This Isn’t Normal, Not At All. The appearance in the mid-twentieth century of the first general-purpose computers, a new machine species germinated in the steam-haze of the industrial revolution and hothoused by two world wars, portended an unprecedented plastic control of nature and an extreme transformation of the human environment. During the same period, the discipline of ethology was blossoming. This new field of biology reported on the manipulation of animal response patterns, charting the receptive latitude of inner space to artificial stimulation—an endeavor apparently far removed from the first stirrings of digital culture. Yet these early ethological studies provide valuable indications as to how the fabric of human affect would be distended by the ingress of increasingly sophisticated technologies.1
In his 1950s work on instinct, Nikolaas Tinbergen defined the notion of supernormal stimuli—artifacts which release species-typical action patterns, but which, by exaggerating the trigger stimulus, elicit a hyperbolic response.2 Tinbergen found that birds would sit on an oversized plaster egg with heavily defined markings and saturated colors, preferring this supercharged model to their own pale, dappled eggs. Male butterflies would attempt to mate with gaudily painted cardboard dummies in preference to real females. Gull chicks would attempt to feed from a red-striped vertical dowel, ignoring their parents’ beaks to the point of starvation. Geese would ignore their own eggs and tirelessly strive to roll a volleyball into their nest if it was adorned with the appropriate markings. A stickleback would attack a painted wooden model in order to defend its nesting territory, so long as the model had a schematic “eye” and a red underside. Tinbergen discovered not only that the instinctive action patterns of animals could be activated by artificial stimuli, but that these responses could be heightened to the point where they might lead to reproductive failure—making them potential “evolutionary traps” in which instinctive actions developed during the evolution of a species become detrimental to survival or reproductive success.
In placing their subjects into these maladaptive predicaments, ethologists short-circuited the hardwiring of unlearned action patterns. And what enabled them to do so was the particular mode of abstraction that governs such instinctive responses: Although they are triggered by stimuli that are indicators of health, vitality, danger, or reproductive advantage, the unlearned actions of animals respond not to an exhaustive assessment as to whether an object satisfies these criteria, but to abstracted perceptual cues (blueness, egg size and shape, red underbelly) with which those assets or threats were consistently associated over the evolutionary period. It is these abstract cues that the ethologist’s schematic simulacra isolate and accentuate. The genes that coded responses to these stimuli were selected and perpetuated owing to the role played by their phenotypical expression, within this relatively fixed environment, in assuring the reproductive success of individual animals. In Tinbergen’s ersatz models, the stimulus is disjoined from its invariant fitness consequences: By artificially manipulating the perceptual shorthand of these ethological releasers, the correlation between phenotypic response and reproductive success is broken; plunged into a new, rigged environment, the behavioral instincts become potentially indifferent or unfavorable to mating and longevity outcomes.
Such supernormal responses are in fact observed outside of experimental protocol. Tinbergen himself incidentally discovered that the sticklebacks in his study would also savagely attack the edge of their glass aquarium when a red postal van passed the window. More recently, male jewel beetles (Julodimorpha bakewelli) in the Australian desert have been observed copulating with beer bottles because the golden-brown color of the vessels and the nodules on their base present an exaggerated version of characteristics specific to the female of the species.3 When animal instinct encounters manmade objects, a whole range of bizarre and unproductive couplings emerge.
The tragicomedy of supernormal behavior release is played out even in the absence of human intervention—as in the case of the cuckoo, whose egg is brighter and larger than that of its unsuspecting host species, the mouth of its chick wider and redder, so that the host pays more attention to the alien interloper than to its own young.4 Richard Dawkins suggestively describes the host as an addict whose nervous system has been hijacked by this supernormal ruse.5 Similarly, the orchid displays to the male wasp a supernormally vivid simulacrum of the visual and olfactory attributes of the female in order to recruit it into its own reproductive system. Such cases are rare in the natural world, yet are suggestive of the way in which evolved responses to stimuli always harbor the potential for encounters that fall outside the straightforward regime of intraspecific sexual reproduction.
