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folio Časopis za sodobno umetnost, kulturo in veselje do življenja Magazine for contemporary art, culture and the joy of life Letnik 4 (2012) / Volume 4 (2012), Maribor, Slovenia ISSN 1855-8976

Posebna številka Soft Control: znanost, umetnost in tehnološko nezavedno Special issue Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious


Dobrodošli v branje

Join us in reading

Vsebina posebne številke časopisa Folio je namenjena aktualni sedanjosti, s pogledom v preteklost in z napovedmi prihodnosti. Kaj so bistvena in temeljna vprašanja življenja in živega, po čem in s čim presojamo svet okoli sebe in kako doživljamo korenite spremembe in možnosti, ki nam jih ponujajo sodobne tehnologije, robotika, biologija, genetika, transgenetika in druge veje znanosti? Folio 2012 je v celoti posvečen mednarodni razstavi “Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno” s spremljevalnim izobraževalnim programom, ki je nastal v slovenski koprodukciji Koroške galerije likovne umetnosti v Slovenj Gradcu in Kulturno izobraževalnega društva KIBLA v Mariboru konec leta 2012 v okviru Evropske prestolnice kulture Maribor in partnerskih mest 2012. V posebni številki Folia se predstavljajo kurator, umetnice in umetniki, ki so sodelovali na tej razstavi in pri izobraževalnem programu. Osrednji dogodek izobraževalnega programa je bila dvodnevna mednarodna interdisciplinarna konferenca Umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno z dvema tematskima sklopoma: “Tehnološka snov in novo stanje živega” ter “Tehnološko nezavedno kot medij”, ki jo je zasnoval kurator Dmitry Bulatov in moderiral dr. prof. Dmitry Galkin z državne univerze v Tomsku, Rusija. Ta konferenca je glavni vsebinski vir te posebne tematske številke Folia, ki je v večjem delu transkripcija živih nastopov. Tokrat v ospredje postavljamo umetnice in umetnike, ki v svoji praktični ustvarjalnosti povezujejo znanstvene in umetniške module, saj je Folio na splošno namenjen predvsem predstavitvam umetnic in umetnikov. Na konferenčnih omizjih so soočili svoja zanimiva stališča in vprašanja, ki se porajajo skozi ustvarjalne postopke. Ali smo res lahko kreatorji novega življenja? Ali lahko nadzorujemo življenje in smrt? Kakšen je naš odnos do vsega novo ustvarjenega v znanstvenih laboratorijih in v umetnosti? Odpirajo se nova ontološka vprašanja o živem in novoživosti ter o vmesnih oblikah, kot so polživost in liminalno. Leo Peschta, Ursula Damm, Andy Gracie, Bill Vorn, James Auger in Jimmy Loizeau, Polona Tratnik, Miomir Knežević, Marko Strbad in Ajda Marič, Kuda begut sobaki, Brandon Ballengee, Vicky Isley in Paul Smith, Marina Abramović s Suzanne Dikker in Matthiasom Oostrikom, David Bowen, Guy Ben-Ary in dr. Kirsten Hudson, Tuur Van Balen, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Louis-Philippe Demers in Jurij Krpan so razpravljali o teh vprašanjih in razkrivali tisto, kar se tiče nas vseh v prihodnosti. Ločeno od teh predstavitev in polemik bomo v zborniku, ki je že v pripravi, lahko prebrali teoretske zapise glavnih govorcev konference in govorcev ostalega spremljevalnega programa: dr. Andrew Pickering z Univerze Exeter v Veliki Britaniji, Stelarc, profesor na Univerzi Brunel v Londonu in Univerzi Western Sydney v Avstraliji, dr. prof. Roy Ascott z Univerze Plymouth v Veliki Britaniji, dr. prof. Erkki Huthamo z Univerze v Los Angelesu, ZDA, Alla Mitrofanova iz Sankt Peterburga, Rusija in Pier Luigi Capucci, milanska mednarodna akademija za umetnost in oblikovanje v Italiji.

The contents of this year’s special issue of Folio magazine is intended for current times, with a view of the past and an announcement of the future. Which are the crucial and fundamental questions concerning life and the living; the principles and means to judge the world around us; and what is our perspective on the radical changes and possibilities offered to us by modern technologies, robotics, biology, genetics, transgenetics and other sciences? Folio 2012 is dedicated entirely to the international exhibition “Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious” with the accompanying educational program, which was created as a coproduction between the KGLU Art Gallery from Slovenj Gradec and the Association for Culture and Education KIBLA from Maribor, towards the end of 2012, as part of the European Capital of Culture Maribor and partner cities 2012. This special issue of Folio presents the curator and the artists collaborating in the exhibition and educational program. The showpiece event of the educational program was a two-day international interdisciplinary conference Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious with two thematic sections: “Technological Matter and the New State of the Living” and “The Technological Unconscious as a Medium”, conceived by curator Dmitry Bulatov and moderated by Dr. Prof. Dmitry Galkin, Tomsk State University, Russia. This conference is the main content source of this specially themed issue of Folio, and the texts are mostly transcriptions of the speaker’s live performances. This time the spotlight is reserved for the artists who connect scientific and artistic modules through their practical creativity, as Folio is generally intended mostly for the artists’ presentations. At panel discussions they confronted each other’s compelling viewpoints and the issues that were raised in their creative processes. Can we really become the creators of a new life? Can we control life and death? What is our attitude towards all things newly created in science labs and inside art? New ontological questions are being addressed: about the living and neolifism, and about the intermediary forms like the semi-living and the liminal. Leo Peschta, Ursula Damm, Andy Gracie, Bill Vorn, James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, Polona Tratnik, Miomir Knežević, Marko Strbad and Ajda Marič, Kuda begut sobaki, Brandon Ballengee, Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, Marina Abramović with Suzanne Dikker and Matthias Oostrik, David Bowen, Guy Ben-Ary and dr. Kirsten Hudson, Tuur Van Balen, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Louis-Philippe Demers and Jurij Krpan have been discussing these issues and revealing that which concerns all of us in the future. Apart from these presentations and polemics we are already preparing a separate collection of texts, in which we will be reading through the theoretical writings of keynote speakers of the conference, as well as the writings of the speakers of the accompanying program: Dr. Prof. Andrew Pickering, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, Stelarc, Brunel University London, UK and University of Western Sydney, Australia, Dr. Prof. Roy Ascott, Plymouth University, United Kingdom, Dr. Prof. Erkki Huhtamo, University of California Los Angeles, USA, Alla Mitrofanova, St Petersburg, Russia, Pier Luigi Capucci, NABA, Milan, Italy. Kindly welcome, and join us in reading. Snežana Štabi and Aleksandra Kostič

Vabljeni in dobrodošli v branje. Snežana Štabi Aleksandra Kostič

Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, I. del: Z dna navzgor Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious, Part I: Bottom-Up. Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti, Slovenj Gradec, Slovenija. November–december 2012 Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, II. del: Z vrha navzdol Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious, Part II: Top-Down. KIBLA Portal, Maribor, Slovenija. November–december 2012 Direktorica projekta / Director of the project: Aleksandra Kostič Kurator projekta / Curator of the project: Dmitry Bulatov

Spletna stran Soft Control 2012 / Soft Control 2012 website: Produkcija / Production: Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti Koroška Art Gallery (SI) Slovenj Gradec, Slovenija Marko Košan, direktor / Director Jernej Kožar, produkcija / Project Team Kulturno izobraževalno društvo KIBLA Association for Culture and Education KIBLA (SI) Maribor, Slovenija Aleksandra Kostič, predsednica / President Lidija Pačnik Awais, Dejan Pestotnik, Simon Sedmak, Snežana Štabi, produkcija / Project Team V sodelovanju z / With the participation by Nacionalni center za sodobno umetnost The National Centre for Contemporary Arts (RU) Kaliningrad, Rusija Elena Tsvetaeva, direktorica / Director Elena Ryabkova, Pomočnica kuratorja / Assistant curator Posebna zahvala za sodelovanje Laboratorijskega centra Univerze v Mariboru in dr. Avreliji Cenčič / Special credits: Laboratory center of the University of Maribor and Dr. Avrelija Cenčič, for their cooperation

FOLIO Letnik 4 (2012), posebna številka Volume 4 (2012), special issue, Maribor, Slovenija ISSN 1855-8976 Folio je vpisan v razvid medijev Ministrstva RS za kulturo pod zaporedno številko 1455. / Folio magazine is entered in the mass media register of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia under order No 1455. Folio izhaja v slovenskem in angleškem jeziku. / Folio is published in Slovenian and English language.

Izdajatelj časopisa / Publisher: Kulturno izobraževalno društvo KIBLA Asssociation for Culture and Education KIBLA Zanjo / Represented by: Aleksandra Kostič, predsednica KID KIBLA / President of ACE KIBLA Naslovnica / Cover: Polona Tratnik, Iniciacija / Initiation. SC 2012. Fotografija / Photo Damjan Švarc Copyright © 2012 ACE KIBLA Photographs Copyright © Authors and ACE KIBLA Vse pravice pridržane. / All rights reserved. Urednici / Editors: Snežana Štabi in Aleksandra Kostič Fotografije / Photo: Damjan Švarc, Matej Kristovič, Boštjan Lah, Kuda begut sobaki Video prenos konference – posnetki / Conference video stream – recordings: Marko Šalamun in Marko Knehtl Prevodi in transkripcije • Translation and transcription: Helena Fošnjar Lektura / Proof reading: Cameron Bobro, Mirjana Predojevič Prelom / Layout: Samo Lajtinger, Snežana Štabi, Aleksandra Kostič Tisk / Printing: Bograf d. o. o. Naklada / Print run: 1.000 izvodov / 1,000 copies Tiskano v Sloveniji 2013. / Printed in Slovenia 2013. Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno je del triletnega projekta Soft Control (2012–2015), podprtega s strani EU Kultura, ki ga koordinira / Soft Control: Art, Science and the Tecnological Unconscious is part of the project Soft Control (2012–2015), funded with support from the European Commission Program Culture, coordinated by Kulturno izobraževalno društvo KIBLA Maribor, Slovenija / Slovenia in povezuje evropske partnerje / and conneting European partners: Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti Slovenj Gradec, Slovenija / Slovenia Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto Porto, Portugalska / Portugal Centre for new media culture RIXC Riga, Latvija / Latvia International Centre for Art and New Technologies CIANT Praga, Republika Češka / Czech Republic Hangar, Centre for research and production for the visual arts Barcelona, Španija / Spain MMSU, Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti Rijeka, Hrvaška / Croatia Dom omladine Beograd Beograd, Srbija / Serbia O3ONE Beograd, Srbija / Serbia http://softcontrol.info/ Finančna podpora / Supported by: S podporo programa Kultura Evropske unije. / With the support of the programme Culture of the European Union. Izvedba tega projekta je financirana s strani Evropske komisije. Vsebina publikacije je izključno odgovornost avtorjev in v nobenem primeru ne predstavlja stališč Evropske komisije. / This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Zahvala podjetjem / Credits: Tehnooptika Smolnikar d. o. o., Iskra Pio d. o. o., Mikro+Polo d. o. o., Biobanka d. o. o., Domel Tehtnica d. o. o., Intereuropa d. d., Soundbiro d. o. o., Europlakat d. o. o., President d. o. o., Kommunio d. o. o., Terme Maribor d. d., Avtocenter Šerbinek d. o. o., Varnost Maribor d. d. Podpora / Support S podporo programa Kultura Evropske unije. / With the support of the programme Culture of the European Union. Ministrstvo za izobraževanje, znanost, kulturo in šport Republike Slovenije / Ministry for education, science, culture and sport of the Republic of Slovenia MARIBOR 2012 – Evropska prestolnica kulture / MARIBOR 2012 – European Capital of Culture Mestna občina Slovenj Gradec / Municipality of Slovenj Gradec Mestna občina Maribor / Municipality of Maribor Ministrstvo za gospodarski razvoj in tehnologijo v okviru OP IPA SI-HR 2007–2013 / Ministry of economic development and technology in the framework of OP IPA SI-HR 2007–2013 Deutsche Botschaft Laibach / Nemško veleposlaništvo Ljubljana EU Japan Fest Japan Committee Urad za mladino RS / Office of the RS for Youth Javni sklad Republike Slovenije za kulturne dejavnosti / Republic of Slovenia Public Fund for Cultural Activities S pomočjo programa javnih del Zavoda Republike Slovenije za zaposlovanje. / With support of Employment Service of Slovenia (public works).


Dmitry Bulatov 6

Princip ustvarjanja nove resničnosti The Principle of Creating a New Reality Aleksandra Kostič

Kuda Begut Sobaki 15 Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr Novoživost Neolifism

20

David Bowen

50

Vicky Isley & Paul Smith 54 Prava polžja pošta Real Snail Mail

STELARC

Izvor bitij The Origin of Creatures

Polona Tratnik Iniciacija Initiation

Ursula Damm

Toplogredni pretvornik Greenhouse Converter

Seiko Mikami

26 28 30

Informatika očesnega sledenja Eye-Tracking Informatics

Andrew Gracie 32 Mušice za Titan Flies for Titan Razparač The Ripper

36

Robotika kot možen odgovor Robotics as the Way

James Auger & Jimmy Loizeau 38

Mesojedi hišni roboti in Onostranstvo Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots and Afterlife

Arthur Elsenaar & Remko Scha 41 Morfologija – premik obraza Morphology – Face Shift

Maja Smrekar

57

Louis-Philippe Demers Gre za zaznavanje It's all Just About the Perception

Joe Davis

62

Neurotica

63

42

MaSm Metatransformacija MaSm Metatransformation

Brandon Ballengée 44

60

Kako narediti ogenj Making Fire Tihi plaz Silent Barrage

Marina Abramović Suzanne Dikker & Matthias Oostrik

64

Guy Ben-Ary & Kirsten Hudson

67

Skupinsko strmenje Mutual Gaze

Leo Peschta 35

Praeter Naturam

Umetna mi(s)toza Artificial Mi(s)tosis

49

Mušji tweet in Mušji cepelini Fly Tweet & Fly Blimps

Floris Kaayk 25

Bill Vorn

Louis-Philippe Demers

Konstruirani možgani Manufactured Brains

Tuur Van Balen 70

Tehnologija v vsakdanjem življenju The Technology in Our Everyday Lives

Stefan Doepner & Lars Vaupel 72

The Drill Bot – Robot Partner 3.0

Jurij Krpan 73

Zoe in Bios v galeriji Kapelica Zoe and Bios at Kapelica Gallery

Sveži principi domačega bioarta 75

Fresh Principles of Slovenian Bioart Špela Petrič, Maja Smrekar in Saša Spačal Miha Colner & Ida Hiršenfelder


Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, I. del: Z dna navzgor / Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious, Part I: Bottom-Up. Otvoritev razstave v Koroški galeriji likovnih umetnosti, Slovenj Gradec / Exhibition opening in Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti in Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia. November 2012. Fotografije / Photos: Matej Kristovič, Boštjan Lah, Kuda begust sobaki


Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, II. del: Z vrha navzdol / Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious, Part II: Top-Down. Otvoritev razstave v Mariboru, KIBLA Portal / Exhibition opening in KIBLA Portal in Maribor, Slovenia. November 2012. Fotografije / Photos: Matej Kristovič, Boštjan Lah, Kuda begust sobaki


folio / volume 4 (2012) / / 6

Dmitry Bulatov PRINCIP USTVARJANJA NOVE RESNIČNOSTI THE PRINCIPLE OF CREATING A NEW REALITY Aleksandra Kostič

Dmitry Bulatov (1968, Kaliningrad) je umetnostni teoretik, umetnik in od leta 1998 zaposlen kot višji kustos Baltskega oddelka Nacionalnega centra za sodobno umetnost v Kaliningradu. V svojem raziskovalnem delu se osredotoča na različne vidike interdisciplinarnih umetniških medijev (znanost in umetnost, tehnološka biološka umetnost) in estetiko submedialnosti. Po letu 2000 je realiziral serijo lastnih transgenetskih umetniških projektov, ki so se, po tem, ko so bili razstavljeni v ZDA, uvrstili med prvih deset na lestvici najzanimivejših novih organizmov po izboru revije Wired. Izdal je tudi takrat najobširnejšo antologijo z naslovom BioMediale: Sodobna družba in genomska kultura, ki je z leti postala pomemben vir na področju genomske umetnosti. Pred dvema letoma je v Umetnostni galeriji v Kaliningradu kot kurator izvedel odmevni projekt Visoka moda evolucije – umetnost in znanost v post-biološki dobi. Posveča se projektom, ki jih lahko dojemamo ne le kot znanstvene študije, temveč kot umetniška stališča. 2013 je Bulatov dokončal še drugo izdajo Visoke mode evolucije. Dmitry Bulatov je na ruskem kulturnem teritoriju izredno dejaven, od Rige do Sibirije; kuriral je več kot dvajset razstav večjega formata v Rusiji in drugod ter sodeloval pri številnih dogodkih s področja novih tehnologij, znanosti in umetnosti. V okviru Evropske prestolnice kulture Maribor 2012 je kot kurator pripravil obsežno kulturno-izobraževalno platformo Soft Control: znanost, umetnost in tehnološko nezavedno, skupaj s slovenskimi producenti KIBLA in Koroško galerijo likovnih umetnosti v Slovenj Gradcu. Projekt je vključeval razstavo, predavanja, delavnice in projekcije. Sodelovali so vodilni ustvarjalci, ki delujejo na področjih robotike, informacijskih tehnologij, biomedicine in nanotehnologije – kar trideset umetnikov in teoretikov iz enajstih držav, Združenih držav, Kanade, Rusije, Japonske, Singapurja in Evrope je odpiralo teoretična, umetniška in interdisciplinarna vprašanja. Projekti bio-, nanotehnološke umetnosti izhajajo iz dolgotrajnih rezidenc, ki trajajo pol leta, leto ali več. Umetniki dobijo na univerzi možnost uporabe znanstvenega laboratorija in asistenta, ki jim pomaga pri znanstvenih postopkih, tako da umetniki dejansko pronicajo do srži problematike zaprtih znanstvenih sistemov in posledično spreminjajo, pervertirajo, problematizirajo utečene in ciljno naravnane znanstvene poti. Ob tej priložnosti je v Mariboru nastal pogovor, ki odkriva osebne poglede Dmitryja Bulatova na Rusijo, njeno zgodovino, kulturo, sodobno umetnost ter njegovo specifično razmišljanje in delovanje v prostoru in času. Če upoštevamo veliko razsežnost nekdanje ruske federacije in več kot 200 nacionalnosti, ki jih je združevala pod svojo politično unijo, je za nas zanimivo vprašanje, kakšna je vaša nacionalnost? Sodeč po jeziku, kulturi in potnem listu sem Rus, moji starši pa – oče je Tatar, mati pa kubanska Kozakinja (kubanski Kozaki so posebna skupina ruskih Kozakov, op. prev.). Takšno križanje je bilo mogoče samo v časih Sovjetske zveze, saj sta sicer ti dve narodnosti med seboj sprti že stoletja; sam pa tako združujem vsa protislovja njunih kultur. Rusi obeležujete 60. obletnico smrti sovjetskega diktatorja Josefa Stalina. Stalin je bil na čelu Sovjetske zveze od leta 1924 do svoje smrti leta 1953. Komunisti mu pripisujejo zasluge za zmago v drugi svetovni vojni, medtem ko ga ostali obsojajo brutalnih čistk, ki so terjale milijone življenj. Stalina pa Rusi in drugi bivši sovjetski narodi še vedno občudujejo, kljub njegovim represivnim ukrepom. Kakšni so razlogi za to? Kateri so pozitivni vidiki Stalinovega vodstva? Kakšne strategije je razvil za prihodnost Rusije? Kako gledate na njegova prizadevanja v našem času, z današnje perspektive?

Po mojem mnenju je vprašanje Stalina, oziroma vprašanje, kaj se skriva za to figuro, bistven del debate o značilnostih ruske nacionalne kulture. V splošnem zahodni svet doživlja Rusijo, kot da se pomika po isti poti napredka, skupni vsem evropskim narodom. Vendar se to dogaja z določenim zamikom zaradi vrste razlogov. V samem srcu te sodbe lahko jasno vidimo zahodnjaško prepričanje, da je subjekt človekovega razmišljanja kartezijanski “jaz”. Vendar so že v 19. stoletju ruski filozofi (Ivan Kireyevsky, Aleksey Khomyakov, Petr Chaadaev) pisali, da obstoj Rusije omejuje trditev o univerzalnosti racionalnega mišljenja. Namesto racionalnosti in logike so ruski filozofi v svojih delih tematizirali stvarnost ruskega načina življenja, ki je skoraj popolnoma skrčena na nezavedne procese. V tem smislu stalinistična diktatura, kot tudi Stalinov dialektični materializem, razkriva določeno kontinuiteto tradicionalne ruske misli 19. stoletja. Uspeh njegove ideologije v Rusiji vidim v prvi vrsti v dejstvu, da je usmerila energijo ljudi stran od nezavednih avtističnih globin in jo uporabil v svojo korist. Pomembno je poudariti, da se stalinistični materializem ni skliceval na duha in materialni svet, temveč na nekaj drugega, kar določa materialni svet od znotraj kot del enega kozmičnega procesa.

