Evolution of a New Trinary

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Dec 10, 2013 (3 years and 6 months ago)


Evolution of a New Trinary

Human beings have, in the effort to integrate nature into culture, defined the world according to
binary and trinary structures. As we enter the 21

century, I propose that humans have surpassed
the binary structures we creat
ed as a result of the industrial revolution. We have moved into a
new complex form of trinary structure of a biotech era. The nature of this new trinary world has
evolved beyond the previous trinaries, such as the widely accepted

notion of mind, body and
soul, or the trinity of Christianity. My definition of the “new trinary” is a
symbiosis of humans/nature, and technology in a completely integrated relationship that cannot
be disentangled. I believe that the evolution of new trinary structures creates a m
ore efficient
balance of conceptual and material resources than previous arrangements.

At the end of the 20

and beginning of the 21

centuries the main concerns have been and
continue to be medical breakthroughs and efficiency of storing/transferring
data more quickly. Our
medical goals are to overcome the limitations of the organic verses synthetic boundaries and the
steps to the reproduction of the human body and its organs. At the same time socio
developments affect not only the way we adv
ance but also how we utilize technology. For example,
concern for security and safety is rapidly growing, digital imaging and profiling is becoming part of
our daily routine. The introduction of full
scale body scanning as a public safety measure will affe
our aesthetic expectations not only for the objects surrounding us but also for the exterior and
interior of our technohuman hybrid body.

To advance from this binary and utopist state, research has to evolve from science as well as from
art. It is cru
cial once again to engage artists into the dialogue not just theoretically but in practice as
well. Artists do not have to maneuver between the strict ethical guidelines of science, so this
freedom of imagination opens up endless new possibilities which ca
n then create a dialogue with
science. The work of artist Eduardo Katz, creating a genetically engineered rabbit that glows in the
dark, or Stellarc’s interactive Cyborgs, or the infamous art cooperative group the Critical Art
Ensemble were part of this ea
rly investigation. To demonstrate current opposites of the artist’s point
of view I will later briefly examine the works of artist David Altmejd and Damian Hirst.

In the pre
human time of the natural world, nature was its own self
contained, unmediated,
whole. As humans entered nature, their initial condition of unconscious conceptual perception needed
to understand structure and balance. This was our genetic map to our primal notion of “existing within”

I believe that it was implicitly

understood that balance was maintained by an undefined trinary basic
structure. This was not a religious but a natural human instinct. In order to dominate Nature’s
regenerative capacity, a perceived evolutionary hindrance to human progress, humans impose
d binary
and trinary structures beyond the given binaries of nature. This advancement was most interesting
when humans separated from other animals. It elevated us from “being within” nature to “ruling upon” it.
Soon thereafter spirituality and thinking ca
me to have equal importance with our body.

This structure could satisfy early humans, but human ambition toward progress is an endemic
phenomenon. Monotheistic culture was an important step, but it was only an intermediary between two
strong trinary stru
ctures. It did not comply with the complex human need of trinary harmony. Founders
of Early Christianity felt this and came to understand that without a trinary concept monotheism would
not be able to achieve grand scale success. Christianity was therefore

strengthened by reintroduction of
a trinary concept that consisted of God the Father, Christ representing the people as the son or a
centralized dead author, and the notion of the soul as “holy spirit,” or the “ideal soul.” This blended and
released autho
rship of the Author
God to the reader best articulated in Barthes’, “From Work to Text”;

We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ’theological’ meaning (the
message of the Author
God) but a multi dimensional space in which a vari
ety of writings, none
of them original, blend and clash.

