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Abstract

During the late 90s there was an increasing interest among artists in the use of the tools of modern biology. While it represented a breach in the use and manipulation of living systems in the contexts of both science and art, art and science collaborations are not a new phenomenon. In some of the research areas linked to life sciences there is a long tradition of collaborations between artists and scientists - sometimes in the one person, Leonardo being exemplary. Artists and biologists often worked side-by-side during the eighteenth century with, for example; illustrators on expeditions collecting botanical and zoological specimens, and artist/anatomists dissecting cadavers in the attempt to better understand and better illustrate/represent the internal and external body. More recently artists have also engaged with new visualisation techniques and tools (such as MRI, DNA gels etc.) as ways of representing bodies, identities and contemporary portraits i . As a general observation, artists dealing with life sciences often employ biological metaphors using 'traditional' materials and processes of representation (from paint to bronze, photography, video etc). However the new phenomenon of biological artists is very different from this traditional artistic engagement with science because, with it, biological materials/life and scientific tools and protocols have become an integral part of the artistic process as well as the artwork itself. Indeed this phenomenon has been called transgressive in respect to both science and art as scientific techniques, tools and methodologies are being used, subverted and elaborated on for the production of artistic knowledge, discourse and objects (which can be seen as contestable tangible items for cultural discussion, evocative objects ii or non-utilitarian artefacts). It's now a reality artists are in the labs. They are intentionally transgressing procedures of representation and metaphor, going beyond them to manipulate life itself. Biotechnology is no longer just a topic, but a tool, generating green fluorescent animals, wings for pigs, and sculptures moulded in bioreactors or under the microscope, and using DNA itself as an artistic medium'. Jens Hauser iii
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The ethical claims of Bio Art: killing the other or self-cannibalism?
By Ionat Zurr & Oron Catts
http://www.tca.uwa.edu.au
http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au
Introduction:
During the late 90s there was an increasing interest among artists in the use of the tools of
modern biology. While it represented a breach in the use and manipulation of living systems in
the contexts of both science and art, art and science collaborations are not a new phenomenon.
In some of the research areas linked to life sciences there is a long tradition of collaborations
between artists and scientists – sometimes in the one person, Leonardo being exemplary. Artists
and biologists often worked side-by-side during the eighteenth century with, for example;
illustrators on expeditions collecting botanical and zoological specimens, and artist/anatomists
dissecting cadavers in the attempt to better understand and better illustrate/represent the internal
and external body. More recently artists have also engaged with new visualisation techniques and
tools (such as MRI, DNA gels etc.) as ways of representing bodies, identities and contemporary
portraitsi. As a general observation, artists dealing with life sciences often employ biological
metaphors using ‘traditional’ materials and processes of representation (from paint to bronze,
photography, video etc). However the new phenomenon of biological artists is very different from
this traditional artistic engagement with science because, with it, biological materials/life and
scientific tools and protocols have become an integral part of the artistic process as well as the
artwork itself. Indeed this phenomenon has been called transgressive in respect to both science
and art as scientific techniques, tools and methodologies are being used, subverted and
elaborated on for the production of artistic knowledge, discourse and objects (which can be seen
as contestable tangible items for cultural discussion, evocative objectsii or non-utilitarian
artefacts).
It's now a reality artists are in the labs. They are intentionally transgressing
procedures of representation and metaphor, going beyond them to manipulate life
itself. Biotechnology is no longer just a topic, but a tool, generating green fluorescent
animals, wings for pigs, and sculptures moulded in bioreactors or under the
microscope, and using DNA itself as an artistic medium’. Jens Hauseriii
This new engagement is increasingly referred to as Bioart. Bioart is still a very loose term, and is
applied to many art forms that relate in some way to biology, biotechnology and life. In this paper,
we refer to Bioartists as artists who are using life and living beings both as a medium and as
subject matter.
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At the same time the political and ethical issues raised by the introduction of biomedical and
biotechnological products into mass culture are demanding urgent attention. These new biological
technologies have one fundamental difference to the technologies preceding them; in that both
the products and the processes use life as raw material. The very existence of some of the
outcomes of biotechnologies brings into question deep rooted perceptions of life and identity,
concept of self, and the position of the human in regard to other living beings and the
environment. Art has a long history of dealing with these issues. However, some artists believe
that the traditional representational engagement with these concerns is not enough. They are
manipulating life and ‘inserting’ life into new contexts including the art galleries. By that they are
forcing the audience to engage with the living artwork and to share the
consequences/responsibilities involved with the manipulation/creation of life for artistic ends.
.
Whatever else it does, Bioart raises a profound array of ethical considerations in regard to the
extent of the manipulation of living systems that range from interventions at the molecular level to
the ecosystem and anything (living) in between. In this paper we argue that the underling problem
concerned with the manipulation of life is rooted in the perceptions of humans as a separated and
privileged life form, a perception inherited in the West from the Judo-Christian- and Classical
worldviews. This anthropocentricism is distorting society’s ability to cope with the expanding
scientific knowledge of life. Further this cultural barrier in the continuum of life between the human
and other living systems prejudices decisions about manipulations of living systems. The cultural
exploration of the perceived barrier between human and other living being is now becoming
urgent in the light of scientific experiments in which different kinds of chimerical beings are
creatediv . The actual physical act of manipulating life challenges long held beliefs and focuses
discussion about our uses of life in ways that previously did not occur. In the words of George
Gessert, a biological artist who breeds irises as his art platform:
Do artists cross a line when they breed plants or animals, or use the tools of
biotechnology? Scientists routinely cross the line. So do farmers, businesspeople,
military men, and doctors. Only artists and certain religious people hesitate. Of
course, one of the great human dilemmas is that we do not know the extent of our
powers. We invent outrageously and as casually as we breathe, but we have no idea
where our inventions will take us. Extinction? Slavery? 1000 years in Disneyland?
Even if the Holocaust had never happened, we would have good reason to worry
about where knowledge of genetics and DNA will take us. We will need all the
awareness we can master to engage evolution. To the extent that art favours
awareness, the more artists who cross the line the better.v
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As artists, we believe that our role is to reveal inconsistencies in regard to our current attitudes to
life and to focus attention on the discrepancies between our western cultural perceptions and the
new techno-scientific understandings about life. This analysis cannot be separated from the
current socio-economic and ideological contexts that govern Western society. Therefore, the aim
of this paper is not to offer a new ethical frame for the readers to follow (this might be too
ambitious for us at this stage…) but rather, as artists, we believe that our role is to further
problematise ethical frameworks (that we will shortly outline) and shift the goalposts of
contemporary ethics by drawing attention to the existence of partial life and semi-living entities.
