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?