Love Your Monsters
LAKA Competition, 2015
El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn
Mingchuan Yang, Shuya Xu, Yinglin Wu, Sihao Xiong, Bin Zhang, with initial contributions by Jennifer Ng, Larisa Ovalles, Cheng Xing
In 1682, a comet crossed the sky following the same path as comets in 1531 and 1607. Using the Law of Gravity, which was developed by his friend Sir Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley showed that the three different appearances were actually the same comet travelling around the Sun in a long orbit and returning every 76 years. He predicted that the comet would return in 1758. In 1759, the comet came back, a little late because Jupiter’s strong gravity slowed it down. Halley’s Comet has also returned in 1835, 1910, and in 1986.
In 2061, Sir Isaac Newton returns to Cambridge to head Project Parasite, an important mission to Halley’s Comet. Project Parasite explores the following research question: “What about life not as we know it?” What life forms could be possible in a world based on a different set of physical processes and chemical compounds and across a more expansive temperature range?” Toward this architecture of life forms, the xeno-agent is launched at the moment Comet Halley approaches the Earth. Xeno-agent is a space probe composed of 25 dodecahedron modules, each of which is a protection pod for agents of life inside. Landing in Halley’s Central Depression, the xeno-agent implants its feeding-stem into the comet’s nucleus, which is at 78% ice from water. The primary relation between the host and parasite, the moment of insemination, is an act of exploitation.
The xeno-agent responds to Halley’s biophysical milieu, reconfiguring between the days of perihelion and aphelion, respectively the closest and most distant points in the comet’s orbit to the Sun. When the comet is heated by the Sun, its ice begins to sublimate, liberating energy by the change in water’s physical state from amorphous to crystalline. The geography of the xeno-agent reconfigures: the envelopes morph and inflate to shield the resident aliens of Halley from the Solar Anus. Deployed beneath the shield, the polyhedrons levitate and their photovoltaic surfaces direct to face the sun. As the comet moves away from the sun, the envelope collapses back on its surface and the dormant xeno-agents incubate by sucking the Comet’s water and minerals. Throughout its journey across the Solar System, the containers assemble into one large group form. Irritated by stardust, the xeno-agent, now a blue egg, hatches a swarm of biochip cyborg monsters companion species. A garden of cosmic delights spurts beyond the Oort Cloud.
Project Parasite celebrates Bruno Latour’s call to love our monsters and care for our technologies as we do our children. Each monster is a message in a bottle: it brings forth new possibilities for the meanings of difference, reproduction, and survival, all the while engaging the most significant things that define us as humans on earth, which are stories, technologies, and perhaps monsters. On Comet Halley, the formal reconfiguration of the xeno-agent has no end; its cycle has continuations, interruptions and reformulations – just as the kind of survivable stories we could use these days. This one is written from within the belly of the monster.