By examining bioart, including our own work, we will suggest that the title of this paper could well
be ‘killing the other as self cannibalism’. The separation in definitions between “us” (or “I”) and
what is the “other” is not as evident as we would generally like to think. We are not advocating
homogeneity, or exclusion of differences, but rather suggesting that our well established cultural
dichotomies between self/other are shifting and the emphasis on differences are now being
relocated in the continuum of life.
Ethical Frameworks:
One of the major ethical dilemmas facing Bioart is the use of living systems in instrumental ways.
Even when one holds the conventional view that all non-human life exists for human needs and
desires, it seems that the use of living systems for artistic ends generate resentment, which can
be used to highlight the inconsistency of the still prevalent view of the dominion of man. How then
do Bioartists in general and in our own practice in particular, deal with the ethical paradox of
using/manipulating life for the creation of cultural commodities that questions the human
treatment of life? We believe that this dilemma is best approached from a consequential (i.e
utalitarian) or motivist (i.e Kant’s categorical imperative) rather than a deontological point of view.
Deontological ethics developed and held by W. D. Ross, A. C. Ewing and H. Prichard among
others, and applied to the animal rights debate by Tom Regan in somewhat in simplified terms,
claims that the rightness or wrongness of an act depends neither upon the motive from which the
act was done, nor upon the consequences of the act – but solely upon what kind of an act it is; in
other words, a moral behavior requires following certain principles that are in essence ‘good’ or
‘moral’. This approach is absolutists and requires either an arbitrary decision mechanism or a
presumably divine being to set the ‘moral guideline’. As will be shown in the following arguments,
if one accepts that living systems, by they existence, manipulates other living beings, the actual
act of manipulation cannot be argued against but rather the motives for the act or the
consequences of such act.
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Consequential ethics, developed in the context of animal welfare by Jeremy Bentham and later
on by Peter Singer, looks at weighing the moral responsibility by the consequences of the
actions; an action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than
unfavorable. More precisely we will look at Peter Singer utilitarian approach to the issues
surrounding animal liberation: Singer’s principle ethical view requires ethically analysing an
action by its consequences – maximising happiness (can be seen as ‘pleasure’) and minimizing
suffering (or pain). This analysis should have an equal right for equal consideration to all beings
that are capable of suffering regardless there sex, race or species:
‘If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering
into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality
requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering – insofar as rough
comparison can be made – of any other being. If a being is not capable of suffering,
or of experiencing enjoyment or happiness, there is nothing to be taken into account.
So the limit of sentience (using the term as convenient if not strictly accurate
shorthand for the capacity to suffer and/or experience enjoyment) is the only
defensible boundary of concern for the interests of others. To mark this boundary by
some other characteristic like intelligence or rationality would be to mark it in an
arbitrary manner.’vi
Furthermore Singer assert that ‘Ethics requires us to go beyond “I” and “you” to the
universal law, the univesrsalizable judgment, the standpoint of the impartial spectator or
ideal observer, or whatever we choose to call it’.vii
Singer, of course, aspires for the universal ethical position to be above one’s own gender, race
and even species (though without referring to a divine being). However, is this position possible,
and how can we know that is utilitarian ethics or ethics in general is not merely an anthropocentric
(even Eurocentric) construct that is applied to the rest of the living world? Singer’s argument also
‘begs’ the question where one puts the ‘limit of sentience’. At least from Singer’s perspective,
which is based on data produced by Western science, the border line for a sentient being is
‘somewhere between the shrimp and oyster’.viii New human/other animals chimeras are further
blurring species/sentience correlation such as in the recent sheep-human chimeras created by
Esmail Zanjani’s group at the University of Nevada, Reno in which human stem cells were
transplanted into a sheep fetus while it is still in the womb.ix Following Singer’s utilitarian
principles how can we asses the level of sentiency of this chimera? Also, from a consequatalist
perspective, how can we measure the long term positive consequences of such an action
whether to the animal itself (is higer sentiency causing more happiness or more suffering?) or the
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benefit for human society (drawing on the promise of reducing the suffering of many humans who
are in need of organ transplant). Is it possible to weigh these consequences from a perspective
beyond our humanness and furthermore outside the political and economical context these
chimeras are being born into?
, a deontological atheist, uses Singer’s argument against speciesmx to assert that
animals have rights that go beyond the right for an equal consideration for an ethical treatment:
Both Singer and Regan use the example of severely mentally disabled human (who cannot
experience/feel pain as conscious healthy homo sapiens experience it) and a chimpanzee:
‘(1) it is wrong to treat human morons in the ways in question; (2) we would not (and
should not) change this judgment, in the ways utilitarianism, egoism, or Kantianism
would require, if the future happened to change in the ways described earlier; (3) if,
in our search for the most adequate moral theory on which to ground this belief, we
are driven to postulating that human morons (even) have certain rights; and (4) if
the grounds underlying their possessing the rights they posses are common
grounds, as it were, between them and many other animals. If all this correct, then I
think the case of animal rights is very strong indeed.’xi
Regan’s call for ethics that are not relative to time and context, the ‘belief’ to give rights to
severely disabled humans necessarily implies the same rights to other sentient beings (animals).
This argument is based on an anthropocentric emotive argument: hence, Regan feels that
severely mentally disabled Homo sapiens deserve rights even though he is convinced that they
are incapable of experiencing pain or pleasure, therefore he applies the same conviction towards
another species that can experience pain/pleasure. But are our feelings towards severely
mentally disabled Homo sapiens anthropocentric? Should we argue for animal rights without the
need to resort to our feelings towards other humans? Regan’s argument is Kantian:
‘We ought not to maltreat severely mentally enfeebled humans, Kant could hold,
because doing so will eventually lead us to maltreat rational free beings. We owe
nothing to these humans themselves. Rather, we owe it to ourselves, and to other
rational free beings that we do not do those things that in the future will lead us to
treat rational free beings as mere means’.xii
If one adopts deontological ethics which ascribe rights to animals and object to any form of
intervention that might adversely affect their life, then the actual act of life manipulation
(regardless arguments for maltreatment), even if done to create a platform for cultural debate, is
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wrong and cannot be justified. However, when looking at these aspects from a consequential
starting point there is a niche for such a discussion without underlying basic principles of animal
welfare (which can be based on Utilitarian Ethics for example). It should be considered that living
systems always affected and intervene with other living beings and, as Gessert made clear,
humans have always engaged in manipulation of living systems either directly through processes
of selective breeding and farming or less directly in ways of hunting, forging, fishing and altering
local ecosystems. Some of these activities have been employed for purely aesthetic and symbolic
reasons. Biological artists purposely follow this tradition as a starting point for epistemological and
ethical inquiry, particularly in the contemporary context of biotechnological research and
production in a consumer driven society.
Based on Singer’s ‘basic principle of equality (which) does not require equal or identical
treatment; it requires equal consideration. Equal consideration for different beings may lead to
different treatment and different rights’.xiii Can we pursue an ethical framework which goes
beyond the ‘I’ or ‘You’ regardless of our sex, race and species? For that let us briefly explore
environmental ethics.
