Perfect Art

Works of art created by transapients or archailects

Perfect Art Hand
Image from Keith Wigdor and Bing Image Creator
The Visible Hand; a gigantic but tenuous Perfect Art vacuo-emission sculpture in the star-forming region RCW 36
"The ideal artwork gives the recipients not what they think they should experience or what they want to experience but what they need to experience." — Anradi of Carnes, 8330 AT

Perfect art is art that exploits the potential of transapient intelligence artistically. By its nature it can only be created by entities at least one toposophic level above the intended viewers. The idea is to create an artwork that can understand the viewer, or rather experiencer, so totally that it can provide exactly the experience needed to convey what the artist had intended. The artwork is itself an intelligent agent (albeit usually limited to understanding other beings and presenting experiences).

The most common form of perfect art is the sensory immersion polyhedron, a standard shape employed by many of the traditionalists of the Carnes School: a plain irregular polyhedron, traditionally adorned by two name-signs (one denoting the artist, one denoting the artwork). Experiencers climb into it, and the polyhedron assimilates the mind of the experiencer, producing an experience that can last anything from seconds to days. The nature of the experiences is always different for each viewer, and traditionally polyhedra never allow an individual who has already experienced them to re-experience them.

Many variations exist, extending the art form into myriad directions. In the living perfect artworks created by Hermes Springrain, experiencers are literally swallowed whole by the art and excreted afterward. Free-form art takes place across Jesanu, where the planetary god construes actual events for visitors into perfect art; several other worlds such as Kohl and Bayanty are believed to have similar ambitions but keep them secret. The religious mystery systems in Solarist temples are also often regarded as perfect art.

Due to its nature perfect art is rare and extremely expensive. Among the largest collections are the Perfect Garden on Klarus, the Unerk-Pr!fok at Barboro and the Kakmisyhka Collection of Volatile Enterprise. Access is commonly carefully regulated and surrounded by complex rules and traditions. In some cases the artworks themselves take an active role in selecting experiencers.

Perfect Art Polyhedron
Image from Keith Wigdor
The World-Jewels of Korsa are gemstones created in volcanic environments, which display tailored flaws in the shape of real or fantastical worlds

Perfect art can of course manipulate minds in nearly arbitrary ways, even when just accessing them through the senses (despite the popular horror stories, relatively few reprogramming artworks exist that actually directly change the being experiencing them). It is infinitely harder to explicate the meaning of perfect art than any same-singularity art, and many art theoreticians have spent their existences collecting descriptions of the experiences experienced within the same artwork, trying to combine them into any statement that could describe what the artwork is about. In a few cases a rough consensus exists, such as about < by 354789893 (Mayane collection, Isi-IV, NoCoZo) which is agreed to represent the posthuman regret/relaxation of untaken enhancement poesies, but in most cases the artworks are far beyond description.

The most famous perfect artwork is likely the Stele of Adherent Drops on New Mars. Left behind as Winnings-Sheerblue transcended in 5594 (or possibly being the famed AI), it has a reputation as producing some of the most profoundly unsettling and reinvigorating experiences in known space. A cult has developed regarding experiencing it as a holy sacrament, and many believe that it enables a being to understand and change the links of their destiny.

Beside perfect art created for modosophonts, there also exist higher perfect art intended for hyperturing entities. Especially unique are the universals, which allow even subsingularity beings to experience transcendent aesthetics through the use of temporary gnostic overlays. Only a handful of such artworks are widely known: the Ain Soph Aur Universal, the WDN network in Cyberia, the Greater Hemisphere on Jje-34 and the Amacrine Cloud in Zybal Manta. While most do not leave any lasting memories, the changes in personality and possibly even wisdom are notable.

