Mel as Hyperobject


  • Mel Keiser


practice-as-research, arts-based research, visual art, identity, systems theory, distant reading, ficto-criticism, studio practice, doing/thinking, non-philosophy, becoming, experimental literature


Through the words of Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (2013), the adapted practice of distant reading, the lens of current neuroscience, and the flavor of non-philosophy, artist Mel Keiser transmutes a text about object oriented ontology and ecological philosophy into a piece that describes what it is to be an identity becoming.

Author Biography

Mel Keiser

Since 2015, Chicago-based artist Mel Keiser has been working on a multifaceted project titled, The Life and Deaths of The Mels. In evaluating who she’s been over the course of her life, Keiser identified six moments of liminality that resulted in significant self-change and have, arguably, created seven categorically different versions of herself over time: Melissa-Louise-Keiser, Mel(v.1), Mel(v.2), Mel(v.3), Mel(v.4/5), Mel(v.6) and Mel(v.7). In The Life and Deaths of The Mels, Keiser rewrites her personal history as the births and deaths of these different versions of herself—as The Mels. Using installation, performance, and writing, Keiser creates material evidence for these versions of herself, exploring the social and psychological impact of treating herself as a stratified series of distinct selves rather than a single person in fluid development. She uses scientific research methodologies alongside artistic praxes, hybridizing disciplines like personality psychology, evolutionary biology, and quantum physics to invent proof of the existence of these self-versions and to explain how and why these segmented versions of herself exist.


Bargh, John A. and Lawrence E. Williams. 2008. “Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth.” Science 322 (5901): 606–607.

Bravo, Javier A., Paul Forsythe, Marianne V. Chewb, Emily Escaravage, Hélène M. Savignac, Timothy F. Dinan, John Bienenstock, and John F. Cryan. 2014. “Ingestion of Lactobacillus Strain Regulates Emotional Behavior and Central GABA Receptor Expression in a Mouse via the Vagus Nerve.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (38): 16050–16055.

Daddario, Will. 2015. “Doing Life Is That Which We Must Think.” Performance Philosophy 1: 168–174.

Keenan, Julian Paul, Aaron Nelson, Margaret O’Connor, and Alvaro Pascual-Leone. 2001. “Neurology: Self-recognition and the Right Hemisphere.” Nature 409 (6818): 305.

Laruelle, François. 2012. “Non-Philosophy as Heresy.” In François Laruelle, From Decision to Heresy: Experiments in Non-Standard Thought, edited by Robin Mackay, 257–284. Falmouth: Urbanomic/Sequence Press.

Laruelle, François. 2013. Philosophy and Non-Philosophy. Translated by Taylor Adkins. Minneapolis: Univocal.

Libet, Benjamin. 1985. “Unconscious Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious Will in Voluntary Action.” The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8 (4): 529–566.

Moretti, Franco. 2015. Distant Reading. London: Verso.

Morton, Timothy. 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.




How to Cite

“Mel As Hyperobject”. 2018. Performance Philosophy 4 (1): 251-93.





How to Cite

“Mel As Hyperobject”. 2018. Performance Philosophy 4 (1): 251-93.