Rusija in ruska kultura igrata vlogo neprostora (kar je pomen grške besede utopia), ki ustvarja povezave med kraji. V tem primeru gre za povezavo med kulturami zahoda in vzhoda. Hkrati je Stalinova strategija redukcije in vračanja k iracionalnim globinam naslednica strategij ruske avantgarde z začetkov 20. stoletja. V delu O duhovnem v umetnosti Vasilij Kandinsky govori o ukinjanju podob in njihovi redukciji na različne kombinacije oblik in barv. Kandinsky je verjel, da je s pomočjo takšnih kombinacij mogoče ohraniti vse podobe iz preteklosti in tudi tiste, ki bodo nastale v prihodnosti. Tudi Malevich je v svojem Črnem kvadratu izvedel isto redukcijo. Ob opazovanju sveta okrog nas je nemogoče izogniti se črnemu kvadratu, saj je v vsaki podobi, ki jo ugledamo, vedno prisoten tudi element črnega kvadrata. V tem smislu so v dejanju redukcije Kandinsky, Malevich in številni drugi predstavniki avantgarde videli priložnost za vrnitev k brezčasnim in “brezzgodovinskim” komponentam, ki se nahajajo v temeljih vseh različic umetnosti in življenja. Tudi Stalin je, kot ruski avantgardisti, izločil vse, kar je bilo površinsko in neuporabno. Skliceval se je na radikalno redukcijo stare ureditve, da bi aktiviral človeški potencial za preobrazbo sveta okrog njih in uresničeval skrajno nemogoče ideje. Tukaj je odgovor na vaše vprašanje – Stalin je, z velikimi žrtvami in nepredstavljivim trpljenjem ljudi, zgradil monolitni imperij. Prav tisti pogumni novi svet, v katerem je rusko nezavedno, avtistično in “brezzgodovinsko” življenje postalo zaobljuba praktično popolni enotnosti države. V tem lahko prepoznamo Stalinovo strategijo, ki jo je razvil za Rusijo. Čas bo pokazal, do kakšne mere bo v prihodnosti obstajalo povpraševanje po takšnih veščinah in ali se bodo našle alternative tej izkušnji. Kakšni so vaši občutki oziroma kako ocenjujete rusko sodelovanje z Evropo na področju kulture? Ali je Rusija kulturno povezana z Evropo? Ali je bolj azijska? Po mojem mnenju se Rusija razlikuje od zahoda in tudi od vzhoda. Njena kultura je deloma zahodnjaška prav tako kot deloma vzhodnjaška. Ruske kulture ne dojemamo kot samostojne in izvirne, temveč se predstavlja kot mozaik zahodne in vzhodne motivike ter primerov vsakdanjega življenja. Obenem jo zaznamuje enotnost stila in mentalitete, ki jo zlahka prepozna vsak tujec. Prav ta dvoumnost in predreflektivno stanje življenja, ki ga ruska umetnost in filozofija pogosto identificirata kot svojo

univerzalnost, lahko zagotavlja večjo težo v povezavi z univerzalnostmi zahodnega in vzhodnega načina razmišljanja. Pomembno je poudariti vlogo, ki jo ima ruska kultura med vzhodom in zahodom. Izven njenih meja ji pogosto pripisujejo tudi tako imenovano “poduhovljenost”, nekakšen utopičen ideal, ki je osvobojen vsakršne zavisti, sovražnosti in banalnosti. Seveda menim, da je tako sklepanje zmotno ter da pogosto vodi k pomanjkanju razumevanja ruske kulturne tradicije. Če pa govorimo o dvoumnosti in utopičnosti ruske zavesti in kulture, vidimo, da sta utopični v tem, da se ne omejujeta na noben določen “prostor” znotraj naše mentalne geografije. Rusija in ruska kultura igrata vlogo ne-prostora (kar je pomen grške besede utopia), ki ustvarja povezave med kraji. V tem primeru gre za povezavo med kulturami zahoda in vzhoda. Poleg tega je ena izmed posebnosti ruske zavesti, ki sicer ni tako očitna na prvi pogled, tudi sposobnost vzpostavljanja povezav in konsistentnosti v svetu, kar posameznik z zahodnjaškim ali vzhodnjaškim načinom razmišljanja najbrž spregleda.

Namesto racionalnosti in logike so ruski filozofi v svojih delih tematizirali stvarnost ruskega načina življenja, ki je skoraj popolnoma skrčena na nezavedne procese. V tem smislu stalinistična diktatura, kot tudi Stalinov dialektični materializem, razkriva določeno kontinuiteto tradicionalne ruske misli 19. stoletja. Mimogrede, v znanosti se tak način pridobivanja znanja imenuje “implicitno znanje”, to je znanje, pridobljeno skozi proces, ki sam po sebi ni ustaljeni proces pridobivanja znanja. Če na osnovi takšnega razumevanja sklepamo o vlogi ruske kulture in ruske misli, lahko domnevamo, kako pomembno in potrebno je kulturno sodelovanje med Rusijo in Evropo ter med Rusijo in Azijo. To sodelovanje je ključnega pomena s stališča raznolikosti kulturnih oblik in se bo nadaljevalo tudi v prihodnje, ne glede na politično in ideološko konjunkturo. Z rusko umetniško sceno se seznanjamo preko moskovskega bienala in revije Moscow Art Magazine, preko medijsko razvpitih provokacij Olega Kulika, škandala v povezavi s skupino Pussy Riots in tako naprej. V preglednem zapisu Oleg Kireev opisuje umetniško sceno in razmišlja o političnih tokovih v sodobni Rusiji. Besedilo nam razkriva nekatere stvari, o katerih smo le redko informirani. Kakšen je vaš osebni pogled na sodobno rusko umetniško sceno? Po mojem mnenju je današnje stanje sodobne umetnosti v Rusiji popolnoma skladno z obstoječo družbeno problematiko ter na ta način natančno odseva trenutno situacijo v državi. Putinova Rusija, tako kot preostali del modernega sveta, se trenutno nahaja v stanju tranzicije k nečemu novemu – od obdobja hladne vojne, ko je bilo še vse jasno in definirano. Mislim, da bo v primeru Rusije ta nov konstrukt podoben kitajskemu modelu – kot kombinacija avtoritarnega socializma in kapitalizma, čeprav bo morda družbena struktura drugačna. Kakorkoli že, tranzicijo spremlja uničenje liberalnih principov, ki so se oblikovali v 1990-ih ter bistvene omejitve na področju politične svobode in človekovih pravic. V takšnih okoliščinah sta politični aktivizem in politično angažirana umetnost, katerih glavni pomen, kakor tudi bistvo umetniškega udejstvovanja, predstavlja uresničenje družbenokritičnih stališč, najvidnejši del ruske umetniške scene. Čeprav to ni tip umetnosti, ki bi me resnično zanimal, lahko v določenih primerih vidim analitično delo, ki leži v ozadju takšnih praks. To je vredno vsega spoštovanja. Naj omenim umetniško delovanje Nikolaya Oleynikova,


Dmitry Bulatov. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Ĺ varc


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Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, I. del: Z dna navzgor Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious. Part I: Bottom-Up Koncept / Concept frame by Dmitry Bulatov

Arth

Kuda begut sobaki (RU)

Polona Tratnik (SLO)

Ursula Damm (GER)

Fields II

Initation

Greenhouse Converter

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr (AU) Crude Matter

Mor

Floris Kaayk (NL)

Seiko Mikami (JP)

Bill Vorn (CA)

Origins of Creatures

Eye Tracking Informatics

DSM-VI

James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau (UK) Domestic Entertainment Robots Afterlife

Leo Peschta (AT)

Andy Gracie (UK / SP)

Maj

Der Zermesser

Drosophila titanus and Moss Bears in Magnetospheres

MaS Met

Arsenija Zhiljaeva in kolektiva “Chto Delat”, analitično in kuratorsko dela Davida Riffa ter filozofa Ketija Chukhrova in Alexeija Penzina. Če se začnejo te umetniške prakse bistveno odmikati od t. i. “umetniške orbite”, potem o njih podvomim, čeprav bi lahko bilo takšno umetniško delo zelo plodno – če o političnem ne razmišljamo kot o tematiki ali o težavi, temveč kot točki, kjer se gradijo odnosi med ljudmi. Na žalost se to zgodi redko. Tukaj so, kot običajno, bolj zaželene psevdo-družbene prakse, bolj usmerjene h kriteriju medijskega uspeha kot k stiku z družbo.

V svojih predavanjih običajno omenjam primer švicarskega laboratorija CERN Lab, kjer se ljudje ukvarjajo z novimi pomeni in rekonstrukcijo obstoječih svetovnih nazorov. Pet ali deset kilometrov stran pa pastir mirno pase svojo čredo. Tudi on ima svoj svetovni nazor. Očitno je, da nas od enega do drugega primera ločuje cela doba, čeprav se zdi, da se vse dogaja na istem kraju in ob istem času … Če govorimo o današnjem umetniškem okolju v Rusiji, je še ena zadeva, ki je ne morem spregledati, to je organizacija kuratorskih šol in delavnic. Dejstvo je, da smo zadnjih petnajst let v Rusiji preživeli pod zastavo gradnje institucij. Po različnih mestih se je izoblikovala razvejana mreža Nacionalnega centra za sodobno umetnost (NCCA), v Moskvi in Sankt Peterburgu pa je nastalo večje število umetniških prostorov, kot so slavni PROEKT_FАБRИКА, Winzavod, Garage, ARTPLAY, Loft Project ETAGI in Tkachi, cela vrsta tradicionalnih muzejev (Državni muzej Hermitage, Državna galerija Tretyakov in drugi) pa je odprla oddelke sodobne umetnosti. Večina teh institucij so tradicionalne razvojne institucije, kar pomeni, da njihov notranji proces sestavlja izbor iz že obstoječih umetniških projektov. Dandanes pa se v Rusiji pojavlja tudi vrsta izobraževalnih iniciativ, delavnic in šol, ki vzgajajo kuratorje novega vala, recimo programi, ki jih izvajajo Institute UNIK (muzej kulturne zgodovine), British School of Art & Design, Moskovska poletna šola za kuratorje, šola za kuratorje v muzeju moderne umetnosti MMOMA, Odprta šola MediaArtLab v prostorih Manege, in tako naprej. Prinašajo upanje, da se bodo namesto menedžerjev, kuratorjev-selektorjev ali uvoznikov, po katerih je bilo v zadnjih letih veliko povpraševanja, pojavili strokovnjaki nove vrste – kuratorji, ki bodo znali spodbuditi ustvarjanje umetniških procesov. To pomeni, da ima ruski umetniški sistem možnost ustvariti institucije, ki bodo spodbudile začetek novih umetniških projektov znotraj različnih področij sodobne umetnosti. Z drugimi besedami, govorimo o pojavu tako imenovanih “inkubatorjev inovativnosti”, nove vrste organizacij, ki so v sodobni Rusiji še kako potrebne. Kako deluje ruski sistem Nacionalnih centrov za sodobno umetnost? NCCA je bil ustvarjen leta 1992 v Moskvi. Današnja mreža njegovih institucij je razvejana po osrednjih ruskih kulturnih središčih, kot so Sankt Peterburg, Nižni Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Vladikavkaz in Tomsk. Na zemljevidu lahko vidimo, da jih ločujejo ogromne razdalje. Kako poteka sodelovanje med in z njimi? Tako je, Nacionalni center za sodobno umetnost je kot zvezno institucijo ustanovilo rusko ministrstvo za kulturo leta 1992. To je bil čas, ko so se pogoji za normalno delovanje in razvoj sodobne umetnosti v naši državi šele pričeli oblikovati. Sam menim, da je center postal zelo pomembna struktura, ki združuje strokovnjake s področja sodobne umetnosti ter spodbuja njihovo ustvarjalno

aktivnost. Ta aktivnost je bila pomembna za Moskvo, kjer je imel NCCA takrat bazo, pa tudi za številne druge regije po državi, kjer so se s pomočjo in iniciativo centra uresničili številni umetniški projekti. Danes je NCCA mrežna organizacija na zvezni ravni, ki je odprla podružnice v drugih večjih kulturnih središčih po državi: v Sankt Peterburgu (ustanovljen 1995), Nižnem Novgorodu (1997), Kaliningradu (1997), Ekaterinburgu (1999) in Vladikavkazu (2012). V lanskem letu je ministrstvo za kulturo sprejelo odločitev o odprtju sibirske podružnice v Tomsku leta 2014 in gradnji novega, obširnega muzeja sodobne umetnosti po zgledu NCCA v Moskvi do leta 2018. Kar pa se tiče dejavnosti posameznih oddelkov, je njihovo delo odvisno od lokalne specifike, določa pa ga interes lokalnih kuratorskih skupin. Gre za to, da je Rusija izjemno velika dežela in le na prvi pogled se morda zdi, da obstaja v enotnem družbeno-kulturnem prostoru. Resnica pa ni čisto takšna. Rusija je kot večslojna pita, kjer se vsak sloj premika v različnih časovnih kontinuumih. Vse to narekuje posameznim regijam določeno specifiko delovanja, poleg tega pa jih dodatno oblikujejo lokalne okoliščine – tako se na primer oddelek v Sankt Peterburgu osredotoča na medijsko umetnost in javno umetnost, tisti v Ekaterinburgu na urbanizem, medtem ko se v Nižnem Novgorodu posvečajo predvsem muzejsko-izobraževalnim projektom itd. Člani NCCA so razvili vrsto dolgoročnih programov, ki se navezujejo na omenjene glavne usmeritve. V sklopu vsakega programa se uresničujejo posamezni projekti, za katere prihaja iniciativa s strani strokovnjakov iz NCCA, pa tudi drugih kuratorjev in raziskovalcev, pri čemer jim pomagajo kreativni in tehnični oddelki NCCA. V takšni situaciji komunikacija med posameznimi podružnicami temelji na skupnih interesih in sporazumih, izvaja pa se lahko v obliki razstav in izmenjav ter izobraževalnih programov povabljenih kuratorjev. Kako se umeščate v umetnostni in kulturni sistem – z ozirom na to, da prihajate s področja letalstva, torej povsem tehnične discipline, preko lingvističnih študijev v Rigi, do pozicije umetnika, teoretika in kuratorja? Kako ste postali kurator v kaliningrajskem NCCA? Zanimivo, krivulja mojega osebnega razvoja ima povsem jasno notranjo strukturo. Dejstvo je, da je za sovjetsko tehnično izobrazbo (študiral sem namreč v času ZSSR) bil značilen sistematski pristop. Njena filozofija ni bila usmerjena v učenje posamičnih podrobnosti in manipulacij, ki bi jih lahko uporabili v praksi, v razumevanju osrednjih znanstvenih principov in njihovih razlag. Že takrat sem se zavedal, da predstavljata znanost in tehnologija nekakšna “pravila kulture”, s katerimi stopamo soodvisno s svetom okrog nas. In v tem smislu se ne razlikujeta od drugih simboličnih sistemov in diskurzov, ki so-oblikujejo našo kulturo. Moje zanimanje za znanost in tehnologijo je dopolnjevala strast do ruske avantgarde iz obdobja med 1910 in 1930, ki je, prav tako kot vse moderne umetnosti dvajsetega stoletja, ne moremo v celoti dojeti, ne da bi se poglobili v filozofijo, semiotiko in formalno jezikoslovje. Izpopolnjenost v vseh teh disciplinah me je posledično pripeljala do sodobne umetnosti kot tistega najbolj univerzalnega načina povezanosti z ljudmi in stvarmi, ki nam nenehno zagotavlja vedno nove načine povezav. Vse svoje ambicije in interese sem usmeril v lastne umetniške, kuratorske in založniške projekte ter prejel povabilo za delo v muzeju v Kaliningradu ter za predavanja na tamkajšnji univerzi. Šest let kasneje, leta 1998, so me povabili k sodelovanju pri kaliningrajski podružnici NCCA, ki je bila tedaj v fazi nastajanja. Razen za sodobno umetnost sem se navduševal tudi za jezikoslovje in nove tehnologije. Ob koncu devetdesetih mi je postalo jasno, da se ti dve področji na najbolj harmoničen način združujeta v genetiki – torej študiju genov, dednosti in variabilnosti organizmov. Danes se

na veliko uporablja metafora genoma kot knjige. To ni naključje, saj imata dejansko veliko skupnega. Knjiga je skupek informacij, ki so kodirane s pomočjo kombinacije določenih simbolov (abecede); rezultat je oblikovanje velikega števila besed (besedišče). Pri genomu gre za enak proces, z manjšimi razlikami: tukaj gre za kodiranje ključnih sposobnosti različnih materialnih oblik in tipov. Razumel sem tudi, da nam združevanje umetnosti in genetike omogoča določanje novih nalog in na ta način spreminja princip opisovanja resničnosti v princip ustvarjanja nove resničnosti. To pravzaprav ni novost na področju zgodovine umetnosti; spomnimo se praks ruskih konstruktivistov in biokozmikov, pa tudi eksperimentov s področja sovjetske biomedicine v 1920-ih in 30-ih … Zame je to v tistem trenutku predstavljalo stopnjo “interakcije” v umetnosti brez primere, kar pomeni ne le, da sporočilo vpliva na medij, pač pa tudi, da medij sam popravlja tiste informacije, ki jih shranjuje. Od tistega časa naprej se kot umetnik, teoretik in kurator osredotočam na področje sodobne umetnosti in novih tehnologij, vključno z biomedicinsko tehnologijo. Vaša strast do jezikoslovja in novih tehnologij vas je pripeljala v posebno, interdisciplinarno polje umetnosti, znanosti in tehnologije, ki ga zastopa majhna skupina profesionalcev. Kako je ta niša zastopana na ruski umetniški sceni? Glede na vaše poti od Rige do Sibirije, kako daleč vam uspe razširiti vest o vašem področju delovanja? Koliko strokovnjakov se zanima za to? Mislim, da se to vprašanje nanaša bolj na osebni občutek za čas in iskanje samega sebe znotraj sistema umetnosti bolj kot na konkretno geografijo. Na prvi pogled se morda zdi, da vsi obstajamo v enotnem družbeno-kulturnem prostoru in času. Seveda pa v resnici ni tako. V svojih predavanjih običajno omenjam primer švicarskega laboratorija CERN Lab, kjer se ljudje ukvarjajo z novimi pomeni in rekonstrukcijo obstoječih svetovnih nazorov. Pet ali deset kilometrov stran pa pastir mirno pase svojo čredo. Tudi on ima svoj svetovni nazor. Očitno je, da nas od enega do drugega primera ločuje cela doba, čeprav se zdi, da se vse dogaja na istem kraju in ob istem času … Na splošno je tehnološka umetnost zelo ekskluzivno področje dela; za Rusijo, enako kot za večino vzhodnoevropskih držav, je bolj izjema kot pravilo. Umetnike, delujoče na področju sodobnih tehnologij, bi lahko primerjal z raziskovalci v CERN-u: zelo malo takšnih ljudi je na svetu. Ne le, da skušajo poiskati odgovor na vprašanje, kaj je modernost (sodobnost), pač pa skušajo tudi ponuditi svoje lastne vrste sodobnosti, ki jih črpajo iz najrazličnejših osebnih, kulturnih in civilizacijskih zgodb.

Vse to je izjemnega pomena, kadar govorimo o prihodu nove, postbiološke dobe, stopnice na poti našega obstoja, na kateri bo postala tehnološka komponenta takšnega ali drugačnega živega organizma ne samo neločljiva od biološke, temveč jo bo na dolgi rok tudi prekosila. Tukaj je pomemben predvsem način, kako sami zase formuliramo koncept modernosti in sodobne umetnosti ter kakšno vlogo v tem sistemu namenjamo umetnikom. Glede na lastno izbiro lahko sodelujemo v procesih razmišljanja in aktivnosti post-industrijske družbe ali pa operiramo zgolj z industrijskimi pomeni – ne da bi se pri tem zavedali, da so ti pomeni, podobno kot geografski zemljevid, po večini že zdavnaj izpopolnjeni. Iz sistematičnega stališča je naša dejavnost absolutno neprimerna za ruske razmere, saj gre za prenašanje post-industrijskih pomenov na teritorije, kjer je ključni dejavnik industrijska ekonomija. Če bi nam uspelo to situacijo prepoznati


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Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, II. del: Z vrha navzdol Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious. Part II: Top-Down Koncept / Concept frame by Dmitry Bulatov David Bowen (US)

Arthur Elsenaar (NL)

Fly blimps

Morphology

mmy

Brandon Ballengee (US) / L.-P. Demers (SG) Malamp Reliquaries and Styx + Artificial Mi(s)tosis

ots

Flytweet

Stelarc (AU)

Guy Ben-Ary and Kirsten Hudson (AU)

Prosthetic Head

In Potēntia Abramović / Dikker / Oostrik (US/NL) Neuroscience Experiment I

Stefan Doepner and Lars Vaupel (SLO) DrillBot - Robot Partner 3.0

Maja Smrekar (SLO)

Boredomresearch (UK)

L.-P. Demers (SG)

Tuur Van Baalen (BE)

MaSm Metatransformation

Real Snail Mail

The Tiller Girls

Pigeon d’Or

in jo prenesti v okvir praktičnih aktivnosti, potem ne izključujem možnosti, da bi se zadeva spremenila. To ne velja samo za Rusijo, govorimo lahko o katerikoli državi. Kaj to pomeni za sodobno umetnost? Pomeni, da je potrebno graditi povezave med umetniškimi in tehnološkimi značilnostmi na povsem nov način; s spodbujanjem izobraževalnih programov za umetnike, ki jih zanima delo s tehnologijami, z ustanavljanjem in razvojem različnih znanstveno-umetniških institucij, z organizacijo razstav in konferenc, z izdajanjem knjig. Vse to so elementi edine možne ekonomije v “družbi znanja”, ekonomije, do katere bomo tako ali tako slej ko prej prišli.

