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September 21, 2005

Telepresence and Bio Art


Transgressing the Interface

Telepresence and Bio Art: Transgressing the Interface, a seminar and workshop with and about EDUARDO KAC is arranged by The Aesthetics of Interface Culture: KaserneScenen, Store Sal. Institute for Aesthetic Studies, University of Aarhus, Langelandsgade 139. 6 October 2005. Workshop 7 October, 2005. PROGRAMME FOR THE SEMINAR: 9.30-9.35: Welcome and introduction; 9.35-11.00: Eduardo Kac, Chicago: "Telepresence and Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits and Robots":

After an introduction contextualizing his pioneering telepresence work, in progress since the mid-1980s, Kac will give examples and further discuss his current transgenic work. Eduardo Kac's art deals with issues that range from the mythopoetics of online experience (Uirapuru) to the cultural impact of biotechnology (Genesis); from the changing condition of memory in the digital age (Time Capsule) to distributed collective agency (Teleporting an Unknown State); from the problematic notion of the "exotic" (Rara Avis) to the creation of life and evolution (GFP Bunny).

Kac will conclude with a brief explanation of his most recent transgenic works -- "GFP Bunny", "The Eighth Day", and "Move 36". "GFP Bunny" is comprised of three elements: the birth of a rabbit that has a gene from a jellyfish (a gene that produces green fluorescent protein), the public dialogue that the project has generated, and the social integration of the rabbit in the context of the artist's family. "The Eighth Day" is a transgenic ecology that includes a biological robot, all linked interactively to the Internet. "Move 36" sheds light on the limits of the human mind and the increasing capabilities developed by computers and robots, and includes a new plant created by the artist. Following the lecture, the artist will autograph copies of his just released book, Telepresence and Bio Art -- Networking Humans, Rabbits and Robots, published by The University of Michigan Press.

11.00-11.30: Coffee break
11.30-12.30: Jacob Wamberg, University of Aarhus: "Guided Evolution: Between aesthetic and teleological judgement"

Moving into telepresence and the manipulation of biological material, art seems to fulfill its oldest desire: engulfing that reality which before it could only dream about. With telepresence the viewer is transformed to an actor breaking through the representational screen, and with bio art sculptures are becoming more alive than Pygmalion’s mistress. What does this transgression of the medium mean for the concept of art? Especially the creation of organisms could reactuate Kant’s dictum of disinterestedness, as nothing seems less apt for being instrumentalized than life itself. On the other hand, legitimizing the evolution of new organisms purely on aesthetic terms seems just as irresponsible. This paper will opt for a ‘weak teleology’.

12.30-13.30: Lunch
13.30-14.30: Claus Emmeche, Niels Bohr Institute: "Attractive mysteries of the organism?"

What are the relations between true monsters and biological organisms? The question comes to mind when facing not only creatures created by biotech industries for the purpose of utility, but also seeing recent artistic uses of "real" organisms. Here, utility, aesthetics, and technoscience meet in a new form of monsters, raising questions of the ontology of other forms of hybrids than known from classical natural history. I will comment upon some of the open problems in the creation of artificial life and hybrids from the perspective of philosophy of biology and biosemiotics, the study of life processes as sign processes.

14.30-14.45: Coffee break
14.45-15.30: Discussion and concluding remarks


Kac' work sparks discussions on the relations between semiotics, art, technology and life, which will be the subject of the open seminar described above. In addition to the public seminar interested researchers, Ph.D. students and art professionals will have the possibility to participate in a more intimate closed workshop 7 October with a limited number of participants. To participate a short (1-2 pages) position paper in English is required, where you present yourself, your research and how it relates to (elements of) Kac' work – see http://www.ekac.org/. Send paper to pold@multimedia.au.dk with the subject "Kac workshop" in MS Word format. Deadline: 19 september. Only a limited number of participants will be admitted, notification of acceptance necessary to enter.

The workshop will take place 7 October from 10-14 at Turing 130 in the IT-Park, Aabogade 34.

Posted by jo at September 21, 2005 02:00 PM