Jana Vanecek

Humanoids: A Journey to the End of the Anthroposcene

A collaboration with Marea Hildebrand, book, 76 pages, exhibition venues: Artbatfest Almaty Kasachstan 2017 and Aktionsraum Zürich 2017

Humanoids was written on the train from Zurich to Kazachstan and is situated on the edge [or in between] theory and literature. It follows the tradition of borrowing in literature, like collage and pastiche – taking a word from here, a sentence from there – Michel de Certeau’s related concept of bricolage – William Burroughs Cut-Up technique – Kathy Acker’s plagiarism – Walter Benjamin’s professed love for copying and the means of appropriation in the tradition of chinese Shanzhai. Combining historical traditions in literature with new technologies – some as simple as using the three keystrokes: select / copy / paste; translation programmes, or speech-to-text editors – the authors (the re-mixers) tryed to explore new ways of writing by dealing with a basic change in the operating system of how we write at the root level. By accepting that language is “already written” and gets recycled via ongoing social/political institutions and linguistic fashion, the authors (the remixers) – in place of innovation – employed appropriation and the queering of existing styles, and genres. In place of a coherent text, they favored a form that is fragmentary, inconclusive and digressive.


During a train journey from Zurich to Almaty, one of the main characters of the book, Ai, whose identity is not described, is experiencing spaces with more levels of meaning or relationships to other places than the coordinates of the journey might suggest. While the passengers on the train have few or no intelligible connections with one another, suddenly a multitude of machinic voices breaks in to the present and the future leaks out. Spirits, posthumans, trans*droids, cyborgs and nomads become traveling companions. Ai is experiencing multiple forms of temporality, where the train as a real space only has a function in relation to all of the remaining or becoming spaces. By folding the past, the present and the future, this multitude of machinic voices creates an transversal space that is defined neither by its determining form, nor by its substance or function. However, Ai and the readers receive the information on how to realise a real a-topical space. In order to do so they/we have to deal – at a fundamental level of abstraction – with topics such as migration,nomadism, mobility, identity politics, distance and borders. They/we have to dismiss the split between subject and object, as well as «the-world-for-us» as «Vorstellung» and the principles of reason, to become a process of a molecular becoming.