Dandanes javnost zelo malo ve o dogajanju na področju znanosti in tehnologije, niti ne vedo ničesar o širokem spektru priložnosti, ki so se odprle v svetu znanosti. Tudi znotraj tega specifičnega področja na globalni interdisciplinarni sceni obstajajo številne različne orientacije in “ločine”; velikokrat je očitno, da na lokalni, nacionalni ali regionalni ravni nekateri verjamejo, da sodobna umetnost temelji na neodvisni filozofski, umetniški ali teoretični misli – a to je zgolj past, saj so tehnologije v rokah globalne ekonomije, politike in celo nacionalnih kulturnih modelov. Kako globalno je zastopana umetnost v vašem izboru umetnikov in umetniških del? Kako definirate oziroma kako gledate na razlike med post-kapitalističnimi, ameriško-britanskimi modeli ter post-komunističnim pristopom? Verjamem, da živimo v situaciji, ko sodobna umetnost nastopa kot mednarodni fenomen. Znotraj nje se v enaki meri pojavljajo ameriški ali evropski, avstralski, latinskoameriški ali umetniki iz jugovzhodne Azije. In na nek način je ta fenomen tuj vsaki izmed njihovih nacionalnih kultur. Nastopa torej kot čista sodobnost – ne kot specifičen teritorij, temveč kot čas. Isto stvar lahko formuliramo drugače: lokalno ne izginja, ampak postaja globalno. Kakorkoli že, mislim, da današnje umetniške skupnosti niso strukturirane skozi dialektiko lokalnega in globalnega, temveč v okvirih mreženja, povezav in odnosov. Rezultat tega je, da lahko postanejo vozlišča teh mrež lokalna in ne globalna središča. V tem se skriva učinkovitost sodobne umetnosti. Trenutno se zato ne posvečam lokalno opredeljenim razlikam in kulturnim identitetam, pač pa tistim umetniškim oblikam, ki so se sposobne uveljaviti kjerkoli, v enaki meri kot njihova identiteta in stabilnost. Tukaj pa naletimo na drugačno težavo enotnosti in neločljivosti. Ko danes srečujete umetnike iz različnih držav, boste najprej opazili, da govorijo isti jezik, berejo iste tekste in citirajo iste avtorje. Svoje projekte in instalacije izvajajo na približno enaki tehnični ravni. Spomnite se 1980-ih in 90-ih; takrat se je vsa umetnost razvijala v okviru iskanja identitete in konstrukcije različnosti. Umetnost je zagovarjala stališče, da ima vsak izmed nas svojo lastno identiteto ter da so edini možni odnosi med nami odnosi izmenjave. Z drugimi besedami, ideologija identitete se tesno navezuje na ideologijo trga. Danes je vse drugače in očitno postaja, da pozornosti ne gre usmerjati na fenomen različnosti, ampak na analizo razlogov za pojav podobnosti. Zanimivo je, da se pri takšni analizi izkušnja post-komunističnega stanja družbe in post-kapitalistični, ameriško-britanski model, lahko medsebojno dopolnjujeta. Jasno postaja, da moramo namesto tematiziranja razlik (med enim človekom in drugim, med človekom in strojem, med človekom in mutantom) pozornost usmeriti v proizvajanje tipičnosti in programskosti. Mimogrede, sodobna tehnološka umetnost na zelo jasen način usmerja pozornost k točno tej problematiki. Hiter razvoj na področju robotike, internetnih tehnologij in sintezne biologije kaže na preobilico in presežek

podobnosti, multiplikacije (pomnožitve) tipičnega in podobnega. Prav ustvarjanje alternativnih oblik družbenosti pa je bistvo vseh izkušenj, ki smo si jih nabrali v obdobju totalitarizma. Zadnja izmed vaših razstav, ki ste jo pripravili v Mariboru v okviru Evropske prestolnice kulture 2012, je posodobljena različica vašega predhodnega kuratorskega dela. Kako sodobna je ta razstava v odnosu do znanosti in tehnologije? Nemogoče je govoriti o modernosti (sodobnosti), ne da pri tem govorili o času. Ne vemo, v kakšnem času živimo; prav vsak dan se sprašujemo, kaj je to ‘danes’. Sodobna tehnološka umetnost skuša poiskati odgovor na to vprašanje. Dandanes javnost zelo malo ve o dogajanju na področju znanosti in tehnologije, niti ne vedo ničesar o širokem spektru priložnosti, ki so se odprle v svetu znanosti. Naša telesa so postala objekt programiranja: lahko jih spreminjamo, kodiramo in izpopolnjujemo z raznimi elementi, tujki. Kot je dejal Stelarc, naše telo je postalo lebdeči označevalec, prežet z množico raznolikih tehnoloških pomenov. Takšno odvisnost od tehnologije splošna javnost dojema zelo katastrofično, saj napredek prinaša – vsaj za “navadnega” človeka – neko praktično sistemsko novost, ki ni združljiva z resničnostjo včerajšnjega dne. Zato je v danih okoliščinah nujno razvijati kulturne strategije, ki bodo v ljudeh znova vzpostavile občutek vključenosti v današnje tehnološke procese. To lahko storimo le s predstavljanjem metafor ter umetniških stališč in procesov, ki bodo ljudi pritegnile v njihove sfere. Prav iz takšnih modelov in procesov, ki na simuliranih dogodkih opozarjajo na človeško stremljenje po novem znanju – to je po razumevanju njihove strukture in arhitekture – se običajno prične razjasnitev pridobljenega znanja. Ravno to počnejo predstavniki tehnološke umetnosti: ustvarjajo prehodne modele in procese. V preteklosti smo med takšne pojave prištevali kino, fotografijo, video-, računalniško in mrežno tehnologijo. Danes debata ne teče toliko o analognih ali digitalnih nosilcih umetniškega sporočila, temveč o njihovem stapljanju v novo, tehnobiološko obliko. Takšna konsolidacija v umetnosti je danes mogoča zaradi uporabe najnovejših tehnologij, od robotike in sintezne biologije do celega spektra nevro- in biomedicinskih znanosti. Prav skozi takšna umetniška dela je možno posredovati občutek o času, v katerem se združujejo značilnosti živih organizmov in tehnoloških produktov. Vse to je izjemnega pomena, kadar govorimo o prihodu nove, post-biološke dobe, stopnice na poti našega obstoja, na kateri bo postala tehnološka komponenta takšnega ali drugačnega živega organizma ne samo neločljiva od biološke, temveč jo bo na dolgi rok tudi prekosila. Na kateri teoretični predpostavki ste zasnovali temeljni koncept razstave in konference Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno?1 Eden izmed osrednjih ciljev projekta je bil poučiti obiskovalce o aktivnih načinih vzpostavljanja odnosa z novimi tehnologijami. Moje stališče je, da znanost in tehnologija nista zgolj orodji za doseganje zastavljenih ciljev. Vendar nam avtonomija tehnoloških sistemov in njihovo aktivno prodiranje v vse sfere človeškega življenja omogočata konceptualizirati tehnologijo kot avtotelično ontološko entiteto, ki ima vedno večjo vlogo pri definiranju človekovega razvoja. V projektu si zastavljamo dve osrednji vprašanji: kaj se skriva v koreninah “umetne”, “tehnološke” resničnosti? in kako ta resničnost vpliva na nas?

1  V angleščini SOFT ne pomeni le šibek, nežen ali tih (v smislu značajskih lastnosti), pač pa namiguje tudi na bistvo softvera, tj. programskosti procesov. V ruskem prevodu (МЯГКИЙ КОНТРОЛЬ) se ta lastnost, nekakšno “notranje pomensko dno”, povsem izgubi.

Pri izoblikovanju možnih odgovorov na ti dve vprašanji sem uvedel bizaren pojem “tehnološkega nezavednega”. Kako običajno raziskujemo nove teritorije? Najprej jim določimo ime, ki ga zaznamujejo naša pričakovanja in občutja. Nato ta občutja raziščemo s pomočjo racionalnih opisov. Takole je zadeva potekala pri pojmu tehnološko nezavedno: imel sem dve interpretaciji. Prva opisuje mehanizem tehnološke interakcije s človekom preko idej. V zgodovini novih tehnologij obstaja določen arhiv diskurzov in mitov v obliki ponavljajočih se kulturnih motivov. Ti diskurzi so predrugačene oblike tehnoloških izkušenj, ki se na določeni točki sprožijo v človekovi zavesti ter s tem spodbudijo razvoj resničnosti novih tehnologij. Z drugimi besedami, tukaj se tehnologije pojavljajo kot ideološki, diskurzivni konstrukti, ki imajo nad nami določeno stopnjo nadzora in sicer po principu “z vrha navzdol”, kar je bil tudi naslov dela naše razstave. Po drugi strani pa lahko tehnološko nezavedno (s poudarkom na tehnološko) razumemo kot vpliv snovi (substance), kot njeno oblikovanje skozi čas. Predpostavimo lahko, da umetno resničnost proizvaja določena tehnološka infrastruktura, ki sproži pred-individualno, pred-verbalno in pred-družbeno človeško dimenzijo. Takšna resničnost ima skrit in stvaritven učinek na nas po principu “z dna navzgor”, ustvarjen tako, da zaobide kognitivno komponento. Oba omenjena režima sofisticiranega, distribuiranega tehnološkega strukturiranja – diskurzivni in ne-diskurzivni – delujeta kot dve plati iste medalje. Določili sta skupni naslov projekta Soft Control (sofisticirani nadzor). Na podlagi teh različic so umetniki predlagali različne strategije pripisovanja pomena tehnološkim strukturam. Te vključujejo integracijo človeka v sistem tehnoloških povezav ter de-identifikacijo z njegovimi mehanizmi z vzpostavljanjem novih oblik in identitet na povsem subjektiven idiosinkratičen način. Prilagoditev in spremembo enega izmed opisanih diskurzov lahko dosežemo na dveh različnih nivojih, na nivoju diskurza o tehnologijah (diskurzivno stališče) in na nivoju vsakodnevnih avtomatizmov, afektov in telesnih začasnosti (ne-diskurzivno stališče). Takšni standardi “produkcije subjektivnosti” so bili predstavljeni na razstavi Soft Control, bili pa so tudi glavna tema konferenčnih razprav.

V projektu si zastavljamo dve osrednji vprašanji: kaj se skriva v koreninah “umetne”, “tehnološke” resničnosti? in kako ta resničnost vpliva na nas? Kakšna etična vprašanja se pojavljajo v konceptu razstave? Po mojem mnenju postaja definicija “etike” kot zbirke pravil človekovega vedenja, kot znanosti o obnašanju, precej zastarela. Naj spomnim, da je Aristotel, ki je prvi zasnoval koncept etike, izraz skoval iz besede “ethos”, kar pomeni “stabilen; znan”. Danes skušamo to tradicijo prekiniti, prisiljeni smo v povezovanje etike in spoznavnosti (kognicije), vendar etičnega ne izpostavljamo spoznavnemu (kogniciji), svobodi, oblasti, itd. – pač pa te strukture nadomeščamo s konstrukti etičnih odnosov do samega sebe in lastne kreativnosti. Ta pristop postaja izredno pomemben prav zdaj, v času, ko tehnologije, ki so nekoč predvsem mehansko spreminjale svet okrog nas, očitno ciljajo na izgradnjo novega tipa materialnosti, ki ga najbolje opredelimo z izrazom “materialna izvedljivost”. Ta “materialna izvedljivost”, zlasti v umetnosti, spreminja podobo, ki se zgolj premika (kino, video, itd.); iz nečesa zgolj delujočega (umetna inteligenca, umetno življenje, navidezna resničnost, itd.) v živ, materialno dokumentiran artefakt. Tako s konstrukcijo materialnosti na ravni žive laboratorijske biostrukture – s tem, da se učimo, kako jo spreminjati – dostopamo do svoje lastne evolucije ter se v nuji sprašujemo, kaj pomeni biti človek.


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Povedano drugače, k pomenu etike pristopamo kot k nekakšni “notranji optiki”, ki zagotavlja kritičen vidik našemu znanju in zaznavanju. Zato doživljamo etiko v njenem bistvu kot asketiko, kot nenehno preizkušanje samega sebe in lastnega “habitata”. Danes so perspektive našega obstoja v mnogočem povezane z vprašanjem, kakšno vlogo zmoreta odigrati umetnost in filozofija pri konceptualizaciji ustvarjenega tehnološkega sveta ter pri njegovi aksiološki usmeritvi. Vsakič, ko razmišljamo o najnovejšem umetniškem delu, se neizogibno moramo vprašati, kakšne so njegove ontološke kvalitete v odnosu do narave tehnološkega. Ali konkretno umetniško delo prispeva k tehnološkemu odobravanju pogojne podreditve in manipulacije ali najprej potrdi različico resničnosti, ki se odvija pred našimi očmi, nato pa prefinjeno odneha in gledalcu ponudi bolj zapleteno kombinacijo pravil? Takšna praksa priča o umetnikovih in ne nazadnje tudi o gledalčevih sposobnostih, ne da samo vnese v tehnološki prostor spoznavno (kognitivno) ali estetsko vsebino, temveč predvsem eksistencialno. Z razkritjem logike ustvarjanja novih tehnoloških oblik in novih identitet nam umetnost pomaga izoblikovati osrednjo nalogo posameznika v dobi novih tehnologij: konstrukcijo žive prihodnosti (torej prihodnosti, ki nam podarja svobodo), ne pa mrtve, mehanizirane prihodnosti, zgrajene brez našega sodelovanja. Ali si lahko predstavljate, da bi tudi Kaliningrad nekoč postal Evropska prestolnica kulture? Kaliningrad si načeloma ne more privoščiti tako obsežnih razstav. Pri EPK gre za nekaj podobnega, kot so predstavitve konceptov avtomobilov na največjih avtomobilskih salonih – razstavljene so ideje, vendar jih je veliko med njimi že bilo uporabljenih v delujočih modelih. Je tudi priložnost za ogled rezultatov tega, kar so državljani naredili: tako ste tudi vi in vaši sodelavci v mestu sami ustvarili del svoje lastne zgodovine ter zgodovine vašega mesta. V tem smislu na status “evropske prestolnice” gledam bolj skozi prizmo modela aktivnosti kot formalnega modela. Kar pa se tiče Kaliningrada – vsekakor je zabavno, če si ga poskušam predstavljati kot evropsko prestolnico. Kot Königsberg je bil v preteklosti znan kot zelo lepo in udobno mesto. Vse do bombardiranja leta 1944. Če se torej nekoliko poigramo s temi zgodovinskimi podatki, bi lahko slogan Kaliningrada–Königsberga kot evropske prestolnice kulture paradoksalno poimenovali “Prihodnost se je že zgodila …”.

Dmitry Bulatov (1968, Kaliningrad) is an art theorist, artist and since 1998 the senior curator at the Baltic Branch of the National Center for Contemporary Arts in Kaliningrad. His research focuses on different aspects of interdisciplinary art media (sci-art, techno-biological art), as well as submediality aesthetics. Since 2000, Bulatov has realized a series of his own transgenetic art projects, which have, after being exhibited in the USA, been selected as one of world’s top ten most interesting innovations according to Wired magazine. He also published the most extensive anthology at the time, entitled BioMediale: Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture, which soon became a valuable reference in the field of genomic art. Two years ago, at the Kaliningrad Art Gallery, he curated the much-noticed project Evolution Haute Couture – Art and Science in the Post-Biological Age. His focus is oriented on projects that can be perceived not only as a scientific study, but also as an artistic statement. In 2013 Bulatov finalized the second volume of Evolution Haute Couture. Dmitry Bulatov is very active inside the Russian cultural territory, from Riga to Siberia; he has curated over twenty large-scale exhibitions in Russia and abroad and contributed to numerous events that feature new technologies, science, and art. As part of the European Capital of Culture Maribor 2012 he was the curator of an extensive cultural and educational platform Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious,

Dmitry Bulatov. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Švarc

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with the collaboration of Slovene partners KIBLA (Maribor) and Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti (Slovenj Gradec). The project included an exhibition, lectures, workshops and screenings, and featured some of the leading representatives from the fields of robotics, information technologies, biomedicine and nanotechnology – as many as thirty artists and theorists from eleven different countries (the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Singapore and Europe) were addressing theoretical, artistic and interdisciplinary issues. Bio- and nanotechnology art projects are generally based on long-term residencies that last six months, one year, or more. The artists have the opportunity to use university science labs and work with assistants, who help them with the scientific procedures, so that the artists can actually penetrate to the essence of the issues connected to closed scientific systems, and in turn alter, pervert, and problematize the settled, goal-oriented scientific ways. The exhibition in Maribor created an opportunity for the following interview, which reveals some of Dmitry Bulatov’s personal perspectives on Russia, its history, culture and contemporary art, as well as his specific reflections and activities in space and time. Considering the vastness of the formal Russian federation and the fact that it united over two hundred nationalities under its political union, we find it interesting to enquire about your nationality. I’m Russian, according to language, culture and passport, but my parents are not: my father is Tatar, and my mother is a Kuban Cossack. This plexus was only possible in the time of the Soviet Union, because the two nationalities were at war with each other for hundreds of years – and I have all contradictions of these cultures. As Russians you are marking the 60th anniversary of the death of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. Communists credit him for leading the country to victory in World War II while others condemn the brutal purges that killed millions. Stalin has remained widely admired in Russia and other ex-Soviet nations despite his repressions. What are the reasons for that? Which are the positive aspects of Stalin’s leadership? What strategies did he develop concerning the Russians’ future? How do you see the efforts of that era from today’s perspective? For me the question about Stalin, or, rather, the question of what’s behind this figure, is an integral part of the discussion about the character of Russian national culture. Generally, in the Western world it is considered that Russia is moving along the same path of progress, which is universal for all the peoples of Europe. But it happens with some delay due to the variety of reasons. At the core of this judgment one can clearly see a western belief that the subject of human thinking is a Cartesian ‘I’. But already in the XIXth Century Russian philosophers (Ivan Kireyevsky, Aleksey Khomyakov, Petr Chaadaev) have written that the existence of Russia rather limits this claim to universality of rational thinking. Instead of rationality and logic Russian philosophers thematized in their works a factuality of Russian lifestyle that is almost completely reduced to unconscious processes. In this respect, the Stalinist dictatorship, same as Stalin’s dialectical materialism, reveals a certain continuity of traditional Russian thought of the XIXth Century. I see the success of his ideology in Russia first of all in the fact that it directed people’s energy out of subconscious autistic depth and guided it according to its settings. It is important to note that Stalinist materialism appealed not to the Spirit and the material world, but rather to something else that defines the material world from within while being a part of one cosmic process. At the same time Stalin’s strategy of reduction and turning to the irrational depth is a successor of the strategies of Russian avant-garde of the beginning of the XXth Century. As you remember, in the book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky talks about removing images and reducing them to various combinations of shapes and colors. Kandinsky thought that with the help of such combinations it was possible to preserve all of the images ever created in the past and the ones that will be created in the future. The same reduction was performed by Malevich in his Black Square. Looking at the surrounding world it is impossible to avoid a black square, because in every image we would see there always will be the element of a black square. In that respect, Kandinsky, Malevich and many other representatives of the avantgarde saw the act of reduction as an opportunity to turn to the timeless and ‘historyless’ components that lie at

the basis of all variations of art and life. Stalin, like the Russian avant-gardists, also eliminated everything that was superficial and useless. He appealed to the act of radical reduction of the old order to activate human potential for the transformation of the surrounding world and realize the most impossible ideas. Here is the answer to your question – Stalin, by way of great sacrifice and unimaginable human suffering, built a monolith empire. That exact brave new world, where the Russian unconsious, autistic and ‘historyless’ life became a pledge to a practically ideal unity of the country. In this one can see a strategy that Stalin developed for Russia. Time will show to what extent these skills will be in demand in the future and wheater alternatives to this experience will be found. What feelings and judgements do you have of Russian cultural collaborations with Europe? Is Russia culturally connected to Europe? Or is it more Asian? In my opinion, Russia relates to the West as little as it does to the East. Its culture is western as well as eastern only in part. On one hand, Russian culture is not perceived as independent and original, presenting itself as a mosaic of western and eastern motifs and examples of everyday life. On the other hand, it has a unity of style and mentality that is easily recognized by a foreigner. Exactly this ambiguity and pre-reflective condition of life that Russian art and philosophy often identify as its universality can connecting with the universalities of western and eastern ways of thinking, give them additional grounds. It is important to underline here a role Russian culture plays between the West and the East. Abroad it is often connected to the so-called “spirituality” as a certain utopic ideal that is free of envy, animosity and banality. From my point of view, such conclusion, of course, is false and often leads to the lack of understanding of Russian cultural tradition.

Instead of rationality and logic Russian philosophers thematized in their works a factuality of Russian lifestyle that is almost completely reduced to unconscious processes. In this respect, the Stalinist dictatorship, same as Stalin’s dialectical materialism, reveals a certain continuity of traditional Russian thought of the XIXth Century. If we are to speak about ambiguity and utopianism of Russian consciousness and culture, we would see they are utopic in a sense that they don’t restrict themselves to any specific “place” in our mental geography. Thus, Russia and Russian culture play the role of non-place (which is the Greek meaning of the word ‘utopia’), that creates links between places. In this case they are between cultures of the West and the East. Besides, one of the specifics of Russian consciousness is also in the ability to establish, not so obvious at first sight, links and consistencies in the surrounding world that an individual with a western or eastern mind set in a different situation would probably not see. By the way, in science, this form of acquiring knowledge is known as “implicit knowledge”, i.e. knowledge, received in the process that by itself isn’t an acquisition of knowledge. Drawing out from such an understanding of the role of Russian culture and Russian thinking it can be surmised how important and necessary is the cultural cooperation between Russia and Europe as well as between Russia and Asia. This cooperation is vitally important from the point of view of the diversity of cultural forms and it will continue further regardless of political and ideological conjuncture. We are familiar with the Russian art scene mostly through the Moscow Biennial, the Moscow Art Magazine, the provocations of Oleg Kulik and their extensive coverage in the media, the scandal concerning the Pussy Riots and so on. In his review, Oleg Kireev describes the art scene and ponders on the flow of politics in contemporary Russia. The writing is an outline of certain issues, which we are rarely informed about. What is your personal perspective on the contemporary Russian art scene? In my opinion, today’s state of contemporary art in Russia absolutely corresponds with the existing social problematics, thus accurately reflecting the present situation in the country. Putin’s Russia, as much as the rest of the modern world, is currently in a state of transition from the Cold War, when everything was clear and defined, to something new. In the case of Russia, in my opinion, this

new construction will resemble the Chinese model – a combination of authoritarian socialism with the capitalism, although this social structure could also be different. One way or another, this transition is accompanied by the destruction of the liberal principals that were formed in 1990’s and significant limitations of the political freedom and human rights. In such conditions art activism and political art, for which the main meaning and the essence of the artistic action is in realization of the socially-critical statement, became the most noticeable parts of the Russian art scene. This type of art isn’t something I can closely relate to, but in certain cases I could see the analytical work that is behind such practices. And this work is worthy of respect. As an example I would like to mention artistic activity of Nikolay Oleynikov, Arsenij Zhiljaev, Chto Delat (What is To Be Done?) collective, analytical and curatorial work of David Riff, philosophers Keti Chukhrov and Alexei Penzin. In case when these practices significantly deviate from the artistic orbit so to speak, I start to question them, but on the other hand, if one is to think of the political not just as of a theme or a problem, but as of the moment of building up the relations between people, that artistic work could be very fruitful. But unfortunately those are rather rare occurrences. Here, as usual, pseudo-social practices, that are oriented to the criteria of media success rather than to the contact with the society, are in demand.

