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Machinic Assemblages of the Non/Living: Bioart and Uncontainable Life
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Critical Life Studies Research Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8520-6785
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Bioart is an increasingly popular current of contemporary art which involves the use of biological (”living”) materials and employment of bioscientific procedures, protocols, and tools. This also means that bioartworks often result from the collaboration between artists and scientists. As any other form of tinkering with life in the frames of wet biology laboratory, bioartistic practices generate waste on a daily basis. It is not only laboratory materials, rubber gloves, or chemical substances that need to be disposed in accordance with lab protocols; the very life itself, the organisms, cells, tissues, bacteria, and all other forms of the living – once they “fulfil the ascribed role” – are to be disposed as well. In the latter case, yet, the “disposal” may also be understood as neutralisation or killing as the organisms cannot be sustained in the lab anymore (“are no longer useful”?), nor can they leave the lab. As the bioartists, Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts (Tissue Culture & Art Project) put it, “when life leaves the lab it is almost always waste”. In their own projects, which do not only consist in growing semi-living sculptures out of tissue cultures seeded on biopolymer scaffoldings of different shapes, but also include the involvement of the audience, TC&A draw attention to this very instrumental position which life itself occupies in the context of contemporary bioscience and technology. At the same time, both their artworks and narratives challenge the popular (transhumanist) discourse on manageability and control over life In this paper I will look at how the concept of the disposable/waste, which is increasingly problematised not only within environmental science, but also philosophy, sociology and cultural studies, may allow for a problematisation of life and the living entwined in the procedures constitutive of a bioartistic laboratory. Furthermore, whilst concentrating on the intertwinement between human and nonhuman, organic and inorganic, living and non-living that all fall into the category of “life”, I will introduce the concept of the non/living as a more adequate and fruitful way of approaching this dynamic assemblage. Finally, I will inquire about possible ways in which the assemblage of the non/living may enable a rethinking of ethics in a non-anthropocentric manner.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
life, bioart, waste, uncontainability, gender
National Category
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-120920OAI: diva2:849733
8th International Deleuze Studies Conference “Daughters of Chaos: Practice, Discipline, A Life” in Stockholm, 29.06-1.07.2015
Available from: 2015-08-31 Created: 2015-08-31 Last updated: 2015-09-04

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Radomska, Marietta
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The Department of Gender StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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ReferencesLink to record
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