There are four main arguments governing environmental ethics: Firstly, human dominion ethics
which, in the West, mirror Judeo-Christian attitudes towards the animal kingdom and the
environment in general. Secondly, the preservation of our environment or ‘an ethical treatment’ of
the environment for the well being (and survival) of human kind. If we care for humans we ought
to care for the environment to the extent that it will provide (such as food, clean air, economic
benefits, feelings of well being etc.) for humans. Obviously, this argument is anthropocentric.
Thirdly, animal centered ethics is based on Singer’s Utilitarian Ethics: We should limit our ethical
treatment to the sentient beings in the environment that are capable of suffering. Each decision in
regard to the environment should attempt to weigh the amount of happiness and suffering
inflicted on sentient animals. The approach is not absolutist but rather relativist – there are
gradients of sentiency which correspond to the different levels of sufferings; hence there is a
difference between a chimpanzee’s capability of suffering and that of a cockroach which also is
based on level of sentiency. However, our considerations towards non-sentience being or non-
living being which are incapable of experiencing happiness or pain are limited to aesthetics rather
than ethical consideration based. Life centered ethics, which can be seen as an extension of
Singer’s sentience principle to the ‘life principle draws a strict border between living and non-living
beings and argues for an ethical treatment of life – the sanctity of life. This ethical framework is
deontological and absolutist by nature (as opposed to Singer’s relativist view of sentience as a
continuum). This paper does not attempt to explore the nature of the sanctity of life axiom but
rather questions the assumption that there is a strict line separating between life and non-life, or
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the definition of what is life. Our partial life artworks that will be explored in the next section are
one example of ‘in between’ entities which emphasise the continuum of life from non-life. These
entities are a human construct but there are more examples such as viruses which are calling into
question the definition of life. The GAIA hypothesis, as developed by James Lovelock and Lynn
Margulisxiv looks at the whole biosphere as an interdependent living organism. The GAIA
hypothesis, in many respects follows a more holistic perspective of ‘life’ as seen in some of the
non- Western cultures such as certain streams of Buddhism. The scope of this paper can only
introduce and speculate on ethics based on the continuum of life; from the living to the semi-
livings and partial-life.
Instrumentalisation of life:
In examining the ethical issues of Bioart it is important to acknowledge that Bioart is a pluralist
practice with its artists occupying different ethical positions. Some are being used (or happily
participate) in the creation of public acceptance for these biotech developments, while other seek
to subvert these technologies in order to generate heated public debate about their uses. There
are also those who perceive their work to be neutral in this regard, and are opting to use the
technologies for purely their aesthetic and poetic virtues. The actual art works seem in many
cases to be much more ambiguous and once released in the public domain, develop their own
narrative.
As the new forms of manipulation of living systems are being driven by political and ideological
agendas it is hard to draw the line between whether art that engages with these phenomena raise
political and ideological concerns or ethical ones. As a result ethical arguments about Bioart tend
to follow traditional Western ethics of which utilitarianism is an example as they are inherently
political and contextualised and to avoid the theological ethics of Kant. This is also a result of the
fact that the institutional ethical framework set up to deal with issues raised by these new forms of
manipulation is very much an expression of the prevailing political and economical ideology. As
we will illustrate in the following example, it is almost impossible to separate our own ethical
concerns form the needs to re-examine the political and ideological forces responsible for the
application of knowledge in the life sciences. The Australian Health and Medical Research
Council (NHMRC) published in 1999 The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research
Involving humans. In the preamble of the statement it is stated that:
“The primary purpose of a statement of ethical principles and associated guidelines for
research involving humans is the protection of the welfare and the rights of participants in
research. There is an important secondary purpose of a statement of ethical principles
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and accompanying guidelines, and that is to facilitate research that is or will be of benefit
to the researcher's community or to humankind. The purpose of this Statement is to
provide a national reference point for ethical consideration relevant to all research
involving humans.”xv
As the our main interest is the use of living tissue for the production of art works, we were
somewhat concerned with a clause in section 15.8 that deals with waving the need for consent
from the tissue donor when there is a “possibility of commercial exploitation of derivatives of the
sample”. This statement can be read as biased towards a particular political and economical
ideology. Its inclusion as part of the ethical guidelines governing research in Australia makes the
resistance to such a clause both a political and ethical act. The same can be said about
resistance to other forms of exploitations (commercial or otherwise) of living systems.
Our view is that the link between the prevailing capitalist ideology and the application of
knowledge obtained by life science research has a potential to yield many ethically questionable
practices and products. The discussion in this paper is raised predominantly from our concern of
the ethical consequences that stems from the link mentioned above. Here we be arguing
alongside Kant’’s objection for instrumentalisation of the other though the Other we refer to is
anything along the continuum of life with consideration of Singer’s gradient of sentiency.
Moreover we believe that the commodifications, objectification and instrumentalisation of life are
most likely a result of such frame of mind that included the above clause in The National
Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Human. Further this ideology is inherently
anthropocentric. Thus the current ethical guidelines for the exploitation of non-human living
beings is even worse. The West Australian regulations dealing with animal research ethics are
titled Animal Welfare Regulations 2003 and not Animal Rights. The exploitation of non human
living beings under the current system is one of the core issues we raise with our work. The
practice of bioart seems to highlight in many cases the inconsistency in the way society perceives
the exploitation of living systems. Through the actual engagement with the modes of manipulation
of living systems for the purpose of artistic exploitation the art works are pointing, either
intentionally or unintentionally, to these instants of inconsistency in the framework of the ethical
conduct. An example of the way art might be use to do so can be found in the work “Nature?” by
Marta De Menezes:
Butterfly wings are the canvas of artist Marta De Menezes. The modification is done in the pupa
stage of the butterfly using microsurgery techniques: “the main objective of my project was to
achieve wing patterns never seen before in nature, but made of normal cells and tissues in live,
healthy butterflies.”xvi De Menezes, would like her work to be appreciated from a formalist
perspective - to be viewed as a novel arrangement of colour and forms keeping the
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medium/technology transparent. De Menezes: “Society as a whole can also benefit from this kind
of interaction through the resulting increase in awareness and understanding of scientific
issues.”xvii De Menezes perceives science, like art, as a pure discipline. She believes that as long
as she follows established scientific protocols, she is working within an ethical framework.
Furthermore, she sees a great value in her artwork as illustrative of scientific principles. Her
intentions are not concerned with a critical view of the science discipline or scientific issues.