Russia and Russian culture play the role of non-place (which is the Greek meaning of the word ‘utopia’), that creates links between places. In this case they are between cultures of the West and the East. There is one more thing that I cannot leave unnoticed, when talking about today’s artistic environment in Russia and that is the organization of curatorial schools and workshops. The fact is that the last fifteen years in Russia were spent under the flag of institution-building. A network of NCCA branches was formed in different cities; in Moscow and St.-Petersburg a large number of art-spaces such as famous PROEKT_FАБRИКА, Winzavod, Garage, ARTPLAY, Loft Project “Etagi”, Tkachi, was created, and a number of traditional museums (The State Hermitage Museum, The State Tretyakov Gallery and others) opened departments of contemporary art. Most of these institutions are traditional institutes of development, i.e. a process within them consists of selection from already existing art projects. But nowadays in Russia, a number of educational initiatives appeared; workshops and schools oriented to bring up curators of the new wave such as: programs at the UNIK Institute, at the British School of Art & Design, Moscow Summer School for curators, School for the curators at MMOMA, Open School MediaArtLab in the Manege and so on. It brings hope that instead of managers, curators-selectors or importers that were in demand in the past years, specialists of a new kind will come – curators, who motivate the generation of artistic processes. It means that the Russian art system has a chance to start up institutions that will initiate the creation of new art projects within different fields of contemporary art. In other words, we are talking about the emergence of the so-called “innovation incubators” – organizations of a new kind that are so needed in modern Russia. How does the system of NCCAs function in Russia? The NCCA was created in Moscow in 1992. The present NCCA network of institutions consists of several branches in the major cultural centers of Russia, such as: St.-Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Vladikavkaz, and Tomsk. On the map we can see the huge distances between them. How do you cooperate with other NCCA centers, and how do they cooperate between themselves? Yes, you are right that the National Centre for Contemporary Arts was founded by the Russian Ministry of Culture as a federal institution in 1992. It was a time when conditions for the normal existence and development of contemporary art in our country just started to form. In my opinion the centre became a very important structure that united specialists in the field of contemporary art and stimulated their creative activity. This activity was important for Moscow, where the Center was based at the time as well as for many other regions of the country, where with the help and initiative of the center many art projects were realized. At the present time NCCA is a network organization on the federal level that has


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opened branches in the major cultural centers of our country: St.-Petersburg (est. 1995), Nizhniy Novgorod (est. 1997), Kaliningrad (est. 1997), Yekaterinburg (est. 1999) and Vladikavkaz (est. 2012). Last year the Ministry of Culture made  principal decisions  to open a Siberian branch in Tomsk in 2014 as well as to build in Moscow by 2018 a new full scale museum of contemporary art on the base of the NCCA. As for the activity of the branches, their work depends on local  specifics  and is determined by the interest of local curatorial teams. The point is that Russia is a very large country and only at first glance it might seem that it exists in a unified socio-cultural space. In reality that is not exactly right. Russia is a multi-layered pie, where each layer shifts in different time continuums. All of that dictates to the regions certain specifics, which  in addition are formatted by their own  private circumstances, thus for example a branch in St.-Petersburg is focusing on media art and public art, the one in Yekaterinburg is focusing on urbanism and in the center of attention of the Nizhniy Novgorod branch are museum-educational projects, and so on. A series of long-term programs that co-relate to those main directions of activity have been developed by the  members  of the Center. Within the framework of each program individual projects that are initiated by the specialists from the Centre as well as by the other curators and researchers are realized with the help from creative and technical departments of NCCA. In a situation like that, the communication between the branches is based on mutual interests and agreements and it can be done in the form of exhibition exchanges and educational programs as well as projects of the invited curators. How do you fit into the system of contemporary art – considering that you started out in aviation, a purely technical discipline, continued through linguistic studies in Riga, and are now positioned as an artist, theoretician and curator? How did you come to the position of curator in the Kaliningrad NCCA? Curiously enough this trajectory of my personal development has a clear internal structure. The fact is that soviet technical education (I have studied during the existence of the USSR) was characterized by a systematic approach. Its philosophy was not in teaching separate details and manipulations that could be used in practice, but in passing on the knowledge and understanding of the main scientific principles and their explanations. At that time it was already clear to me that science and technology are a certain cultural code, by means of which we interact with the surrounding world. And in that respect they are not different from other symbolic systems and narratives that form our culture. This interest in science and technology overlapped with my passion for the Russian avant-garde of the 1910–30’s that cannot be perceived, just like modern art of the XX Century, without studying philosophy, semiotics and formal linguistics. Mastering these disciplines, in its turn, led me to contemporary art as the most universal way of being together with people and things that perpetually provides us with more and more new ways of being together with people and things. All of my aspirations and interests I turned into the personal artistic, curatorial and publishing projects and with time I received an invitation to work in the Kaliningrad art museum and read lectures at the local university. Six years later in 1998, I was invited to work at the Kaliningrad branch of the NCCA, which was at its formation stage. As I mentioned, apart from contemporary art, I had a passion for linguistics and new technologies. By the end of the 1990’s it was clear to me that these two fields are united in the most harmonious way in genetics – a study of genes, heredity and variability of organisms. Nowadays the metaphor of genome as a book is widely

used. That is not by chance, as they really have a lot in common. A book is information encoded with the help of combinations of certain symbols (an alphabet); as a result a large number of words (vocabulary) is formed. In genome the process is the same with minor differences. What is meant here is the encoding of the vital capacities of various material forms and types. I also understood that uniting the art and genetics enables us to assign new tasks, thus transforming the principle of depicting a reality into the principle of creating a new one. Actually, in the art history it wasn’t new, and all of us remember practices of Russian constructivists and biocosmists as well as the experiments within the field of soviet biomedicine of 1920–30’s… For me, at that moment, it was an unprecedented level of “interaction” in art, meaning that not only the message influences the medium, but also the medium itself corrects the information it stores. From that time my interests as an artist, theorist and a curator focused in the field of contemporary art and new technologies (including biomedical technology). At the beginning of the 2000’s I have realized a series of personal trans-genetic art projects that after being shown in the USA came into the “top 10” of the most interesting new organisms according to the Wired magazine. I have also published the largest at the time anthology BioMediale: Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture that over the years became an important resource in the field of genomic art.

Today, the public knows very little about what’s happening in science and technology and what extensive opportunities opened up for the scientific world. Your passion for linguistics and new technologies lead you into a specific interdisciplinary field of art, science and technology, which is represented by a small group of professional people. How is this niche represented on the Russian art scene? Following your professional paths from Riga to Siberia, how far can you spread the knowledge about it? How many professionals are interested in it? I believe this question relates more to the personal feeling of time and search for oneself within the system of art, rather than to the concrete geography. Only at the first glance it might seem that all of us exist in the united socio-cultural space and time. In the reality it is, of course, not like that. During my lectures I usually mention the example of CERN’s Lab in Switzerland, where people work with new meanings and deal with reconstruction of the existing worldviews. And in five or ten kilometers from this place a shepherd peacefully attends to his herd. He also has his view of the world. It is obvious that in the last example we will be separated from the first one by an entire era, despite the fact that everything seems to happen in one place and time… Overall, technological art is a very exclusive field of work. For Russia and the majority of eastern European countries it is rather an exception than a rule. I would compare artists working with modern technologies to the researchers from CERN – there are very few people like that in the world. And they are trying not only to give an answer to the question of what is modernity, but also to offer their own types of modernity drawn from very different personal, cultural and civilizational stories. The important part here lies in the way we would formulate for ourselves the concept of modernity and contemporary art, and what role we would leave for the artists in this very system. Depending on how we would do it, we would either participate in the processes of reasoning and activity related to the era of post-industrial society, or operate only by the industrial meanings. Not even suspecting that these meanings, similar to the geographic map, have already been mastered for the most part. From the systematic point of view our activity is absolutely inadequate to Russia and consists of transmitting postindustrial meanings onto the territories, where the core factor is an industrial economy. If we would manage to transfer the recognition of this situation into the framework of the practical activity, I don’t eliminate a possibility that the situation might change. This concerns not only Russia, but any country. What does it mean for contemporary art? It means that it is necessary to built links between art and technology faculties in a new way; to initiate educational programs for the artists interested in working with new technologies; to facilitate appearance and development of various sci-art-institutions; to organize exhibitions and conferences; to publish books.

Dmitry Bulatov. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Švarc

During my lectures I usually mention the example of CERN’s Lab in Switzerland, where people work with new meanings and deal with reconstruction of the existing worldviews. And in five or ten kilometers from this place a shepherd peacefully attends to his herd. He also has his view of the world. It is obvious that in the last example we will be separated from the first one by an entire era, despite the fact that everything seems to happen in one place and time…


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All of these are elements of the single economy of the ‘society of knowledge’, an economy that we will come to anyway, sooner or later.

In the project we pose two essential questions: a) what lies at the origins of an “artificial”, “technological” reality? and b) how is this reality influencing us? Even in this specific field there are many different orientations and branches on the global interdisciplinary scene, and often it is obvious that on a local, national or regional level, some people believe them to be based on an independent philosophical, artistic or theoretic thinking – but this is a trap, because technologies are led by global economics, politics and even national cultural models. Is the art of your curatorial selection of artworks and artists represented globally? How do you evaluate or define the differences between post-capitalistic, American-British models and the post-communist approach? Yes, I believe that we live in a situation where contemporary art presents itself as an international phenomenon. In it, equally with, let’s say, American or European authors, there are also artists from Australia, Latin America or South-East Asia. And in some way this phenomena is foreign to any of the national cultures. It presents itself as pure modernity – not a specific territory, but time. The same can be formulated differently: local doesn’t disappear, it just turns global. In any case, I believe that today’s artistic communities are structured not through the dialectics of local and global, but rather through networks, links and relations. As a result, not global, but local centers can become the knots of these networks. And therein lies the effectiveness of contemporary art. What I am paying attention to now are not the locally defined differences and cultural identities, but those artistic forms that are capable of asserting everywhere and to the same degree their own identity and stability. And here we come to a different problem of unification and indistinguishability. Nowadays, when one meets artists from different countries the first thing that strikes the eye is that they speak the same language, read the same texts and quote the same authors. And they carry out their projects and installations at approximately the same technical level. If you remember, in the 1980–90s, all art was developing in the framework of the search for identity and a construction of differences. It proclaimed that each one of us has our own identity and the only relationships possible between us are those of exchange. In other words, ideology of identity directly correlated to the ideology of the market. Everything has changed now and it became obvious that attention should be concentrated not on the phenomenon of the differences, but on the analysis of the reasons for the appearance of similarities. It is curious that in such an analysis, the experience of a post-communist state of society and the post-capitalistic American-British model are capable of supplementing each other. It became clear that instead of thematisation of differences (between human and human, human and a machine, human and a mutant) it is necessary to draw attention to the production of typicalness and programmability. By the way, contemporary technological art very clearly directs attention to the problematics of precisely this theme. Rapid development in the field of robotics, IT and synthetic biology points to the excess and overproduction of likeness; the multiplication of typical and similar. Creating alternative forms of sociality is exactly the essence of the experience accumulated during the era of totalitarism. Your most recent exhibition, which you authored as part of the ECC Maribor 2012, is an updated version of your previous curatorial works. How contemporary is this exhibition in relation to science and technology? For me, to have a conversation about modernity is impossible without a conversation about time. We don’t know in what time we are living and each and every day we ask ourselves: what is ‘today’? Contemporary technological art is trying to answer this exact question. Today, the public knows very little about what’s happening in science and technology and what extensive opportunities opened up for the scientific world. Our body became an object for programming; it can be changed, re-coded or supplemented by various foreign elements. As Stelarc put it, our body became a floating signifier that is reimbued with multiple and diverse technological meanings. Such a dependency on technologies is associated in the mind of the general public with a catastrophe, at least

because, from the ‘ordinary’ point of view, progress carries a practical systemic novelty that is incompatible with the realities of yesterday. In these conditions it is necessary to elaborate the cultural strategies for re-establishing people’s sense of engagement in the technological processes under way. And that can only be done through presenting metaphors, artistic statements and processes, drawing people into their orbits. Exactly from such models and processes, which indicate human struggle to get new knowledge on simulated events, i.e. to understand their structure and architecture, a clarification of acquired knowledge usually begins. Representatives of technological art do precisely that – they construct such medial models and processes. In the past, cinema and photography, video, computer and network technologies could be considered as such phenomena. Today, the conversation is not so much about analog or digital carriers for the artistic message, as it is about their merging in the new, techno-biological form. Nowadays, such consolidation in art is achieved because of the use of the newest technologies from robotics and synthetic biology to the whole spectrum of neuro- and biomedical sciences. Precisely through such artistic works it is possible to convey a sense of time that combines signs of both, a living organism and a technical product. It is principally important when we speak of the coming of a new, post-biological age, which is a step in our existence, when technological component of one or another living organism will become not only inseparable from the biological one, but is to surpass it in perspective. What are the theoretical premises behind the basic concept of the exhibition and conference Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious2? One of the main goals of our project was to teach the viewer some active ways of relating to new technologies. From my point of view, science and technology are not merely tools that we use to achieve designated goals. On the contrary, the autonomy of technological systems and their active penetration into all spheres of human life allow us to conceptualize technology as an autotelic ontological entity that plays an ever-greater role in defining human development. In the project we pose two essential questions: a) what lies at the origins of an “artificial”, “technological” reality? and b) how is this reality influencing us? In order to outline possible answers to these questions I have introduceed a bizarre operator which is the “technological unconscious”. How do we usually explore new territories? First, we give them a name carrying our own expectations and sensations. Then we explore these sensations through rational descriptions. This is how it worked with the term technological unconscious: there were two interpretations. The first of them describes the mechanism of technological interacting with a man through ideas. There is some archive of narratives and myths in the history of new technologies in the form of recurring cultural motives. These narratives are prefabricated forms of technological experience which are triggered in human consciousness at a certain point to foster the development of the reality of new technologies. In other words, here is where technologies appear before us as ideological, discursive constructions that perform certain control over us on the principle of “top-down”, that was the title for one of the parts of our exhibition. On the other hand, technological unconscious (with the emphasis on technological) can be seen as kind of influence of the substance, its formation in time. One can assume that artificial reality is manufactured by a technological infrastructure which triggers the pre-individual, pre-verbal and pre-social human dimension. This reality has a hidden and formatting effect on us according to the principle of “bottom-up” and is produced bypassing the cognitive constituent. These two regimes of soft, distributed technology structuring – discursive and nondiscursive – function like two sides of the same medal. They determined the title of the entire project – SOFT CONTROL. Based on these versions, the artists proposed different strategies of attributing meaning to technological structures. These faculties include the integration of man into the system of technological links and de-identification with its mechanisms by way of establishing new forms and identities in a completely subjective idiosyncratic manner. The appropriation and change of one of the described narratives can be effected on 2 In English, SOFT means not only soft (qualities of character, for example), but also gives an indication to the software core, to the programmability of processes; in Russian translation (МЯГКИЙ КОНТРОЛЬ), for example, this property, this ”inner bottom“ of the meaning is lost.

different levels, both on the level of narrations about technologies (discursive statement), and on the level of everyday automatisms, affects and bodily temporalities (non-discursive statement). Such standards of “production of subjectivity” were presented during the SOFT CONTROL exhibition and further reflected upon on the theme panel discussions during the conference. What ethical questions are raised in the concept of the exhibition? In my opinion the definition of ‘ethics’ as a collection of rules of human conduct or the science of how we should behave ourselves seems quite obsolete. Let me remind that Aristotle, who created the notion of ethics, derived it from the word ethos that means stable, familiar. Nowadays, trying to interrupt this tradition, we are forced to connect ethics to cognition, when not submitting ethical to cognition, freedom, power, etc., but substituting these structures with constructions of ethical relations to oneself and to one’s creativity. This approach becomes especially important now, at the time when technologies that used to change mainly mechanically surrounding world, appear to aim at the construction of a new type of materiality, which can be identified by the term “material viability”. This “material viability”, particularly in art, turns an image from simply moving (cinema, video, etc.), from just viable (AI, AL, VR, etc.) into a live, materially documented artifact. Thus, constructing materiality at the level of wet-biostructure and learning to change it, we get access to our own evolution and, with necessity, asking ourselves the question of what does it mean to be human. In other words, we approach the meaning of ethics as some sort of “internal optics” that implements a critical aspect of our knowledge and perception. In that way ethics, in its essence, appears to us as ascetics, as a constant testing of oneself and one’s “habitat”. Today prospects of our existence are in many respects connected with the question of what role art and philosophy are capable of playing in the conceptualization of the created technological world and axiological orienting in this world. Each time we contemplate the latest work of art, we inevitably must ask ourselves about its ontological qualities in relation to the nature of the technological. Does the given concrete work of art contribute to technologically approving conditional subordination and manipulation, or does it at first affirm the version of dehumanizing reality that is unfolding before our eyes, and then subtly abolish this law, offering the viewer a more complex permutation of rules? Such a practice bears witness to the abilities of the artist – and, in the end, the viewer himself – not simply to endow the technological space with cognitive or aesthetic content, but, above all, with existential content. Thus, by demonstrating the logic in the creation of new technological forms and new identities, art articulates the primary task of the individual living in the age of new technologies: the construction of a living future (that is, a future that endows us with freedom), and not a dead, mechanized future that is being built without our participation. Can you ever imagine Kaliningrad to become a European Capital of Culture? Kaliningrad generally cannot afford exhibitions on a bigger scale. The ECC is something like a showcase of concept cars at an auto show – it is an exhibition of ideas, but they have already been implemented in some of the working models. It’s also an opportunity to see the results of what the citizens have created. You and your colleagues as well have constructed a part of your history and the history of your city by yourselves. In this respect I would regard the status of the “Capital of Europe” through a prism of an activity model rather than a formal model… As for Kaliningrad – it would certainly be funny to imagine it as a (cultural) capital of Europe, accounting for the fact that Königsberg formally used to be quite a beautiful and comfortable city, until it was bombed in 1944. With this historical underlying in mind, the motto of Kaliningrad–Königsberg, the “Capital of Europe” could sound quite paradoxically: “The future already was…”


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Kuda Begut Sobaki

Anti-chanson (Anti-šanson), 2006 Radio komponente, baterija, etui, gumb za nastavitve 2,5 х 1,5 х 6 cm, elektronska naprava Anti-šanson je osebna mobilna naprava za zaščito in aktivno proti-delovanje proti vsiljevanju neželenih informacij na oddajnih valovih radijskih postaj (reklam, propagande, slabe glasbe itd.). Napravo smo zato poimenovali PMRJ-1: “Anti-chanson” (Personal Mobile Radio Jammer ali Osebni Mobilni Radijski Motilec). Anti-šanson omogoča diskretno motenje izbrane radijske frekvence tako, da ustvarja harmonične radijske interference v danem frekvenčnem obsegu. Na napravi sta nameščena gumb za vklop motenja signala z napisom “Izključi FM” in gumb za izbiro frekvence. Je žepnega formata, kar omogoča uporabniku, da diskretno (ne da bi vzel roke iz žepa) poišče frekvenco, na kateri oddaja zoprna postaja in prične z oddajanjem tišine. Tehnične lastnosti: Frekvenčno območje: 88–108 MHz (FM) Območje učinkovitosti: 5–10 m Napajanje: 9 V Vzdržljivost baterije: 15 ur Skupne dimenzije: 35 х 50 х 25 cm Projekt je del programa z naslovom “Uporabnost sodobne umetnosti v nacionalnem gospodarstvu”.

Kuda begut sobaki, fotografije z dovoljenjem avtorjev / Photo courtesy the artists

Instalacija Faces of Smell (Obrazi vonja), 2012 Senzorji za analizo plinov, tiskano vezje PCB, ojačane plastične in polietilenske cevke, ventilator, mikrokontrolerji, nettop računalnik, ravnozaslonski plazma televizor, miza, stojalo, žice (280 х 180 х 80 cm)

Installation “Faces of Smell”, 2012 Gas analyzer sensors, printed circuit boards, reinforced plastic and polyethylene tubes, fan, microcontrollers, nettop computer, flat-screen plasma TV, table, rack, wires (280 х 180 х 80 cm)

Velika večina ljudi ne more po spominu priklicati vonjev – precej težko si je miselno “predstavljati” določen znan vonj, medtem ko si z relativno lahkoto prikličemo vizualizacijo nekega obraza. Ko si recimo poskušamo priklicati v spomin vonj po mentolu, si ga pravzaprav predstavljamo. Vonj lahko prepoznamo le takrat, ko ga ponovno izkusimo. Zaenkrat torej še ne obstajajo mehanizmi, ki bi zmogli vsaj približno rekonstruirati in reproducirati določen vonj po spominu. Zato pa obstaja uveljavljena in pogosto uporabljana metoda prepoznave in poustvarjanja vizualnih podob: obrazna kompozicija, pri kateri se obraz, ki smo ga že videli, rekonstruira s pomočjo primerjave in izbiranja posameznih značilnosti obraza. Tako smo se odločili, da poskusimo to metodo uporabiti tudi za določevanje vonjev. S tem namenom smo namestili vrsto senzorjev za analizo plinov, ki znotraj svojega operacijskega dometa nenehno analizirajo prostor in ljudi. Pri tem podatki plinskih analizatorjev ustvarijo vzorec, ki je edinstvena značilnost tega prostora, določene osebe in tudi določenega trenutka, saj se sestava zraka v prostoru, ki ga analiziramo, venomer spreminja zaradi pretoka zraka. Unikaten in nenehno spreminjajoč se vzorec je nato vizualno prikazan v obliki obrazne kompozicije. Deluje pa takole: ko se obiskovalec približa analizatorju, ga vohalne cevčice “povohajo”, nato analizatorji plina obdelajo podatke in jih posredujejo računalniškemu programu, ki podatke o sestavi zraka prevede v podatke o obliki in položaju obraznih značilnosti (ali komponent obrazne kompozicije). Obraz vonja določene osebe seveda tako imenujemo zgolj pogojno; v nobenem primeru ne gre za povezavo z njihovim dejanskim fizičnim videzom. Če se “nosu” ponovno približa ista oseba, bo njen portret vsakič rahlo drugačen (saj se vonj neprestano spreminja), a še vedno prepoznaven. Celoten mehanizem je tako še ena “spominska bergla”, več kot očitno pomanjkljiv in absurden pripomoček, pa vendar v skladu z vsemi zahtevami po totalni vizualizaciji, ki smo ji tako pogosto priča v današnjem svetu.

Most people cannot reconstruct smells from memory (it’s rather hard to mentally “picture” a familiar smell, although someone’s face would be pretty easy to visualize). When we try to recall the smell of mint, we end up recalling how mint looks. We can only recognize a smell when experiencing it again. As yet, there exists no mechanism to even approximately reconstruct and reproduce a smell from memory. However, there is a wellestablished and widely used method of recalling and recreating a visual image: the facial composite, where a previously seen face is reconstructed by comparing and selecting individual facial features. We have decided to use the same method for fixing smells. To do that, we have created an array of gas analyzer sensors that continuously examine the space and the people within their operating range. The data from the gas analyzers constitute a pattern that is unique to this place, this person, and this moment in time – because airflow constantly changes the air composition in the space that is being examined. This unique, ever-changing pattern is visualized in a facial composite. This is how it works: when a person approaches the analyzer, sniffing tubes “sniff” him, then gas analyzers process the information, which then passes to a computer program that translate air composition data into data concerning the shape and position of facial features (the components of a facial composite). As a result, a person sees a face of their smell that is conditional, in no way related to their actual physical appearance. If the same person were to approach the “nose” once again, their portrait would be slightly different (because smell changes constantly), albeit still recognizable. This mechanism is yet another “memory crutch”, obviously deficient and ridiculous, and yet exactly in line with the requirements of total visualization that surrounds us today.

Anti-chanson, 2006 Radio components, battery, case, tuning knob 2,5 х 1,5 х 6 cm, electronic device “Anti-chanson” is a personal mobile device for protection and active counteraction against the intrusion of unwanted information on the airwaves (such as advertising, propaganda, disgusting music, etc.). We have called this device PMRJ-1: “Anti-chanson” Personal Mobile Radio Jammer. “Anti-chanson” allows one to discreetly jam a selected radio frequency by generating harmonic radio interference in a given frequency range. The device has a button that turns on the jamming labeled “Turn off FM” and a frequency selection knob. The device easily fits into a pocket, enabling the user to discreetly (without taking the hand out of the pocket) find the frequency carrying the annoying station and to start airing silence. Performance characteristics: Frequency range: 88–108 MHz (FM) Effective range: 5–10 m Supply voltage: 9 V Battery life: 15 hours Overall dimensions: 35 х 50 х 25 cm The project was part of our program “The utility of contemporary art for the national economy”.