How I Feel, So Unreal. The ethologists’ deliberate exploitation of the supernormal does not merely break the invariant correlation between a stimulus and the fitness outcome of a “hardwired” response to it. It also charts new spaces of affect, revealing how the sensations that accompany a response pattern narrowly channeled by survival imperatives are fringed by a latent virtual space that may be activated through experimental interventions. And it is this surplus-value that is pertinent to our understanding of human culture. For if Tinbergen’s experiments in avian caricature, for example, reveal an implicit map of the bird’s neural “beak space (e.g. the neurons in the gull’s brain might embody the rule ‘the more red contour the better’),”6 the disparity between the modern technologized media environment and that of the Savannah where human response patterns were stabilized over millions of years exposes a panoply of such virtual spaces, whose farthest reaches we traverse as we reengineer and remix instinctive responses for pleasure and profit.
Indeed, the conquest of these latencies is constitutive of human culture, itself indissociable from the development of technology. The production of technological artifacts, as memory supports allowing social production to be transmitted intergenerationally, creates a secondary stability that liberates humans from the imperatives of survival, freeing up traits and behaviors for exaptation and recombination; and the leisure to seek out and create supernormal stimuli to oversatisfy instincts in turn engenders new behaviors whose link to evolutionary mechanisms becomes ever more oblique.
From the Savannah to the mall, by the late twentieth century humans had constructed for themselves an almost entirely supernormal environment. Modern human culture could be described in terms of a general inversion of the relation between instinct and object: In manufacturing objects to trigger, explore, and heighten exapted response patterns, humans experiment with their own environment and responses, both researchers and subjects in an ongoing ethological explosion, a massively ramified and diffused pattern of mating errors or evolutionary traps.
We Just Fit, You and I. This expanded artificial landscape wherein the abstracted markers of instinct satisfaction, fitness, and sexual selection are grafted onto inanimate objects may be what J.G. Ballard was surveying when, to explain his famous equation “the future equals sex times technology,” he added:
Ballard’s favored example, of course, concerned the parasexual cues presented by the curves, front snouts, scallops, and swage lines of automobile design:
The increasingly sophisticated manipulation of this “primitive algebra” yields the advanced calculus of our supernormal environment: we launch accelerated probes to feel out and unfurl undiscovered regions of the phase space of human affect, often discovering novel responses to combinations unprecedented in the evolutionary environment—as emblematized by Ballard’s famous hypersexual fascination with the twisted metal and crushed flesh of the car-crash, which seems “to pull at all sorts of concealed triggers in the mind.”9
Not only is the supernormal an indispensable concept when addressing the human in evolutionary terms, then, but in considering the predominant role played by the supernormal in human culture, we soon depart from the facile explanations of evolutionary psychology. Artifacts produced by the endless ramifications of techno-cultural development do not merely represent redundant new ways to trigger stereotypical responses and behavior already present in early homo sapiens; they realize latent affective and phenotypic potentials that may have no evolutionary bearing or valence whatsoever.
Neither are these strange attractors, these hitherto “concealed triggers,” a matter of brute amplification. As Tinbergen discovered in experimenting with the parameters of his models, in general supernormalization functions only within a limited range, outside of which the stimuli lose their potency, and are disregarded. Likewise, within the space of human culture, the cues that release a particular affect (large eyes and neotenous facial features for cuteness, for example) can only be intensified to a certain point, beyond which they appear merely grotesque. Accordingly, a whole series of formal and informal research programs have emerged, both in the lab and in popular culture, for the systematic mapping of the borderlands and sweet spots of territories such as potato-chip-mouthfeel-space (conduct a Texture Profile Analysis to determine the effect of additives on rheological attributes of fracturability and crispness), zettai ryōiki space (an ideal ratio of 4:1:2.5 between length of miniskirt, area of exposed skin, and overknee section of stockings, with a tolerance of 25%), or cute-space (determine the limits within which cardioidal strain on the morphology of facelike stimuli elicits nurturing instincts). The twenty-first century has seen these experimental disciplines rendered more efficient and systematic by new technologies of attention capture and response monitoring which make the process collective and interactive, often allowing it to stumble upon and develop uncharted spaces of stimulation.
The capacity to construct, deliver, select, and measure response to stimuli in ever more fine-grained ways effectively extends Tinbergen’s modelling protocol into a fully modulated experimental environment. And it is the hyperplasticity afforded by computing technologies which, whether in audio processing, color printing, industrial food production, or cosmetic chemistry, has enabled the exponential intensification of supernormal culture, in what philosopher Jean-François Lyotard dubbed the age of immaterials,10 an era when coding technologies allow matter to be manipulated and recombined freely as if it were a language. The more that matter can be articulated, controlled, and modulated, the more meticulously we can process, test, and attune new supernormal responses.