Although Menezes avoids the ethical and epistemological issues of her work, the artwork itself
generates these discussions regardless or in spite of her intent. Thus issues concerning the well
being of the butterflies have overshadowed aesthetic discussions. The reaction probably stems
primary from the fact that Menezes used an animal rather than a plant. In addition this animal
(butterfly) is considered to be, in some cultures, a symbol of beauty, and has spiritual
symbolism.xviii If she would have used another animal of equal biological complexity and on a
similar evolutionary scale, like a cockroach, the artwork might have been less emotionally
charged. In a discussion with the authors De Menezes described audience reaction to a
presentation she gave in a conference. The speaker before her described his work that involved
the manipulation of a cockroach nervous system in ways that allowed it to be used as a living
surveillance robot under the control of a human agent. According to De Menezes the audience
reacted strongly against her work but seemed to accept the other speaker’s work with no
objection. This story illustrates two points. Firstly it involves a form of speciesm. Secondly it
involves a pragmatism in which the cockroach experiment is justified because of its utilitarian
ends, while those on the butterfly are not because its ends were purely aesthetic. The other
speaker was a scientist working for a military research laboratory.xix
Is there a place that will allow the aesthetic motives of artists’ access to advanced
biotechnologies with the expertise needed as well as a place for a free critical and sometimes
provocative exploration? This is a question we tested when we founded, in 2000, SymbioticAxx
with Professor Miranda Grounds and Dr. Stuart Bunt (Scientific Directors) at the School of
Anatomy and Human Biology, the University of Western Australia.
The aim of SymbioticA was to create a space for artists (and other non biologists) within a
biological scientific department to engage in a critical research in an experiential way with the
manipulation of living system or parts of living systems. We refer to this kind of experiential work
as ‘getting one’s hands wet’ with life manipulation. An important part of SymbioticA’s original
purpose was, from the beginning, an ethical one. Engaging directly with the act of manipulating
life will enable artists to reflect on the wider cultural and ethical implications of biotechnology and
art practices which, in modern times, have generally been defined in binary opposition to the
living and the natural. As SymbioticA is located within a scientific School, and the artists are
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working in laboratories along side scientists, this wider reflection of the ethical and
epistemological consequences of life manipulation is shared (or ‘spilled’) to the work of the
scientists themselves who are examining their own practice from different perspectives.
SymbioticA also aspires to make artists feel equal to the scientists in their investigations and to
make the artist knowledgeable as well as critical of these issues. Again, there are ethical reasons
for this. Catts (2002) argues:
“As biological research departments in universities are encouraged by governments
to partner with “industry” and “defence”, the need for research into non-utilitarian
purposes becomes urgent. The exploration of contestable possibilities is important to
the understanding of the ways technology may develop. By fostering artistic critical
engagements with biological research, SymbioticA provides a “greenhouse” for
developing alternatives to the commercial mainstream”.xxi
Finally, SymbioticA’s staff and residents have to deal, on a daily basis, with ethical decisions
based on a case by case basis. SymbioticA is obviously obliged to work within the ethical
guidelines of the University, and regularly puts new challenges to committees that are geared to
deal with animal and human ethics in a scientific rather than the artistic context.
SymbioticA also ‘forces’ the artists and the viewers into an active role in the cycle of the life/death
of the biological matter. We encourage artists in SymbioticA to present their artwork while it is
alive. In many ways the experiment or the process that the artist is conducting is durational art
practice rather than perceiving the ‘result’ in the end of the process as the final art piece. The
experience should also explore the interaction of the living (or semi-living) artwork with the
audience (whether the scientists in the laboratory or the gallery visitors, patrons and stuff) and
vice verca. As the artwork is alive it is constantly changing. By that the artists are forcing the
audience to take an active role in the decisions in regard to the existence of the artwork, its
maintenance and its ultimate death. Observing art then becomes an active role in the
‘performance’ of the life and death of the artwork; an indifferent relation to the Other (that is
located somewhere in the continuum between the living and the non-living) is almost impossible.
SymbioticA was founded on the model of the Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A) that we
initiated in 1996. The Tissue Culture & Art projects are, in themselves, driven by ethical
considerations; they are in their very content and form, conceived in ethical terms. Hence the best
way to discuss the ethical issues raised by Bioart is to describe our projects.
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From Semi-Livings to Partial Life
Our artistic collective, called The Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A)xxii questions conventional
notions of human relations with other living systems, and the human position within the continuum
of life, by using living tissues from complex organismsxxi ii as a medium to create semi-living
sculptures and/or objects of partial life. The Semi-livings and Partial lives are a new class of
objects/beings constructed of living and non-living materials; cells and/or tissues from a complex
organism grown over/into synthetic scaffolds and kept alive with an artificial support. They are
both similar and different from other human artefacts (homo-sapiens’ extended phenotype) such
as constructed objects and selectively bred domestic plants and animals (both pets and
husbandry). These entities consist of living biological systems that are artificially designed and
need human and/or technological intervention in their construction, growth and maintenancexxiv.
By creating a hybrid partial life or semi-living entity which can be seen as part of life and part of
the constructed environment, which is in need of nurturing, care and mechanical repair, we are
forcing the audience to re-examine the continuum of life. It is important to note that in the level
that we are dealing with, that of the tissue, it is almost impossible (barring DNA tests) to
distinguish between different species, and needless to say, between human and non-human
tissue. Therefore, the continuum is not only about levels of organisation but also levels of
specialisation and perceived differences. The creation of object of partial life and semi-living
entities can be seen as an attempt to establish a reference to a new kind of body- that of the
complex organism - a meta-body - THE BODY. In the context of our work once a fragment is
taken from A BODY it becomes a part of THE BODY. The living fragment becomes part of a
higher order that includes all living tissues regardless of their current site. We see it as a symbolic
device that enhances the bond humans share with all living beings. The semi-living and partial
life are fragments of The BODY, nurtured in surrogate body –a techno-scientific one.
Semi-living and partial life can be seen as interchangeable terms the authors use to describe their
creations. There are however some nuances that the authors try to highlight by the choices of
using these terms; The Semi-Livings entities are usually shaped to forms that are not
recognisable as being part of any BODY in particular, partial life can be recognised as parts (i.e.
an ear) of a whole of a living being. Symbolically, in the continuum of life, the semi-livings entities
are nearer the non-living part of the scale, while objects of partial life are a approaching the fully
living. Therefore, when we present the semi-living we emphasise the technological aspects of the
work by constructing a laboratory in the gallery while with the objects of partial life, that we have
developed recently, the technology sustaining them in the gallery is beginning to be phased out.
Drawing on Singer’s idea of ethics, while pushing the goalpost even further than sentiency, we
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are suggesting that going beyond the “I” and “You”, specifically in the light of Western ontology
should mean going beyond race, sex, species and even more – in the continuum of life. For that
we have created a tangible evocative entity that is partially living and partially growing in the
gallery, as part of the artistic experience.