Kuda begut sobaki: Alexey Korzukhin, Natalia Grekhova, Olga Inozemtseva, Vladislav Bulatov. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Ĺ varc


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Pletenje in kvačkanje Mandelbrotove množice Babuška (babica) plete Mandelbrotovo množico v obliki pletilnega vzorca. Na ta način določa meje praznini.

Knitting and crocheting the Mandelbrot set A babushka is knitting the Mandelbrot set converted into a knitting pattern. She is bounding the void.

Mandelbrotovo množico bi lahko označili kot mejo pobega v neskončnost. Izberemo točko nedaleč od ničle in nato zamenjamo njeni dve koordinati, torej x in y, z dvema preprostima izrazoma in dobimo dve novi številki, koordinati nove točke, ki ju nato zamenjamo z istim izrazom, in tako naprej. Če ima začetna točka torej “srečo”, da je del Mandelbrotove množice, bodo na poti skozi enačbo vse naslednje točke ostale blizu izvora. Če pa je začetna točka za spoznanje izven meja množice, njene naslednice ne bodo ostale v bližini, pač pa bodo izgubile stik z izvorno točko in poletele v neskončnost. Koordinate sledečih točk bodo vedno samo naraščale in se ne bodo nikdar vrnile v bližino ničle, kjer se nahajajo njihovi predniki. Meja Mandelbrotove množice ni mogoče opisati niti z najkompleksnejšimi enačbami. Zmeraj se ustvarja po sistemu poizkusov in napak: vzamemo točko, naredimo izračune in nato vidimo, ali rezultat ostaja v mejah množice. Prav tako ni mogoče preveriti vsake točke znotraj množice, saj je njihovo število večje celo od standardne (števne) neskončnosti, ki se je za vse nas v otroštvu pričela nekje okrog milijona ali milijarde. Zato so tako ustvarjene meje vedno samo približek: imamo milijon točk, ki definitivno spadajo v Mandelbrotovo množico; drugi milijon točk definitivno ne spada vanjo, meja pa je nekje med njima. Poseben program lahko približa pogled na katerikoli del znanih meja: poišče nove točke med že preverjenimi in določi, katere izmed njih so znotraj oz. zunaj množice. Točke, ki so del Mandelbrotove množice, so tradicionalno obarvane črno. Vsak neznaten del meje izgleda podobno kot celotna meja. Zato se tudi imenuje sama sebi podobna oblika ali fraktal. Nemogoče ga je ustvariti ali narisati brez pomoči računalnika. Številne strukture, ki spominjajo na Mandelbrotovo množico, srečamo v naravnem okolju: na primer človeški sistem ožilja, silhuete obalnih področij itd. Pri projektu nas najbolj zanima odnos do nedoločljive meje: ali je bolje ostati znotraj in biti tradicionalno obarvan črno, ali ostati zunaj in zagotovo vedeti, da nas bo odneslo v neskončnost, ali nemara ostati na sami meji in tako postati neskončno sam sebi podoben? Evgeniy Prigorodov

The Mandelbrot set can be called the boundary of escaping to infinity. One takes a point not far from zero and then substitutes its two coordinates, x and y, into two simple expressions – resulting in another two numbers, the coordinates of a new point, which are then substituted into the same expression, and so on. So if the initial point is “lucky” enough to be within the Mandelbrot set, then, passing through the equation, all the subsequent points will stay close to the origin. But if the initial point is even a little bit beyond the set’s boundary, then its descendants will not stay put – they will lose touch with the origin and fly to infinity. The coordinates of the iterated points will only grow and will never return to the vicinity of zero, where their ancestors dwell. The boundary of the Mandelbrot set cannot be described by even the most complex of equations. It is always generated by trial and error: one takes a point, performs repeated calculations, and sees whether the results remain bounded. It is impossible to check each and every point there is, as their number is even greater than the standard (countable) infinity that, in our childhood, used to begin somewhere beyond a million or a billion. Therefore, the generated boundary is always approximate: this million of points is definitely inside the set, that million of points is definitely outside it, and the boundary is somewhere between these two. A program can zoom in on any section of the known boundary: take new points between the already checked ones and determine which ones are inside the boundary and which ones are outside. The points within the set are traditionally painted black. Any fragment of the boundary, no matter how small, looks similar to the entire boundary. That’s why it is called a self-similar shape, or a fractal. It is impossible to generate and draw it without a computer. Many structures similar to the Mandelbrot set are found in nature: for example, blood vasculature, coastlines, etc. What we are interested in here is the attitude towards the indeterminable boundary: is it better to stay inside and be painted the traditional black, or to stay outside knowing for sure that one will have to fly to infinity, or to exist on the boundary and become infinitely self-similar? Evgeniy Prigorodov Digitizing water (Digitalizirana voda), 2004 Pleksi steklo, elektronika, tiskalnik, računalnik, monitor, papir, voda, 150 x 20 x 80 cm, kinetična instalacija

Kuda begut sobaki, fotografije z dovoljenjem avtorjev / Photo courtesy the artists

Napravo za digitaliziranje vode sestavlja skupina kozarcev oz. stikal, nameščenih na trikotno ploskovno površino. Majhni kozarčki v obliki trikotne prizme ter z razdelkom po sredini delujejo kot stikala. Voda, ki priteče v kozarčke, jih napolni do polovice, nato pa se nagnejo v levo ali desno stran od svoje navpične osi, zato voda steče v naslednji kozarček v spodnji vrsti. Vsaka zaporedna vrstica ima en kozarček več kot prejšnja. Vodo dovajamo samo v vrhnjega in medtem ko teče po celotni postavitvi, se kozarčki nagibajo sem ali tja, levo ali desno. V najnižji vrstici piramide so nameščeni senzorji, ki zaznajo položaj kozarčkov: če so nagnjeni v levo, ustrezajo ničli, če v desno, pa enki. Tako se ustvari dinamična binarna digitalna serija. Podatke iz senzorjev obdela računalnik, lahko pa jih tudi posnamemo na disk, natisnemo ali prikažemo na zaslonu. Na ta način damo vodi sredstvo, da lahko opiše samo sebe in skozi ta proces pridobi novo, digitalno stanje. Naravno telo vode se preobrazi v digitalno telo. Prostornino digitalizirane vode merimo v litrih. Obiskovalci lahko s seboj domov vzamejo poljubno količino ter jo hranijo, dokler ne bo prevladujoča oblika življenja postala digitalna. Kdo ve, morda se bo takrat nekdo lotil obratnega procesa in tako obnovil svetovne zaloge naravne vode. Če pa bo digitalna oblika življenja postala edina možna, bo voda iz začetkov 21. stoletja nedvomno predstavljala dragocenost.

Digitizing water, 2004 Plexiglass, electronics, printer, computer, monitor, paper, water, 150 x 20 x 80 cm, kinetic installation The water digitization machine consists of an array of cups / switches mounted on a triangular planar surface. Each switch is a small cup in the form of a triangular prism with a partition in the middle. The flow of water fills up one of the halves of a switch, tilting it left or right from its vertical axis and causing the water to pour into one of the cups in the next row down. Each row has one cup more than the previous one. Water is fed to the first switch and then flows down the entire array, tilting cups left or right. Sensors record the position of the cups in the lowest row of the pyramid; a cup tilted to the left corresponds to zero, a cup tilted to the right – to one. This generates a dynamic binary digital series. The data from the sensors is fed to a computer and can be recorded on a disk, printed out, or shown on a monitor. Thus, water is given means to describe itself and, through this self-description, obtains a new, digital, state. The water’s natural body is transformed into a digital one. The volume of digitized water is measured in liters. A viewer can take home as much water as they want and keep it until such time as the digital form of life becomes the prevailing one. Perhaps then somebody will conduct the reverse process and replenish the world’s supply of natural water. If the digital form of life becomes the only possible one, early 21st century water will become a valuable artifact.


Kuda begut sobaki (RU). Fields 2.1, 2009–12. Mešana medijska instalacija / Mixed media installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Fields 2.1 2009–12. Mešana medijska instalacija (prirejeni objekti, servomotorji, magneti, mikro kontroler, senzorji, mikro kamere, magnetna tekočina) Fields 2.1 je poskus ustvarjanja iluzije zavesti v neživi snovi. Premikajoče se oko je lastnost, ki gledalcu omogoči, da zaznava “neživo” kot “zavestno”. S pomočjo magnetnega polja in tehnologije magnetne tekočine umetniki zgradijo model razvoja nežive snovi, ki vsebuje naravno organsko lastnost doživljanja naključnih specifičnih sprememb v točno določenih trenutkih. Tako se v projektu zavest (ali njene prepoznavne značilnosti) pojavi kot reakcija na drugo zavest (ali njene prepoznavne značilnosti) in tako ustvarja različne odnose med snovmi – od opazovanja do interakcije. Zahvala: Programiranje Denis Perevalov, v sodelovanju s prof. dr. Vladimirjem Shurjem iz Centra Ural za skupno rabo moderne nanotehnologije, Univerza v Uralu in kreativne agencije Artpolitika, Ekaterinburg, Rusija

Fields 2.1 2009–12. Mixed media installation (custom objects, servomotors, magnets, microcontroller, sensors, microcameras, ferrofluid) Fields 2.1 is an attempt to create an illusion of consciousness in non-living matter. A moving eye is a property that allows the viewer to perceive the “inanimate” as the “conscious”. Using magnetic fields and ferrofluid technologies the artists build up a model of how non-living matter evolves which has an inherent organic characteristic to undergo random specific changes at specific moments of time. In the project consciousness (or its signatures) appears as a reaction to another consciousness (or its signatures) and comprises various relations between matters – from observation to interaction. Credits: Programming Denis Perevalov. In collaboration with Dr. Prof. Vladimir Shur at the Ural Center of Shared Use “Modern Nanotechnology”, Ural State University and Artpolitika Creative Agency, Ekaterinburg, Russia


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Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr Novoživost Neolifism Z Ionat Zurr že več let razvijava nov koncept, ki sva ga poimenovala neolifism (v nadaljevanju novoživost, veda o novih oblikah življenja). Živi fragmenti bioloških teles in laboratorijske oblike življenja zahtevajo drugačno epistemološko in ontološko razumevanje ter posledično tudi drugačno taksonomijo življenja. Liminalnost oziroma vmesnost takšne vrste tehnološkega pristopa k življenju lahko vodi v posebno obliko “fetišizma”, ki mu praviva novoživost. Ena najbolj zanimivih zadev s tega področja je recimo Mycoplasma Laboratorium (Laboratorijska mikoplazma), življenjska oblika, ki jo je leta 2010 ustvaril Craig Venter. Označil jo je kot “prvi samorazmnoževalni celični organizem, ki se je rodil računalniškim staršem”. Pri tej sintezni DNK gre pravzaprav zgolj za “poveličevanje fotokopije”. Za sintezo DNK so uporabili računalnik, vendar pomena te DNK znanstveniki (še) ne razumejo povsem. Kljub temu pa jim je uspelo vstaviti genom – droben košček materiala, na katerem temelji vsa fetišizacija življenja – v novo celico, iz katere so pred tem odstranili DNK; zato v tem smislu Craig Venter res uteleša sanje vsakega piflarja, če lahko temu tako rečemo. Kasneje se bom vrnil k tej ideji o koščku DNK – očitno središču vseh naših razmišljanj v kontekstu življenja – kot resnično zelo patriarhalnem pristopu do življenja. Venter je naredil naslednji korak na poti do izpolnitve sanj Jacquesa Loeba iz 19. stoletja, ki je sanjal o tem, da bi biologija postala inženiring in že v tistem času predlagal teoretični projekt, kako ustvariti življenje iz nič, s tem pa ovreči metafizično idejo vitalizma. Craig Venter se temu približuje, vendar je zanimivo, da je ob predstavitvi te nove življenjske oblike svetu izbral sliko, na kateri ta novi organizem “strmi” v nas, kot da bi imel oči. Zanimivo je, da je za prikaz nečesa precej metafizičnega – in prepričan sem, da je imel pri odločitvi podporo vrhunskih marketinških svetovalcev – izbral podobo oči, ki strmijo v nas. Lahko bi rekli, da te oči pogreša drugi Golem, še ena človeško ustvarjena

življenjska oblika (zgodba o Golemu iz Prage), ki se največkrat pojavlja brez oči. Tako dobimo v nekem smislu moderno različico Golema, za katerega smo že slišali, in par oči, ki nam jih podarja Craig Venter, da bi videli svet v drugačni luči … Golem ni imel oči, ampak je bil tam zato, da ljudi zaščiti; res pa je tudi, da ga je rabin uničil, saj je ugotovil, da ta nova oblika življenja, ki jo je ustvaril, lahko tudi škodi. V preteklosti je šlo za odprto področje raziskovalnega dela, ki je ostalo še vedno odprto vprašanje, ko sva se z Ionat pričela spraševati o možnostih uporabe tkivnega inženiringa ali tkivnih tehnologij kot umetniškega medija. Svoje delo sva začela v laboratoriju za očesne raziskave. Znanstvenik, s katerim sva sodelovala, je skušal razviti umetno roženico. Prvo, kar sva zagledala ob vstopu v laboratorij, so bile na pol razsekane zajčje glave. V laboratorij so jih prinašali v kartonastih škatlah, dva- do trikrat tedensko, približno v času kosila. Zajce so redili za potrebe prehranske industrije, njihove glave so poslali inštitutu za možganske raziskave, kjer so jim odstranili možgane, v laboratorij za očesne raziskave pa smo dobili polovice zajčjih glav, iz katerih smo nato odstranili še oči. Oči smo v stekleničkah z antibiotično raztopino čez noč pustili v hladilniku. Po 24 urah smo odstranili plast kože, ki prerašča roženico, začeli gojiti celične kulture v petrijevkah, in opazili nekaj nenavadnega. Zajec je bil očitno že davno mrtev, toda te celice so bile žive in so povsem normalno funkcionirale! Takrat sva spoznala, da dejansko nimava besed, da bi izrazila to, kar smo doživljali … naj si sposodim citat od Stelarca – ni človeško telo “zastarelo”, pač pa zastarel koncept življenja v luči novih življenjskih oblik, ki jih začenjamo srečevati v kontekstu laboratorija. Za znanstvenike je to povsem banalno, ljudem, ki niso znanstveniki, pa vsekakor predstavlja miselni izziv, zato sva se z Ionat odločila, da takšne stvari krstiva za pol-žive (semi-living).

Razmisliti moramo tudi o pojmu objektifikacije oziroma utelesenja življenja. Že iz leta 1750 poznamo primere nadomestnih oziroma umetnih “mater”, ki ne glede na letni čas skrbijo za piščance, namenjene človeški prehrani – to so prvi primeri industrializacije dela z življenjskimi oblikami. Spomnimo se tovarn mesno-predelovalne industrije v ameriškem Cincinnatiju s konca ali sredine 19. stoletja: njihovi tekoči trakovi naj bi pravzaprav navdihnili Henryja Forda, ki je te kraje pogosto obiskoval in dobil zamisel za proizvodno linijo; na nek način nas je s tem preobrazil v industrijska bitja današnjega dne. Vse se je začelo z dekontekstualizacijo življenja do te mere, da na tem temelji ves industrializem, ves fordizem; življenje pa postaja zgolj surov material – nekaj plastičnega, kar lahko po svoji volji oblikujemo in spreminjamo. Trdim celo, da je v očeh industrijskih farm narava pravzaprav ovira, ki

Oči smo v stekleničkah z antibiotično raztopino čez noč pustili v hladilniku. Po 24 urah smo odstranili plast kože, ki prerašča roženico, začeli gojiti celične kulture v petrijevkah, in opazili nekaj nenavadnega. Zajec je bil očitno že davno mrtev, toda te celice so bile žive in so povsem normalno funkcionirale! jo je treba premagati, to pa je princip, zelo podoben tistemu v sintezni biologiji in do neke mere tudi marksizmu: narava je ovira, ki jo moramo premostiti. Na vas pa je, da izberete, na kateri strani polemike se boste znašli. Industrijski inkubatorji za vzrejo piščancev so se pojavili v istem obdobju, ko so pričeli uporabljati inkubatorje za biološke raziskave. Pionir na tem področju je bil Alexis Carrel, dobitnik Nobelove nagrade za medicino leta 1912, pred stotimi leti pa tudi začetnik trideset let trajajočega eksperimenta s tkivnimi kulturami. Gojil je piščančje zarodne celice, in sicer znotraj povsem novega tipa telesa, na katerem so rasle celice. Ko torej združite celice s tehnologijo, telesi, življenjem in umetnimi tehnološkimi telesi, se začnejo dogajati zanimive stvari. V 30-ih letih prejšnjega stoletja je Carrel sodeloval s Charlesom Lindberghom pri razvoju prvega umetnega srca oziroma “perfuzijske aseptične črpalke” za dolgotrajnejše

The Tissue Culture & Art Project: Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr (AU). Crude Matter, 2012. Mešana medijska instalacija / Mixed media installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Surova snov The Tissue Culture & Art Project 2012, instalacija (lokalno blato, keramika, sintetična trava, celice na PDMS, mikro-kanali, natisnjeni na Pyrex steklu) Tkivno kulturo in umetniški projekt gosti center SymbioticA, Center odličnosti bioloških umetnosti, Oddelek za anatomijo in človeško biologijo Univerze Western Australia. Zahvala: Laboratorijski center Univerze v Mariboru in KZ Rače

Crude Matter The Tissue Culture & Art Project 2012, Installation (local mud, ceramics, synthetic grass, cells over PDMS, micro-channels printed on Pyrex) The Tissue Culture & Art Project is hosted in SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia. Credits: Laboratory center of the University of Maribor and KZ Rače


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ohranjanje življenjskih funkcij organov kompleksnih organizmov. Že takrat je Carrel verjel, da bo v kratkem s pomočjo te nove tehnologije lahko oživljal ljudi (to je bilo leta 1938!) – in leta 2012 smo izvedeli, da se to še ne bo zgodilo v naslednjih nekaj mesecih. Posvetoval se je celo z odvetnikom, ker ga je zanimalo, kakšno odgovornost bi imel v odnosu do takšnih življenjskih oblik – do ljudi, ki naj bi jih obudil od mrtvih! Vse to priča o njegovi gotovosti. Naj kot ilustracijo konteksta tistega časa omenim še, da je Carrel v istem letu napisal delo Človek, neznano bitje, v katerem med drugim predlaga uporabo plinskih celic za eliminacijo neželenih “elementov” človeške družbe. O tkivnem inženiringu smo slišali že veliko, tako da sam v podrobnosti ne bom zahajal. Lahko pa povem, da sva z Ionat na medicinski fakulteti Harvard Medical School imela srečo eno leto sodelovati z enim izmed ustanoviteljev tega področja, Josephom Vacantijem. Razkril je pomemben konceptualni premik od starega načina popravljanja telesa, torej mehanskega ali inženirskega, k regenerativnemu modelu, iz katerega je nastalo celotno področje regenerativne medicine. Leta 1989 so ideje o popravljanju človeških teles v glavnem opisovale nadomestitev okvarjenih ali manjkajočih delov telesa z neko vrsto mehanskega aparata (če srce odpove, ga bomo nadomestili s črpalko). Ampak danes nam obljubljajo (čeprav smo to slišali že leta 1995), da se dá srce (umetno) vzgojiti. Ideja o vzgojitvi srca obstaja že od leta 1999. Pravzaprav je že leta 1995 mednarodni konzorcij znanstvenikov obljubljal, da jim bo v desetih letih uspelo vzgojiti umetno srce – ampak nekaj let po obljubljenem roku nismo niti blizu tem rezultatom. Vendar je bila obljuba dana. Z Ionat sva se torej spraševala (Vacanti in Langer sta originalno zamisel o tkivnem inženiringu predstavila leta 1993: šlo je za tridimenzionalni skelet oziroma konstrukcijo objekta – organa, ki bi ga gojila izven telesa in ga nato vsadila v telo): če so nam v 80-ih obljubljali, da lahko srce nadomestimo s črpalko, v 90-ih pa, da lahko vzgojimo srce, zakaj torej ne bi gojili črpalk? Pozabimo na tisti del, ko jih vsadimo nazaj v telo. Zakaj ne bi gojila funkcionalnih, tridimenzionalnih tkivnih objektov za druge, ne-medicinske namene? Tako sva začela raziskovati vsa ta vprašanja skozi svoje delo.