Every Day Euphoria. But what is the nature of the human response to this engineered hyperplastic matter? We can’t know just how maternal a volleyball makes a goose feel, yet we have some introspective access to our own responses to the overcompressed aural scintillation of a synthetic pop song, the salt-and-sugar bombardment of a fast-food meal, the tactile titillation of tugging off the lid of an iPhone carton, or the compacted concupiscence of a lurid animated GIF cycling endlessly on the illuminated LCD.
Far from being “close to the genes,” it would seem that, since humans are not simple creatures of instinct, our responses to such compounded supernormal phenomena are cognitively mediated; certainly, unlike Tinbergen’s wooden sticklebacks, they do not trigger discrete instinctual behaviors in any straightforward way, but rather occasion acute affects:
What is released in humans when they encounter supernormal stimuli is not so much motion, as in the reflex gestures of Tinbergen’s specimens, as emotion: complexes of internalized animal response patterns checked and interpreted by higher cognitive functions. The more supernormal the stimulus, the more its reception will be experienced as a peculiarly intense state of consciousness, its powerful concoction of releasers endowing it with a special status likely to occasion an overriding compulsion to repeat the experience, along with a tendency to interpret it in culturally mediated ways, often ascribing to it a status verging on the transcendent.
Existing cultural associations are drafted in to express the ineffable mysteries of these intrapsychic events; they are, in turn, commemorated and celebrated in collective culture; and new products and technologies will be developed to tweak their supernormal charge yet further. Marketing merges with the artistry and science of materials in the search for the exact parameters to be attuned in order to produce the transcendent moments which punctuate contemporary life and form its codex of desire—a quest to refine and heighten dazzling new sensations.
Thus the inner shadow cast by immaterial manipulation lends its shifting shape to further experimental interventions, in a cycle that requires constant alchemical translation between the incompatible registers of euphoric phenomenology and material science, between their associated languages: The marketing department’s hyperbole produces new transcendent qualifiers, while research and development strive to isolate the material attributes capable of producing them in their “purest” form.
Supernormal culture, then, is a prosthetic extrapolation of the landscape of human affect, itself a ferment of suppressed and internalized response patterns; its phenomenological language is the backdraft of prefrontal cortex intervention on the garbled tripping of hindbrain reflexes by technologically articulated immaterials.
Know What I Want Before I Say. Maximizing the supernormal requires a fine modulation of sensory cues. In turn this makes stringent demands upon the engineering of materials in the different media through which these cues will be communicated. A sophisticated approach to product and retail design demands that multisensory cues are harmonized into a consonant whole that communicates ineffable “values” elegantly and coherently (the damaging effect of incongruous pairings that run counter to consumer expectations about the relation between sensory platforms is documented, for example, in the case of the clear cola, TaB Clear). This is achieved by ensuring the consistent production of the same harmonized set of olfactory, visual, auditory, and tactile phenomena.
The “pure” aesthetic stock yielded by supernormal engineering (i.e., an ensemble of synthetic materials capable of delivering a heightened multisensory gestalt) seems to be endowed with transparency, in the sense that it gives us nothing more to think about or see than its own apparent radiant, elementary simplicity. Yet on the side of its material constitution, this simplicity is nowhere to be found. Although the language of such products may appeal to the natural, the elevated, the transparent, and the pure, they are precisely as natural as the concupiscent encounter of a beetle and a beer bottle in the Australian desert.