(Barthes in Harrison and Wood 2000 965

This trinary structure may well be the strongest entity so far. At the same time it alienated a great
portion of the population because it does not enco
mpass the entire global community. It was inevitable
that after almost two thousand years of Christianity man would overcome the burdens of religious

The second part of the 19

century began a new era that lead to a whole new belief system in t
he wake
of the industrial revolution. Fear of the Church lifted to a large degree, and the institution lost its initial
power, though not its manpower, to secularization. Human needs shifted from dogmas to the
conveniences of modern life. Aspects of this n
ew life style, including easy and quick transportation,
electricity, and security for each individual, became the primary interests of urban human beings. The
binary section of the father and son (mind and body) fell into the hands of the government, priva
entities, and institutions of public education, instead of being enclosed within the Church.

By the 1940s, renowned physicist John Von Neumann’s principals for basic computing greatly
influenced the binary ideologies of the second part of the twentieth


application of the binary system

the computer should operate fully electronically,

use of a central processing unit and an arithmetical unit,

program controlling and data storage


The transition period of the late 20
ntury seems to suggest the most promising vision for the
continuum of long
term advancement. Because of the magnitude of technological innovations, this
period has been credited with perhaps more relevance than it deserves in terms of future existence, but

it is only part of a larger journey. Fast paced advancement of human innovations and the introduction
of synthetic materials depleted human resources sooner than expected. Hence, the need to reintegrate
nature’s capacities with technology has become inev

As an example

of the above mentioned

necessity, the layering structure created by a Photoshop
file’s “binary constructed image” is evidently becoming inadequate. We have to bypass the
historical idea of foreground and background or other greatly
favored opposites of the binary. Need
for a more stable structure has surpassed current human technological capacities. Nanochips with
circuits using molecules is an example of a

much more sufficient

binary method

Writers like Homi K. Bhabha and Mar
shal McLuhan insist that technology and nature feed into each
other, and that the binary can no longer contain itself.

These in
between spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood
singular or

that initiate new signs of id
entity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and
contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.
(Bhabha in Harrison and Wood
2003 1110

It has become clear that the center of attention is not the human body anymore but the fusio
n and
investigation of possible basic alterations in the organic and the non

Artificial heart and lungs from the movie ‘Bicentennial man’.

Since the Second World War’s “rejection” of the past and traditional has become a favored
tual notion, not only in art, as in Duchamp’s rejection of the original, but in other aspects of
society as well. An example would be activism against the imbedded binaries of social behaviors
toward race and gender. Binary structures maintained a false ut
opian idea that humans are in
control of nature, which was reinforced by the feeling of power over technology.

Postmodernism is a natural byproduct of the modern age,which I believe has been a philosophically
and socially strong period, bringing self
exive dialogue into the

mainstream. However, architecture and design from this period have remained limited in binary
frameworks. Even with these discrepancies, the main intention of postmodernism was to locate and
dismantle embedded binary notions. Renee

Green uses architecture as an example to demonstrate
the binaries created and used by postmodern architecture.

I used architecture literally as a reference, using the attic, the boiler room, and the stairwell
to make associations between certain binary
divisions such as higher and lower and
heaven and hell. The stairwell become a liminal space, a pathway between the upper and
the lower areas, each of which was annotated with plaques referring to blackness and

(Green in Bhaba in Harrison

and Wood 2003 1112)

Bloch talks about this belief in
The Meaning of Utopias

The limitation of the utopian theme must eventually cease, . . . It is not only there is (or
….be) no tallying with mere humbug in daydreaming, or with: fairy tales” in the
sense, but that even the social utopias themselves though admittedly they form the main
stream of all utopian books) function only in the midst of other, specific utopian areas, with
the reference to human culture as a whole

indeed to Nature in
dependent of men.
(Bloch in
Marxism and Art 1973 578)

Bhabha also address this in terms of a cultural hybridism:

This interstitial passage between fixed identifications opens up the possibility of a cultural
hybridity that entertains difference withou
t an assumed or imposed hierarchy: I always went
back and fourth between racial designations and designations of physics or other symbolic
designations. All thee things blur in some way……To develop a genealogy of the way
colours and noncolours is interesti
ng to me.
(Bhabha, 1949, 1112)

Recently there has been a revival of interest in the non
binary, the so
called multiple valued logic in
computing. The interest is due to the fact that the increase of logic density can provide additional
processed informa
tion through each connection.

