Alina Nazmeeva is a researcher, architect and artist investigating the relationships between cities and digital games, interfaces and publics, CGI and politics. Alina holds a Master of Science in Urbanism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a fellow of the New Normal programme at the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design (2017). Currently she is a research associate at the future urban collectives lab at MIT where she works on designing spaces and platforms or new forms of collectivity, and a research analyst at the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab where she focuses her research on understanding the economy and design of virtual worlds and online games. Her writing has been published in PLAT, Media-N and CARTHA Magazine.
Project Description from the Program director Benjamin Bratton:
The value of Science fiction is less in prediction than how it says things about the present that we could otherwise not easily articulate.It also allows us to tell stories about things or events or processes without having to be for or against them. That ambivalence in the face of uncertainty serves well. Sometimes Science Fiction, Political Theology and actual Science make for strangely comfortable bedfellows. Such threesomes may be based on just enough understanding of new technologies to inspire the imagination, but not enough to let the design constraints of reality shape the outcomes.
Cosmism is among the most compelling examples of this tension, representing the Russian observance of Traditionalist Futurism and Futurist Traditionalism. Its roots are in the late 19th century speculations of Moscow librarian, Nikolai Fyodorov, but it branched widely, from the Soviet space program to contemporary Transhumanism.
A core tenet of Fyodorov’s version held that the true “common task” is to conquer death itself, to resurrect previous generations, and to travel into and occupy the whole universe. That is, the God of Russian Orthodox would have it that we literally live forever and even resurrect the dead. Being that the earth is finite, for such a program to be successful would also require colonization of other planets. And so you have it.
(Lysenkoism was one attempt to maneuver around the implications of Darwinian genetics, and in this way Cosmism is another. There is a deeply Creationist logic at the heart of Cosmism, and perhaps Transhumanism as well. Ultimately it is not only living persons who would be resurrected, but all plants and animals, droplets of sperm, etc. But being that each of us is already made out of the same chemical elements that once comprised previous life forms —literally the same carbon and hydrogen atoms in a different order— from what matter would the resurrected be made? The same stuff cannot compose two bodies at once, and we are already made of past life —not past lives. If anything that dies on the zero sum planet comes back to life, then what ensues is generalized zombieism —and so the imperative to settle the universe instead.)
Today we have other ways of trying to defeat death with science and ritual. Among these is the quantified self movement. This self-tracking discipline can give a more objective view on your own habits, but it can also give another distorted mirror image that convinces you of your own individuality a bit too much.
Common Task is a film, a website and a hypothetical conspiracy that suggests a Neocosmism for near-future Moscow, one for which data quantification is not only an individual ritual, but also a path of communion with the whole of society, species, universe (at least the Russian version of these).The aggregation of data takes physical form in diamonds that in turn accumulate into a crystalline shell covering the planet. Once it is complete, an as yet unknown threshold will have been broken. Here the afterlife is a simulation, and so simulation —in the hard traces of data- is the afterlife.