This forked tongue, the twofold register of supernormal culture (im/material, supernatural-transcendent) is not unrelated to the double-bind of capitalist subjectivation described by Félix Guattari and Maurizio Lazzarato.12 According to these authors, in the capitalist socius, machinic slaving (the immanent harnessing of subpersonal cognitive mechanisms directly to technical machines) is invariably complemented by social subjection (the discursive reinstantiation of traditional models of subjecthood, individuation, and personal transcendence). That is to say, although the contemporary subject is addressed by its technological environment no longer as an individual but as a set of attention mechanisms and stimulus reflexes (a “dividual”), with technical machines and products informed by cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and digitally enabled captology (“attentionology”) selectively targeting reflex neural responses, the language of personal experience and transcendent selfhood remains prevalent, overcoding these molecular intrusions into the brain, reinscribing deterritorialized flows back into traditional and easily managed social forms. In fact it is the maintenance of the complementary functions of these two subjectivation processes that keeps capitalism in stable crisis. The autonomous and aspirational “person” must still be promoted as a figure of faith even while the products to which it aspires proceed to burrow under its skin. “Machinic slaving” proceeds here via the capture and recombination of internalized response patterns (emotions rather than motions) through habitual interactions with technically modulated sensory stimuli; but also through the production of new gestural cultures (in particular those associated with handheld devices) as means to satisfy them. (What is the “swipe” if not a manual servomechanism of capitalism?) The delivery of supernormal stimuli is crucial for the ratcheting of these circuitries into inescapable, socially distributed compulsions that operate below the level of the “subject” yet are continually reinscribed within the discourse of the self, of personal aspiration and satisfaction, and of social adequacy. Just as we are less than ourselves without makeup or stimulants, we no longer feel “connected” to others or even to ourselves unless the candy-colored icons at our fingertips are sprouting red buds to notify us of our existence, and the continual cascade of illuminated images and scanned headlines lifts us into a supernormal state of hyperwakefulness that stokes the pursuit of our goals and dreams.
It’s Just Like We Don’t Try. Whereas the overheated alloy of sex and technology forged by the heroes of J.G. Ballard’s tales, in fidelity to their supernormal obsessions, serves to crack open the brittle carapace of reality so as to realize the manifold perversions suggestively implanted by the media environment, in reality hyperplasticity and the supernormal innovation it enables has funneled our access to these virtualities into narrower channels. Ballard belongs to the professional demographic, as do his heroes, and what prevails in his fables is an appealing yet somewhat dated (Nietzschean) conception of human creativity: The protagonist is a sovereign agent with the heroic capacity to conduct controlled experiments on himself through deliriously instinctive détournements of the technological media environment. In actuality, the position of the laborer-consumer-drone may have been a more suitable perspective from which to anticipate the way in which machinic slaving would isolate and manipulate neurological responses operating below the conscious cognitive grasp of “users” conceived as generic bundles of fixed action patterns (FAPs…), extend them supernormally, thus creating an environment riddled by compulsion, addiction, and the monotonous domination of the same few stereotyped supernormal stimuli.13 After all, what incentive is there for capital to enter the labyrinth of the virtual when it can scavenge the redundancies of the actual for suitable drivers to boost production and consumption?
Rather than a human liberated to explore the virtual realms of human sexuality, we are closer to William Burroughs’ machine junkies, or Samuel Butler’s vision of humans serving as deterritorialized parts of a machine sexuality, like bees for flowers. An array of browser tabs flushed with pixelated epidermis are foliated tips of an alluring bloom exciting the reproductive instincts of its prosthetic partner, the screen an openmouthed cuckoo feigning hunger for his sex; the dopamine hits of social media implant a compulsion to enact our instinctual social instincts through a machine intent on recording the imprint of its hotheaded prey as it smears its informatic pollen, swipe by swipe, further afield, drawing off a surplus for its own ends. The future, sex × technology, no longer belongs to lone pioneers of virtuality, triumphant aristocrats of perversion, latter-day des Esseinteses achieving self-realization by following the vectors of art and artificialization to their most outrageous conclusions. There has been no Ballardian odyssey from the capillaries of the conventional through the deltas of the phylogenetic unconscious toward the great ocean of the virtual. Instead we have embarked on a collective drift away from behaviors vectored toward the executive function of procreation, out of the territories policed by evolutionary imperatives, toward zones of virtuality defined instead by the polar magnetism of least resistance and maximized financial return, cross-tabulated with ever-increasing efficiency by attention-monitoring systems. Shifting the bounds within which animal affect had been lagooned by its genetic inheritance, hooking up basic procreative and survival instincts to machinic reproductive apparatuses from elsewhere, contemporary supernormal culture rechannels them into a series of disappointingly conservative compulsions and conventional transcendences: clinical skin displays, hyperbolic invocations of nature and purity, hyperactive ecstasies and infantile boutique comforts; an elaborate range of adornments to enhance the status and competitiveness of the individual.
In opening up the new fitness landscape of phenotypic plasticity, hyperplastic industries unfold new affects and capacities for new behaviors; but they must also play a part in ensuring social reproduction: Some beetles must choose other beetles rather than beer bottles; likewise, even the most supernormal delirium or debauch must eventually steer its way back toward social subjection, otherwise supernormal consumption would die along with the human species, in an orgy of machinically slaved jouissance (although this particular limit of capitalism is clearly coming into view with the generalization of an otaku lifestyle and the age of supernormally enhanced robot sex).
