[-empyre-] contexts /diffusions of "bio-art"

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Sep 6 21:53:13 EST 2013

dear all:

thanks to all the posts introducing the subject, which is most interesting but it's not always easy to follow the stakes
that are wielded, as Adam warns; I wanted to ask how the term "populations" is meant to be
understood in an art world or exhibition or institutional context? Perhaps here I was not able to follow Robert
Mitchell's post as I am not as familiar with his theory  (nor do I believe Esposito's writings are so well known, well i've only read small tiny
bits of it - which of his writings are refered to, is it the BIOS book?), I guess I am asking about the connections we can draw, following Robert,
between "bio art" (?) and particular kinds of biopolitics. 

the utility of thinking bioart in terms of biopolitics,
biopolitics in terms of populations, and populations in terms of
difference and variation. >>

It would be interesting to me if others joined in and perhaps responded to the works mentioned (Kac, for example, his
bunny experiment, or Genesis) and the exhibition contexts specifically...

>>[Robert schreibt]
Thus, _Genesis_ uses the art gallery to link a genetically-engineered population of _E. coli_ to both a relatively small population of humans who visit the art gallery and to a
much larger population of humans who, by means of the internet, can alter
the environment of the _E. coli_ by clicking, or not clicking, on an
internet button. As a consequence, even for someone visiting the gallery,
the experience of _Genesis_ depends not simply on the visitor's belief
that he or she is in the presence of a population of living, transgenic
_E. coli_, but also on one's awareness that the specific makeup of this
population of _E. coli_ is partially dependent upon the (unpredictable)
decisions of a large population of people who were not in the gallery, but
linked to it through a website.

After all, here a reference to art gallery, in a debate on "bioart", perhaps would want to look also at the contexts
that were tested, not only by art galleries but probably other institutions (Wellcome Trust) or science or natural history museums,
in regard to this so-called emerging sci-art genre (CATALYST in London also supported it;  what kind of exhibitions were these,
and what was being promoted?  how were some of experiments explained to the audiences/populations? how was "interactivity"
incited and propagated, and to what effect?

mention has been made to Tissue Culture (their curious "Victimless Leather "),
and one of more eccentric exhibition catalogue that once arrived at my doorstep was of a show in Russia called
"Evolution Haute Couture" [Contemporary Art in the Post -Biological Age Exhibition, 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Russia, 2008]
and suddenly we were in fashion contexts? or analogies of such? and in the "post-biological age" already, how quick things turn, amazing.

Then again, I felt that critics had a point when they suggested Kac trivialized science with "GFP Bunny",  I'd add he also trivialized art
or opened a debate on ethics that went really nowhere, am I right?  or this is how i can read Adam Zaretsky's cautioning letter?
I did not understand the reference to fascism, but am sensing it is a serious ethical/political concern similar to folks who responded to
me last week when I posted the news of the "cerebral organoids" (grown at Vienna Institute for Molecular Biotechnology) on Netbehavior.
The cerebral organoids research is science, not bioart, but the similar idea of printing out organs (organ replacements), in the future, appealed to Stelarc when I last
heard him address his own process for "growing"/implanting a third ear.

with regards
Johannes Birringer


[Adam Z schreibt]

The use of biomedia for
aesthetic projection is the ethico-political stake we wield. The blood on
the hands is part of the sacrificial rite, neh? That being sort of put out
there bare, I am more interested in the debate being started in terms of the
potentials for positive declension in the moulding of populations.

I have to say that optimism in biopolitics, even in terms of techno-breeding
for novel feelings, is not a total ruse. A trajectory from Charles Fourier,
to Willhelm Reich, to Buckmister Fuller, not to mention the Bronx cheer of
Charles Fort, trace the potential for a river of amorous flows. But can we
really limit the emphasis on the work of the negative in Foulcault to that
of a gore hound, netcasting for yet another Gilles de Rais? We have to
remember that philosophy is caught up in the industrial confessionary. We
may be parrahesiac cheerleaders, spreading liturgy for liturgy¹s sake, but
the toying with fascism is just an armchair away from the radiation's leak.
Mayr's migrating populations shower us with difference, but population
genetics is being marketed as a post race identity politics for those in
need of a new origin story from which to promulgate neo-superiorities .....

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