“Help me communicate without debasement, darling.”
Through an artistic technique that could be considered principally posthuman, Ed Atkins tries to tackle the societal and emotional problems of modern-day man, where a capitalist-gotten-out-of-hand lifestyle leads to existential problems, loneliness and a new type of individualism enhances communication difficulties. I believe his work is a good example of the dualisms in posthumanist thought, since Atkins actually uses digital art as a means of communicating his concerns about contemporary identity and communicative issues in the posthuman-era human. He is the creator of a person (if the protagonist of his art is material or immaterial is debatable) without natural means and solely through digitalized signals (CGI). This person is a white, naked man, and is supposed to represent a generic type of human, who is living a desillusioned life, which Atkins created for him. He represents the living image, the uncanny and the dehumanized society. Not only the comments, the filmic environment, narrative context or the explanations of the artist himself help the viewer to understand this (hyper/sur)reality, but also the pure aesthetic of this body. He is perfect, young, muscular, perhaps a utopian version of the artist. This body could be real and living, since it uncannily resembles an organic, real-life human being. But the digitalized image, pixelated on our screens, prove this is not the case. He is blurred, unreal in his reality and his communicative movements are similar to ours, but still unknown to us. The way he breathes, his face and mouth expressions while sharing his deep dark thoughts, the sterile way in which his limbs seem disconnected to his (digital) ‘brain signals’ while speaking/thinking, these are all indications of the uncanny. By reflecting these effects in the digital body, Atkins creates a posthuman metaphor for a dehumanized society, where a natural way of communication between human beings/bodies seems to have dissappeared or become more difficult due to (bio-)technological novelties. He creates an avatar for ‘the enhanced posthuman man’ with a digital art – which means he uses the positive effects of our posthumanist technological age – to show us the consequences of such a world and to communicate the “shock of the new” to his viewers.