Manuel Cebrián and José Balsa-Barreiro are members of Spam Church, an artist collective launched in 2017 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently headquartered in Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany, its charter is to illuminate the many ways spam mediates our social world through design.
An antidote for the modern soul, Spam Church provides digital interaction that subverts the spamminess we have all come to consume without really knowing it. Unknown to us, a Spam Microprocessor is mediating our collective experiences. Cebrián explores this in his 2018 Spam can (image above) and reveals the collective attempts to take back the internet from its colonizers and corporate overlords.
The passing of time is something humans have, so far, no control of, so the only way we can deal with such devastating force is by filtering it through history, as the contemplative gentleman does in Balsa-Barreiro’s The Global Spectator (2019) (image below). The course of relevant historical events makes it possible to separate distinct ages and ways of living, feeling, and ultimately understanding the evolving stages of civilizational development. We look back and know where we come from, where we are now and try to guess what comes next.
Jose Balsa-Barreiro. “The Global Spectator.” 2019. Digital photography. © 2020 Spam Church.
However, the transition from analogue to digital societies has shattered the ebbs of connection across time demarcations. Since the beginning of the 21st century, we live in the age of Hypermodernity, an understanding of time as a succession of present moments disconnected from the immediate past and future. All we have is Now. Hypermodernity creates the Hyperindividual, a new – and bizarre – kind of individual with no connection with the past or the future, living in a timeless, spaceless, ahistorical, and modular present, as the one illustrated in Cebrián’s Mom, Dad, Child (2018). (image below). This is an individual without a link to anyone or anything and without an event to look forward to.
Manuel Cebrian. “Mom, Dad, Child.” 2018. Computer monitors, laptop, spray paint, oil stick; Dimensions variable. Photography by Manuel Cebrian. © 2020 Spam Church.
Today's societies are sustained by a highly unstable system of feelings and beliefs. It does not stop oscillating along the conceptual, perceptual, and psychological spectrum. That means what’s valid today, tomorrow is not. What feels right today, tomorrow will feel like the worst thing we've ever done. The course through these different ages is inexorably leading to the destruction of reality.
To escape this destruction vortex is nearly impossible, especially when most people do not realize that this destruction process is happening. Without any sliver of a coherent experience to humankind, the digital world continues guiding us through mazes that steers us away from ourselves.
We find ourselves navigating an infinite rabbit hole of ever-increasing unhappiness
The digital world needs to discover its own Pilgrimage Route to Santiago: a route that provided an escape from the dark times of the Middle Age, where pilgrims found a cure for their souls, needs to be seen again. A long, arduous, lonesome path in which the experiences between successive steps are irreversible and bring us closer to ourselves. We believe an Antimodern Route to Santiago may offer an escape from the process of destruction of reality's process we are undergoing:
- Antimodernity strives to transform non-places into places, arresting the ongoing exponential emptying of the human soul.
- Antimodernity aspires to revert back to a push model of the internet and along the way abolish the current pull configuration.
- Antimodernity opposes modernity, postmodernity, and hypermodernity as it believes these disrupt identity, space, time and narratives, living in a continuous ‘now.’
- Antimodernity rejects machine learning and any other technologies that generate swarms and predictable digital aggregates.
- Antimodernity propels people to move on, avoid platformizing, fight prestige overfit and nurture endogenous channels of satisfaction.
- Antimodernity believes in intimate connections and opposes networks, flow, momentum, but also nostalgia.
- Antimodernity embraces the unknown, the weird, the unexpected, not as something that makes you stronger, but as something that happens to you.
- Antimodernity actualizes legends, rituals, traditions, and general acerbic human processes into the internet era, preserving them across multiple technological transformations.
- Antimodernity believes in a local internet, with specific, local, historical, individual consequences for internet actions.
- Antimodernity recommends adhering to a low-reference diet.
- Antimodernity attempts to stabilize history and accepts a mysterious present.