We all must be a Brain in a vat (2022) for Nonet and Sound Installation
Performed by Ensemble Radiant 8
The ‘brain in a vat’ is a thought experiment by philosopher Hilary Putnam, an advanced version of Descartes’s demonic hypothesis, in which our senses and knowledge are manipulated by some force majeure, and we simply judge according to that manipulation. It is hypothesized that if the brain is separated from the body and placed in a barrel, and electrical stimulation is injected with a computer to make the brain feel a virtual environment, the brain will continue to think that it is living as a person with a real body.
This hypothesis leads us to question whether we are just brains in a vat responding to stimuli, or whether we are truly living as whole human. It has also been used in many novels and movies. Originally, this hypothesis was a fear concept, ‘What if the reality we live in is all false, and it’s just some mad scientist’s experiment?’
However, on the Internet in Korea these days, this concept has become a meme in the opposite sense. ‘What if my life is real? I’d rather be a brain in a vat.’ When a person is unsatisfied with the life they have lived so far, regrets feeling that it has already been ruined, and wants to give up everything, it has become a funny and sad reversal of hope that my life is a lie and I would be a brain in a vat.
I laughed a lot when I saw this meme, and after the pandemic, I strongly sympathized with this and shouted along with people on the internet that I would rather be a brain in a barrel.
When the whole world was sick, I suffered from emptiness and helplessness that I could not do anything as an artist, and I blamed myself for what I had accomplished for the world so far.
Or some mad scientist must have made me think so with electrical stimulation.
Or I have to believe that some mad scientist made me think that way with electrical stimulation.
Or I have to hope to believe that it made me think that way.