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

High, Kathy highk at rpi.edu
Mon Mar 6 13:30:55 AEDT 2017

Dear Margherita

All I can say is that I thank you for this thoughtful contribution. And
for your project Semina Aeternitatis that sounds beautiful and provocative!
I very much appreciate your comments here!

Forgive my brevity, but my shoulder has given out and I can¹t write well!
Know that my thoughts are in your court and I am really grateful for your
As you summed it up so well: "What are the implications of such radical
Otherness at an ethical, political, and aesthetic level?²
Questions that remain unanswered but to be pursued for sure...

I appreciate all the rich contributions to empyre during this too short
With utter respect to you all!


On 5/03/2017, 12:17 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
behalf of Margherita Pevere" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
on behalf of mp at margheritapevere.com> wrote:

>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>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
>> 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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