Our works emphasizes ethical concerns by staging rituals that attempt to expose and symbolize
our different and usually conflicting relations to living systems. These rituals are located inside a
laboratory situated in an art gallery: The rituals are performed for practical reasons - maintaining
the life and growth of the semi-living sculptures - as well as for conceptual reasons; by
celebrating and terminating artistic semi-living art forms, we trouble the conventional art viewer’s
autonomous reflective space. Our installations involve performative elements that emphasise the
responsibilities, as well as the intellectual and emotional impact, which results from manipulating
and creating living systems as part of an artistic process. The Feeding Ritual – is performed
routinely. Here we raise questions about the caring and nurturing needed for all life forms,
including Semi-Living sculptures. We invite the audience to view the process of feeding which is
done in a laboratory situated within the gallery as an integral part of the artistic experience. At the
end of every installation we are faced with the ultimate challenge of an artist – we have to literally
kill our creations. The works have to be terminated by the end of the show for both practical and
conceptual reasons. For that we devised the killing ritual. The killing is done by taking the Semi-
Living sculptures out of their containment and letting the audience touch (and be touched by) the
sculptures. The fungi and bacteria which exist in the air and on our hands are much more potent
than the cells. As a result the cells get contaminated and die (some instantly and some over
time). The Killing Ritual enhances the idea of the temporality of life and living art, and our
responsibility as manipulators to the new forms of life. The killing ritual can be seen as either
transforming back the semi-living to a “sticky mess of lifeless bits of meat” (as we as a society
prefer to examine collection of cells disassociated from their ‘whole’ the host organism, i.e a steak
in a butcher shop) or as an essential show of compassion; euthanasia of a living being that has
no one to care for it.
We also make a point to invite the people who invited us (curators, gallery directors, etc.) to
participate in the killing, as they also are responsible for the existence of the semi-living
sculptures presented in their show. On more then one occasion people from the audience have
approached us after the ritual and admitted that initially they did not believe our sculptures were
alive until they were killed.
From semi-living steak to Cannibalism and from ‘stupid’ tissue to sentient semi-living?
13
As part of our exploration of the relationships we form with our semi-living creations we
investigated the possibility of eating victimless meat by growing semi-living steaks from a biopsy
taken from an animal while keeping the animal alive and healthy.
This piece deals with one of the most common zones of interaction between humans and other
living systems, and probes the apparent uneasiness people feel when someone ‘messes’ with
their food. The project offers a form of “victimless” meat consumption. As the cells from the
biopsy proliferate, the ‘steak’ in vitro continues to grow and expand, while the source, the animal
from which the cells were taken, is healing. Potentially this work presents a future in which the
killing and suffering of animals destined for food consumption will be reduced. Furthermore,
ecological and economical problems associated with the food industry can be reduced
dramatically. However, by making our food a new class of object/being – a Semi-Living – we risk
making the Semi-Living a new class for exploitation.
The idea of growing steak independently from the animal is not newxxv. Our own research into this
project began as part of our residency at the Tissue Engineering & Organ Fabrication Laboratory
at Harvard Medical School in 2000. The first steak we grew was made out of pre-natal sheep
cells (skeletal muscle). We used cells harvested as part of research into tissue engineering
techniques in utero. The steak was grown from an animal that was not yet born: (fig 1)
This project was launched this year as part of L’art Biotech exhibition in France. We titled the
installation ‘Disembodied Cuisine’, playing on the notion of different cultural perceptions of what is
edible and what is foul. We grew semi-living frog steaks, with the intention of raising questions
about the French resentment towards engineered food and the objection by other cultures to the
consumption of frogs. We grew frog skeletal muscle over biopolymer for potential food
consumption while having the healthy frogs living alongside as part of the installation. In the last
day of the show steak was cooked and eaten in a Nouvelle Cuisine style dinner, and the four
frogs that we rescued from the farm were released to a beautiful pond in the local botanical
garden. (fig 2, 3)
The relations between biological artists and animal welfare groups are at best contentious.
Therefore we were wary when we received an email from the People for Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA) requesting to collaborate with us on the next phase of semi-living steak project.
Following Peter Singer’s utilitarian ethics and the rejection of speciest perceptions, we were
‘entertaining’ ourselves with the idea of creating semi-living steak made out of an adult
consenting human. PETA were offering us this human; their organization director Ingrid Newkirk.
Furthermore, Newkirk suggested eating her own flesh.
14
This is an interesting case as it demonstrates how TC&A project, through the ambiguity of its
artworks, manages to project ‘food for thought’ for scientists and technologists as well as animal
rights organizations and hopefully the wider public. TC&A does not attempt to give answers or
find solutions to the ethical dilemmas it raises, but rather to generate further debate and expose
our social inconsistencies towards the livings. We prefer our work to remain ambiguous as we
attempt to shift the audience from their ethical comfort zones by revealing society hypocrisies
towards the living and the lack of current ethical frameworks to deal with the shifts in the
continuum of life and the gradient of sentiency. While attempting to dislocate the audience ethical
position, we do not want to offer a ‘ready made’ alternative.
A recent project by the SymbioticA Research Group, titled MEART, is a –Semi-Living Artist.xx vi It
involves the use of rats’ neurons to move a robotic arm that produces marks on paper. This
project is ethically problematic: working with neurons (rather than other tissues) raises questions
in regard to consciousness, awareness and the ability to feel pain and emotional stress, even if
only in the symbolic realm. The original intention was to critique the use of neurons for
computational devices and the possibility of the creation of a sentient computer. As this project is
an on-going collaboration of many different people with their own sensitivities and ethical
framework, the reactions to this possibility and its ethical implications are varied and very
challenging to all people involved. The way this project can be read – as either celebratory or
critical of the technology - will probably depend largely on the context in which it is presented. The
first stage of this project (which was known then as “Fish & Chips”) used neurons from goldfish
brains to drive the robotic arm. In the following stages we worked with cultured rat neurons.
Public reaction mainly referenced the species from which the neurons originated.xxvii However
there is no visible or structural difference between human and rat nerve cells. Human neurons
have been introduced to rat and mice brains and functioned as part of the animals’ central
nervous system.xxviii Yet another ongoing project had already drawn considerable emotional
response because it involved human tissue (be it “stupid” tissue like cartilage) for a human
recipient, grown into a shape of a recognisable human organ – the external ear.
Extra Ear ¼ Scale (fig 4)
This project is a collaboration with Stelarc in which we are growing a ¼ scale replica of his ear
made out of human cartilage cells. The ear is cultured in a rotating micro-gravity bioreactor which
allows the cells to grow into a three dimensional structure. While we are interested in the various
discourses that surround issues of partial life and semi-living, Stelarc’s recent projects and
performances are concerned with the prosthetic. Stelarc perceives the prosthesis not as a sign of
15
lack, but as a symptom of excess.xxix Rather than replacing a missing or malfunctioning part of the
body, these artifacts are alternate additions to the body’s form and function. In this project
Stelarc’s notion of the prosthetic and our notion of semi-living meet to create an object of partial
life.
