Monday, April 23, 2018

Video documentation: Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory - 9th panel

Beyond the Animal as Machine. Ethology in the Age of Technoscience
#animal-machine interfaces #ethology #Uexküll
Moderator: Christian de Lutz

Birgit Schneider (Media Ecology, Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam)
Through the Eye of an Animal. Uexküll’s Perceptual Worlds in 360°?

The zoologist Jakob von Uexküll conceptionalized the German term “Umwelt” to describe the way different types of animals such as birds, marine fish or snakes are perceiving their surroundings. He was guided by the Neo-Kantian idea that the organs of perception shape the ways how the world is perceived. By adapting the concept to all forms of animals he consequently ended up withthe idea of manifold “Umwelten” (in plural), because each animal is equipped with different organs adapted to the environment. In my talk I am guided by the observation that today Uexküll’ian ideas are taken up by means of new media technologies: interactive programming, virtual-reality-helmets, go-pro-cameras and 360 degree videos try to get beyond the human cave of perception and allow animal world experiences. In my talk I will introduce and problematize some current examples in between science, animal protection and art that are telling in respect to how people think that animals perceive the world but also about their own (media) tunnels of perception. This leads to the question if, in fact, the current ways that connect to animal perception tell more about the disconnectedness from other species than about animal perception.

Robertina Šebjanic (Artist, Ljubljana)
Sounds of Troubled Worlds = Songs for Serenity

-“There are still songs to sing beyond mankind” by Paul Celan Improved living conditions in a technologically advanced world enables us to live significantly longer than in the past centuries. But the question is how this coexistence and relationship is going to be shaped in the future. The work 'Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva generator' (2014) addresses the co-existence of human animals and machines in this “new normal” situation. The most substantial aims of the audiovisual performance 'Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva sonification'(2015) are to explore the phenomena of interspecies communication, sonification of the environment and the underwater acoustic/ bioacoustics. The project 'Aquatocene / subaquatic quest for serenity' (2016) reflects about the immersion into the underwater acoustic environment and the sound and noise pollution produced there by human presence. The project explores the relationship between sound, nature and society and the human impact on the (under)water habitat as well as the establishment and maintenance of safe audio environments for animals that live in the oceans and seas.

Vivian Xu (Artist, Designer, Shanghai)
The Silkworm Project

The Silkworm Project explores the possibilities of designing a series of hybrid bio machines that are capable of generating self-organized silk structures. The silk machines utilize a closed feedback loop system between the organic and the artificial, where the biological and the computational form an ecosystem that demonstrates automated production that is autonomous in its nature. Researching in the history of computation and its entanglement with the technological development of the loom, the artist is explores a critical and artistic intersection between the organization of silk and the organization of information. This comparison between old and new technologies, between one of the world’s oldest materials – silk – and the its newest medium – data –brings up new questions of production and computation in the present day. The artist tackles this question through a series of machines that addresses 2D and 3D printing.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Video documentation: Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory - 8th panel

Nonhuman Perspectives Under Threat
#6th species extinction #human destruction of environment #anthropocene
Moderator: Pablo Rojas

Mary Maggic (Artist, Vienna)
From Molecular Colonization to Molecular Collaborations 

Our world is an alien landscape filled with toxicities. Thanks to capitalist forces such as petrochemical, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries, endocrine disrupting molecules mutate our bodies and bodies of non-human species, and at the same time “queer” our socio-cultural constructions of what is “normal” and what is “natural.” All-pervasive and inescapable, are we able to reposition our stance on molecular “disruption” and formulate new narratives for being-of-this-world? Therefore it urges us to consider the micro-performativity of hormonal substances as an agential power of not only molecular colonization but of molecular collaboration. 

David Sepkoski (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Are We Experiencing a ‘Sixth Extinction’ and Does It Matter? 