You Gotta Believe In Me. Now, if it is inevitable that the phenomenological language of supernormal culture tends to invoke the supernatural, what is crucial for capital is that its powers of excessive fascination can be captured, commodified, and, most of all, branded. In order for a set of supernormal stimuli, together with the supernatural reverence which they elicit, to be commodified and profitably reproduced en masse, they must also become invariably associated with a name. To be consistently chosen over the raw stimuli whose responses it hijacks, supercharges, and packages, a supernormal product must be captured by a single identifiable marker that will index it as a financial concern; and the market extension of a brand’s products is tied to the intension of its name, operating as both magical invocation and proprietary protection. Indeed, the phonic matter of the name itself forms part of the supernormal package: Prozac, Olay, L’Oréal… who knows what ancient motor memories are obliquely strafed by the verbal music of corporate nomenclature?
So it is, perhaps, with our own name. After all, personal identity is constructed as a selection of brand preferences, the curation of a singular compound of supernormal affects. As we peruse the dense, overlit information environment of the department store we continually ask ourselves: Which one am I? An increasingly complex and refined sense of personal identity is coupled with a product-rich environment in which we define ourselves through product assignments and choices on many scales (from personal preferences of household staples up through gender, race, demographic, and regional belonging). From the selection of a house paint (Elephant’s Breath, Feather Grass, Lamp Room Gray, Cinder Rose) or nail polish (Miami Beet, Samoan Sand, Big Apple Red) to identification as tourist or resident with a national brand (Bolivia—The Authentic Still Exists, Greece—The True Experience, I Feel SLOVEnia, Switzerland—Get Natural), inner space is enriched and consolidated by sensory abstractions complemented by semantic suggestion. Personal identity is a nest of brand identifications, their transcendences fused into a singular portfolio that reflects and projects, defining me and elevating my sense of self, and whose radiant, elementary simplicity mirrors that of its component parts. Individuality, as well as shared identity, is not given by nature but is our product, a collection of sophisticated cues which, by way of commoditized immaterialities (at once technical-material yet putatively disincarnate and transcendent), determine the relation we have to ourselves and to each other. In the endless race to complete our product, we buy ever more of ourselves: More natural, more healthy, more powerful, more me. Pour yourself with yourself.14
The brand leader against which all Others must be measured is the European “us,” figured by a local and contingent set of stimuli widely imposed upon the rest of the planet through globalization. Adapted from phenotypic responses tuned by the Northern European environment and machinically worked over continuously for centuries, it has been successfully exported worldwide, overwhelming regionally specific supernormals and generating a global monoculture, a planetary standard of desiring-production, an industrial product which certainly once communicated with instinctual responses, yet which in its iteratively refined supernormality no longer has any but the most tenuous connection to something that could be called “natural” and which, in its monstrous genericity, corresponds to no empirically existing human being.
We Are Supernatural. Following her interrogation of Yves Klein’s prescient mimicry of the double-articulation of the material-machinic and the subjective-transcendent—chemically formulating International Klein Blue in order to consistently deliver immaterial aesthetic euphoria, while also insisting that it bear his trademark, reserving his rights15—here in the citywide department store of contemporary art, in the city that gave birth to modern capitalism, Pamela Rosenkranz unveils a product that is the result of extensive research into materials at the molecular level, yet whose primary function is to deliver an immaterial experience at once rhapsodic and disturbing. Our Product reproduces, incarnate, through chemical, auditory, olfactory, and photonic manipulation, as a series of bodies and fields that our own bodies traverse, the molar transcendence that we produce and consume every day—a product she signs not with her own name, but with “ours.” Overcoding the materiality of the molecular multisensory experience, a semantic nebula teems with pseudoscientific compounds, the magical properties and authoritative brand names of which are recited within the installation by a synthetic voice whose comforting cadences are every bit as synthetic as the heavy dermal mass that undulates within the pavilion’s walls—a perfect abstraction rendered physical, palpable, yet still just out of reach, a dream substance delivered on a nightmarish industrial scale.