Extra ear – ¼ scale is about two collaborative concerns. The project presents a recognizable
human part. It is being presented as partial life and brings into question the notions of the
wholeness of the body. It also confronts broader cultural perceptions of ‘life’ given our increasing
ability to manipulate living systems. TC&A are dealing with the ethical and perceptual issues
stemming from the realization that living tissue can be sustained, grown, and is able to function
outside of the body.
The authors are interested in the ear as a standalone signifier of an independently existing part of
the body, and are less interested in the eventual attachment of the ear to the body. Even so, it
seems that this piece has managed to evoke reactions that none of our other works did. The
anthropocentric and religious view of the human body made in the image of God, motivated some
of the extreme reactions. One example is the Extra Ear ¼ Scale installation in the National
Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in September 2003: Due to the limited scope of this paper we will only
comment about the NGV refusal to allow us to use human tissue for this installation and their
somewhat strange request from us to declare that the work does not raise ethical issues:
According to the curators of the NGV, shortly (about two weeks) before the show was about to
open they realized that the NGV has no policy in regard to presenting living tissues in their
gallery, the director instructed the curator to seek clarification in regard to the project including a
statement from us that the work does not raise ethical issues in general and in particular in the
biomedical community. We could not reassure the gallery that this is the case as we see the
primary aim of our work to act as a tangible example of issues that need further ethical scrutiny,
and critically engage with the biomedical project. This was stated as our aim when we applied for
the human research ethics clearance from the University of Western Australia. Disregarding the
fact that this installation received ethics, safety and health clearances from UWA the NGV
decided to cancel the installation. Only to later ‘compromise’ and allow it do go ahead in the
condition that we did not use human tissue. Our attempt to deal with the human form received an
interesting twist in our dealing with the art establishment. While much of the attention we received
was a strong reaction against the disfigurement of the body with both the suggestion of implanting
an ear onto Stelarc’s body, and the distinctively human body part. That seems to also trouble the
NGV as in a number of occasions they cited previous controversial exhibition in the National
Gallery of Victoria in 1997 of ‘Piss Christ’ by Andrew Serrano. Correlating perceived blasphemy
with proposed modification to the human form, disfiguring the image of God. The compromise of
16
using animal cells, while keeping the proposition of the piece, enhanced our views in regard to
the meta-BODY of which all living fragments belong regardless of species and tissue type.
This example further emphasized our cultural sensitivities to human position within life continuum
– hence – the Judo-Christian view of God (as a sacred entity), and then Humans as a mirror of
God and their dominions over the other forms of life. The people who reacted so strongly did not
find our previous works, even these that included the use of neurons, worthy of their attention. It
was only when the human body got involved that they were offended. While we find this kind of
anthropocentric moral judgment problematic, we welcome it. It is an important aim of our work to
draw out such response, for it marks out the current frontier of human ethics.
Working with the Semi-Living and Partial Life we are confronted with the question; are we
creating another form of life for exploitation? Semi-Living as a replacement for meat production,
leather production and other venues of cruelty/exploitation of a whole organism can be seen as
ethically justified from an instrumental point of view. But more importantly for us, in the long term,
they confront the viewer with the realization that life is a continuum of the different metabolising
beings and in the transition from life to death and from the living to the non-living. Their existence
contradicts the conventional dichotomies that govern traditional and current Western ethical
systems.
We are facing a paradoxical situation in our approach at this stage: On one hand, mainly by the
use of human cell or human cell linesxxx we “better” manage to create a public dialogue in regard
to the use of living material by humans. On the other hand, at the level that we interact with living
systems - that of the cells and tissue - there is virtually no difference between human and other
mammalian cells. We do not want to practice speciesm; and we do not want to be restricted to
the use of solely humans’ tissue for the creation of a dialogue in relation to the position of humans
within the living world.
Closing Notes:
Drawing from a Motivist/Consequentialist perspective, Biological art is legitimate as long as the
artist is aware of his/her motives behind the work and taking the responsibility for the
consequences of his/her actions. As practicing biological artists, we will be alarmed when our
medium is not questioned. Our Semi-Livings and Partial life confront people’s perceptions of life.
As we stated in our application for ethical clearance from the Human Ethics Committee for the
Extra Ear ¼ Scale Project:
17
This project is intended to make the viewers rethink their perception of life. This will
undoubtedly cause uneasiness to some of the viewers. We feel that forcing people
out of their comfort zone is one of the major roles of contemporary artistic practice
dealing with the implications of the introduction of new technologies, and in particular
when these technologies are dealing with new modes of manipulation of living
systems.xxxi
Potential benefits to the participants and to humanity in general were laid out as such:
To the participant:
“We believe that the benefits to the viewers are that they will be drawn to reassess
their perceptions of life in the light of their encounter with a real tangible example of
the concept of partial life. This will hopefully assist them in forming an informed
opinion in regard to developments in the bio medical field, and will provide them with
the opportunity to meditate on what it means to be alive”.xxxii
To humanity generally:
“This project is part of a larger scale endeavor taken by artists internationally to deal
with new concepts of self and life that our society is being confronted with, in the
light of developments in the biomedical field. Art can play an important role in
generating a cultural discussion in regard to these issues. By presenting tangible
examples of contestable scenarios, art can act a starting point for a broader
philosophical and ethical discussion”.xxxiii
We are aware of the paradoxical position in which we are standing; on one hand we attempt to
break down specism and make humans part of a broader continuum. On the other hand we,
artists – humans, are using (abusing?) more privileged position to technically manipulate an
aesthetic experiment. How do we resolve this tension?! We believe that by the creation of this
new class of semi-living/partial life we further shift/blur/problematise the ethical goalpost in
relation to our (human) position in the continuum of life. The discussion that being generated
regarding the rights of the semi-living will draw attention to the conceptual frameworks in which
we humans understand and relate to the world.
