National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
EMST

SPYROS NAKAS – FEVER

18/10/2011 - 05/02/2012

ATHENS CONSERVATOIRE

Spyros Nakas

Fever

Media Lounge

18/10/2011 – 05/02/2012

In the framework of the open invitation that EMST address in 2010 to Greek new media artists for the production of a new online work, the selection committes examined all the proposals that were submitted  and chose Spyros Nakas work titled  Fever. This work will be presented from October 18th in the Media Lounge of the museum.

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Gameifying medical normativity

What is the value of life today and how is it estimated?  How does it relate to the dubious health and medical system of contemporary states and how do these elements affect the image of “life itself”?

Since the emergence of biopolitics back in the 18th century, when the body became the very center of interest and object of government, different standards and norms were established that could progressively control the entirety of human bios. With the help of demographics and statistics, life started being quantified and articulated and a multiplicity of men, a global mass became affected by overall processes characteristic of birth, death, production, illness and so on (1)…  As Thacker has written while discussing Foucault, data surrounded the population, and accordingly since then information started producing “life itself” and interpreting it (2). Biology and medicine were called upon to optimize life, to prevent populations from health endangerments and to establish a new medical normativity. Pills, therapies, check ups, and health insurances were the output of this informatic view of life and of a new notion of being that unavoidably was influenced by a convergence of social, political and economic interests that were to persist and expand up until our times.

Fever is an online multiplayer game that aims to address issues related to the management of today and to seek for the motivations, the profits and the losses that lie behind the contemporary systems of medicine and health. Looking back into the changes that shaped the current circumstances as well as taking into consideration the new features of the networked era, that is the interconnectivity, the fluidity and the real time experience, the project is a study on the conditions that normalize, control and define the rhythm of our body and its liveness today.

Simulating the functioning of the body’s immune system, Fever invites us to understand its mechanisms and take control of them. Cells, bacteria, viruses and medicines are the elements that define the gameplay which is nevertheless also highly affected by an external reality, by  the rise and the fall of the medicine companies’ shares in the stock market. Can someone really control and secure her/his own health in such a environment? Can the player meet the standards of the system to stay alive? Being exposed to biological threats and dangers as well as to the interests and gains of third parties, the players soon realize that they constitute part of a networked system where balances between biological, chemical and economical data need to be necessarily kept.

Inspired by Canguillhem’s thought on the relativity of the “normal”(3)– as opposed to the “pathological”-, Fever tackles the absence of neutrality and clarity in the fields of medicine and biology and poses questions. If as Canguilhem’s wrote, the normal needs to be redefined taking into consideration the diversity of life on one hand and the ability of the human species to adapt to different circumstances on the other, then couldn’t the conditions of today’s networked reality constitute the appropriate environment for this redefinition? Instead of offering new territories of exploitation? Isn’t it time for the multitude of individualities  of our times to take advantage of the tools offered in the era of open knowledge and information and use those  – and not only what the medical and pharmacy sectors propose – to understand and critically approach “life itself”?

Daphne Dragona

1. Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France,
1975–1976, ed. Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana, trans. David Macey , 2003, New
York: Picador
2. Eugene Thacker, “The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics and Culture”, 2005, , Cambridge: The MIT Press
3. Georges Canguihem, “On the Normal and the Pathological”, Dordrecht: Reidal, 1978

 

Photo: Spyros Nakas, Fever

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