[-empyre-] Conceptual medium, visceral materiality, aesthetic formality

Margherita Pevere mp at margheritapevere.com
Mon Mar 6 04:17:16 AEDT 2017

Dear Renate, Soyo, Tarsh, Antoinette, Kathy,

thank you for such inspiring posts. I see a red thread that connects
your positions through body and otherness.

I would like to quote Tarsh's and Antoniette's words

<The two main questions I am working with are 1. how to understand the
other that is self - Barad's intra-active phenomena have been helpful
here where there is no ontological difference; and 2. how to
understand the "self-other" who doesnt have a face, who is not
similar. Empathy based on similarity or vision doesnt apply to
CandidaHomo relations. Bodies are all.>

< We are stuck with an Other that no amount of argument on nonhumanist
grounds seems able to fully deconstruct. So bio-ethics, if it is not
utterly reductive, must of necessity be even more speculative than
ordinary ethics. Meanwhile, living organisms of all kinds are
constantly opting out of our plans and views, taking account of us in
ways we don't expect, escaping us, causing our best research to fail
and our niftiest ideas to run haywire. There is no other area of art
practice where the matter with which one works is so constantly in a
state of active noncooperation, so recalcitrant, so unstable. I have a
good amount of experience working with people in performance projects,
and in working with rough matter in traditional art making-- and so it
is that I now find myself thinking that I have something important to
learn from the elusive and often nonobvious resistance offered at all
times by other living organisms.>

The one who-is-not-similar, the non-cooperative and recalcitrant Other
radically challenges established practices as well as the notion of
alterity. Working with organic matter, at different degrees of
technological mediation, involves some unpredictability, some
resistance as Antoniette calls it. There is some agency that might
refuse to collaborate or fully collaborate. It does it with the body.
It escapes empathy and control through the body. What are the
implications of such radical Otherness at an ethical, political, and
aesthetic level?

My work Semina Aeternitatis plays with the idea of memories and DNA
being remains of a mortal body. Evanescent memories have an evocative
power linked with the desire to overcome mortality. At a different
level, DNA also holds such references: it's universally present and
its traces can remain long after the body's death. I have started a
series of participative performance where strangers tell me about
memories they would like to keep forever. The last performance took
place at Article Biennial. The whole process will eventually manifest
through visual works made of microbial cellulose, whose hybrid
appearance reminds bodily matter. Such works will be a remain of the
process, like memories and DNA are remains of experiences and bodies.
I will keep you posted on what kind of resistances I will encounter.

I am grateful to all participants to this month's participants for
tracing a geographical overview of the so-called-bioart scene
including institutions such as Coalescence, Rensselaer, SymbioticA,
and Biofilia and  community-based spaces like the ones in Seul
described by Soyo. I would like to mention the lively Berlin scene.
There are established institutions such as the Schering Stiftung and
the community is growing around spaces such as Art Laboratory Berlin-
a gallery whose curatorial program focuses on "Non-human
subjectivities" (including Tarsh's amazing Candida Albicans); SPEKTRUM
art_technology_community - a community-based venue that brings
together artists from media art, art and science, and bioart; the
independent space Schillerpalais - which has opened a kitchen lab; and
the group Biotinkering e.V. which brings toghether biohackers,
bioscientis, and artists. And new spaces and groups are being opened.

I find myself in-between worlds - a feeling that many of you might
know. I am fascinated by how  artistic practice hybridizes all these
dimension: community-DYI-hacking attitude, studio, gallery space,
academia, and lab.

Looking forward to hear about other's experiences and research,


Margherita Pevere
PhD (Artistic Research) candidate, Aalto University / Biofilia, Helsinki

On 3 March 2017 at 03:20, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Margherita, Soyo, Antoinette and Tarsh,  What amazing posts you have made. My mission is to address each and every one of you  during this last week on empyre I am hoping as we tease out a few more issues that might be percolating between your practices  As we work through those issues I am so looking forward to your posting links and articles about your work. Our listserv is archived and it is important for us to include as much information about each of you as possible.
>  I am curious Marguerita if you could clarify  my reading of your post that understands that microbial cellulose is a conceptual medium where memory Is mapped?  So does that mean that this is a participatory work and how are you archiving? The method of archiving then must be connected to the helix of the DNA?  I may be way off base here but this appears so poetic.  The poetics of memory and the poetics of DNA seem like potentially interesting pairings. And what about the notion of aesthetics?
> Tarsh I am such a huge fan of your work on Candida albicans.  You wowed me with your work at the Hong Kong ISEA this past summer.  What also interests me is how seemlessly you move from the material to the theoretical/philosophical with such ease. By weaving bodily ecologies as the self/other as double is it possible to replicate further? Hope you will unpack this a bit for our subscribers.
> Thanks to Paul and Erin for extending our conversation on aesthetics.  The tension between conceptual underpinnings, visceral qualities of the material and the aesthetic formalities of vision seem to create tensions  that open interesting gaps for critique.  Curious how you all feel.
> To the rest of you more soon I promise.  I just got home after a long day and am hoping to write more a bit later but I hope this spurns some conversation between the four or five or six of you!  Looking forward to our extended conversation.
> Renate
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Associate Professor
> Director of Undergraduate Studies
> Department of Art
> Tjaden Hall 306
> rferro at cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
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