 The idea that we are currently experiencing a ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ developed during the late 1980s and early 1990s in the context of heightened awareness of global biodiversity loss. The term ‘Sixth Extinction’ is an explicit reference to the five major mass extinctions of the geological past, and reflects the important influence that paleontology –the study of life’s past –has had on estimates and predictions about the present and future of life on earth. However, while it has become an effective rhetorical tool, the term ‘Sixth Extinction’ also raises problems. On an empirical level, it is debatable whether comparisons of data and scale between past and present extinctions are valid –a concern raised by paleontologists themselves. And from an ethical and philosophical perspective, the analogy between the agency of humans and major geological events of the past flirts with an anthropocentrism that has often characterized the discourse around the ‘Anthropocene.’

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Video documentation: Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory - 6th panel

Endosymbiosis and Sympoiesis
#Lynn Margulis #symbiotic relationships #horizontal gene transfer #autopoiesis and sympoiesis
Moderator: Desiree Förster

Daniel Renato Lammel (Institute of Biology, Free University Berlin)
Endosymbiosis and "Love Stories" between Plants and Microorganisms

It has been 50 years since Lynn Margulis proposed the endosymbiont hypothesis. She brought light upon the origin of organelles in eukaryotic cells, proposing that mitochondria and plastids evolved from symbiosis with bacteria. Molecular biology analyses have brought more evidence supporting that, even if no experiments have definitely proved it. However, it is well known in science that several plants form endosymbiosis with bacteria and fungi. Per definition: Endosymbiosis, noun, symbiosis in which one of the symbiotic organisms lives inside the other; and love, noun, 1. a strong feeling of affection; 2. a great interest and pleasure in something. 3. feel deep affection or sexual love for. This talk will play about how some bacteria and fungi interact with plants to form endosymbiosis, and how complex, specific, beautiful and important for life on earth it is.

Laura Benítez Valero (Institute of Philosophy, Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Biosophy and Mutagenesis. Towards an Alien Sym_poiesis

The use of Biosophy andthe return to Spinoza's contributions is to seek an alternative to avoid ideal-materialisms. What we could name as ontological immanence is an essentially anti-hierarchical proposal, in terms of Deleuze, because all being, étant, exercises as much being, être, as there is in it. A becoming of beings in being. This subversive potential, all beings are the same, se valent, all being(s)_thing(s) of being, être, are the same in their difference, is connected not only to some (com)post_human discourses but also to symbiogenesis. Lynn Margulis remarked “physical contact is a non-negotiable requisite for many differing kinds of life” (1998), so as long as we are very much part of Nature we are entangled by a symbiotic toxic interdependence. The potentia of some biohacking and artistic proposals working with_in non-human agents relies in anti-individualistic perspectives. Then, could we think on sym_poiesis as a material discourse phenomena, materialising in intra-action with other material discourses apparatuses? An alien mutagenesis?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Opening Weekend Viscous Bodies

Viscous Bodies
Sarah Hermanutz
Alanna Lynch

Opening: Friday, 23 March, 2018 / 8pm
24 March - 13 May, 2018
Fri - Sun, 2-6 pm and by appointment (closed Easter Weekend 30 March-1 April)

Artist Talk with both artists: 25 March 2018 / 3pmThe project follows an open framework in showing the ongoing artistic research of two emerging artists in the field of art & science. Taking all things fluid as a starting point, the work of Sarah Hermanutz and Alanna Lynch covers themes such as amphibians, bodily borders, boundaries, marginalisation, materialism, seepage, sensory and wetlands through performance, installations, multimedia and living artworks. In addition to object and action, this project also invites the public to become engaged with the matter in manifold ways.

Exhibition view Viscous Bodies, Sarah Hermanutz & Alanna Lynch

Live Decomposition,2017-18, Sarah Hermanutz, Nenad Popov

Fermenting Feelings, 2018, Alanna Lynch

Potentials, 2015-16, Alanna Lynch

Right: Inside Bodies, 2016, Sarah Hermanutz, Paula Montecinos and Nayeli Vega, center: Gut feeling, 2016-18, Alanna Lynch, Left: Salamander Mourning Veil, 2008/9 Sarah Hermanutz

Salamander Mourning Veil, 2008/09, Sarah Hermanutz

Alanna Lynch & Sarah Hermanutz

Left: Concealed and Contained, 2009-18, Alanna Lynch, right: Inside Bodies, 2016, Sarah Hermanutz, Paula Montecinos and Nayeli Vega

