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《與細菌混了3000年》是一項由太空探索的推測性計劃(speculative design),透過仍在發展中的科技去描述一個可能未來,試圖以「共生」(symbiosis) 和「親屬關係」(kinship) 邏輯想像居於星際間的生活樣態。著名女性主義及後人類學者唐娜·哈拉維(Donna Haraway)點出,建構「親屬關係」並不只指向血親與人類,而可以包涵個人以外的單位或非人類。這是一項關於想像力的測驗,思考人類在探索(殖民)其他星球的同時如何將人類世(anthropocene)的教訓銘記在心,將共生的概念植入我們即將探索的各種星際生態系的想像。

 

同時在透過執行創作的過程中,我們也得以理解到構成太空探索的主要意識形態即為「天命論」。人類​​是自然的探索者:充滿好奇心和勇氣,文明的堡壘。在美國,這採取邊界主義的形式。 《新天命論New Manifest Destiny》援引了一個廣闊而未知的土地的圖像,這些土地已經成熟,可以進行資源開發和殖民,而《新天命論》則以與美國西部邊境相同的方式來進行太空探索。原初的天命論,並不是和平地安定於上帝賜予的土地,而是對自然土地的破壞和對美國原住民的種族滅絕,其影響在今天仍可感受到。那些從土著人民手中奪走土地的人得到了立法和自由市場邊界主義的支持,這使人民和土地全都被基督教神和強大的美元雙重神靈所滅。

 

計畫名稱,3000 years among microbes,出自美國作家馬克·吐溫(Mark Twain)在1905未出版的手稿。故事是關於一位誤被魔術師變成細菌的微生物學家,以保有人類記憶的細菌的視角去觀察世界。受到他的敘述手法的啟發,本計劃的主角是一個嗜極端菌(extremophile bacteria),火星原住,這是一個關於第一類接觸(First Contact)的故事。在後暖化的地球,有權有勢的人類紛紛移民到地球附近的行星,而故事的配角是兩位(影片中有兩個女孩)一位在國家太空中心維修零件的女孩,她們登上火箭的倉庫偷渡至火星。在降落後她們朝太空城市的反方向奔跑,脫離管轄區,找到落足之地,在那,她們遇見故事的主角。在無法用文字描繪的接觸過程中,嗜極端菌在女孩腸裡的微生物群系中認出屬於相同系譜的祖先菌。一個發生在無法被人類觀察到的規模的第一類接觸會長什麼樣子?或許第一類接觸只是兩個細菌在打招呼,火星原著菌與演化成「人類」的祖先菌的重逢故事。這兩個生命體會如何擁抱抑或傷害對方?我們必須記得,共生並不是一場和平的交易,而生存必然含帶商榷、衝突、與協作。

故事的後設敘述(metanarrative)是宇宙撒種說(panspermia)+內共生學說(endosymbiosis)。宇宙撒種說推測宇宙中散佈著許多的嗜極微生物在慧星中休眠,而地球上的生命便是起於撞擊到地表的彗星所乘載的微生物,在適合生存的環境中開始活動與進化。內共生學說推論真核細胞內的胞器起源於原核生物,舉例,人體內除了血球,每一個細胞中的粒線體都曾是好氧性細菌。在劇烈的肉體創傷下,若太多細胞破裂而粒線體流入血液,人體的免疫系統因為還認得粒線體的菌性,因此發動系統性的免疫反應。生物學界逐漸接納⼈類是從細菌的共生演化⽽來的理論,我們的感官細胞上還連著細菌移動所需的⼩尾巴。人類是「個體」的定義在科學上已經站不住腳,科學家提出「共生體」(holobiont)一詞更為貼切,我們無法撇除與我們共生的微生物群系生活,而微生物群系也總是隨著地理環境的變遷產生變化。

藉由這一項計畫,我們與各方合作者對話,討論如何脫離殖民的隱喻看待太空,這些對話的精髓即成為微生物太空西部片的劇本。

 

本創作計畫產出內容將包含實驗概念電影、資料聲音化程式、線上展演、計畫網頁等多媒介,包含錄像拍攝、微生物採集、立方衛星設計等等。

This proposal is a transdisciplinary speculative design project that imagines a possible space faring future via the logic of "symbiosis" and "kinship". The famous author and philosopher Donna Haraway pointed out that the construction of "kinship" does not only refer to blood relatives and humans, but can include units other than individuals or non-human beings. This is a creative experiment of rethinking human beings in the framework of space colonization. Can changing our conception of the “anthropos” prevent another “anthropocene” on other planets?

 

Through many conversations and research, we understand the main ideology that constitutes space exploration is the "Manifest destiny." Humans are seen as explorers of nature: full of curiosity and courage, defending the fortress of civilization. In the United States, this takes the form of frontierism. "New Manifest Destiny" cites images of a vast and unknown land that has matured for resource development and colonization, using space in the same way as the western border of the United States. The original doctrine of destiny was not about peacefully settling in the land given by God, but about the destruction of natural resources and the genocide of Native Americans, the impact of which can still be felt today. Those who took the land from the indigenous peoples were supported by legislation and free market frontierism, which left the people and the land to be wiped out by the dual power of the market and the idea of liberation.

The title of the project 3000 Years Among Microbes comes from an unpublished manuscript by American writer Mark Twain in 1905. The story is about a microbiologist who was mistakenly turned into a bacteria by a magician, looking at the world from the perspective of a  bacterium that retained its human memory. Inspired by his narrative techniques, the protagonist of this project is an extremophile bacteria, a native of Mars, in this story about First Contact. In post-climate earth, the privileged have immigrated to planets near the earth, and the supporting role of the story are two girls that work at the National Space Center repairing parts . They boarded a rocket's storage compartment and stowed away to Mars. After landing, they ran in the opposite direction of the space city, left the jurisdiction, and found a foothold, where they met the protagonist of the story.

During the “contact”, a process that could not be described in words, the extremophile recognized ancestor bacteria belonging to the same species in the microbiome of the girl’s intestines. What would a first contact that occurs on a scale unperceivable by humans look like? Perhaps the contact is just two bacteria saying hello, the story of the reunion between the original Martian bacteria and the ancestor bacteria that evolved into "humans." How do these two life experiences embrace each other?  Hurt each other? We must remember that symbiosis is not a peaceful transaction, and survival inevitably involves discussion, conflict, and collaboration.
 

The metanarrative of the story is panspermia and endosymbiosis. The theory of cosmic seeding speculates that there are many extremophilic microorganisms scattered in the universe dormant in meteors and comets, and life on earth originates from the microorganisms carried by a comet that hit its surface. The endosymbiosis theory infers that the organelles in eukaryotic cells originated from prokaryotes. For example, except for blood cells, the mitochondria in every cell in the human body were once aerobic bacteria. Under severe physical trauma, if too many cells rupture and mitochondria flow into the blood, the body's immune system still recognizes the bacterial nature of the mitochondria and initiates a systemic immune response. Even our sensory cells are connected to the remnants of tiny tails required for the movement of bacteria.

 

The definition of human beings as an "individual" is no longer scientifically tenable. Scientists have proposed that the term "holobiont" is more appropriate. We cannot exclude the microbiome that lives with us, and the microbiome is always in flux as the geographical environment changes.

Through this project, we had multiple dialogues with different partners and collaborators to discuss framing space exploration outside the metaphor of colonization. The essence of these dialogues has become the script of our microbial space western. Other outputs of this creative project includes experimental concept films, data voice programs, online performances, project web pages and other media, including video shooting, microbial collection, cube satellite design, and so on.