With the reintroduction of organic particles to the binary system, a new trinary mechanism is
created. In mathematics this system is called ternary arithmetic that gives multiple options (
1, 0, 1).
In the new trinary this co
nstruct would represent a similar but more conceptual formula. (0) and (1)
are separate entities but both represent a binary element of technology and (

1) would translate as
the natural or organic component.

It follows automatically based on historical
evidence that artists not only adopt contemporary
scientific concepts but also reenact future developments. For example, Leonardo DaVinci stated
after his anatomical researches and experiments that ‘


man but man is a machine so it
can be copied

a) Diagram of the Spine b) Rear view of a skeleton

Leonardo Leonardo

We may be able to copy ourselves, but these copies will be androids made of organic and non
organic materials.

hand of an android from the movie ‘Bicentennial Man’.

Let’s say we create a material called Irobone
P. This material consists of an organometallic
compound associated with the carbon nanotubes, human bone tissue and some form of
polystyrene. The result w
ould be exceptional not only for the hybrids or androids but also for all
types of medical purposes as suggested in the film “The Bicentennial Man.”

The art works of David Altmejd show a valid passage into the trinary investigation. We get the
feeling of

the synthetic and organic fusion of a hybrid in
between stage. Although they both can co
exist separately as well, their fused state becomes more complex and fascinating. This ambiguous
system is intuitive and not defined. It becomes an abstract organism
created by the combination of
organic creatures and synthetic objects and particles. Meaning and symbols turn into the energy
that creates the tension of an undefined in
between hybrid state.

David Altmejd, The Builders 2005

In contrast, artist Dam
ian Hirst is still involved in the postmodern notion of presentation of an object
as a spectacle. The binary between death and morality is one of Hirst’s main interests. He is stating
factual characteristics from society and nature, but it does not initiat
e a new terrain beyond a well
defined aesthetically pleasing space. There is no transformation emerging from signifier to signified.
It imposes the historical hierarchy of separation between materials and binary non

‘The Physical Impossibility of Death “The Elusive Truth,” (2005)

in the Mind of Someone Living’ (1991)

In a recent interview, Stephen Hawking, the noted physicist, stated that if humans do not
concentrate on
improving themselves through genetic manipulation machines could take over.
Hawking notes that since computers effectively double their capacity every 18 months, there is a
very goodpossibility that computers will develop their own intelligence. To combat
this possibility,
Hawking promotes the idea of increasing the complexity of human DNA.

Superbly complex DNA

Normal human DNA

As well, he suggests the development of interfaces that would allow the direct connection of a
an brain to a computer/artificial brain. This would enable the computer brain to work for us as
an extension of ourselves, rather than as a separate entity. A problem arises, though, if the
computer starts to control us instead the brain controlling the co
mputer. It will be inevitable that we
will end up with a computer based on organic materials built into our brain, thus creating a hybrid of
each individual.

This transparency will lead us to the next stage of this trinary evolution. Our future is not on
ly full of
realizable utopias but undetectable artificial particles merging and

blending in with nature. The question is, will technohumans be again “within nature” as a different
kind of species by this integration of the biological? Will art be separate

from science? It has
become clear we are not able to “rule upon” nature after all. The cycle of evolution has no origin but
there is a motion toward our infinite ideas that creates parallel points of shifted origins.


Solomon, Maynard Marxi
sm and Art, Knopf, 1973

Harrison, Charles and Paul Wood, eds.
Art in Theory, 1900
2000: An anthology of Changing
. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

Barthes, Roland, Mythologies, 1957, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972

Zsuzsanna Tószegi Ph.D.



(accessed 12/04/2005)

Dorothy Nelkin and Susan Lindee


Randy Gladman

C International
Contemporary Art, No. 82, Summer 2004 (
accessed 12/04/2005)



accessed in 12/04/2005