Nervous in Flux, 2018 Sarah Hermanutz & Alanna Lynch, installation

Viscous Bodies, Vernissage, 23 March, 2018

Viscous Bodies, Vernissage, 23 March, 2018
Viscous Bodies, Vernissage, 23 March, 2018
Viscous Bodies, Vernissage, 23 March, 2018
Viscous Bodies, Vernissage, 23 March, 2018
Viscous Bodies, Vernissage, 23 March, 2018

Alanna Lynch works with living organisms, biological materials and performance, examining the politics of affect and questions of agency. She explores the aesthetics of disgust and fear, with a focus on embodied knowledge and non-conscious forces. In her project Potentials Lynch cultivated colonies of fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, through their whole lifecycle, making use of microscopic photography and performative display, confronting the visitor with containers of flies in a research-like setting. This evoked reactions ranging from curiosity to disgust. Her performances often explore bodies and identity as something complex and indefinable; both made up of ever more dividable parts of matter. For the performance Concealed and Contained she collected her own hair over many years and crocheted it into an ever-growing container which now covers her head and shoulders. In performance she stands naked, except for the self-made form of concealment which she then works upon: crocheting a continual work-in-progress.

Sarah Hermanutz researches the intersections of performance, technology, and ecology. Her sculptures, installations and performances are preoccupied with wetlands, amphibious creatures, gender and social cognition. Live Decomposition, an ongoing collaboration with sound artist Nenad Popov, was performed last year in Lisbon and Berlin. Video documents Hermanutz's hands as they work through an aquarium filled with mud, sand, living and dead wetland organisms, and other collected material. The artist has a keen interest in amphibians - both as organism and as metaphor. In Inside Bodies an axolotl in a jar becomes a point for human/nonhuman contact. Her work Salamander Mourning Veil, which includes drawings, photographs and performance, is an artist statement on both the mass extinction of amphibians and the degradation of wetlands, a melancholy act of caring and empathy in the spirit of Haraway's 'staying with the trouble'.

The exhibition project examines the aesthetics of viscosity. The two artists will also collaborate on an installation, which will form an interconnecting system of liquids, living materials, organisms and technology and encompass the common themes of their work.

Artists' Talk , Viscous Bodies, 25 March, 2018

Artists' Talk , Viscous Bodies, 25 March, 2018
Artists' Talk , Viscous Bodies, 25 March, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Preparations for 'Viscous Bodies'

Our upcoming exhibition with Alanna Lynch & Sarah Hermanutz opens on 23 March

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Video documentation: Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory - 5th panel

Human as Nonhuman. Microbiome and holobiome
#human microbiome #holobiont #redefining ourselves
Moderator: Marta de Menezes

Tarsh Bates (Artist, SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia, Perth)  
On Being a Microbioartist: Making art in a microbiology laboratory 

I explore the physical, emotional and political relationships between humans and Candida albicans(an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans). These relationships span immunology and ecology, sexuality (both human and microbial) and evolutionary biology, public health and body discipline, institutional frameworks and kinship. I examine the biopolitical implications of the recent revolution in our understanding of the human body as being at least half non-human. In addition to the challenges of working with pathogens, the rapid simplification of genetic engineering technologies and increasing commodification of human microbes raises complex questions about whether these organisms have ethical standing: are they living or merely machines? This presentation asks the audience to consider the perspective of the microbe, of the pathogen, as a creature that is more-than-human, through a series of artworks developed in a microbiological laboratory.  

François-Joseph Lapointe (Artist and microbiologist, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Montreal)
Performative Microbiome Experiments

We inhabit the microbial world. Microbes live on us, around us, and inside of us. Every single orifice of our bodies is populated by millions of microbes. We eat microbes, digest microbes, and defecate microbes. Whereas the human genome defines what we are as a species, the human microbiome now redefines the concept of self. As a scientist, I study the microbiome to detect novel types of interactions among bacterial communities. As a performance artist, I use my body as a canvas, tracking the evolution of my microbiome self. What if I become vegetarian? What if I travel to a different country? What if I practice celibacy for a month? Those are the kinds of artistic endeavours that can be directly translated into scientific data. In this talk, I will present my latest experimental performances with the microbiome as a way of questioning the aesthetics of the self.