Mislim, da je ena najpomembnejših zadev pri najinem delu prav ideja izgube nadzora nad lastnimi stvaritvami. Primer je recimo projekt Victimless Leather (Usnje brez žrtev), kjer sva se posvetila ideji rasti tridimenzionalnega tkiva in konceptu pol-živega, pa tudi ideji tehnološkega telesa. Lahko bi celo rekli, da gre za neposredno povezavo med “perfuzijsko črpalko” Carrela in Lindbergha ter najinim projektom, vendar je najin sistem služil zgolj vzdrževanju kosa “oblačila”, miniaturnega plaščka, vzgojenega iz človeških in mišjih celic. Projekt sva leta 2008 predstavila v newyorškem muzeju MoMA in začele so se dogajati zanimive stvari. Prvič sva uporabila zarodne matične celice, ki so začele nekontrolirano rasti, tako da je bilo potrebno sistem izključiti. To je zanetilo debato o tem, kaj vse skupaj pravzaprav pomeni, kaj predstavljajo te življenjske oblike in kakšen odnos naj vzpostavimo do njih – in zadevo je lepo povzela muzejska kustosinja Paola Antonelli, rekoč, da je resnično težko in pravzaprav kruto takšno napravo izključiti. Njenemu mnenju so se pridružili tudi mediji. Kakšen pomen imajo takšne življenjske oblike in na kakšen način jih zato obravnavamo, se je tudi nama kot avtorjema zazdelo fascinantno. Na tej točki bi zadevo rad komentiral še v smislu “izgube nadzora”. Mislim, da je ena najpomembnejših zadev pri najinem delu prav ideja izgube nadzora nad lastnimi stvaritvami. Naj opišem še eno prigodo v zvezi z istim projektom: iz tokijskega muzeja Mori so me po telefonu obvestili, da se je na miniaturnem plaščku pojavila manjša infekcija, zato sem prvih deset dni razstave zdravil svojo umetnino, da bi preprečil širjenje glivične okužbe, a sem potem žal moral nazaj v Avstralijo … Vse, kar sva ob tem projektu doživela, se je na koncu izkazalo za veliko bolj zanimivo in neverjetno, kot bi si lahko kdajkoli predstavljala. V začetku letošnjega leta je Peter Thiel, soustanovitelj in nekdanji direktor spletne družbe PayPal, pa tudi prvi sponzor družabnega omrežja Facebook, investiral 350.000 dolarjev v podjetje, ki v prihodnosti obljublja gojenje užitnih prototipov in-vitro mesa in usnja, kar bo pomagalo rešiti naš svet. Vidite lahko, kako se navdušenje nad novimi tehnološkimi pristopi seli v povsem nepričakovane smeri. Takšni ljudje so v največji meri odgovorni za spodbujanje – do te mere, da verjamemo, da

Ionat Zurr. SC 2012. Foto / photo Boštjan Lah

Vse se je začelo z dekontekstualizacijo življenja do te mere, da na tem temelji ves industrializem, ves fordizem; življenje pa postaja zgolj surov material – nekaj plastičnega, kar lahko po svoji volji oblikujemo in spreminjamo. bomo vse te obljubljene čudovite rezultate res dosegli in da imamo lahko popoln nadzor nad življenjem. Projekt človeški genom – junija leta 2000 so slavili v ZDA in v Londonu, kjer so Bill Clinton, Francis Collins in Craig Venter na veliko proslavljali zaključek tako imenovanega prvega osnutka projekta človeškega genoma. Zanimiva je predvsem retorika o dogodku. Tedanji direktor ameriškega sklada Wellcome Trust je povedal, da “ni dovolj, če ta dosežek primerjamo z izumom kolesa; tukaj gre za bistvo vsega človeštva”. Pravi torej, da s tem razvozlavamo samo bistvo človeške vrste in da je vse, kar je pomembnega za nas in o nas, shranjeno v tem paketku DNK, ki ga prenaša moški organizem. Toda, samo leto dni kasneje pravijo, “hm … nekoliko smo pretiravali, samo šalili smo se, v bistvu je šlo za politično gesto”. Resnična težava pa je, da je medtem Craig Venter vodil svoj zasebni projekt

človeški genom, ki je prevzel javnega in zanetil perečo debato o patentiranju genov … Njihova naknadna izjava je bila: “Skupna objava rezultatov je bila najbrž bolj visokoleteča, kot jo je upravičevala situacija. Vendar smo se z njo znebili skrbi, da bi ena stran prehitela drugo, predvsem pa je zmanjšala medijski pritisk” (GF Wellcome, 2001). In ves ta konstrukt in medijsko napihovanje je generiralo nastanek koncepta, imenovanega novoživost (neolifism). Projekt človeški genom je dokaz, da so stvari v resnici veliko bolj zapletene in namesto da bi izpolnil sanje osrednje dogme – da je s pomočjo enega gena, enega proteina mogoče določiti načrt tega, kar nas dela ljudi – projekt pravzaprav dokazuje ravno nasprotno: da so stvari veliko bolj zapletene in da je še ogromno stvari, ki se jih moramo naučiti. Sem spada tudi dejstvo, da je 90 % celic v naših telesih nečloveškega izvora; ljudje smo namreč ekosistem, danes ga imenujejo Human Microbiome (človeški mikrobiom), v katerem obstaja veliko število drugih organizmov, ki so del naših teles, nimamo pa skupne človeške DNK. Ti organizmi so za nas izjemnega pomena, ampak jih niso upoštevali, saj niso del “človeškega” sistema. In zdaj isti posamezniki, ki so vodili projekt človeški genom, vodijo projekt mikrobiom, s pomočjo tehnologije, imenovane metagenomika: v bistvu delajo na nas poskuse, da bi ugotovili, kakšna vrsta nečloveške DNK obstaja; in kaj smo torej mi z ozirom na njo. Neverjetno, Craig Venter sedaj pravi, da moramo iz človeškega organizma odstraniti celoten mikrobiom, menda zato, da


Oron Catts. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Švarc

bi ga lahko potem naselili z mikrobiomom, ki bo očitno pod njegovim nadzorom. Govorimo tudi o ideji konteksta. Irvingu Weismanu z Univerze Stanford je uspelo ustvariti mišje možgane, znotraj katerih je raslo tudi 10% človeških celic. Človeške matične celice je vsadil v razvijajoče se mišje možgane, kjer so – zaradi konteksta, v katerem so funkcionirale – postale del mišjih možganov. Na odbor za etična vprašanja je nato naslovil naslednje vprašanje: kaj bi se zgodilo, če bi mu uspelo ustvariti miš z visokim odstotkom človeških možganskih celic? Lahko si predstavljate, da se je ob tem vnela zanimiva debata … nekako so se strinjali in vedeli bi, da se morajo ustaviti, če bi takšen organizem pričel kazati znake tipično človeškega vedenja. To se mi zdi zanimivo predvsem zato, ker miši uporabljamo kot model človeka vse od začetkov sodobne biologije. Celo Alexis Carrel je imel farmo “super-miši”, ki jih je ustvaril s pomočjo tehnik evgenike. Na neki točki bi torej lahko rekli, da miš preneha biti miš in postane človek, saj je za vse obstoječe potrebe znanstvenih raziskav pravzaprav že človek. Vseeno bi se nekoliko osredotočil še na neko drugo tematiko: do nedavnega, torej vse dokler nas ni popolnoma prevzel vrtinec dogajanj v zvezi z geni, smo se bolj ubadali z vprašanjem privilegirane oblike organizmov. Tako smo na primer v zbirkah prirodoslovnih muzejev venomer srečevali idealizirane oblike organizmov, ki smo jih preučevali. Pravzaprav je pri vseh nagačenih živalih njihova oblika v resnici skulptura; gre za idealizirano obliko organizma. Človek kot vrsta pa v prirodoslovnih muzejih očitno zaseda neko posebno mesto – s pristopom, ki spominja na kabinete čudes iz renesančne Evrope. Ko se premaknemo k ideji fetišizacije novih pristopov k življenju (novo-živost, neolifism), postanejo edina stvar, katere obliko poveličujemo, tehnološko inducirane življenjske oblike. Poznamo celo posmrtno masko klonirane ovce Dolly. Pred nekaj leti sem obiskal muzej znanosti v Londonu in naletel na Dollyjine iztrebke. Zato pravim: kot predani sledilec, neolifist, častite in molite za Dollyjine iztrebke. In danes večina prirodoslovnih zbirk (na primer tista iz muzeja Queensland v Brisbanu) življenjske oblike prikazuje v reducirani obliki, v majhnih kriogenskih stekleničkah, v katerih hranijo DNK in tkiva. Razlog, da so nove prirodoslovne zbirke videti takšne, je v smeri pri-

vilegija informacij, ne več oblike. Vse skupaj vodi v zelo nenavadne smeri: vzemimo za primer projekt The Frozen Ark, ki je nekakšen epicenter novoživosti (neolifism); gre za mednarodni konzorcij muzejev in živalskih vrtov, ki zbirajo vzorce DNK živali, ki so na pragu izumrtja. Že danes lahko s klikom na njihovo spletno stran izberete popolno božično darilo za vaše najdražje: za 600 funtov dobite celice, ki jih bodo nekoč v prihodnosti lahko obudili v življenje. DNK stane 450 funtov, če pa imate pod palcem kakšnih 6 milijonov funtov, lahko projekt podprete za zmeraj! To pa je skrajnost! Gre za nevarnost ideje, da na te zadeve gledamo kot na neke vrste zavarovanje ali celo “davek na krivdo” v smislu – saj nam ni treba več skrbeti za okolje, ko pa imamo vse vrste lepo spravljene v naših hladilnikih. Takole pravi Stewart Brand iz projekta Revive & Restore: “… to bi pomenilo, da vrsta ni povsem izumrla, vse dokler ne bi mogli z gotovostjo trditi, da ni nobenega načina odkritja ali razlaganja iz njenega celotnega genoma”. Ampak kaj pravzaprav to pomeni? Brandova izjava govori o tem, da je tisti majhen paketek DNK, ki ga moški organizem vstavi v jajčnike, edini faktor, ki odloča o tem, ali je nekaj izumrlo ali ne. Pozabite na celotno okolje, v katerem funkcionira; pozabite na mikrobiom, ki je del tega organizma (kot smo nedavno izvedeli); pozabite na okolje razvoja zarodka in maternico … pozabite na vse to, saj vse, kar šteje, je majhen paketek DNK. Zadeva pa se tukaj še ne konča: leta 2013 prirejajo v Cambridgu konferenco z naslovom Kako bosta sintezna biologija in konzervacija oblikovali prihodnost narave? V njihovih očeh smo ljudje torej že inženirji in gospodarji planeta. Čeprav smo pred tem izvedeli, da ni nujno tako. In kaj naj z vsemi novimi zadevami, genetsko izboljšanimi “trans-vrstami”, ponovno obujenimi vrstami velikih sesalcev, živalmi, ki niso povezane z nobeno od prejšnjih oblik življenja, ali celo s kibernetičnimi hibridi … – kje se bodo vsi ti znašli v tem kontekstu življenja in konzervacije? Z Ionat sva se torej trudila najti primeren način, kako celotno zadevo kontekstualizirati. Krasno je bilo poslušati Polono Tratnik in znanstvenike, ko so opisovali zunajcelični matriks, saj sva ob tem spoznala, da se najino delo v glavnem osredotoča na življenjske oblike, na pol-živo; na celice in tkiva, ki sva jih izolirala in uporabljala v različne namene; v veliki meri pa tudi na tehnološko telo – biore-

Sem spada tudi dejstvo, da je 90 % celic v naših telesih nečloveškega izvora; ljudje smo namreč ekosistem, danes ga imenujejo Human Microbiome (človeški mikrobiom), v katerem obstaja veliko število drugih organizmov, ki so del naših teles, nimamo pa skupne človeške DNK. aktor in sisteme, ki te celice ohranjajo pri življenju. Obstaja nekaj, kar je bilo vseskozi prisotno v samih sistemih, vendar o tem nisva nikdar eksplicitno govorila, to je zunajcelična matrika: kontekst, v katerem deluje življenje. Imel sem srečo, da so me na obisk povabili člani finskega društva za bioumetnost, s katerimi sem se udeležil raziskovalne odprave na skrajnem severu Finske v mestecu Kilpisjärvi, kjer imajo postavljen raziskovalni center. Rekel sem si, da bo to zame idealna priložnost poiskati nekaj, kar me že dolgo zanima, to je proto-substrat. Verjel sem namreč, da bom tam daleč gori na severu naletel samo na skale in led. Ko pa smo prispeli, je vse kar prekipevalo od življenja. Dejansko sem lahko vzdrževal svoj organizem, svoje lastno telo, samo z nabiranjem jagodičevja in gob; bilo je tudi polno jelenov, ki bi jih lahko lovil – skratka, takoj se je porušila moja predstava o pusti, neplodni pokrajini – namesto tega sem spoznal, da bi tukaj zlahka preživel vsaj do zime. Kljub temu se nekaj ni ujemalo, nekako se nisem mogel povezati s krajem oziroma celotnim okoljem in nisem uspel najti svojega proto-substrata, vse dokler nismo naleteli na prav poseben kraj. Videti je bilo, kot da je tam še nedavno divjal požar, vse polno je bilo ostankov, koščkov, materiala – zares čuden kraj, prav nenavaden prizor sredi vse tiste divjine. Tam je bila tudi tabla z napisom in povedali so mi, da je iz leta 1942, šlo pa je za 70 let staro prizorišče strmoglavljenja nemškega letala, v katerem je en potnik celo preživel. Pobral sem majhen košček plastike (perspex), očitno del pilotske kabine in nenadoma se mi je posvetilo, da se morda tukaj nekaj skriva. Spomnil me je namreč, da ima rojstvo sodobnih biomaterialov, torej sintetičnih materialov, kompatibilnih


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za rast z živimi sistemi, korenine v strmoglavljenih letalih v času druge svetovne vojne: pri teh nesrečah so se koščki šrapnela pogosto ujeli v oči pilotov, temu pa ni sledila nobena reakcija in oči tujka niso zavrnile. In na nek način je prav to izhodišče vseh naših današnjih razmišljanj o regenerativni medicini. Vse se je zgodilo po naključju, s takšnimi prizorišči letalskih nesreč, to dejstvo pa sem lahko spet neposredno povezal s prvim laboratorijem, kjer sva z Ionat delala in kjer so razvijali zgolj nov način za isto zadevo, ki se je že dogajala v 50-ih; to so umetni deli, ki bi bili kompatibilni z očesnim tkivom. Tako sem sestavil vse te koščke svoje sestavljanke. Vseeno pa ne smem pozabiti na opozorilni znak, ki je utripal ob vsem tem: spomnil sem se, da je tudi Charles Lindbergh (ki je z Alexisom Carrelom ustvaril perfuzijsko črpalko) istočasno obiskoval nemškega svetovalca za vojno letalstvo Luftwaffe. Bil je prvi Američan, ki so mu dovolili ogled enakih letal, kot je bilo tisto strmoglavljeno na Finskem. Leta 1939 je skušal prepričati Američane, naj se ne pridružijo vojni proti Nemčiji in za časopis Reader's Digest zapisal: “Letalstvo se zdi skoraj kot božji dar za tiste zahodne narode, ki so že tako vodilni v svojem obdobju: krepi njihovo vodstvo, njihovo samozavest in njihovo nadvlado nad drugimi narodi. Je orodje, oblikovano posebej za roke zahodnjakov, znanstvena umetnost, ki jo ostali samo kopirajo na povsem povprečen način, še en mejnik med prenapolnjenostjo Azije in zapuščino Grčije v Evropi – ena tistih neprecenljivih dragocenosti, ki Belcu omogoča, da sploh preživi v kipečem morju Rumenih, Črnih in Rjavih.” Vidite, kako so stvari spet v kontekstu! Lindbergh nadaljuje: “Toda letalstvo, pa naj bo to simbolično ali v pravem pomenu besede, prinaša dve veliki nevarnosti, eno morda nenavadno za našo moderno dobo, drugo pa staro kot svet. Ker je letalstvo odvisno od zapletenih organizacijskih struktur življenja in industrije, prinaša nevarnost za okolje: nevarnost, da bi ljudje postali premočno ločeni od zemlje in od morja; nevarnost tistega fizičnega propada, ki vse prepogosto spremlja visok intelektualni razvoj; nevarnost tistega duhovnega propada, ki – tako se zdi – neizogibno spremlja industrijsko življenje; nevarnost tistega rasnega propada, ki je posledica fizične in duhovne povprečnosti.” In jaz, ki sem se podal na skrajni sever Finske, najbolj podeželski kraj, kjer sem kdajkoli bil … da bi tam našel kos plastike, ki mi je pomagal povezati vse skupaj, je zame več kot očiten dokaz, da me kaznuje novoživost (neolifism), oziroma, še huje – zdi se mi, da je imel Lindbergh morda prav! In sovražim zamisel, da bi imel Lindbergh prav … Zato sva z Ionat pomislila: kje sva torej zdaj? Spomnila sva se na tekst iz leta 2009, kjer sva brala o tem, kako lahko konsistenca substrata, v tem primeru PDMS, posebne vrste silikona, vpliva na rast in usodo zarodnih matičnih celic. Če torej zarodne matične celice posadite na takšen material, ki ima različne konsistence, se bodo diferencirale in postale celice druge vrste, odvisno od njihovega zunanjega okolja – kar privede do zunajceličnega matriksa. To pa je smiselno – če nam lahko pomaga razumeti substrat in pomembnost substrata kot konteksta in nas prisili, da na življenje gledamo v odvisnosti od konteksta, ne pa da deluje po vnaprej določenih pravilih – potem se bo morda še kaj spremenilo. V nekem smislu je prav to tisto, kar želiva povedati s svojim delom. ENG

Ionat and I have been working on a new concept, we’ve been trying to articulate it for a few years now, and we refer to it as Neolifism. We talk about it in the following terms: living fragments of biological bodies and forms of lab-grown life require a different epistemological and ontological understanding and, by extension, a different taxonomy of life. The liminality of this kind of technological approach to life can lead to a form of fetishism, which we call Neolifism. One of the interesting things is the Mycoplasma Laboratorium, the life-form that was created by Craig Venter in 2010. He announced that “it’s the first self-replicating cell on the planet to have a computer for a parent”. This synthetic DNA was actually something like a “glorified photocopy”. A computer was used to synthesize this DNA, but the meaning of this DNA wasn’t fully understood by the scientists. Still, they were able to put this chunk of material, this basic of the fetishization of life, within a new cell that the DNA was removed from, and Craig Venter in a sense embodied the wet dream of every geek, talking about it in those terms. I’ll come back to this idea that the chunk of DNA, which seems to be the center of everything that we think about in the context of life, is a very patriarchal type of approach towards life indeed. In a sense, Venter also took a step further towards fulfilling the dream of Jacques Loeb in the late 19th century, who was thinking about the idea of biology becoming engineering, but he also proposed a theoretical

The eyes were put inside vials, in an antibiotic solution, and into the fridge overnight. After 24 hours we would take the layer of skin that grows over the cornea and start to culture the cells inside a dish, but obviously, something was quite strange. It was dead meat (the rabbit) for all intended purposes, but those cells were alive and functioning! project at that time – to create a life form from scratch, in order to debunk the metaphysical idea of vitalism. Interestingly enough, when Craig Venter presented this new life-form to the world, he chose an image of the gaze of this new organism looking back at us, as if with eyes. What is interesting is that to illustrate something quite metaphysical – and I’m sure he was working with a very sophisticated marketing department, in order to try and figure out what would be the best image to out this new life-form, parented by a computer – he chose the image of eyes gazing back at us. And those eyes are missing from another Golem, from another human-created lifeform (the story of the Golem from Prague), which in most manifestations appears eyeless. So, we have this modern version of the Golem, which we heard about before as well, and the eyes that were given to us by Craig Venter to see the world in a different light… The Golem was eyeless, but was there to protect, but he was also to be destroyed when the rabbi realized that the life-form he created has the potential to harm. In the past it was an open-ended research – and it is still, as we can witness, an on-going question, when Ionat and I started to question the possibility of using tissue engineering or tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. The first lab that we started working in was an eye research lab. The scientist that we worked with was trying to develop an artificial cornea. The first thing we saw when we entered the lab were half rabbit heads. The heads were delivered to the lab around lunchtime in a cardboard box, about twice or three times a week; the rabbits were killed for food, and their heads would be sent to a brain research institute, the brain would be taken out, and we at the eye-research institute would get those half rabbit heads, from which we would then take the eyes out. The eyes were put inside vials, in an antibiotic solution, and into the fridge overnight. After 24 hours we would take the layer of skin that grows over the cornea and start to culture the cells inside a dish, but obviously, something was quite strange. It was dead meat (the rabbit) for all intended purposes, but those cells were alive and functioning! And we realized that we didn’t even have the language to articulate what we were experiencing… so perhaps to borrow from Stelarc – it’s not the body that is obsolete, it’s the concept of life that is becoming obsolete in the light of those new lifeforms that we are starting to experience in the context of the laboratory. For scientists it’s a very trivial thing, but for people who were not trained as scientists it’s something to ponder on, and we stated to refer to these things as semi-living. We also need to think about the notion of the objectification of life. One of the very first examples of the industrialization of working with living forms is from 1750 – the artificial mother maintains and keeps chickens throughout the four seasons, for human consumption. Think about the meat-packing factories in Cincinnati, America in the late (or mid-) 19th Century: the story goes that those disassembly lines actually led to Fordism. Henry Ford would go and visit these places in order to get inspiration for his assembly line, and in a sense he transformed us into the industrial creatures of today. It all started by decontextualizing life to such an extent that the whole industrialism, the whole Fordism is driven by that, and the fact that life is becoming a raw material – something plastic, something for us to shape and alter. I would argue that factory farming, which considered nature as an obstacle to be overcome, is a very similar approach to the one we see in synthetic biology (and to some extent in Marxism as well) – nature is the obstacle we need to overcome. It’s really up to you to decide what side of the debate you’re on. Industrial style chicken incubators came at a very similar time as the incubators began to be used for biological research. It started with Alexis Carrel, who won the Nobel

Prize for medicine in 1912, but also – which is exactly a hundred years from now – started a tissue culture experiment that lasted for a round 30 years. He was growing chicken embryonic cells within this new type of body (to which to grow the cells). So, when you combine cells with technologies, bodies, life, and artificial technological bodies, you start to see very interesting things. In the 1930’s, Alexis Carrel was working with Charles Lindbergh, and they developed the first artificial heart, or “organ perfusion pump” for maintaining organs of complex organisms alive for a longer duration of time. At the very same time, Carrel was sure that he was going to start reviving people using this new technology (it was 1938!) – and in 2012 we just heard that it’s not going to happen in the next couple of months. He was already contacting a lawyer and asking him what his responsibility would be towards those life-forms, those humans he was going to resurrect! This is how certain he was. Just to give you an idea of the context of that time: in that same year, Carrel wrote Man, the Unknown. He proposed the use of gas chambers to eliminate the undesirable elements in human society. We already heard a lot about tissue engineering, so I will not go too much into that, but Ionat and we were fortunate enough to spend a year at Harvard Medical School with Joseph Vacanti, who is considered as one of the founders of the field. He explained the really important conceptual shift from the old type or version of repairing the body – the mechanical, engineering, hard engineering; to the regenerative model, which led to the birth of the whole field of regenerative medicine. In 1989 the idea of how the body would be repaired was very much about replacing the failing or missing body parts with some kind of mechanical apparatus (if the heart fails, we’ll just replace it with a pump). But we just heard today (although we heard about it already in 1995) that we can grow a heart. In 1999 the idea was to grow a heart. In 1995 there was an international consortium of scientists, promising that they were going to grow a heart for us in 10 years’ time – well, we’re already quite a few years past the deadline and still not close. But the promise was there. So Ionat and I were asking ourselves (Vacanti and Langer presented their original tissue engineering idea in 1993: the idea was to build a 3D scaffold of the object/organ you are trying to create and grow it outside the body and then implant it inside the body): if we were promised in the 1980s that we can replace the heart with a pump, and in the 1990s that we can grow a heart, why not grow pumps? Forget about putting it back into the body. Why not grow the 3D functional tissue objects for other purposes, other than medical? And we started to explore these things through our work.

It all started by decontextualizing life to such an extent that the whole industrialism, the whole Fordism is driven by that, and the fact that life is becoming a raw material – something plastic, something for us to shape and alter. An example is our Victimless Leather project, where we both focused on the idea of 3D tissue growth, and the idea of the semi-living, but here we also started to focus on the notion of the technological body. In a sense, there is a direct lineage from Alexis Carrel’s and Charles Lindbergh’s “organ perfusion pump”, and this system, but in this case the system just maintained a piece of ‘garment’, a miniature jacket, grown out of human and mouse cells. When we showed this work in 2008 at MoMA, something quite interesting happened – we were using for the very first time embryonic stem cells. They grew out of control and the system had to be switched off. It then generated a discussion about what it means, what those life-forms are and what kind of relationship one forms with them – it was really nicely articulated by the curator of MoMA, Paola Antonelli, who found it really hard and quite cruel to turn something like that off. And the media followed suit. The notion that there’s something important about this life-form that needs to be considered in such a way is something that we found quite fascinating. And I would also like to talk about it in terms of ‘loss of control’. I think one of the most important things about our work is this notion of losing control over one’s creations. Here is another example of what happened with Victimless Leather, at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo: I got a phone call that there was a small infection found in the miniature jacket, so for the first ten days I was trying to administer medi-


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cine to my art, trying to stop the fungi infection from spreading, but then I had to fly back to Australia… In a sense it was all much more interesting and impressive than what we could have imagined. Earlier this year, Peter Thiel, co-founder and former director of PayPal, and the first sponsor of Facebook, invested 350.000 USD in a company that promises to grow edible prototypes of in-vitro meat and leather as a way of saving the world. This kind of fascination with new technological approaches to life is obviously going to very strange places. To a large extent we can blame these people for hyping the field to such an extent, that we now have this belief that we are going to achieve all these amazing results and that life can be under our control.

