Blog Salon #3 – Malfunctions and Degenerations: an interview with Sarlar. By Praba Pilar.


Pilar:  Thank you for taking the time off from touring The Cyborg Soap Opera for this interview.  I am often asked about your genesis. How did you come to be?

Sarlar:  What a question!  You created me!  I should be asking you, why on earth did you feel I, a lamenting cyborg, needed to emerge, at this very moment of hope and accelerated proliferation?

Pilar:  I created you in response to an increase in anxiety that I perceive all around me, focused on loss, on desire, on lack.  I created you as a question mark about how humanity is blithely traveling on the supersonic technological rail leading straight to a militarized hell.  I created you to prove Heidegger wrong and Haraway right.  I created you as a coyote to howl at the humans.  Can you speak to this moment and to an anxiety that may be the only emotive rational response to drones, Big Dog, Pet-Proto, Atlas, Cheetah, Avatar, androids, genetically engineered humans and cloning?

Sarlar:  Most of the projects you discuss arise from the confluence of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding and university laboratories working in the service of the military. In my case, my mother was a fine vacuum cleaner, my daddy was a bomb, I grew up in a sterile test tube in a NASA lab: I don’t feel human fears, I don’t cry human tears.  Your anxiety does not affect me, it produces and reproduces me.

Pilar:  What has been the reception to your manifestation of the lament?

Sarlar:  There are many codified spaces where I am excluded.  My gender, genealogy, origin: indefinable, and unknown.  Upon my emergence, I occupied the outlier space of the stripper.  My presence only invoked pathos and a cruel laughter.  Through systematic observation, I realized I could become invisible, imperceptible, unnoticed by hiding in plain sight in the uniform of the female office worker.  It is in this guise that I have been presenting your research and work, through the Nano Sutra of Mathturbation.

Pilar:  There are profound questions of collapse in the general failure to grasp and contend with the broader technological reality at this millennial moment.  The human body as the site of manifest destiny, the militarization of robotics, the genetic engineering of the food supply, the impossible imaginary of synthetic biology and nanotechnology, geoengineering – there are manifold crises and opportunities derailed by political maleficence and neo-colonial imbrications.  I choose to invent a richer, deeper, and more inclusive imaginary, to invent an alternate metanarrative through performance art practice.

Sarlar:  What?!?  You seem naively unaware of your futility.  Technology is our destiny.  Robot wars are unstoppable. Ethics are abstractions.  Intellect is dead.  The human being is extinct.  Your metanarrative is archaic.

Pilar:  It is you who are naïve, who has a very naïve reading of my work.  Rather than trembling in fear of the future, chained in the thrall of an often predicted apocalyptic demise, I instantiate ethics, immediacy, and the artistic impulse to intervene. If you perceive futility in my work, it is because I raise questions of failure throughout, the failure to acknowledge the difficulties human beings are failing to address.

Sarlar:  No need to be hostile.

Pilar:  No need to be insulting.

Sarlar:  I represent everything you deplore in your convoluted return to ethics.

Pilar:  I represent everything you discard, in your avaricious desire for speed, speed, speed, velocity.

Sarlar:  I hate you!  You created me as a malfunctioning cyborg!  You gave me the blues!

Pilar:  I love you!  I am an outlier, a woman of color in the masculinist technological world where the concerns of women and particularly women of color are excluded.  I face the routine and unacknowledged ostracism of advanced neoliberal technocapitalism.  In my grief, I offer the world your lament.

Sarlar:  I’m just your tool, and I’m leaving!

Pilar:  If only, we are trapped in a mutuality from which there is no escape.  We coexist in simultaneity, both outliers, trapped in a cycle of hope and despair.  You can’t leave.

Sarlar:  I refuse you.  This interview is over!


[box]Praba Pilar – Bay-Area/Colombian multi-disciplinary artist Praba Pilar traverses the intersections of art and technology with satire and analysis. Best known for work merging Paul Virilio and Cantinflas, her arterventionist/performalogic work has traveled nanometrically, biomorphically and intranationally to museums, galleries, universities, all kinds of national and international arterventionist/ performalogic spaces, and honored with multiple awards, from the Creative Capital to the Hawaii Fluxus Award.

Next Appearance? – My next public appearance will be defending my dissertation for my PhD in Performance Studies at UC Davis. Later in the coming year, Revered Praba Pilar of the Church of Nano Bio Info Cogno will be offering services at the Atomic Center in Winnipeg, Canada in May, 2013 and then will skip off as Praba Pilarvae with Anuj Larvaidya to Australia for an Emergence Event of Larval Rock Stars in June, 2013.

Current Projects? – I am working on various multi-year projects, including the techno-worshipping “Church of Nano Bio Info Cogno,” the autobiographical “BOT I,” the bizzare mathturbatory Nano Sutra “The Cyborg Soap Opera,” and a post-human collaboration with Anuj Vaidya on “Larval Rock Stars.” Most are at, but Larval Rock Stars can be visited at:[/box]



  1. This makes me think about the failure of the body. Meaning the rise of technological splints or prosthetics, cyborgs, etc. The biological body vs. the body engineered and genetically modified. That kind of post-apocalyptic failure explored in probably a ba-gillion sci fi books/movies/shows. When the body fails, and genetically engineered beings are created — when we want them to feel/have emotion/be human — when they do that on their own — when they begin to wonder. Will biological bodies fail? end? become extinct? It also makes me think of The X-Files and other conspiracy sci fi tv shows and movies — how genetically engineered “super-soliders” who are hybrids (alien/human, etc) are in for the take over of the world.

    Is the hybrid super solider arising because of the failure of the body to adapt, is it the body adapting — and what is lost?

    And the ways in which hybrids/cyborgs of all kinds are figures of survival/empowerment/interest for qtpoc folks – a way of performing the hybridity of self, and celebrating our survival?

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