The Nervepool's Hyperhive has hosted all manner of dialogues over the years, especially during its earlier AlulA phase as a large installation in my Brooklyn studio. Although that physical incarnation was consummed by the forces of Brooklyn gentrification in the late 1990s, studies of a larger, multi-poled structure have continued in the form of 3D digital stills and animation. Conditions willing, a new, more organic Hyperhive is poised to return to Earth as a built environment. Having endured a convulsive metaphor shift from a hypercube to a hyperhive, the thing is adapted to host a wide array of species in a hybrid form of dialogue.
Below is a cross-section of The Nervepool's new Hyperhive as it might be used in an inter-species tea ceremony. Fish and plants populate the lower region of the chamber while birds inhabit the upper hive. Humans and other large animals crawl in from the outside as temporary visitors. Every effort must be made to select compatible creatures and gradually phase in the wildlife to assure animal well-being. Although no one expects English or Spanish from these creatures, their vivid presence is intended to radically alter the sense of reality informing human dialogue.
The Society of Animals project is intended to be a living publishing system, turning the Hyperhive into a large operating system. Human dialogue takes place in the context of an unusual tea party augmented by a large, animatronic Zoacode. This multi-pronged entity descends from a portal in the ceiling and serves multiple ceremonial purposes:
. It physically links four guests in relation to the hyperhive's four radiating passages.
. It shudders during a tea ceremony in synch with music.
. The central probe of the Zoacode contains a flexible video borescope for scanning and magnifying the environment.
. Four outer probes gush water at pertinent points in the ceremony.
Animatronic Zoacode descending into the Hyperhive (intermediate OlulO phase). This corresponds to "Nerve Mama" in the fictional Hyperhive (see Ripples in the Hyperhive).
A TEA CEREMONY FOR THE BIONIC AGE
In a typical ceremony, four guests crawl into the hyperhive from four different passages. A large, bulbous Zoacode device descends from the ceiling and two hosts hand the guests a probe stemming from the dangling creature. A fifth probe dips into the pool of water at the center of the hive, linking water, creature, humans and architecture. One or two other hosts climb around the room documenting the event digital video cameras. Two other cameras, imbedded in the set, provide continuous coverage. As the ceremony unfolds, all dialogue and imagery is recorded for future publishing purposes.
After the guests are linked by the Zoacode's four probes, the Zoacode begins to throb. Lights dim, and the central probe is activated. This probe contains a flexible video borescope for scanning and magnifying details of animal and plantlife. Eight millimeters of surface area enlarges to fill a video screen, which appears in the dome of a second creature floating in the pool. The Nervians gently scan the environment and probe the guests' hands, eyes, ears and mouths.
After a few minutes of scanning, the Nervians begin to hum, building up to a harmonic warbling, and then shifting into an intense, rhythmic chant. At this point the Zoacode throbs again and begins to gush water while rising a meter into the air. (Hoses are built into its four outer probes for this purpose). The dripping subsides while the Zoacode ascends into the upper portal. After a few moments of silence a smaller, simpler creature descends. This bladderlike entity features sacs serving hot tea, cream and honey.
TEA, HONEY AND ALIEN THERAPISTS
Tea is served from an array of tubes descending from the tea-creature's sacs and a circuitous dialogue is encouraged by the Nervian hosts who ply the guests with questions about their biological dispositions, their habitats, community and environmental concerns. The Nervian's attend to the guests like alien therapists (as opposed to abductors). They will even take a guest's hand and treat him or her to a playful glide around the hyperhive.
The tea ceremony ends when the bladder creature ascends and the large, central ritual device returns. This device begins to throb again. The Nervian's reconnect the guests with this creature and warble in 5 or 6 short bursts. Water, once again, starts to gush from the device. The Nervian's then guide the guests out of the chamber.
If the guests are somewhat squeamish in the face of such alien procedures, all the better. The purpose of the ceremony is to disengage them from their habitual relationship with the world and to document the unusual dialogue that ensues. A number of different media can be produced from the video, text and sound generated in the ceremony.
A TRANSMEDIA PUBLISHING SYSTEM
The hyperhive provides a living hub for a transmedia publishing event, reversing the trend towards entirely virtual, impersonal sets. The hyperhive’s radiating terraces and poles are intended to focus the “biological information” in the room, providing a complex variety of non-verbal gesturing platforms for human and animal guests – and an equally complex array of camera angles for a camera operator or two.
One section of the hyperhive slides open, allowing air and access. This can be shut during video shoots, suggesting a seamless, forestlike world. Virtual aspects of the hyperhive – such as an animated, 3D rendering of its interior – assist in defining the hyperhive as an entity living simultaneously in physical and mental environments. The hive's electronic media can be thought of as a penumbra around the physical core. The public’s repeated exposure to the hive’s physical center is essential to its biological presence.
Most human gathering systems – whether it's a talk show, lecture, or parliamentary session – excludes immediate evidence of the larger ecosystems we are dependent on. Human guests and officials are invited into these information processing systems, providing only the slimmest of biological "bandwidth." Not surprisingly, dialogue usually centers on human affairs to the exclusion of the larger context in which we live. It is noteworthy that dancing, a system of gathering which flirts with the wilder, outer boundaries of human behaviour, is often restricted.
Perhaps a sense of stability is achieved by shutting out the wilderness, but it comes at a great emotional and informational cost. Contact with the wilderness is an undisputed means by which individuals become enlightened to its depth and relevance. A number of US Senators, for example, did not vote in favor of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge until they were flown out to Alaska to breath in its immense reality. The living “information” hit them more deeply than all the statistics in the world about shrinking wilderness. In contrast to structures which seal off nature from human affairs, The Nervepool's tea ceremony in the Hyperhive is designed to explore the integration of culture, wildlife and technology. It is an attempt to expand the language and biological reach of democratic dialogue.
It has traditionally been the purpose of a tea ceremony to provide a means to slow down and witness the exquisite beauty of nature. The slightest crack in a raku-fired tea cup, for example, is raised to the level of a cosmic event. It is hoped that a similar sense of appreciation for today's wilderness, in all its bionic glory, might emerge in the Hyperhive's tea ceremonies.
– Ebon Fisher
© 2006 Ebon Fisher