I think one of the most important things about our work is this notion of losing control over one’s creations. The Human Genome Project – in June 2000 there was a big celebration in the U.S. and in London, with Bill Clinton, Francis Collins and Craig Venter celebrating the completion of the so-called first draft of the human genome project. The interesting thing is the rhetoric that surrounded it. The then director of the Wellcome Trust said: “it’s more than just the invention of the wheel, it’s the essence of mankind” – he is saying that we are just unraveling the essence of mankind; everything that is important about us is embedded within this small package of DNA, which is what the male organism transmits. But only a year later they are saying: err … we were kind of exaggerating, we were pulling your leg, it was really a political act. The problem was that Craig Venter was running his private Human Genome project, overtaking the public one, and there was lots of debate around patenting genes. “The joint announcement was probably more grandiose than the situation warranted but it ended concerns that one side or the other would be pre-empted, and it took the pressure off in terms of press coverage.” (GF Wellcome: 2001) This whole notion of building up this hype generated what we refer to as neolifism. The HGP proved to us how much more complex things are: as opposed to fulfilling the dream of the central dogma that with one gene/one protein we could have the blueprint of what makes us human, it actually proved the opposite, that it’s really much more complicated, that there are so many things that we still have to learn about it, including the fact that 90% of the cells in our body are non-human: we are basically an eco-system, now called the Human Microbiome, where there are all these other organisms that are part of our body, but they don’t share the human DNA with us. They’re extremely important to who we are, but because they’re not part of this system, they were not counting. And now the very same people who were driving the Human Genome Project, are driving the Microbiome Project, using technology called metagenomics: basically they’re running tests on us to see what kind of non-human DNA is there and what that makes us in regard to it. Interestingly enough, Craig Venter is now saying that we need to strip the human organism from all this microbiome, so we can then repopulate it with a microbiome that would be under his control, obviously. Another thing that was mentioned at the conference is the idea of context. Irving Weismann (Stanford University) was able to create the brains of a mouse with 10% human cells growing inside them. He implanted human stem cells into the developing brain of the mouse, and those cells – because of the context in which they’re operating – became part of the mouse brain. He proposed a question for the ethics committee: what would happen if he created a mouse with a high percent of human brain cells? Of course, there was an interesting debate around that: he said, all right, once this organism starts to express human-like behavior, we know we need to stop. That’s an interesting statement, because mice have been used as models for humans ever since modern biology started. Even Alexis Carrel had a farm where he created “super-mice” using the eugenics techniques. At one stage you say, a mouse stops being a mouse and becomes a human, if it’s already a human for all intended purposes of scientific research. But I would like to talk about something different: until recently, until this “genohype” really took over, what we were looking at was more about privileging the form of the organism. In natural history collections for example, we would always see the idealized form of the organisms that we were studying. With stuffed animals (taxidermy), the form itself is actually a sculpture; it’s an idealized form of the organism. And in natural history museums, obvi-

90% of the cells in our body are non-human: we are basically an eco-system, now called the Human Microbiome, where there are all these other organisms that are part of our body, but they don’t share the human DNA with us. ously, the humans are a bit of an odd thing – they have been put inside a cabinet of curiosity type of approach. When we start to move to neolifism, to this idea of the fetishization of new approaches to life and the only thing that we commemorate the form for are these technologically induced life forms. We even have the death-mask of Dolly, the cloned sheep. I’ve been to the science museum in London a few years ago, and they even had Dolly’s droppings – if you really want to worship something, go and pray for Dolly’s droppings as a neolifist. But today, in most of the collections within natural history museums (like the Queensland Museum in Brisbane) life-forms are being reduced to a small cryogenic vial, which has DNA and tissue. New collections look like this because we are moving towards privileging information, rather than the form. And all this goes to very, very strange places – take for example The Frozen Ark, which is sort of the epicenter of neolifism – an international consortium of museums and zoos that are collecting DNA samples from animals that are just about to become extinct. If you go to their website now, you can actually buy the perfect Christmas gift for your loved one – for £600 you can buy living cells that allow for future resurrection. £450 is the DNA, but if you have £6,000,000 you can make the project survive forever! That’s a bit extreme! Anyway, I think we should all collect some money and help them? It’s the danger of this idea that we can actually look at these things as an insurance policy or even as a kind of guilt tax; we don’t even have to care about the environment anymore, because we have all these species frozen in our freezers. And here is what Stewart Brand (Revive & Restore) says: “that would mean that the species are not completely extinct, until we know that there is no way to discover or deduce its full genome”. But what does that mean? What the statement tells us is that this tiny package of DNA that the male organism inserts into the ova is the only thing that is important for something to be extinct or not. Forget about the whole environment in which it operates, forget about the microbiome that is part of that organism, as we just found out, forget about the environment and development of the fetus, and the uterus, forget about all these things, because the only important thing is this tiny package of DNA. And it goes further – there’s a conference in 2013 in Cambridge: How will synthetic biology and conservation shape the future of nature? For them, humans as the engineers are already the masters of the planet. And we just heard before that it might not be the case. What about all those new things, the genetically improved trans- species, recovered mega-mammal species, animals not related to any previous form of life, or even cyber-hybrids – where are all of these going to fit in this context of life and conservation? Ionat and I have been trying to figure out how to contextualize this whole thing. It was really lovely when Polona Tratnik and the scientists were talking about the extracellular matrix, because what we realized was that while a lot of our work concentrated on those life-forms, the semi-living, the cells and tissues that we isolated and used for different purposes; and to a large extent we also focused on the technological body – the bioreactor and the systems that maintain those cells alive; there was also something which was constantly present within those systems, but we never really talked about it explicitly – the extra-cellular matrix: the context in which life operates. I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Finnish Bioart Society to go to the very far north of Finland, to a place called Kilpisjärvi, there’s a research center there, and I said to myself – this is going to be a great place for me to try and look for what I was thinking about in terms of proto-substrate, because my idea of this place was that it was going to be just rocks and ice. But then I arrived there and the place was filled with life. I could actually sustain my own organism, my own body, just by picking up berries and mushrooms; there were reindeers, I could have hunted if I wanted. Suddenly, my whole idea of this barren land collapsed – you know, I live in Australia, but if I go out and stay two days, I’ll die – and I realized that I could live there at least until the winter would come. But I felt something was wrong, I couldn’t really connect

to the environment. I couldn’t find this proto-substrate that I was looking for, until I found this place that looked as though there was a fire there a couple of weeks earlier. We went closer and there was all this debris, bits and pieces; it was a really weird place, so out of character for this wilderness. There was a sign, I was told that it was from 1942; a 70-year-old crash site of a German plane that crashed with its ammunition onto this site, and one person actually survived. And it was there that it kind of hit me: there might actually be something there, maybe I can relate to something here, because then I found a small piece of plastic, Perspex – apparently it came from the cockpit of that plane. It reminded me that the birth of modern biomaterials, of synthetic materials that were compatible for growing with living systems, was actually a result of planes crashing in the 2nd World War – the shrapnel from the cockpits would get into the eyes of the pilots, and the eyes wouldn’t reject them; there would be no reaction. And in a sense, that is the starting point of everything that we think now in terms of regenerative medicine. It all happened by accident, by having those crash sites, and to a large extent that was a kind of direct lineage to the very first lab where Ionat and I worked in, where they were trying to develop just a new way of doing the very same thing that started to be developed in 1950s – artificial parts that would be compatible with the eye tissue. And so, all these things started to come together, but there was also a warning sign that rang: I remembered also that Charles Lindbergh (who was working with Alexis Carrel on the organ perfusion pump) was visiting – at the very same time when he was working with Carrel – the German Luftwaffe advisor. He was the first American to be allowed to see the very same planes that crashed in Finland. In 1939 he wrote a paper in Reader’s Digest: he was trying to convince the Americans not to join the war on Germany, saying that “Aviation seems almost a gift from heaven to those Western nations who were already the leaders of their era, strengthening their leadership, their confidence, their dominance over other peoples. It is a tool specially shaped for Western hands, a scientific art which others only copy in a mediocre fashion, another barrier between the teeming millions of Asia and the Grecian inheritance of Europe – one of those priceless possessions which permit the White race to live at all in a pressing sea of Yellow, Black, and Brown.” Again, you have that in context! He continues: “But aviation, using it symbolically as well as in its own right, brings two great dangers, one peculiar to our modern civilization, the other older than history. Since aviation is dependent on the intricate organization of life and industry, it carries with it the environmental danger of a people too far separated from the soil and from the sea – the danger of that physical decline which so often goes with a high intellectual development, of that spiritual decline which seems invariably to accompany an industrial life, of that racial decline which follows physical and spiritual mediocrity.”

But it’s the danger of this idea that we can actually look at these things as an insurance policy or even as a kind of guilt tax; we don’t even have to care about the environment anymore, because we have all these species frozen in our freezers. And me, going to the very far north of Finland, to the most rural place I’ve ever been to, only to find a piece of plastic and relate to it; it obviously proved to me that I am inflicted with neolifism, but even worse – it seems Lindbergh might be right! And I hate the idea of proving Charles Lindbergh right. Ionat and I then thought, ok, what’s there? We remembered the paper from 2009 where read about the fact that the consistency of a substrate, in this case PDMS, which is a form of silicone, can influence the growth and the fate of embryonic stem cells. So if you seed the embryonic stem cells onto this material, which has different consistencies, those cells will differentiate and become other cells, depending on their external environment, which goes back to the extra-cellular matrix. That makes sense – if it actually helps us to understand the substrate and the importance of the substrate as the context; and actually think about life as context-dependent, as opposed to being code-driven, that might change things. In a sense that is what we are trying to articulate with the work.


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Floris Kaayk Izvor bitij The Origin of Creatures 2010, Animirani film, 11’ 40”, NL, barva, stereo, DVD režija: Floris Kaayk produkcija: SeriousFilm / Marc Thelosen direktor fotografije: Reinier van Brummelen skladatelj: Lennert Busch oblikovanje zvoka: Bart Jilesen Navdih za The Origin of Creatures (Izvor bitij) je biblijska zgodba o babilonskem stolpu, ki se odvija v namišljeni prihodnosti, ko svet prizadene katastrofa. Med ostanki uničenega mesta živi to, kar je ostalo od človeštva. Človeška telesa so ločena na posamezne dele in spojena v posebna bitja. Skupaj ta bitja oblikujejo kolonijo. V ruševinah uničenih stavb skušajo zgraditi dovolj veliko in dovolj visoko gnezdo, da bi njihova kraljica lahko dobila dovolj sončne svetlobe za reprodukcijo. ENG

2010, Animation film, 11’ 40”, NL, color, stereo, DVD Director: Floris Kaayk Producer: SeriousFilm / Marc Thelosen Director of Photography: Reinier van Brummelen Composer: Lennert Busch Sound design: Bart Jilesen The Origin of Creatures is inspired by the biblical story of the Tower of Babel and is set in an imaginary future where the world is hit by a catastrophe. Among the remains of a devastated city lives that what is left of humanity. Human bodies are divided into separated parts of the body and are fused to special beings. Together, these creatures form a colony. In the rubble of destroyed buildings they are trying to build a nest as large and as high as possible, so that their queen gets enough sunlight to reproduce.

Floris Kaayk (NL). The Origin of Creatures, 2010. Prizor iz videa / Still from a color video. SC 2012


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Polona Tratnik

Polona Tratnik. SC 2012. Foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Iniciacija Initiation

Srce je osrednji organ vseh kompleksnih organizmov, njegovo utripanje pomeni življenje. Celica je živ organizem: z mnoštvom celic, povezanih v tkivo, izvajajoč funkcijo določenega organa, recimo bitje srca, tako nastaja koncept življenja. V splošnem nam razmnoževalna funkcija celic razkriva idejo o regenerativnem telesu, toda matične celice zaradi svojega potenciala, da postanejo točno določene celice, povzdigujejo idejo regeneracije na povsem drugačen nivo. V rastočem zarodku je srčno-žilni sistem prvi izmed pomembnejših organskih sistemov, ki se razvija in prične delovati. Srce igra vlogo pri človekovem čustvovanju ter je inteligenten organ, saj ima svoj lastni živčni sistem – vsebuje okrog 40.000 nevronov, ki komunicirajo z možgani. Projekt Iniciacija izvaja regeneracijo funkcionalne človeške srčne mišice z razvojem sposobnosti samostojnega utripanja. Srčni tkivni inženiring tako obsega raziskave matičnih celic z namenom rekonstrukcije človeškega srca. Regeneracija vključuje poselitev vpojne organske matrice, tj. decelulariziranega srčnega organa, s kardiomiociti, diferenciranimi iz matičnih celic, pridobljenih iz človeškega maščobnega tkiva. Utripajoči tok spodbudi pritrjevanje vsajenih celic in njihovo razporeditev znotraj matrice. Tehnologija implantacije in dinamično pogojevanje omogočata inženiring namnoženih celic v močno vlakninsko tkivo, ki mu s pomočjo stimulacije omogočimo, da razvije glavno funkcionalno sposobnost celic srčne mišice, torej izvajanje mišičnega krčenja. Iniciacija pospeši zorenje tkiva, ter stremi k dosegu mišičnega odziva – izvaja iniciacijo celic v funkcionalno, tj. krčljivo tkivo ter spodbudi utripanje in vitro konstruiranega organa. Stopnja formacije tkiva in kardiomiocitne diferenciacije in vitro, kontraktilna funkcija ter elektrofiziološke lastnosti pa so tisti dejavniki, od katerih bo odvisna primernost takšnega tkiva za uporabo 'in vitro' ali 'in vivo'. Iniciacija sooča javnost z močjo biotehnologije. Performativna instalacija s človeškim srcem, ustvarjenim s pomočjo tkivnega inženiringa, se ljudi dotakne; ob njej se zavedo, da je biotehnologija pravzaprav politična tehnologija; naložba v telo, ki izboljšuje njegove lastnosti, podaljšuje mladost ter skrbi za zdravje in razmnoževanje. Še posebej regenerativna medicina spada med tiste tehnologije znanja, ki odpirajo nove horizonte biomoči. Projekt je bil premierno predstavljen na razstavi Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, Slovenj Gradec 2012. Pred razstavo so bile matične celice iz maščobnega tkiva diferencirane v celice srčne mišice in zamrznjene v dušiku. Na otvoritvi smo v okviru performativne instalacije predhodno pripravljene celice odmrznili in pripravili za gojenje, naslednjih nekaj dni pa so v inkubatorju na samem prizorišču dozorevale do stopnje, primerne za implantacijo. Hkrati smo v bioreaktorju (prav tako na prizorišču razstave) štirinajst dni izvajali postopek obdelave srca s pomočjo decelularizacije ter končno pripravili organsko matrico za vsaditev konstruiranih celic človeške srčne mišice. ENG

The heart is a vital organ in complex organisms, its pulsation means life. The cell is a living organism; however the

multitude of cells connected in a tissue, performing the function of organ, the beating of heart, evolves the concept of life. The cell’s function of proliferation introduces the idea of regenerative body, yet with its potentiality to become a particular cell, stem cell shifts the notion of regeneration to another level. The cardiovascular system is the first major organ system that develops and starts functioning in a growing embryo. The heart is involved in our feelings and it is intelligent, as it has its own nervous system that contains around 40,000 neurons that communicate with the brain. Initiation conducts regeneration of functional human heart muscle developing the capacity of autonomous pulsation. Cardiac tissue engineering comprises stem cell research in order to reconstitute an engineered human heart. Regeneration involves the implantation of a resorbable organic matrix – decellularized heart organ – with cardio-myocytes differentiated from human adipose derived stem cells. The pulsative flow enhances the seeded cell attachment and alignment of the cells within the matrix. The technology of implantation and dynamic conditioning enable the engineering of the proliferated cells into a strong fibrin-based tissue stimulated to develop the functional ability of the heart muscle cells, which is to perform the muscle contraction. Initiation accelerates the maturation of the tissue and aims to gain its muscle response – it performs the initiation of the

cells into functional i.e. contractive tissue and initiates the pulsation of in vitro engineered organ. The degree of tissue formation and cardiac myocyte differentiation in vitro, contractile function, and electrophysiological properties are the factors upon which the suitability of such tissue for both in vitro and in vivo application will depend on. Initiation confronts the public with the power of biotechnology. The performative installation with tissue-engineered human heart creates affection, making one realize that biotechnology is a political technology, which is investing in the body, improving its qualities, prolonging youth, taking care of health and reproduction. Regenerative medicine in particular is the knowledge-technology that opens a new horizon for biopower. The project has been first shown at Soft Control, Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious, Slovenj Gradec, 2012. Prior the show the stem cells acquired from adipose tissue have been differentiated into heart muscle cells and frozen in nitrogen. Within the performative installation: at the opening the previously prepared cells were taken from the frozen state and prepared for cultivation; in the following days they were matured for the implantation in the incubator at the site. Simultaneously the heart has been processed through decellularization in the bioreactor at the site for 14 days and finally the organ matrix has been prepared for the implantation with engineered human heart muscle cells.

Iniciacija Polona Tratnik, avtorica. Koncept in vizualizacija: Polona Tratnik (vodja projekta), tkivni inženiring: Biobanka d. o. o. (Miomir Knežević, Marko Strbad, Ajda Marič, Petra Konenčnik, Janja Dobravc idr.), električni inženiring: Univerza v Ljubljani, Fakulteta za elektrotehniko (Damijan Miklavčič idr.), video: Snaut (Marko Cafnik idr.), fotografije: Damjan Švarc, grafično oblikovanje: Miha Turšič. Produkcija: Horizonti. URL: www.polona-tratnik.si Zahvala za postavitev na razstavi Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno, november–december 2012: Tehnooptika Smolnikar d.o.o., Iskra Pio d.o.o., Zavod za transfuzijsko medicino RS (Primož Rožman, Mojca Jež), Labena d. o. o. (Vida Žgajnar), Nada Udovč Knežević. Fotograf: Damjan Švarc, © Horizonti.


Initiation Polona Tratnik, author. Concept and visualization: Polona Tratnik (project leader), tissue engineering: Biobanka d. o. o. (Miomir Knežević, Marko Strbad, Ajda Marič, Petra Konenčnik, Janja Dobravc et al.), electrical engineering: University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering (Damijan Miklavčič et al.), video: Snaut (Marko Cafnik et al.), photocredits: Damjan Švarc, graphic design: Miha Turšič. Production: Horizonti. URL: www.polona-tratnik.si Credits for the set-up at Soft Control: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious, November–December 2012: Tehnooptika Smolnikar, Iskra Pio, Blood Transfusion Center Slovenia(Primož Rožman, Mojca Jež), Labena (Vida Žgajnar), Nada Udovč Knežević. Photo: Damjan Švarc, © Horizonti.


Ursula Damm Toplogredni pretvornik Greenhouse Converter Ursula Damm. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Svojo profesionalno pot sem začela kot kiparka. Spraševala sem se, “kaj je manjkajoči košček v mojem vsakodnevnem življenju?” Že tedaj so bila moja umetniška dela odgovor na to, kar doživljam kot omejitve našega visokotehnološkega vsakdana. Hkrati me je izredno privlačila tehnologija, zato sta me zanimala estetski in etični vidik v kontekstu tehnologije in narave. Leta 1993 sem naletela na članek o odlaganju ogljikovega dioksida (CO2) v svetovne oceane. Vsebina se mi je zdela naravnost absurdna in nisem mogla verjeti, da gre za znanstven članek. Bilo je povsem očitno, da predstavlja odlaganje CO2 absolutno preveliko porabo energije in že sama tehnika bi namreč spet proizvedla ogromne količine CO2. Instalacija, ki je nastala kot odgovor na omenjeno pisanje, se imenuje Venus II in je danes na ogled v muzejski zbirki Ludwig Museum Collection v dvorcu Deutschherrenhaus v Koblenzu. V delu The Birth of Venus out of the Baththub (Rojstvo Venere iz kopalne kadi) sem uporabila steklenice CO2 ter prikazala odlaganje CO2 v globokih vodah oceanov. Rastline v ozadju spadajo v skupino “ruderalnega rastlinstva”, pogosto jih srečamo na obrobjih cest. Na tkaninah so zapisani citati boginje Venere ter drugi citati mitoloških boginj v povezavi z ognjem, ogrevanjem in ljubeznijo. Ko je nemška zvezna vlada sprejela zakon na temo podzemnih odlagališč CO2, je to bilo pravšnje izhodišče, da znova spregovorimo o tej težavi. Delo The Greenhouse Converter (Toplogredni pretvornik) predstavlja naraven, kooperativen model razpada CO2. Instalacija ilustrira delujoče procese ter jih prikaže po meri človeka. Ulične naprave za merjenje količine CO2 v zraku danes kažejo koncentracijo 385 ppm (delcev na milijon), medtem ko je le-ta pred 200 leti znašala 275 ppm. V okolici vodnjakov ali fontan je ta koncentracija nekoliko nižja v primerjavi s tisto na ulicah, saj vlaga v zraku (razpršene vodne kapljice) izpira plin iz zraka v vodo. Najboljši način za zmanjšanje količine CO2 v zraku je s pomočjo morskih konjičkov: ti ustvarijo mešanico CO2 in vode ter jo na ta način spremenijo v hranljivo snov za alge. Alge pa nato preko fotosinteze proizvajajo kisik. Odločila sem se, da raziščem različne vrste alg. Izbrala sem vrsto Hydrodictyon, ki se obilno razrašča, kar je povezano z učinkom tople grede, hkrati pa je tudi zelo zdrava za nevretenčarje. Zaradi fototaksije alge privlači svetloba rdeče barve. Ko so LED luči obravane modro, pa pritegnejo vodne bolhe vrste daphnia, ki se nato hranijo z algami, pritrjenimi na LED žarnice. Takšno vedenje me je spodbudilo, da izdelam poseben prikazovalnik –

ustvarila sem sistem, ki kroži med dvema svetlobnima napisoma oziroma besedama “beloved” (ljubljena) in “desolated” (zapuščena). Modra svetloba (beloved) torej privlači vodne bolhe daphnia, medtem ko rdeča svetloba (v obliki napisa desolated) spodbuja rast alg. Posebna LED naprava prikazuje osvetljen napis “beloved”, kadar je sistem v ravnovesju. Če pa v akvariju ni zadostne količine alg, se izpiše beseda “desolated”. LED diode imajo sposobnost merjenja svetlobe v akvariju, lahko pa tudi svetijo. Od časa do časa pa ste na razstavi lahko opazili tudi, da so vse luči ugasnjene – to se zgodi v trenutkih, ko LED diode zaznavajo količino svetlobe v okolici, nato pa reagirajo neposredno na izmerjene podatke tako, da izberejo ustrezno barvo luči za uravnovešenje sistema. V mojih očeh je delo funkcijski model, vendar ne deluje kot reaktorji za gojenje alg na industrijskih farmah. Greenhouse Converter ne more doseči večje učinkovitosti. Delo sem ustvarila z namenom, da po meri človeka prikažem proces pretvorbe CO2, zato sem naredila prikazovalnik, ki ljudem omogoča interakcijo s sistemom. Težava je v tem, da je CO2 plin in za ravnanje z njim je potrebno veliko energije. Zato sem uporabila fontano, da bi vodo obogatila z atmosferskimi plini iz okolice. Obogateno vodo s črpalko dovajamo v akvarij. Instalacijo sem na začetku pravzaprav zasnovala tako, da bi jo lahko namestili na kakšno izmed bolj prometnih točk, kjer bi bila izpostavljena visokim koncentracijam CO2. Posebna funkcija obiskovalcem omogoča tudi hiter sprehod po zgodovini instalacije. To se mi je zdelo potrebno zlasti zato, ker obiskovalci pričakujejo, da bo instalacija hitro reagirala na njihove interese in pričakovanja. Kot kaže (še) niso navajeni na čas, ki ga potrebuje narava, da se razvije. Naslednji projekt, ki ga želim predstaviti, se imenuje Super-cell Project (Projekt super-celica). Leta 2010 so nas znanstveniki z univerze v Heidelbergu povabili k sodelovanju na mednarodnem tekmovanju iz sintezne biologije (iGEM), za katerega je bilo potrebno sestaviti ekipo, projekt pa predstaviti tudi na tehnološkem inštitutu MIT v Bostonu, ZDA. Ekipo je sestavljala polovica znanstvenikov in polovica umetnikov. Seznaniti študente s področjem sintezne biologije se je izkazalo za velik izziv, zato sem se odločila da izvedem še en manjši projekt v okviru Super-cell trgovine: ustvarili smo fikcijsko trgovino, kjer so bili na prodaj možni produkti sintezne biologije. Produkti naj bi prikazovali tveganja in tudi možnosti, ki jih ponuja sintezna biologija. Na spletni strani projekta Super-cell lahko potrošniki objavijo tudi svoje komentarje o naših izdelkih.

