Updated: Jan 23, 2019
The project “Superhuman” is based on the philosophical systems of Friedrich Nietzsche and representatives of existentialism. In the project, the ideas of a superhuman obtain a visual manifestation.
Soren Kierkegaard is considered the founder of existentialism. He raised the issue that philosophy should address a human and his or her existence, shifting away from universal and abstract questions of being and God. Kierkegaard saw the goal of philosophy in finding “oneself”. Having found one’s true calling, a human becomes capable of “true” existence. Genuine existence means conscious choice, responsibility for one’s action and life beyond social control. Untrue existence is the absence of control and submission to the masses, blind following of trends and fashion craze.
Another representative of existentialism, Karl Jaspers, contended that untrue existence is meaningless, however, owing to one’s limitations, a human does not have a clue about one’s true nature. It can be discovered only upon facing “borderline situations”. Those are moments in life that put a human between life and death, psychological traumas that allow to identify one’s purpose. Karl Jaspers believed that at times like these a human comes in touch with a higher transcendental being. Human’s life is aimed at reaching such a state. Having passed through transcension, a human releases creative energy and approaches the understanding of the highest Absolute. Charging toward the Absolute, a human realizes oneself through “transcendental codes” such as erotica, sex, agreement with oneself and death.
The philosophy of “life” by Friedrich Nietzsche had an influence on existentialism. This doctrine construes human’s life as primary reality that creates all others. According to Nietzsche, the divine reality or the world of ideas is secondary and is shaped by life. Not God, but “an acting human” is in the centre of the philosophy of life. Hence, the life philosophy describes the world, resting upon a human, his or her characteristics and value orientations.
The project “Superhuman” visualizes terms and symbols connected with Nietzsche’s philosophy of life: superhuman, fashion, foresight, struggle and three stages of life (camel, lion, and human). These terms are constituent elements of an ideal human whose will shapes the surrounding world.
The cognition of the world is carried out through irrational methods. Intuition and foresight give a chance to learn the essence of life, to feel its chaos. Therefore, art, poetry and music, not logic or science, are the means to understanding life.
In the project, the image of the fortune-teller who appears in video 1 serves as a symbol of hidden power that enables to see the future. This woman performs a magical ritual to learn about the future. This divination symbolizes contact with the otherworld, a special connection that is available only to strong personalities. Nietzsche called this connection a “super-consciousness”. In the moments of intense experiences or special practices, the access to understanding the nature of the world is revealed. A human can use this knowledge to carry out great deeds changing the human culture and the world’s fate.
Culture is a kind of activity for other people, for the masses incapable of creating, but willing to сomply with fashion which is formed under the influence of dominant trends. The trends are created by strong personalities who broadcast them through art. Art acts as a communication channel for a strong human, through which new ideas and revelations are conveyed.
Videos 2, 3 and 4 depict a fashion show which is the form of communication between masses and an artist. An artist uncovers a new way to observe routine, turning banality (clothes) into high art. In the video, models walking on the catwalk are the images of ideas that the creator transmits to the masses. In this strive to eradicate triviality and renovate the world, a strong personality is getting closer to the image of superhuman.
A superhuman is free from dogma and conventions of society. Superhuman rises above them. He or she does not submit to culture, but creates it. His or her will allows to create something new, while others merely destroy or copy.
Video 5 illustrates characters from fairy-tales and legends who managed to overcome physical limitations of a body and rise above circumstances. Gulliver, Aladdin and other characters symbolize a superhuman overcoming the restrictions of society and setting their own rules that hereafter will be followed by others. The allusion to folk literature shows how Nietzsche explained the ideas of his philosophy of a superhuman through the legend about Zarathustra.
A superhuman is driven by the inner power which Nietzsche called the will to power. If there is not will to power, a human degenerates. This idea is embodied in two videos (6 and 7) that show a parade. The triumph of winners marching down the street illustrates a superhuman inner victory over weaknesses and influence of the surrounding world. For Nietzsche, growth and development are the forms of struggle. They are impossible, if the humanity is not on the way towards something better, more powerful and more adaptable. Friedrich Nietzsche thought that a superhuman is an ideal of an individual that stems the tide of public opinion. Such personality outstrips society, creating a magnificent high culture.
Nietzsche described the way personality can reach a superhuman state through three stages: a camel, a lion and a child. From birth, every human is a camel. He or she accumulates knowledge during life span, however does not oppose society. Tired from its obedience, a camel turns into a lion. A lion defies dogma and social foundations, destroys the past and says no to everything. Having reached a critical point, a lion becomes a child. A child dwells neither on the past nor on the future. He or she does not destroy but builds. A child embraces the experience of the past, but he or she is not enchained by the rules and creates new ones.
The project captures the this symbolical spiritual journey, showing the three steps of development in video 8. This video demonstrates the images of a child, a lion and a camel. However, it places them in one visual space. It symbolizes the unity of the three aspects of a human personality inside a superhuman who chooses a behavioural model allowing to reach the final goal.
Thus, Nietzsche marks three features of a superhuman that are shown in the video:
1) A superhuman rises above masses and crowds. Nietzsche describes it as “Life is a fountain of joy, but where the rabble also gather to drink, all wells are poisoned”
2) A superhuman human exists beyond moral, creating his or her own rules. The individual appears as an ethical centre and decides for him or herself what is good and what is evil.
3) A superhuman gets over him or herself and recreates his or her personality to continually grow and become better.
The idea of a superhuman is crucial for a human’s development, for a human does not need a superior version of the current state, but requires a transition to a totally new one. In this state he or she will be able to receive answers to the questions about what life is given for, and what the purpose of intelligent life is what the Cosmos needs a human for.
A superhuman is fully opened and realized nature of a human, a new type of a human that is able to build a new type of relations with the world, a new level of interaction on the basis of knowledge about one self and the surroundings. Thus, a new human is capable of creating him or herself as well as the relations with the surroundings. Through his or her complete nature, a superhuman joins together tangible and intangible, using these sources to fortification of creative power and self-development.