In the seven weeks leading up to this exhibition our relationship with time has never felt more confused, our relationship to space has never been more blurred, and the idea of the future has never appeared so trendy. It was as if the scrap metal recycler on the outskirts of Cebu city was from a post industrial future while the empty sidewalks of the IT business parks were from a dystopian capitalist vision. This despite the face that both spaces are just several years old while the exist simultaneously in a city that is over 400 years old, on an island that is several thousand years old.
Welcome to SARI SUKI 2050, a site specific design installation that projects the Filipino Sari Sari store 35 years into the future. Sari Sari stores are responsible for nearly 40% of all retail sales in the Philippines, with each store serving at least 20 families. We saw the Sari Sari store as something to celebrate in this exhibition as it binds the local economy to a social space and integrates into the street culture of the urban fabric.
By referencing the familiar Sari structure, VSOON rethinks convenience store items to illustrate concepts and imagine their future utility. From Canned Crickets and TrueFood that address new food proteins to Augmented Reality Contacts and NanobotCream that reference new technologies to Canned Air and Vintage water that speak to climate displacement, SARI SUKI 2050 proposes a range of possible futures.
The white noise of rain shrouded the bullet train on the way towards the north of Cebu, Bogo Station, as a smudge of green ran across the windows while a muffled K-Pop track leaked out of someone earpiece a couple of seats ahead. I could feel a thin film of cold sweat stuck to my skin, barely drying in the air conditioned cabin. I peeked my head out into the aisle only to see a bionic KTX (Korean Train Express) sales bot approaching. I was desperate for a TrueFood capsule to ensure I would have enough energy for the four hour hike into the borderlands. I had to save the rest of my bitCredits for the treatment. I didn’t expect my condition to accelerate so quickly; I had to leave work in the middle of a sequence protocol, I couldn’t even submit a formal leave request through my AR Lenses. I had to disconnect from The Cloud ASAP and leave my wearables in my Faraday Sack. As long as my vitals remained normal the Faraday Sack would send out micro data spurts, fooling the server into thinking I was still at the workplace— just enough data to stall geo-triangulation. If my condition becomes known, everything I’ve done to get myself to this point would be for nothing. How could I be so stupid, so insecure about my output?
I need to get to one of the last Sari-Sari stores left on the island, fast. The PFU (Philippine Federalist Union) has been vigilant in cracking-down on the Sari-Sari stores. They said they were a threat ASEAN economic integration because they sold illegal products. The few Sari-Sari stores that are left are mostly crowded with local or homemade goods, things that couldn’t be tracked, items that served the community rather than the corporation. The only space left for them was in the borderlands, off the central spectrum grid, away from the Turing cops, the tracking, the surveillance and away from the heavy Cloud that hung above us. My only hope from keeping my condition at bay were the unregistered Nanobot Injections.
After finishing a sequence protocol at work one night, I decided to restructure some of my genome, specifically splicing a duplicate of one my RNA molecules that is responsible for producing more neurons in my brain. Recently, work has become way too competitive and the hiring initiative —despite the national law against genetic discrimination— drew more designer humans rather than natural borns like myself. I guess I was a generation that was currently being phased out by better humans. When I redeployed the RNA molecule using a nanobot delivery which previous tests prove to have a 99.9% success rate, I noticed that my procedure must’ve been the 0.01%; something started to act up. My anabolic rates shot up and my vital stats started reporting tissue deterioration. My body was eating itself. I could have easily submitted myself to the meds but they would have found out that I had edited myself, officially changing my species to a Transhumanist. If they found out, my synthetic engineering job would be immediately taken away. Illegal edits are not permitted as there is an entirely different system that I will have to subscribe to being a Transhumanist or an ‘Edit’.
Untraceable treatments were illegal across ASEAN but there were those who were daring enough to leak an assortment of untraceable nano treatments into the free market. Nanopharmacists that staunchly disagreed with current neoliberal power structures that dominated ASEAN and the PFU.
Rory greeted me with a smile as I stepped under the awning and let my skin absorb any excess water in my body and clothes. I had programmed my Nanocream to accelerate my skin’s moisture intake so I wouldn’t need to drink any water during this rainy hike.
An open can of crickets greeted me as I walked deeper into the structure. Nigerian style with extra spicy curry sauce, a Cebuano favorite. Rory emerged from the back of the store with a Nanobot Injection Kit. I took my bitCredit stick off my keychain and tapped it against his. Only 0.00000239 bit credits left, just enough to buy a couple of NeusFeed articles and a 3 minute stream on FAUXmedia.
Rory programmed the nanobots for intensive tissue repair and stemcell activation. As the syringe broke into my skin I could feel the nanobots flood into my bloodstream. A wash of relief broke across my face as I knew my identity as a Transhumanist was protected, my synthetic engineering job safe, and I was able to sustain a 185% cognition overclock.
I need to get to one of the last unregulated Sari-Sari stores left on the island, fast. In order to combat trans national convenience stores and hypermarkets, Sari-Sari stores banded together to create regional unions in an effort to retain commerce and wealth locally. SSU, the Sari-Sari Union, generated different barangay chapters however with the unionization also came increased regulation, tracking and monitoring of goods sold. The strategy of the SSU had been to utilize their national network of stores to optimize consumer patterns in order to maintain market presence against transnational convenience store and hypermarket behemoths. Unbeknownst to them they had also become that same behemoth with a slightly more social-economic slant. Unregulated stores in truth were not a real threat, nor did they sell anything illicit. Their products weren’t compliant with tracking and trade regulations nor did they care they were. Unregulated stores or Sari Suki’s all came with their own flavors, some specialized in nano pharmaceuticals, others synthetic bio processes, bio/digital and cybernetic systems, others were as simple as selling natural organic seed strains that were highly illegal due to industrial farming corporations. The PFU (Philippine Federalist Union) has been vigilant in cracking-down on unregulated Sari-Sari stores. They said they were a threat ASEAN economic integration because they sold illegal products. The few Sari-Sari stores that are left are mostly crowded with local or homemade goods, things that couldn’t be tracked, items that served the community rather than the corporation. The only space left for them was in the borderlands, off the central spectrum grid, away from the Turing cops, the tracking, the surveillance and away from the heavy Cloud that hung above us. My only hope from keeping my condition at bay were the unregistered Nanobot Injections.
John Rey Sanchez
Workers & Artisans
THANK YOUAnnie Chen
Pia Marie Mercado
Dimples de Guzman
856 G GALLERY