SONIC EUKARYOTES: SONOCYTOLOGY, CYTOPLASMIC MILIEU AND THE TEMPS INTERIEUR

2 03 2009

By SOPHIA ROOSTH

At the beginning, the whole body or organism raises up a sculpture or statue of tense skin, vibrating amid voluminous sound, open-closed like a box (or drum), capturing that by which it is captured. We hear by means of the skin and the feet. We hear with the cranial box, the abdomen and the thorax. We hear by means of the muscles, nerves, and tendons. Our body-box, stretched with strings, veils itself within a global tympanum. We live amid sounds and cries, amid waves rather than spaces the organism moulds and indents itself…I am a house of sound, hearing and voice at once, black box and sounding-board, hammer and anvil, a grotto of echoes, a musicassette, the ear’s pavilion, a question mark, wandering in the space of messages filled or stripped of sense.…I am the resonance and the tone, I am altogether the mingling of the tone and its resonance.i

–Michel Serres

That we have no ears to hear the music the spores shot off from basidia make obliges us to busy ourselves microphonically.ii

–John Cage

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SOPHIA ROOSTH

2 03 2009

Sophia Roosth is a doctoral candidate in the Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. Her research focuses on the anthropology of the experimental life sciences, specifically the emerging field of synthetic biology. In studying the construction of biotic systems de novo, Sophia is most interested in examining how biological materials are designed, fabricated, and standardized; how engineering idioms are imported into biological practice; and how engineers are intervening into biological temporality. More broadly, she is concerned with the ontology of biological substance, the intersection of biology and design, and the discursive traffic between organisms and machines. She also writes about the use of acoustic technologies to listen to cells.





ZOE-PHILIA AND THE PREDICAMENT OF ANTHROPOCENTRISM

24 02 2009

By MONIKA BAKKE

Bio-technologies produce, modify, and sustain life in forms no longer comprehensible within the traditional Western frameworks, nonetheless the distinction made by the Greeks between the two terms for life – bios and zoe – still proves to be very useful. Zoe, as Rabinow points out, ‘referred to the simple fact of being alive and applied to all living beings per se’ while bios ‘indicated the appropriate form given to a way of life of an individual or group.’ (Rabinow 2002, 15) Historically, only bios – the good life – has been considered worth philosophical attention as limited strictly to humans (although, Aristotle excluded e.g. women and slaves), while zoe as its animal other remained marginalized in the phallogocentric tradition of the West.

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MONIKA BAKKE

24 02 2009

bakke_photo

Dr. Monika Bakke, Polish, 1967, assistant professor, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, Philosophy Department, bakkemonika@yahoo.com

She writes on contemporary art and aesthetics with a particular interest in cross-cultural, gender and posthumanist perspectives. She is an author of a book Cialo otwarte [Open Body] (2000), co-author of Pleroma. Art in Search of Fullness (1998), an editor of Estetyka Aborygenow [Australian Aboriginal Aesthetics] (2004) and Going Aerial. Air, Art, Architecture (2006). Since 2001 she has been working as an editor of a Polish cultural magazine Czas Kultury [Time of Culture].





BACTERIA BIOLOGY AND BLOOD

22 02 2009

By KATHLEEN ROGERS

My artistic themes reflect on the limits of life and death in the context of molecular genetics. The installation, Tremor, was produced in April 2007 using video microscopy in the context of developmental biology and zebrafish genomics. Extreme close up evaluations of mutant zebrafish embryos were used capture the essence of the life force as movement, but also show, paradoxically, that making and unmaking the gene requires a pathological trespass into the mystery it seeks to reveal. In microscopic studies of embryonic growth, visual distortions, physical vibrations, shadows, reflections, scratches, and microbial parasites randomly appear. Awkward co-ordination of eye and hand movements, control of the image and the limitations of a fixed viewpoint were used to engage the viewer in a visceral and psychological reading of a mediated life form. I showed how physical contact and looking create tremors and palpitations that are tactile, reactive and deadly because the embryonic organism is sensitve and frequently dies.

k1 Stills, Tremor (2007)

Zebrafish belong to a group of model organisms deliberately bred to study vertebrate development. They are used to search for mutations randomly using classical forward genetics, and then selectively bred. Historically, shared characteristics suggested linear chains with humans as the dominant species, but as the all life is revealed in greater genetic complexity, it sheds new light on human evolution and our interconnection to other species becomes more pervasively subtle. Humans share ancestors with fish but the transgenic application of our molecular self to other species now renders evolutionary comparisons redundant.

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KATHLEEN ROGERS

22 02 2009

KRogers

University College for the Creative Arts, Farnham.

www.kathleenrogers.co.uk krogers(at)ucreative.ac.uk

My artistic practise engages with the life sciences. My process is a combination of intuitive review, associative and non-explicit, trying things out and theoretical review. I use collections, fragments of things, collage and poetics as part of an immersive process and apply varieties of visual media and materials as a research method. Artistic creation and reception is formed around sensory experience and in my work I explore how aspects of human biology can become more directly accessible in emotional and aesthetic terms.





BRAD SMITH

15 01 2009

brad-smith-portrait

Brad Smith, U.S.A., 1956, is Associate Dean for Creative Work, Research, and Graduate Education at the School of Art and Design, University of Michigan. He is also a Research Associate Professor in Radiology at the University of Michigan. Smith’s current work addresses the intersections of science and art with a focus on reproductive technology and its impact on society’s understanding of the social, ethical, and political status of the embryo. Smith investigates visualization methods for cardiovascular development and has established globally adapted protocols for Magnetic Resonance Microscopy study of embryos. He creates animations and graphics demonstrating developmental biology for museums and documentary film companies. brdsmith@umich.edu

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~brdsmith/