Regine Rapp (Art Theory, Curatorial Research, Art Laboratory Berlin)
Nonhuman Subjectivities. Artistic Strategies towards a Multispecies Performativity

There are different moments in current artistic processes that leave behind the humanist idea of the solo artistic genius and explore complex collaborations across disciplines and more provocatively across species and kingdoms. What does it mean when nonhuman agents perform in a 21st century artwork? While not proposing the nonhuman as artist, certainly the performative process of art production can be a vehicle for the nonhuman agent as well as multispecies entanglements. A short overview of the dynamic aesthetic field of making-kin shows various artistic methods, embracing the matter as such, a direct material engagement with the world (Barad). A new artistic paradigm proves to have overcome the nature/culture divide by implementing worldly terrains for multispecies encounter, intra-action and performativity in a postanthropocentric era.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Video documentation: Nonhuman Agents in Art, Culture and Theory - 4th panel

Microbial Agency. Proposing Micro-Subjectivity#bacteria #quorum sensing #microbiology and philosophy
Moderator: Pablo Rojas

Ingeborg Reichle (Media Studies, University of Applied Arts Vienna)
Biome and Biomatter

Artists have responded to non-human agency in the age of cutting age research in multi-directional ways. In my contribution I want to critically analyse a current artistic position referring to biomes as distinct biological communities and particularly to human microbiomes, which can be regarded as a the collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that are present on a human body. My presentation will focus the art project FIFTY PERCENT HUMAN by the Austrian artist Sonja Bäumel (Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam), which is in search for a critical language, which is carefully balancing our imagination about human-microbe interaction and the great diversity of the human body’s ecosystem, mainly by using artistic, fictional and philosophical research tools.

 Regine Hengge (Institute of Biology, Dep. of Microbiology, Humboldt University Berlin)
Biofilms - invisible cities of microbes from the Petri dish to the human body

Although bacteria are invisibly tiny single-cellular creatures, they represent the largest biomass on earth and manage to colonize nearly any site, including the human body. As the human microbiota, they contribute to keeping us healthy and happy. Based on our intimate relationship with them, we have learned to use them for food production and in biotechnology. On the other hand, some bacteria are nasty pathogens that cause infections that remained deadly to us before we discovered antibiotics, i.e. chemical weapons that bacteria themselves use against each other in their fight for food. While we have always envisioned bacteria swimming around as single cells, recent research has shown that they prefer to live in large communies termed 'biofilms'. The bacterial inhabitants of these 'cities of microbes' communicate and cooperate to produce an extracellular matrix of bio-polymers. This matrix not only confers protection, but allows bacterial biofilms to behave like tissues, i.e. to fold and buckle up into striking morphological patterns that even become visible to the naked human eye. By performing rapid morphogenetic movements based on an intricate inner structure, these biofilms are a prime example of 'active matter'.

Anna Dumitriu (Artist, Brighton) 
Make Do and Mend

Anna Dumitriu will discuss her project “Make Do and Mend" which references the 75th anniversary of the first use of penicillin in a human patient in 1941 and takes the form of an altered wartime women's suit marked with the British Board of Trade's utility logo CC41, which stands for 'Controlled Commodity 1941'. The holes and stains in the suit have been patched with silk stained with pink colonies of E. coli bacteria, grown on dye-containing agar. The genomes of these bacteria have been edited using a technique called CRISPR, to remove an ampicillin antibiotic resistance gene and scarlessly patch the break using homologous recombination with a fragment of DNA en-coding the WWII slogan "Make Do and Mend". Ampicillin is part of the penicillin group of antibiotics so with this artistic genomic edit, Dumitriu and Goldberg have used today's technology to return the organism to its pre-antibiotic era state, reflecting on how we might in future control and protect such biotechnological advances.