  • Barboro  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Psi Capricorni, one of first Keterist systems to be established.
  • Bayanty - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Believed to be the site of Free-form Perfect Art created by certain resident hyperturings. However, visitors and tourists are discouraged by the local authorities.
  • Bizarro World  - Text by Michael Miller
    Artificial antimatter planet in deep space.
  • Complete Skies  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Prefect of Helios-Namhadiya; one of the most accessible Solarian prefects, who regularly meets with petitioners. The choice of a genus 3 Chen-Gackstatter-Thayer surface as a body for eir avatar reflects the prefect's dedication to Solarian minimalism.
  • Dragon's Egg  - Text by Darren Ryding
    A "Trojan Horse" virus powerful enough to subvert a minor archailect, occasionally used in the most subtle forms of memetic engineering.
  • Eugenesis - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Literally "well born", a popular name among a few Martian and Jovian Genetekkers and Cislunar Superiors. Following the exposure of AML atrocities on Phobos, the name fell out of favour, since it was discovered that half the priesthood were called Eugenesis. It was partially redeemed during the early First Federation period, as it had been adopted by Eugenesis of Vesta. While a number of disciples of that famous hyperturing call themselves Eugenesis, and it remains a popular honorific among the Genen, the name is otherwise very rarely used.
  • Fata Morgana II  - Text by Mike Miller
    McKendree Cylinder pair in the New Brooklyn system, an Athenaeid Clan Home.
  • Final Cosmic Eating Establishment, The  - Text by Worldtree
    The Final Cosmic Eating Establishment is a cybercosm in the Groombridge 34 system that allows virtual beings uploaded into it to ((taste)) the flavors from a simulation of one possible (though unlikely) end of the universe, following the path of collapse into a "Big Crunch".
  • Isi-IV - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    NoCoZo world, home to the famous Mayane collection, which features some important examples of Perfect Art.
  • Jesanu - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The planetary archai on this world reconfigures actual events for visitors into Free-form Perfect Art
  • Jje-34 - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Location of the Greater Hemisphere, an important example of a transingularity Perfect Art accessible to subsingularity beings
  • Kemshola, Qristan  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    MPA philosopher, fabulist and metacognitivist from Tyron band, Djed, born 4169 AT. Kemshola was born with a high sophotect genome in one of the Tyron extended families. Extensively networked from early childhood, Kemshola became interested in the problems of ontology and emergence that had so far been largely ignored by the practicalist Djed philosophical schools.
  • Klarus  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    61 Ursae Majoris III - former megacorp world, home to many artistic/aesthetic activities. Site of the Perfect Garden, one of the largest collections of Perfect Art.
  • Kohl - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Believed to be the location of Free-form Perfect Art by certain resident hyperturings, but visitors and tourists are discouraged by the local authorities.
  • Paintbox Habitat  - Text by Steve Bowers
    A large orbiting megastructure arranged into a cubic formation, with a well-established artistic tradition
  • Perfect Horror  - Text by John B
    Common modosophont term for a series of events, which in retrospect appear to be transapient attempts at 'perfect art' utilizing baseline societies as the medium. They are usually considered to also be a subset of blight.
  • Perfect Philosomorpher - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A mid-toposophic occupation/hobby/lifestyle, incomprehensible and untranslatable to modosophonts. The term "Perfect Philosomorpher", first used by transapient-watcher Jigoram Cyrom in 8167 AT, refers to what superficially appears to be the incorporation of elements of Perfect Art and Philosomorphism. Although this was later found not to be the case, the term stuck, and is now used even by the Proxavs of "Perfect Philosomorphers" themselves.
  • Potted Planet  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Slang term for a world, terrestrial or otherwise that has been modified by a Power or Archailect to support life, apparently for no other reason than the creator's continued aesthetic satisfaction. Occasionally found in systems that host mainbrain primary computing nodes and tools. Apparently, created for reasons similar to why some ordinary sapient Terragens create and maintain gardens.
  • Quizical  - Text by Darren Ryding
    An eccentric hypersapient performance artist, first encountered on the Metasoft reserve planet Jafalgia in the early 56th century.
  • Rising In Light  - Text by Bill Ernoehazy
    An eccentric SI:2 collector of the arts,
  • Tar Vara Habitats  - Text by James Ramsey; some modifications by Stephen Inniss
    Habitats in the Medius system; one of the Terragen Sphere's better examples of Perfect Art.
  • Volatile Enterprise - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Location of the Kakmisyhka Collection, one of the largest collections of Perfect Art.
Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 20 April 2001.

Additional Information