[-empyre-] Week 3: Thanks to Kathy and Lindsay and Welcome Soyu, Paul and Yiyun

Vanouse, Paul vanouse at buffalo.edu
Sat Feb 25 13:05:03 AEDT 2017

Hi Empyre group,
Thanks Renate for inviting and Kathy for prodding me to write and to ask a couple questions;-)

So, I suppose this would be a good place to mention/discuss my main recent project this year, the Coalesce Center for Biological Art.  The Center was initiated as a component of the Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome at the University at Buffalo. Our mandate is to help address the grand challenge to our social and ethical tools by recent advances in the biotechnology; complementing UB’s expertise in the life sciences by addressing questions and issues vital to public understanding and participation, but beyond the analytical constraints of most disciplines.

Coalesce has been in the works for a few years, but this is the first year fully operational in all aspects.  We now teach interdisciplinary courses and workshops with biological media, offer graduate assistantships and undergraduate internships, support faculty research, and offer visiting artist residencies.  This year’s residents were selected after a call for proposals in the summer 2016, and have been the center’s guiding spark: Nicole Clouston (CA), Heather Dewey-Hagborg (US), Kathy High (US), Timo Menke (Se), Zbigniew Oksiuta (US), Byron Rich and Mary Tsang (US), and Lucie Strecker and Klaus Spiess (At).  

After working in with biomedia for the last twenty years, the Coalesce center and our residents have forced me to think in greater breadth about many issues our field interrogates.  Needless to say, I wouldn’t have attempted such an enterprise if not for the residency I completed at Symbiotica, with Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, 2005 in Perth, as well as at Biofilia, 2014 in Helsinki.  The questions that now sit upon my desk, staring back at me, are particularly these “ethical tools”, which I mention in our mission statement.  I’ve always considered theoretical frameworks to be “critical tools” and find updating our ethical tools crucial at this stage.  It would seem that many of the funds and incentives for the development of ethical tools have been diminished and compromised since the beginning of the Human Genome Project in the 1980s with its 15% funds devoted to Ethical, Legal, Social Implications (ELSI) program.  Indeed, many of the seeming bedrocks of ethics and precaution have been eroded, like those of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA in 1975.  For instance, the recent proclamations from the National Academy entrepreneurs that the highly accurate Crisper protocol means that we can now reconsider the ban on human germ-line modification?!  As if the ban were simply because of technical problems!

So, can bio-art be an even more explicit participant in ELSI debates in the coming years.  How do we presently conceive of the relationship between ethics and aesthetics?  

Looking forward to hearing from others about this.

> On Feb 24, 2017, at 10:35 AM, High, Kathy <highk at rpi.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Renate, 
> Thanks so much fro writing and for introducing Soyo, Paul and Yiyun.
> It would be great to hear of the scene in biological arts in Seoul and
> Shanghai - for Soyo and Yiyun!
> And Paul could fill everyone in on his amazing Coalesce Residency in
> Biological Arts in Buffalo!!!
> Looking forward!
> Thanks Kathy
> On 21/02/2017, 2:06 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
> behalf of Renate Terese Ferro" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> on behalf of rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> I have been trying to sort through some glitches in our system but am
>> going to plod on in hopes you are getting our posts.  Just a reminder
>> that you can check on what has been posted by going to our main archived
>> space here 
>> http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/
>> I want to take this opportunity to thank Kathy High and Lindsay Kelley
>> for helping me through Week 2 while I was traveling to NYC.  The
>> discussion was a great beginning into the nuances of doing
>> interdisciplinary work that is so meshed and intertwined with politics,
>> the environment, health, and so much more.  I appreciated Kathy’s early
>> post last week when she wrote:
>> <snip>
>> I am very aware that my role as an artist, feminist, educator, queer
>> person, and provocateur is essential more so now than even before! As
>> so-called bio-arists (and I say that because the term “bio-art” is such a
>> terrible “catch all” term that needs to be examined as it needs to serve
>> for “eco-artists”, "genetic-artists” “transgenetic artists" "synthetic
>> biology
>> artists” and so on, all terms needing to be unpacked), — and generally
>> we, as bioartists, work with living materials and we make decisions about
>> the ethics that we apply to these materials.
>> <snip>
>> My hope is that we can use the base that both Kathy and Lindsay provided
>> for us to deconstruct the layers within “Bio Art” that manifest
>> themselves today BETWEEN BIOLOGY AND ART. For me its the between maybe
>> that holds the key to our examination?  Not sure but would love to hear
>> from more of you. 
>> Welcome Soyo Lee, Paul Vanouse and Yiyun Chen.  It is with great pleasure
>> that we welcome you to our -empyre- space and hope that you will post.
>> Realizing that Soyo and Yiyun are sleeping right now (they in Australia
>> and Singapore) we will wish them sweet dreams and look forward to their
>> contributions a bit later.  Paul I know is awake and probably in his
>> Coalesce Lab right now or teaching at U. of Buffalo but hopefully he will
>> have time to write in when he gets a chance.
>> And to you lurkers….hope you will be inspired to write even short posts.
>> This is a conversation and without you in this space I feel lonely
>> sometimes thinking that there is absolutely no one out there. So if you
>> are reading this please be inspired to write.  I will refer to the
>> question that t Tim Murray and I wrote last month.  Is the listserv
>> -empyre no longer relevant if our subscribers do not participate.
>> Something to think about for sure.
>> Biographies are below.  Looking forward.
>> Warmly,  Renate
>> Soyo Lee(KR) is an artist who is interested in changing social and
>> ethical conceptions about various living organisms in human culture. Her
>> recent project Ornamental Cactus Design, looking at the cultural history
>> of a popular horticultural product, was presented at the Museum of Modern
>> and Contemporary Art(Seoul), Museum of Contemporary Art(Sydney),
>> ISEA(Albuqerque), and SLSA(Perth). She holds a Ph.D in Electronic Art at
>> Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and runs an independent art
>> space and publisher Lifeforms in Culture in Seoul, Korea.
>> Paul Vanouse has been working in emerging media forms since 1990.
>> Interdisciplinarity and impassioned amateurism guide his art practice.
>> His electronic cinema, biological experiments, and interactive
>> installations have been exhibited in over 20 countries and widely across
>> the US. Vanouse is a Professor of Visual Studies at the University at
>> Buffalo, NY.
>> Yiyun Chen is an artist currently based in Shanghai. She graduated from
>> MA Design Interactions at Royal College of Art in London, and obtained a
>> diploma of Traditional Chinese Medicine at
>> Shanghai University of TCM. Drawing and film are main mediums of her
>> narrative works, which often based on fictional scenarios, aiming to
>> provide alternative prospectives by raising dilemmatic questions through
>> proposing critical concepts. She currently interests in the realms where
>> art, psychology and medicine connect, and her work now mainly concerned
>> with the human body under
>> the topic of disease and wellness as an ideology. Her work ‘Sick Better’
>> is nominated by The Helen Hamlyn Design Awards and currently exhibiting
>> in London.Yiyun just finished her bioart residency in SymbioticA, Perth,
>> Australia.
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Associate Professor
>> Director of Undergraduate Studies
>> Department of Art
>> Tjaden Hall 306
>> rferro at cornell.edu
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