoritarian control and seeks to transcend the limitations of linear time and material existence.

In Burroughs' conceptualization, the conflict between OGU and MU reflects broader tensions within human consciousness and society, as well as the struggle for liberation from oppressive systems of power and control. The Lemurian Time War serves as a metaphorical battleground where these opposing forces clash, with the outcome shaping the future trajectory of reality itself.

In this scenario, Hyperstition act as catalysts, engendering future (and faster) change and subversion. It refers to exponentially accelerating social transformations that makes History possible. It is like a weaponized fiction It is the creation of a new reality. It becomes a virus-like entity generated from Magical Universe which bleeds into reality and infects One God Universe.

By including Dr. Keyhani – a cyborg-like figure that is an amalgamate of technology and human parts – and historical figures like Al-Muqanna, a strange figure in the history of Iran that led a rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate and claimed to be a prophet, the project works as a hyperstition from a Magic Universe that wants to make itself real and encourages the audience to speculate a different future than the one the current regime is aiming for.

The Framework:

The theoretical framework for the case study integrates diverse sources ranging from literature to philosophy, incorporating Abbas Nalbandian’s play "A deep, big and new research about fossils of 25th genealogy period, or 20th, or any other period, there is no

difference" (1966), Reza Negarestani’s "Cyclonopedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials," Jason Babak Mohaghegh’s "Night: A Philosophy of The Last World," CCRU Writings 1997-2003, and the cosmic horror concept popularized by H.P Lovecraft's novels.

These sources intersect to provide a multifaceted lens through which to explore themes of ambiguity, knowledge construction, and the dynamics of light and darkness in the project.

Nalbandian’s play serves as a foundational text, inspiring the title of the project and setting the tone with its exploration of deep time and the blurring of historical periods. The misty atmosphere evoked in Nalbandian’s work becomes a recurring motif, infusing the project with a sense of ambiguity and temporal dislocation. Building upon this foundation, Negarestani’s "Cyclonopedia" introduces the concept of theory-fiction, emphasizing the productive potential of blending speculative narratives with theoretical inquiry. By engaging with fiction as a tool for understanding the world, the project transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and embraces a multiplicity of perspectives. Through this lens, the project investigates how narratives shape our understanding of reality and how we might leverage fictional constructs to generate new insights into complex phenomena. Mohaghegh’s exploration of Night offers a philosophical framework for examining the project’s thematic contrasts. Drawing on philosophical traditions, Mohaghegh elucidates the symbolic significance of darkness as a space of transformation and revelation, and revolution. In contrast, Light represents certainty and enlightenment. By interrogating these dualities, the project navigates the liminal spaces between knowledge and uncertainty, illumination and obscurity.

The writings of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) provide theoretical grounding for the project’s engagement with speculative thought and radical epistemologies. Drawing on cybernetic theory, and science fiction, the CCRU writings offer a provocative challenge to conventional modes of academic inquiry. Through their emphasis on hyperstitional narratives, and the dissolution of boundaries between human and non-human agencies, the CCRU writings inspire the project to embrace complexity and embrace the unknown.

Finally, the concept of cosmic horror, as articulated in Lovecraft’s novels, serves as a thematic thread weaving through the project’s exploration of the unknown. By confronting the cosmic insignificance of human existence and the incomprehensibility of the universe, Lovecraftian horror invites us to confront our own limitations and expand our conception of reality. In dialogue with Nalbandian’s temporal vastness, Negarestani’s speculative fictions, Mohaghegh’s existential inquiries, and the speculative provocations of the CCRU, cosmic horror emerges as a potent metaphor for the awe-inspiring complexity of the outside world and the limitations of human knowledge.

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