TRANSCENDENCE: Being on the Edge of Meaning


The erosion of the body, the other, and the tangible world now permeate all facets of contemporary existence, extending beyond the confines of debilitating disease—a mode of non-existence until death. We are separating ourselves from the human condition, encapsulated within a server; we are no longer present, instead existing in a palliative state where information proliferates, yet being diminishes. Servers, both physical and digital, become central to our existence, embodying non-real forms that collapse into one another, displacing both the real and us with it. Our existence becomes inauthentic, with no alternative to exist outside of it. Without presence in the server, one does not exist at all. Man is enslaved in this state, celebrated as progress erasing him from the picture, until there is no longer a picture to erase. Instead, a virtue signaling for more control, sedated from a disease that is life, until disappearing entirely. Greater anesthesia is induced, keeping him in a coma, only to need more.

When an individual is presented with his own condition and a series of unavoidable losses, he is compelled to ask and reflect – to fight an incurable condition; one akin to the server that alienates one from the body, the other and reality. Man however finds himself searching for meaning in a world devoid of it. To embrace one’s pain and suffering where the other has removed it entirely; here one brings man towards death and the other hides it away, both however pull towards disability. This frustration, born from the desire for freedom only to be constrained by his condition, signifies a descent into non-being, lacking both a functioning body and, potentially, mind. Conversely, a mode of existence the world too becomes, that a collective complies towards. For man, however, falling into both results in a double disappearance.

The condition, while physically and mentally debilitating, serves as an opportunity to confront more clearly the realities of life and death, independent from the server's palliation of it. The server's nature offers an escape to realms beyond, liberated from a hyperreal and disabled existence. The rooftop, both metaphorically and physically, connects to reality, offering a liminal vantage to reflect on the essence of being one is increasingly pulled away from. Here, man transcends the body's limitations, the notion of access, and the reality of disability. He surpasses the server's digital and physical confines and his condition, reconnecting with the remnants of the real world and its corporeal existence. The rooftop clarifies his condition and the underlying loss of being. Although man's fate remains inescapable, this distancing from non-existence rekindles his freedom to that when he was a child, while drawing him as close to heaven as possible, so that when death does occur, he is already there.

In this realm, man falls in love with being in the very places he should not.

The examining committee is as follows:
Supervisor: Robert Jan Van Pelt
Committee member: Tara Bissett
Internal-external reader: Colin Ellard
External: Peter Sealy

The defence examination will take place:
Thursday, April 25, 2024, 9:00 a.m.
In person, in the Riverside Gallery.
A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.

This thesis will be on view in the Riverside Gallery from April 22 - 26.