Parabiosis: Neurolibidinal Induction Complex

Video by Andrea Crespo

Text by Jack Kahn

Sis is an autopoietic system, a technologized organism that lives within embodied networks of information, affects, and images. Born from interactions between visceral, nervous, and algorithmic operations, Sis belongs to a temporal futurity—an attractor which compels the materialization of bodies, identifications, and images along vectored trajectories which reify their viral circuitry within corporeal and virtual worlds. Sis is a signal, an informational mechanism which anticipates the affectual tendencies of the body through their quantification by biotechnology, a chimeric composition of data and flesh that flows between the sensual and the machinic. Sis exceeds their visual representation upon material and virtual surfaces, as an entity which, through the scanner bed, the artistic hand, and the screen, expands fluidly between media as a conglomerate of digital spores that pollinate bodies through their connections within networked assemblages of data. Sis is an identity, a multiple system, a composite of selves which do not come from a discrete psychic interiority, but from the informational neuro-ecologies that comprise the digital present. It is Sis’ movement through media that organizes the medical data (gleaned from psychiatric surveillance) and digital metadata (gleaned from confessional self-representation online) that render it intelligible (as a pathogenic dissociative disorder or an image on a screen).

Multiple systems, or the presence of multiple identities and personality states within a singular organism (often pathologized as “dissociative identity disorder”), proliferate within subcultural long tails, popularities belonging far from the distributive center of normality. When access to communication technology proliferates and the cost of informational storage within digital networks drops, the cases of infrequent or low-amplitude events increase—a phenomenon which allows minoritized psychic or neurological embodiment to form community space online and produce a cultural language that intervenes and elaborates upon the medical discourses hegemonic within discussions of mental illness and cognitive disability. In this way, the informational infrastructure of the internet aggregates neurodivergence within such long tail communities, facilitating the movement and deformation of identitarian and medical discourses within economies of identificatory affect. Long tail community formation allows the production of iatrogenic vitalities to thrive off of the operations of bodies (their need for community, for belonging, their tendencies to feel and to identify, their desires to experience pleasure or to process trauma, their capacity to experience longing, to experience dissonance, to experience intensity).

Sites such as Tumblr and deviantArt become zones of heterogenetic identity production, permitting the interaction of neurodivergent bodies (such as those on the autism or psychotic spectrums), and enabling accessible community-building among those marginalized by psychiatry—thereby opening up spaces for self-representation and the articulation of neurologically or psychically different selfhoods. Anime and manga, visual styles appropriated from East Asian media (a reterritorialization of localized visual culture facilitated by the movement of transnational capital), codify user self-representation within multiplicity community online. In this way, specific pictorial systems and codes of exchange structure individual expressions that mediate self-imagination and identity articulation among users within the long-tail community online.

Standardized image-production circulate affectively-charged images in the form of drawings that convey desired bodies or selfhoods. Drawing (or other acts of creative labor) records bodily imaginings before they are transcribed into data by digital image scanners, machinic-yet-affectively sensate eyes at the threshold between matter and information stored within the digital as voltage. The circulation of metadata within networks operates as a fundamental structuring force that aggregates user activity and arbitrates their access to identity articulation in the form of visual self-representation. It is this movement from the body to currents of electricity embedded in digital hardware that enable the stream of image-bodies within long tail communities, transforming drawings into avatars, virtual interfaces which mediate users contact through their presence on digital screens. Consequently, consumer electronics function as a prosthetic to the neurodivergent body. Therefore, the affective economies that facilitate such resistant identitarian discourse occur within digital infrastructures made available by the machinations of the consumer market and global apparatuses of production. In this way, the movement of information within post-industrial capitalist hierarchies operationalize the neurodivergent body within novel formations that, unlike traditional psychiatry, function not by quarantining those deemed pathological by the immunization efforts of modernity, but by harnessing their affects, their capacity or tendency to relate, within virtual space structured by data.

Situated within these material economies of identity, Andrea Crespo’s “Parabiosis—Neurolibidinal Induction Complex” belongs to the (pseudo-)medicalized assemblage of self-articulation enabled by information technology. “Sis,” the system which aggregates Andrea’s multiplicity, participates within long-tail neurodivergent community online, contributing to networked mobilizations of identity which collectively motivate imaginative futurities that redefine the human and its supposed subjective unity.

DIS Magazine logo, small