Going back to the title of this paper; only when humans will realise that they are part of the
continuum of life will manipulating life not be as alarming as it now seems. We are not arguing for
the homogenisation of life and non-life, on the contrary, we are pointing a finger to the
complexities of life and the continuum between life and non-life in which we are a part of rather
than on top of. To manipulate life is to be at home with the Other that can be anything within this
continuum. Our life manipulated artwork are done with the humble attempt of ethical
18
consideration which goes beyond the “I” the “You” and even the “Human” (as much as our
humanness “burden” enables us).
i For example: Marc Quinn DNA Portrait of Sir John Sulston at the National Portrait Gallery in London
2001 or the Australian Justin Cooper MRI self Portrait 1998 titled Rapt.
ii A term coined by Sherry Turkle, a Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science
and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the director of the MIT
Initiative on Technology and Self, a center of research and reflection on the evolving connections between
people and artifacts in the co-construction of identity. http://web.mit.edu/sturkle/techself. Turkle explores
the relations humans form with objects that are ‘sort of alive’, ‘seems to us to be alive’ such as computers
and E-toys. For more see her book The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (London: Granada,
1984). In the last three years Turkle have been inviting us to discuss issues of Self and Identity in relations
to our ‘Semi-Living’ sculptures.
iii Jens Hauser, "Genes, Geneies, Genes," in L'art Biotech Catalogue, Trĕzĕlan France: Filigranes Ēditions,
2003 9 (translated by the Author).
iv Examples can be found in the fields of transgenic and xenotransplantation where non-human animals
genes, cells, tissues and even organs are being inserted or transplanted into humans and vise versus to either
create ‘better’ compatibility between humans and other animals for the purpose of transplantation or for the
investigation of diseases and possible treatments for human diseases. See for example ‘Humanised’ organs
can be grown in animals, New Scientist 17 December 03.
v George Gessert, “Notes on the Art of Plant Breeding,” L’art Biotech Catalogue, le lieu unique France
ISBN 2-914381-52-2 (March 2003): 47.
vi Peter Singer, Writings on an ethical life, GB:Fourth Estate, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers 2002
p.35
vii Ibid.
viii As stated in a conversation held with Singer during his visit to SymbioticA, School of anatomy and
Human Biology, the University of Western Australia 2002.
ix for more see: , Sylvia Pagan, Growing human organs on the farm Westphal, NewScientist 20/27
December 2003 pp. 4-5.
x The term speciesism was originally coined by Richard D. Ryder.
xi Regan Tom, All that dwell therein: Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics, University of California
Press: BerkeleyĒĒ-Los Angeles-London 1982 P.58
xii Ibid. p. 55
xiii Peter Singer, Writings on an ethical life, GB:Fourth Estate, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers 2002
p.27
xiv For more see: Gaia : A New Look at Life on Earth by James E. Lovelock, The Ages of Gaia: A
Biography of Our Living Earth by James E. Lovelock, Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis, and
Evolution by Lynn Margulis, Symbiotic Planet : A New Look at Evolution by Lynn Margulis,
Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors by Lynn Margulis and
Dorion Sagan, Reprinted May 1997 and Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth
by Lynn Margulis, Stephen Jay Gould, Karlene V. Schwartz, Alexander R. Margulis, 3rd Edition. January
1998.
xv The Australian Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published in 1999 The National
Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans
http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/pdf/e35.pdf P.57
xvi Marta. De Menezes, “The Artificial Natural: Manipulating Butterfly Wing Patterns for Artistic
Purposes”, Leonardo Vol. 36, No. 1 (2003): 29
xvii Ibid. p. 31
xviii You can find an extensive list of Butterfly symbolism on http://www.insects.org/ed4/symbol_list1.html
xix A Remote Control Roch was developed by Shimoyama's micro-robotics team and biologists at Tsukuba
University, Japan: http://www.intercorr.com/roach.htm
xx For more see: http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au
19
xxi Oron Catts, Biofeel Curator Statement, BEAP 2000 Catalogue John Curtin Gallery, Western Australia,
ISBN 1 740667 157 0 (August 2002)
xxii The Tissue Culture & Art Project was founded in 1996. For more see http://www.tca.uwa.edu.au
xxiii The way we obtain our raw materials is important for us to note; we are scavenging leftovers from
scientific research and/or food production.
xxiv For more see Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, Growing Semi-Living Sculptures, Leonardo 35:4, (August
2002): 365-370
xxv “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by
growing these parts separately under suitable medium” Winston Churchill, 50 Years Hence, Popular
Mechanic March 1932.
xxvi For more see http://www.fishandchips.uwa.edu.au
xxvii For example: “A rat is drawing this stuff? A dead rat? Lots of dead rats? Oh, Gross.” In The Robot
Won’t Bite You, Dear By Michelle Delio, Wired News 16.7.2003.
xxviii Neurons Derives from Human Teratocarcinoma Cell Line, Established Molecular and Structural
Polarity following Transplantation into the Rodent Brain, by Trojanowski J Q, Mantione J R, Lee J H, Seid
D P, You T, Inge L J, Lee V M, Experimental Neurorology 1993 August 122 (2): 283-294
xxix Stelarc, Clamenger Contemporary Art Award Catalogue National Gallery of Victoria September 2003:
30
xxx Cell lines are immortal cells that can divide indefinitely when given the appropriate conditions (such as
fresh nutrient medium and space). There are human cell lines that were originally derived from a human
donor already in the early ninety fifties and are in use these days, long after the death of the original donor.
xxxi Human Ethics Committee, Research Ethics, Research Services, the University of Western Australia.
Project No 0813 September 2003
xxxii Ibid.
xxxiii Ibid.
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... Biological arts remains a field with morphing boundaries. Its core moves along multiple trajectories that traverse engagement with living biological matter, including ethics (Zurr & Catts 2004), multispecies ecologies (Bates 2013), manipulation of organisms or parts of them (Menezes 2003), entwinement with biotechnology (Gessert 2010;Alistar & Pevere 2020), and more-than-human agency (Schubert 2017;Rapp 2020). ...
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The paper seeks to identify two different epistemological approaches within bio-design that have emerged as a result of historical and scientific influences, which are differentiated by methodological, linguistic, and ethical factors. The paper examines how such differences impact the design process and proposes a framework for eco-centric design thinking. Biological processes and living organisms have entered the fields of architecture and design, offering new solutions to ecological problems. In employing other species within the built environment, ethical implications for working with living organisms arise. The attitudes and methods adopted within the field of bio-design can be traced back to our historical relationship with nature. Humanity’s views on nature and the environment were radically redefined during the Enlightenment, adopting a mechanistic framework, depriving nature of its agency through a virulent rejection of mysticism, animism, and the Earth Mother image. These views were strengthened by the Industrial Revolution and later, 20th century practices enabled mass production and gluttonous use of finite natural resources. Within design these mechanistic principles have been applied in the field of bio-technology that is at the service of humanity, being integrated into the built environment in a similar way to inanimate matter. At the other end of the spectrum lies a non-anthropocentric bio-design practice that is based upon pre-Enlightenment thinking and the shift in rhetoric brought about by research into animal sentience, symbiosis and Gaia theory, which highlights human participation in complex interspecies networks. This ecological discourse postulates new modes of thinking within the field of design, placing humanity within a multitude of interdependent relationships, highlighting the need for human responsibility towards living organisms in the built environment and bringing forth a different set of ethical considerations within bio-design practice.
