Old Age Desire Sins and Punishment
video, 4min28s, 2021
This project is inspired by my grandmother that I am very close to. As we became physically distanced through the years, I started to feel a sense of alienation and an abstracted impression of her. Her image is a grandmother, not a concrete portrait of this certain woman. It reflects how the East Asian societies usually picture the elderlies – that they are supposed to appear to be kind, gentle, selfless, and caring about the families and better not causing any trouble such as health issues. Senescence is characterized by physiological, pathological, behavioural, and psychosocial changes that can all affect people’s recognition of desire, and it is difficult to disentangle their individual effects. However, the universal definition of “their lack of future” determines their lack of rights to express desire, which seems just naturally disappears as time goes by. The desire for sex, for purchasing, for food, for self-expression would be considered unusual or inappropriate behaviours. The sacrificial image of the old age is determined by the society, and sometimes even the elderlies themselves, that the image always comes first instead of who they are, what their names are, what they like and don’t like, what life they had been living through.
Older individuals are generally erroneously viewed as asexual people who have lost both their interest in sex and their capacity for sexual behaviour. In such a sense, old age becomes a concept that older individuals have partly surpassed the limitation of gender, as well as the limitation of ‘human,’ considering its property of genderless and desireless. It is, in fact, an idealized, deified image that has been both hated and worshipped at the same time. Experiencing the deconstructed edge of physical corruption and mind transcendence, the ‘idealized’ state of the old age is a utopian image of human-cyborg fantasy.
This 3D animation short film Old Age Desire Sins and Punishment investigates the future of old age - the evolution, eternity, and absurdity that questions what makes up our understanding of old age today. The film constitutes an evolution with three stages: from a human body to a statue, to a robot, and finally ended on a punchline: Senescence is evolution.
Starting from my family as a case study, I place the elderly and the female in the same dialogue of dilemma. This project stands from a feminist, more specifically, a feminist posthumanism perspective, within the theoretical framework of Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto.” It calls for a revision of what nature determines and what the society determines, moving away from the universal patriarchal essentialism (from Asian to Western) and toward “the utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender or social roles,” supporting that “Gender might not be global identity after all, even if it has profound historical breadth and depth.” This project is rooted on the concept of cohabitation: between different sciences and forms of culture, between organisms and machines. It enlarges the absurdity to trace - who decides, who accepts, and where it could go - these political questions are embodied in technoculture.