Jana Vanecek

Humanoids: A Journey to the End of the Anthroposcene

A co-creation with nonhuman agents, multiple algorithms, some dead authors, and 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 between theory and (digital) 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 re-mixers tried to explore different ways of writing. By accepting that language is “already written” and gets recycled via ongoing social/political institutions and linguistic fashion, the re-mixers – in place of innovation – employed appropriation and the queering of existing styles and genres. Instead of a coherent text, they favoured a fragmented, inconclusive and meandering form.


During a train journey from Zurich to Almaty, the main protagonist 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, a multitude of machinic voices breaks into the present unexpectedly, and the future leaks out. Spirits, posthumans, trans*droids, cyborgs and nomads become travelling companions. Ai is experiencing multiple forms of temporality, where the function of the train as a material space merely relates to all remaining or becoming spaces. By folding the past, the present and the future, this multitude of machinic voices create a transversal space that is defined neither by its determining form nor its substance or function. However, Ai and the readers receive the information on how to realise a real a-topical space. 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.