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The dissertation Media Art and Future Technologies. Art at the Interface Between Lab and Gallery focuses on current interrelationships between art and science. In the past few years, there has been a remarkable increase in attempts to foster the exchange between art, technology, and science – an exchange taking place at academies, museums, or even in research laboratories. Against this background, the dissertation analyzes two case studies on media art at the interface between lab and gallery. The interplay of art and technology is discussed within the context of the so-called Device Art in Japan. Actors in the field of Device Art position themselves in a national funding environment, in which art intersects with the promotion of the Japanese ‘content industry’. The second case study on international nanoart highlights interactive installations that are often created by media artists in collaboration with nanoscientists. Nanoart exemplifies the hope of artists, curators, and theorists to overcome the gap between the disparate spheres of art and science in our knowledge-based society. The two case studies on media art within the context of technology and science are bound together in a third chapter. Here, a discourse analysis illuminates the persistence of modernity’s rhetorical tropes in the current ‘art and science’ boom. The artistic positions under scrutiny thus appear as the ongoing attempt to localize media art’s role within technological and societal change. ‘Postmodern’ media art is endowed with modern hopes for the future. Die Dissertation Media Art and Future Technologies. Art at the Interface Between Lab and Gallery widmet sich aktuellen Verbindungen von Kunst und Wissenschaft. In den letzten Jahren ist es zu einem regelrechten Boom von Massnahmen und Programmen gekommen, die den Austausch von Kunst, Technologieentwicklung und Wissenschaft an Akademien, in Museen oder in Forschungslaboren fördern. Vor diesem Hintergrund widmet sich die vorliegende Arbeit zwei Fallstudien zu Medienkunst an der Schnittstelle von Labor und Kunstausstellung. Das Zusammenspiel von Kunst und Technologie wird am Beispiel der sogenannten Device Art aus Japan erörtert. Akteure im Bereich der Device Art positionieren sich in einem nationalen Förderumfeld, in welchem sich die Kunst mit der Förderung der japanischen ‚content industry’ überschneidet. Die zweite Studie zu internationaler Nanokunst beleuchtet interaktive Installationen, die von Medienkünstlern häufig in Kooperation mit Nanowissenschaftlern entworfen werden. ‚Nanoart’ exemplifiziert den Wunsch von Künstlern, Kuratoren und Theoretikern unserer als Wissensgesellschaft beschriebenen Gesellschaft, zwischen den disparaten Sphären Kunst und Wissenschaft eine Brücke zu schlagen. Schliesslich umfasst die Dissertation eine Extrapolation von den kunstsoziologisch angelegten Fallstudien und eröffnet in einer diskursanalytisch angelegten Untersuchung einen Blick auf das Fortleben modernistischer Rhetoriken in aktuellen ‚art and science’ Kollaborationen. Die besprochenen künstlerischen Positionen werden hier mit dem andauernden Versuch kurzgeschlossen, die Rolle der Medienkunst in technologischem und gesellschaftlichem Wandel zu verorten und sie dabei als Kunst der Zukunft zu beschreiben.
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For the past fifteen years, two innovations featuring bio-medical and techno-scientific components have entered the food sector: nutri-genetic testing and meat in vitro. This article focuses on the promises which accompany them. To grasp and understand them, the authors have focussed on their introduction in the public sphere, the identity of their developers and the social issues raised. The cross-analysis of these promises leads to critical examination concerning the ‘empowerment’ of the two most meaningful normative injunctions in the dietary sphere: improving one’s health and protecting the environment. While these innovations foster the capacity of people to guide their diets, at the same time they reinforce a dependency on technology and those who possess it. Depuis une quinzaine d’années, deux innovations à composante biomédicale et technoscientifique s’immiscent dans le domaine alimentaire : les tests nutri-génétiques et la viande in vitro. Cet article s’intéresse aux promesses qui les accompagnent. Pour les appréhender, les auteurs se sont penchés sur leur introduction dans l’espace public, l’identité de leurs promoteurs et les enjeux sociaux soulevés. L’analyse croisée de ces promesses conduit à une réflexion critique sur l’autonomisation autour des deux injonctions normatives les plus prégnantes dans le domaine alimentaire : améliorer sa santé et protéger l’environnement. Si ces innovations nourrissent la capacité des individus à conduire leur alimentation, elles renforcent dans le même temps une dépendance à la technique et à ses possesseurs.
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Drastic changes in technology, economy, and society will be the harbingers of a different future. Agri-food industry will both be affected by the changes and the source of some of the changes, such as smart farming, gen technology, vertical agriculture, and sensor technology. These technological changes will alter the structure of the agriculture sector as well as change its relationship and interactions with other industries. But, the question of which technologies will breakthrough and deliver disruptive innovations remains. We conclude that the debate about the social integration of new technologies is essential. Social innovation and acceptance of new technologies have to be taken into account, as well as possible environmental and health-related consequences. It is also important to discuss the changing skill sets that will be required from farmers in the future. The technological solution to a problem or challenge may generate new and unforeseen challenges. The agri-food sector will need to consider the rebound effects. Decisions about adopting new technologies should be made in the context of potential risks, including that of not applying a new technology.
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Tissue engineering promises to replace and repair body organs but has largely been overlooked for artistic purposes. In the last 6 years, the authors have grown tissue sculptures, semi-living objects, by culturing cells on artificial scaffolds. The goal of this work is to culture and sustain for long periods tissue constructs of varying geometrical complexity and size, and by that process to create a new artistic palette to focus attention on and challenge perceptions regarding the utilization of new biological knowledge.
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Recent advances in biology allow interference with normal animal development, making possible the creation of novel live organisms. The author's project explores this potential through her work in a laboratory creating live adult butterflies with wing patterns modified for artistic purposes. Although these patterns are determined by direct human intervention, they are made exclusively of normal live cells. As genes from the germ line are left untouched, the new patterns are not transmitted to the offspring. Therefore, this form of art literally lives and dies. It is simultaneously art and life.
  • Jens Iii
  • Hauser
iii Jens Hauser, "Genes, Geneies, Genes," in L'art Biotech Catalogue, Trĕzĕlan France: Filigranes Ēditions, 2003 9 (translated by the Author).
Notes on the Art of Plant Breeding
  • George Gessert
George Gessert, "Notes on the Art of Plant Breeding," L'art Biotech Catalogue, le lieu unique France ISBN 2-914381-52-2 (March 2003): 47.
Writings on an ethical life, GB:Fourth Estate, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers
  • Peter Xiii
  • Singer
xiii Peter Singer, Writings on an ethical life, GB:Fourth Estate, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers 2002 p.27
viii As stated in a conversation held with Singer during his visit to SymbioticA, School of anatomy and Human Biology, the University of Western Australia 2002. ix for more see: , Sylvia Pagan, Growing human organs on the farm Westphal
viii As stated in a conversation held with Singer during his visit to SymbioticA, School of anatomy and Human Biology, the University of Western Australia 2002. ix for more see:, Sylvia Pagan, Growing human organs on the farm Westphal, NewScientist 20/27 December 2003 pp. 4-5.