Nicole Rayburn, Porcus Terato-Consumptus, 3:38, 2011
Porcus Terato-Consumptus presents a human-pig entity to gesture towards the new configurations of bodies emerging from the current bio-technologically driven environment and to question the boundaries segregating the monstrous and the ‘natural’.
In the video, the scar you see is real. The transference of genetic material between bodies of different orders using bio-science is real. The hybrid beast as a taxonomic aberration – an entity signifying boundary transgression between species – is an accepted representation of the monstrous. Yet this trans-species entity, which has traditionally both delineated and transgressed the boundary between the other and the same, is now of genetically manufactured origins and therefore occupies a more complex societal position. The human-pig entity presented in the video is not a hybrid entity – part human and part pig – but is rather a completely new type of genetically engineered body unto its own and must be recognized as such. It is not a transgressor of boundaries between pre-defined categories of human and animal, but is rather a new configuration of body, and new terms of relating to such an entity must be established.
The human-pig entity is consuming ham – a seeming transgression of a societal taboo against the consumption of the flesh of one’s own species – yet this action is fore fronted to emphasize the massive and continual shifting nature of taxonomic boundaries. As the figure presented is not reducible to its constituent parts of human and animal, the action it is engaging in is neither cannibalistic nor a societal taboo. The bodies emerging from our current bio-technological manipulations are new configurations of bodies and they must not be defined under previous social and categorical distinctions. Rather than further progressing an anthropocentrically hierarchical system, we must instead focus on recognizing difference, not as a pejorative term, but as a premise for establishing new systems of relations.
Porcus Terato-Consumptus seeks to present a more affirmative presentation of the body of ‘the other’ in order to point out the unquestioned visual tropes of horror bound to physical differences and the ill reception of the ‘different’ body in the broader community. The structure of the video, although referential to the horror film genre, denies the narrative linearity of a typical filmic formula. Porcus Terato-Consumptus employs several cinematic horror tropes– black and white film, the full moon as a signifier of bodily transformation, flash cuts, and orchestral music (directly referencing Alien)- but denies their fruition in the form of narrative structures playing out a simple dichotomy of monstrous evil versus heroic human. The building tension and the anticipation of a display of horror are disrupted through denial of the expected violent behaviour of the monstrous character. The final closure of the figure’s eyes suggests acceptance rather than monstrous violence and demands the re-consideration of the definitions and underlying hierarchies articulating the monstrous and the normal.
In the video, the amorphous boundary between entities is emphasized to gesture towards the contemporary practices surrounding genetic manipulation and trans-species operations and to position the presented beast as no longer a symbol of mutation and monstrosity, but of inter-relationality. The video is intended not necessarily to present a critique of the occurrence of these practices, but rather (as they are occurring) to point out the continually mutatious nature defining what constitutes boundary and boundary transgression between human and non-human, and therefore what is deemed natural or unnatural, monstrous or other. We are a society in the midst of genetic experimentations, and therefore Porcus Terato-Consumptus suggests no concluding propositions – it only gestures towards the fact that the definitions and compositions surrounding organic entities are changing, and therefore so must the dialogue.
Screenings & Online:
2012 Katalog: Gemini.Online Publication by Central Canadian Center for Performance. Issue 7. Curated by Andrew Harwood
2012 Tête-à-Tête Media Talks, Struts Gallery, Sackville, NB. Curated by Jessica MacCormack
Nicole Rayburn 2016