Beyond My Body • Ambie Abaño

Aug 11 to Sep 5, 2016 • Tall Gallery

Appending “beyond” to the idea of the body inevitably brings to the fore an age-old dualism that has played out in philosophical, medical, and religious discourses as well as literary and artistic representations: we are comprised of the tangible and the immaterial, the body being the physical vessel of the soul, the corporeal and the incorporeal in one entity. Inextricable to this dualism is a host of other entailments, but underlying it is the basic contrast that as fact, the body deteriorates while the soul that animates it – as belief – is immanent. In other words, in this set-up, the conjoining of the body and spirit results in life, and its rupture – death.

But is this proposition really as neat as it seems?

Science has since elaborated that what constitutes life is the result of biochemical and electrical activity or system that is organic – capable of growth, reproduction, change, functional and self-sustaining activity such as homeostasis, adaptation, and eventually senescence, then death. The higher the organism, the more complex the processes that control life, including the capacity for thought, rationalization, self-reflection, expression, sentience or consciousness; qualities that define humans and much of what is considered today as the ultimate in computer science or robotics.

It has yet to be fully resolved though why life, if it can be originated or reduced to this biochemical, electrical, or even thermodynamic system, cannot be made to be active again, once it ceases. Scientifically and normatively speaking, a body that is practically dead simply cannot be brought back to life (at least not yet). And what of thought, self-reflection, sentience, and consciousness ? Do they die with the body? Yes or no, can this actually be verified? If there is a ghost in the machine, what happens to it when the machine is decommissioned? Without resorting to religious doctrine for answers, how or can we know if there is an afterlife?

(excerpt from exhibition catalogue essay A Ghost of A Chance by Leo Abaya)