This is either a privileged view into the factory where global supernormal stock is amassed prior to its distribution, or a deliriously logical extrapolation of the products into which it enters as an immaterial ingredient. As if those products were finally subtracted from the particularities that anchored them into everyday life, their tantalizing promise of superabundance finally consummated and thus discharged. A ground without a figure. Yet to eliminate the figure and return to monochromy (here not just visual but olfactory and auditory) no longer implies purity. The dream of “[a]bolish[ing] the denotative functions of color,” “liberat[ing] color from all spiritual, emotional, and psychological associations […] and transcendent meaning in general […] in favor of the pure materiality of color” or “a rationalistic transparence”16 has been definitively abandoned. We are no longer on the firm territory of the modern, and perhaps not even still within the realm of art, whose auratic and esoteric functions commoditized consumer culture has directly democratized. Abstractions are no longer ideations at all—or else, if there are “ideas,” they are not “ours” in any simple sense. The stimulus cues from which supernormal culture is extrapolated are abstractions that emerge from the biosphere, wet with contingency, to be industrially refined and amplified in the laboratories of capital. This preternatural milk psychically nourishing faith in the aspirational purity of modern western human corporeality is a synthetic pulp, a by-product of our compulsive collusion with machine sexualities.
In momentarily untethering them from the capitalist search engine, the hyperplastic literalism of Our Product may risk extending its supernormal components to the point of the grotesque, extrapolating them so far as to escape the compulsive circuits within which they ordinarily circulate. Yet far from inviting ironic distance or disinterested contemplation, immersion in Our Product launches new vectors of supernormality: Even as their sheer physicality is rendered unavoidable, even as their transparency converges with the opacity of their material production, the uncanny glamour of these immaterials still enchants those visitors who are truly ready to enjoy themselves, traversing a full-spectrum product environment that takes us on a supernormal-hyperplastic trip through the convoluted core of inner space.
- The author would like to acknowledge the importance of his prior collaborations and stimulating conversations with Pamela Rosenkranz in formulating the ideas discussed here, and the invaluable assistance and advice of Shaun Lewin in the writing of the text. Crucial additional inspiration for the themes addressed came from Danny L Harle and Carly Rae Jepsen’s Super Natural (PC Music, 2016).
- N. Tinbergen, The Study of Instinct (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951). For a popular-science presentation of the concept, see D. Barrett, Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose (New York: Norton, 2010).
- D.T. Gwynne, D.C.F. Rentz, “Beetles On The Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies For Females (Coleoptera),” Austral Entomology, 22:1 (February 1983): 79–80.
- Although see K.D. Tanaka, G. Morimoto, M. Stevens, “Rethinking visual supernormal stimuli in cuckoos: visual modeling of host and parasite signals,” Behavioral Ecology, 22:5 (2011): 1012–19.
- R. Dawkins, The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 105–7.
- V.S. Ramachandran and W. Hirstein, “The Science of Art: A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience,” Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6 (1999), 15–51: 19.
- J.G. Ballard, Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J.G. Ballard 1967–2008, ed. Dan O’Hara and Simon Sellars (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), 59.
- J.G. Ballard, Crash (BBC documentary film, 1971).
- See Y. Hui and A. Brockmann, 30 Years After Les Immatériaux: Art, Science, Theory (Lüneburg: Meson Press, 2015).
- B. Singer, “A Comparison of Evolutionary and Environmental Theories of Erotic Response Part I: Structural Features,” The Journal of Sex Research, 21:3 (August 1985), 229–57: 237.
- See in particular M. Lazzarato, Signs and Machines, trans. J.D. Jordan (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Semiotext(e), 2014). I translate “asservissement” here as “slaving” rather than “enslavement” (as has been customary), since Guattari’s intended reference is not slavery, but the cybernetic slaving of one component (or servomechanism) to another—see M. McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964), 41 [emphasis mine]: “The youth Narcissus mistook his own reflection in the water for another person. This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image.”
- See Gilles Châtelet’s “cybercattle,” in To Live and Think Like Pigs: The Incitement of Envy and Boredom in Market Democracies, trans. R. Mackay (Falmouth and New York: Urbanomic/Sequence Press, 2014)
- “Pour Yourself With Yourself: Valentina Sansone and PamelaRosenkranz talk light, water, capitalism and perception”, Dis Magazine.
- See R. Mackay, “No Core Dump,” in P. Rosenkranz, No Core (Zurich: JRP Ringier, 2012).
- B. Buchloh, “The Primary Colors for the Second Time: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-Avant-Garde,” October, 37 (1986): 41–52.