Sama sem ustvarila oziroma “izumila” mušice, ki se svetijo kot kresničke ter letijo v rojih. Roje sem želela oblikovati kot črke ter jih na ta način uporabiti za razsvetljavo mest. Prvi razlog za to je dejstvo, da mi umetna mestna razsvetljava ni všeč iz povsem estetskega vidika. Drugi pa, da organizme raje treniram oziroma učim, kot pa da bi njihovo vedenje spreminjala z inženiringom. Kakšna bi bila videti naša mesta, če reklamnih sporočil ne bi osvetljevale umetne luči, pač pa leteči roji mušic, ki bi se svetile kot kresničke? Naše naravne “oglaševalske” mušice (chironomus riparius) so gensko spremenjene – določen gen iz kresničk smo vstavili v njhov genom in sedaj svetijo v temi. Ker jih privlačijo zvočne frekvence v razponu utripanja kril ženskih mušic, smo abecedo šifrirali s pomočjo polifoničnega zvoka. Razvili smo poseben program, s katerim učimo mušice, da letijo v rojih v obliki črk. Potrebnih je kar nekaj učnih ur, preden se naučijo ubogati navodila. Na ta način vplivamo tudi na izražanje specifičnih genov, kar zagotavlja, da bodo rezultati vidni tudi pri njihovem potomstvu. Na farmah, kjer jih gojimo, imamo večje število povezanih aviarijev; v njih mušice ločujemo od tistih, ki jih ne treniramo. S takšno organizacijo dobimo optimalno naučeno populacijo mušic. ENG

I started my professional life as a sculptor. I was interested in “what was missing in my everyday life”. Already then, my artworks were a response to what I feel to be the limitations of our high-tech daily lives. But at the same time I was fascinated with technology and therefore there was an interest to work on the aesthetics and ethics in the context of technology and nature. In 1993 I found an article about the dumping of CO2 in the world’s oceans. It seemed absurd to me, and I could not believe that the article was scientific. It was obvious that the disposal of CO2 costs far too much energy – this technique alone would produce an enormous amount of CO2 again. The installation I created in response to this article was called Venus II – it is now in the Ludwig Museum Collection in Deutschherrenhaus, Koblenz. In the work The birth of Venus out of the Bathtub you can see the CO2 bottle and the disposal of the CO2 in the deep sea. The plants in the background are a plant society called “ruderal vegetation”, they are often found at the borders of roads. The texts on the cloths are quotes of the goddess Venus and mythological quotes from other goddesses related to fire, heating and love.

Toplogredni pretvornik / Greenhouse Converter 2010. Interaktivna instalacija (akvarij, diodni prikazovalniki, operacijski terminal, vodna fontana) / Interactive installation (aquarium, custom made LEDDisplays, operating terminal, water fountain) Zahvala: Nemško veleposlaništvo Ljubljana Credits: Deutsche Botschaft Laibach


When the German federal government passed a law on the underground disposal of CO2 it was a good reason to readdress the issue. The Greenhouse Converter thus represents a natural, cooperative model of CO2 breakdown. The installation illustrates the processes and reduces them to a human scale. The devices for measuring the concentration of CO2 in the streets show 385 ppm today (the concentration 200 years ago was 275 ppm). The concentrations in the vicinity of fountains are a bit lower than those measured next to the street, because the humidity in the air (the mist) washes the gas out of the air into the water. The best method to eliminate the CO2 out of the air is to use seashores. They mix the CO2 with the water and convert it into a nutritious food for the algae. And the algae produce, via photosynthesis, Oxygen. So, what I did was research different species of algae. I decided to work with Hydrodictyon. Hydrodicton is a massive growing algae related to the greenhouse effect – at the same time massively growing but also very healthy for invertebrates. The algae are attracted to red light by phototaxis. When the LED’s are blue, the daphnia are attracted to them – there, they can eat the algae attached to the LED’s. This behavior inspired me to make a display with two words: a system circling between “beloved” and “desolated”. Blue light (beloved) attracts the daphnia, and red light (desolated) fosters the growth of the algae. In our custom made LED device, if the system is in a balance, you see the sign “beloved”. If there are not enough algae in the aquarium, however, it will show the sign “desolated”. The LEDs have the ability to measure the light in the aquarium as well as the ability to glow. In the exhibition you could also notice that from time to time all the lights were shut down – that is the time the LEDs measure the ambient light, after which they react directly to what they have measured by choosing the appropriate color to balance the system. For me it is a functional model, but it is not functioning in the sense of algae reactors in industrial algae farms. You can’t make the Greenhouse Converter more effective. I made this work to break the process of the CO2 conversion down to a human scale and therefore I designed this display, which enables people to interact with the system. The problem remains that C02 is a gas, so you need a lot of energy to handle it. This is why I used this fountain to enrich the water with the atmospheric gases of the surroundings. With this terminal you can pump the enriched water into the aquarium. Initially the installation was intended to be installed on a traffic island where it would be exposed to a high concentration of C02. The exhibition also has a function which allows users to zap

through the history of the installation. This functionality seemed necessary to me because visitors in the exhibition are expecting that the installation reacts quite fast to their interests and expectations. They are not (yet?) used to the time scale nature takes to evolve. The next project I would like to present is the Super-cell Project. In 2010 we got an invitation from the scientists at the Heidelberg University to form a common iGEM Team and to present the project at the MIT in Boston. Half of the members of the team that we formed were scientists, and the other half were artists. As it turned out, it was quite challenging to introduce bachelor students to the field of synthetic biology. I found it necessary to also do a small “project” within the framework of the Super-cell supermarket. We decided to design a fictional supermarket with possible products made on the principles of synthetic biology. The products aim at showing the risks, as well as the possibilities of synthetic biology. The website of Super-cell allows consumers to comment on our products. I invented midges, which glow like fireflies and fly in swarms. I wanted the swarms to be shaped like letters,

Ursula Damm (DE). Greenhouse Converter, 2010. Interaktivna instalacija / Interactive installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

so that we could use the midges to illuminate our cities. One of the reasons is that I don’t like the artificial lighting of our cities from the aesthetic point of view. Second, I prefer training the organisms instead of changing their behavior by engineering them. What would our cities look like if advertising messages were produced not from artificial lighting but from swarming midges, glowing like fireflies? Our natural “advertising midges” (Chironomus riparius) are genetically modified by placing fireflies’ genes into their genome: now they glow in the dark. Because midges are attracted by sound frequencies within the range of the female wingbeat, we encoded our alphabet using polyphonic sound. We developed a special training program for the midges teaching their flock to take the shape of letters. Several training sessions are required until they do as they are told. In this way, we influence the gene expression of the midges which guarantees that their training will also be reflected in their offspring. Our breeding farm consists of numerous connecting aviaries where midges are separated from untrained individuals. Through this arrangement, an optimally trained midge population is achieved.


Seiko Mikami Informatika oÄ?esnega sledenja Eye-Tracking Informatics

Seiko Mikami (JP). Eye-Tracking Informatics, 2011–2012. Interaktivna instalacija / Interactive installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Kuda begut sobaki


Informatika očesnega sledenja 2011–2012, različica z dvema sodelujočima: po naročilu Yamaguchi centra za umetnost in medije (YCAM)

Eye-Tracking Informatics 2011–2012, two participants version: Commissioned by Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM)

Na podlagi idej “opazovanja dejanja opazovanja” in “zavestno in nezavedno postavljenih vidnih linij” ustvarja ta instalacija sledove vidnih linij dveh udeležencev. Sodelujoča pri tem izkusita skoraj “haptično” (taktilno) komunikacijo na podlagi vizualizacije njunih lastnih vidnih linij v tridimenzionalnem virtualnem prostoru. Skozi proces njuni vidni liniji gradita kompleksni, organski arhitekturni konstrukt, ki bi ga lahko poimenovali “bio-arhitektura”. Prvo različico projekta sledenja očem (Molekularna informatika) je Seiko Mikami realizirala leta 1996.

Based on the ideas of “observing the act of observation” and “consciously and unconsciously established lines of vision”, this installation generates traces of two participants’ respective lines of sight. The participants experience an almost “haptic” kind of communication based on their own visualized lines of sight in a three-dimensional virtual space. In this process, their respective lines of vision enact a complex, organic architectural construct that could be considered as “bioarchitecture”. The first version of eyetracking project (Molecular Informatics) was realised by Seiko Mikami in 1996.

Zahvale: Takayuki Ito in Richi Owaki (YCAM InterLab), evala (zvok), Norimichi Hirakawa (programiranje), Kazunao Abe (YCAM), The EyeWriter ver. 2.0 in EU-Japan Fest Committee

Credits: Takayuki Ito and Richi Owaki (YCAM InterLab), evala (sound), Norimichi Hirakawa (programming), Kazunao Abe (YCAM), “The EyeWriter ver.2.0” and EU-Japan Fest Committee


folio / volume 4 (2012) / / 32

Andrew Gracie

Andy Gracie. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Mušice za Titan Flies for Titan

V svoji umetniški praksi sem se v obdobju, ki se je zaključilo pred približno štirimi, petimi leti, v glavnem ukvarjal s hibridnimi ekosistemskimi instalacijami – hermetično zaprtimi mikro-informatičnimi ekosistemi, ki so združevali robotiko, umetno inteligenco, žive organizme ter različne načine mreženja informacij in vedenj v obliki sintetičnih in naravnih komponent. Takšno delo so pogosto interpretirali kot post-humanistično, kar se mi sicer zdi zanimivo, vendar menim, da je šlo pri mojem delu zmeraj za človeštvo oziroma natančneje, za naše mesto znotraj ekoloških sistemov, za naš odnos do narave ter za vprašanje, kakšne bodo te okoliščine v prihodnosti. Moje delo je zmeraj zadevalo tudi vprašanje, kaj življenje pravzaprav je in kakšna bi lahko bila mejna stanja življenja – to pa je tema, ki jo obravnavam tudi v svojih aktualnih projektih. Pri kontekstualizaciji konceptov svojih projektov se običajno zatekam k znanemu Jakobu von Uexküllu in njegovi teoriji »Umwelta«, ki očitno vse pogosteje predstavlja teoretično ozadje in kontekst najrazličnejših umetnikov in njihovega dela. Naj zadošča, če povem, da je njegova ideja interakcije med organizmi in pomenljivimi označevalci v njihovem okolju bistvenega pomena za moje delo. Še posebej to velja za omenjena zgodnja hibridna ekosistemska dela, vsekakor pa tudi za sedanje. Delo s hibridnimi, umetnimi, post-naravnimi, zaprtimi ekosistemi me je privedlo do točke, ko se celoten širši kontekst mojega dela prične odmikati od znanega, zemeljskega. To se mi je zdela nekako logična ekstrapolacija vseh teh idej. Kadar razmišljamo o človeštvu ali skušamo konceptualizirati njegov položaj v post-zemeljski dobi ali ko govorimo o zaprtih ekosistemih in umetno ustvarjenih okoljih, so ideje o vesoljskih kolonijah in zgodbe o gigantskih migracijskih ladjah – recimo Stanford Torus in podobno – nekaj povsem običajnega. Zame pa so predstavljale tudi pomembno vprašanje, kaj bi bilo potrebno za preživetje ljudi ali kateregakoli drugega zemeljskega organizma, če bi nekoč v prihodnosti zapustili Zemljo – ker bi tako želeli ali nemara morali storiti, skratka, ne glede na motiv. Ker sem v svojih zgodnejših delih obravnaval odnos med robotskimi senzornimi platformami in organskim življenjem, sem pričel razmišljati, da bi tudi vesoljske raziskovalne robote, sonde in pristajalna vozila, ki jih že več kot pol stoletja pošiljamo v vesolje, začeli uporabljati kot podaljške svojih čutnih in zaznavnih omrežij. Sonde, orbiterji in pristajalna vozila pošiljamo na luno, na pot okrog sonca ter okrog drugih planetov in njihovih lun – in danes smo se znašli že na samem robu, na meji našega sončnega sistema. Rečemo lahko, da so danes naše zaznavne in kognitivne meje od nas oddaljene 18 bilijonov in 430 milijard kilometrov; ter se vsako sekundo v vseh smereh razširijo še za dodatnih 14 kilometrov – zahvala za to gre predvsem sondama Voyager in Pioneer, ki so ju izstrelili v 70-ih letih prejšnjega stoletja. Pri vseh teh napravah, posebno pri pristajalnih vozilih in še najbolj pri robotku Curiosity, ki je nedavno pristal na Marsu, gre pogosto za impliciten namen iskanja znakov življenja, primernih pogojev za življenje ali dokaza o obstoju življenja v preteklosti. Pravzaprav je po vseh teh letih raziskovanja Curiosity prvi pravi interplanetarni astrobiološki labora-

torij, ki se mu tudi uradno tako reče. Seveda kroži tudi cela vrsta zanimivih zgodb o podvigih in najdbah, recimo o pristajalnih vozilih Viking in njihovem dokazu o obstoju življenja, pa potem o ovržbi teh dokazov, pa tudi številne debate o interpretaciji podatkov iz teh eksperimentov. Dobra plat je vsekakor ta, da predstavljajo področja, kjer se znanstveniki ne strinjajo in pri tem nastaja odprt prostor za interpretacije, neusahljiv vir “materiala” za umetnike. Z astrobiologijo, relativno mlado znanstveno disciplino, se ukvarjam nekaj let. V njej se veselo snidejo biologija, fizika, astronomija, kemija, geologija, matematika in še cela množica drugih znanstvenih disciplin. Takšna raznolikost je seveda potrebna, ker se astrobiologija ubada s temeljnimi vprašanji: Kaj je življenje? Kako se življenje zgodi? Zakaj se je zgodilo? Pod kakšnimi pogoji? Ob katerih pogojev vznikne? V kakšni meri zmoremo širiti svojo definicijo življenja in tega, iz česar sestoji? Če bomo s ponovnim premislekom vsega, kar o Zemlji vemo, skušali dobiti odgovore na ta vprašanja, bomo izvedeli, kje in na kakšen način naj iščemo in ali naj sploh raziskujemo kraje izven Zemlje. Bistvenega pomena za astrobiologijo je posebna (pod)vrsta organizmov po imenu ekstremofili. V glavnem gre za bakterije in enocelične organizme, čeprav v to kategorijo uvrščamo tudi nekatere višje razvite življenjske oblike, ki lahko živijo in preživijo ali pa za svoj obstoj potrebujejo zelo dramatične življenjske pogoje (recimo kislost, slanost, visok pritisk), usodne za večino drugih živih bitij. Na srečo jih je prav zaradi te njihove lastnosti precej lahko gojiti, saj jim praktično nič ne more škodovati. S preučevanjem ekstremofilov se pravzaprav učimo, kako obsežen je razpon pogojev za življenje in odkrivamo, da je mnogo širši, kot smo sprva mislili. Vedno bolj spoznavamo, da življenje ni tako preprosto, kot smo mislili. Je kompleksen, nepredvidljiv in še zmeraj razmeroma neopredeljiv koncept. Biti bomo morali veliko bolj odprtega uma in dovzetni, saj smo zadnjih 40 let v iskanju življenja in definicije življenja spoznali, da pravzaprav dolgo sploh nismo vedeli, kako ali kaj iskati, kakšne senzorje uporabljati pri tem.

… menim, da je šlo pri mojem delu zmeraj za človeštvo oziroma natančneje, za naše mesto znotraj ekoloških sistemov, za naš odnos do narave ter za vprašanje, kakšne bodo te okoliščine v prihodnosti. Moje delo je zmeraj zadevalo tudi vprašanje, kaj življenje pravzaprav je in kakšna bi lahko bila mejna stanja življenja … Običajno veliko pozornosti namenjam tudi različnim evolucijskim teorijam: želim pa poudariti predvsem to, da je danes lamarkizem kot evolucijska teorija povsem upravičeno diskreditiran, čeprav so nekatere njegove predpostavke sprejemljive v smislu nekakšne “blage” zapuščine. Nekateri aspekti teorije lamarkizma se torej vtihotapljajo nazaj v neo-darvinizem, post-darvinizem itd., bistveno pa je, da je razmerje med okoljem in genetskim izrazom še vedno stabilno. V mojem repertoarju se nahaja več del, ki se spogledujejo s temami astrobiologije, razširjenih kognitivnih meja, podatkov iz vesoljskih sond, organizmov prihodnosti, mejnih stanj življenja. Prvo v seriji del, ki uporablja podatke iz vesoljskih sond ter posebej obdelane kulture organizmov (ki jih sicer v vesoljski bio-znanosti že na veliko uporabljajo), se imenuje Deep Data Prototype_1. V njem uporabljam počasnike, poli-ekstremofile, ki lahko pre-

nesejo celo vrsto ekstremnih pogojev in za katere je že znano, da lahko preživijo izpostavljenost golemu vesolju. Delo razkriva idejo uporabe podatkov iz oddaljenega vesolja, recimo iz sonde Voyager 2, ki pravkar potuje oziroma prečka meje sončnega sistema. Najprej sem pridobil podatke o magnetnem polju, izmerjene s pomočjo magnetometra na krovu sonde skozi njeno 35-let trajajoče potovanje po sončnem sistemu, nato pa sem počasnike izpostavil takšnemu magnetnemu polju in opazoval njihovo vedenje. V glavnem gre za opazovalni eksperiment. Naj omenim še idejo “kolapsa meril” – opraviti imamo z nedoumljivo velikimi razdaljami, razsežnostmi in časi, v katerih te reči sploh delujejo, hkrati pa moramo uporabiti drugi del svojih možganov, ko razmišljamo o mikroskopsko drobnih počasnikih in mikroskopskih učinkih, ki jih imajo nanje makroskopska merila in koncepti. Počasniki so potovali v vesolje in preživeli – lahko si ogledate fotografije misije Photon Biopan Mission. Doslej sta bili v vesolju dve vrsti počasnikov: Richtersius coronifer in Milnesium tardigradum. Namestili so jih v “Biopan”, napravo, v kateri se lahko istočasno izvaja več eksperimentov o življenju. Biopan na satelitskem nosilcu (Photon) poleti v Zemljino orbito, nato se odpre in izpostavi bitja v svoji notranjosti različnim vesoljskim razmeram. Počasniki so bili izpostavljeni brezzračnemu prostoru, intenzivnemu mrazu in intenzivnemu kozmičnemu sevanju. Vesoljsko plovilo po tem pristane na Zemlji, običajno sredi Rusije, v Kazahstanu. Laboratorijske raziskave so potrdile, da je kar 40% počasnikov, ki so bili izpostavljeni razmeram v vesolju, v povsem dobrem stanju in so še vedno vitalni v smislu najpomembnejšega kriterija za preživetje organizmov, to je sposobnosti ustvarjanja zdravega potomstva. Dokončnih mejnikov najbolj ekstremnih primerov ekstremofilov torej še vedno ne poznamo. Z naraščanjem mojega zanimanja za astrobiologijo je prišlo do nekakšne obsesije s Titanom, največjo Saturnovo luno. Pričel sem izdelovati diorame kraja, kjer je leta 2005 pristala Huygensova sonda, področja, ki se imenuje Xanadu. Prav Huygensovi sondi se imamo zahvaliti, da imamo danes toliko informacij o Titanu, ki je Zemlji najbolj podoben kraj, kar jih poznamo. Je tudi edini kraj z gosto atmosfero, tekočinskim ciklom, vremenom, jezeri, rekami, kontinenti, tektonsko aktivnostjo itd. Na žalost pa tam ni kisika, temperatura pa se le redko povzpne nad 180 stopinj pod ničlo. Zaradi vseh teh izzivov sem pred približno letom in pol pričel s projektom Drosophila Titanus, s katerim sem želel korak za korakom ustvariti nov sev ali celo vrsto drosophile, ki bi bila teoretično sposobna življenja na Titanu. To je načeloma nemogoče. Morda, čez nekaj milijard let, ko se bo Sonce razširilo do te mere, da bo že zdavnaj požrlo Zemljo, se bo temperatura na Titanu dvignila in s tem osvobodila tekočo vodo, ujeto pod površjem in ga spremenila v prav prijeten kraj za bivanje. Pri tem projektu me sicer najbolj zanima odnos med znanostjo in umetnostjo. Sem namreč eden tistih, ki ne vidijo bleščeče prihodnosti, v kateri bosta umetnost in znanost srečno združeni v iskanju poetične resnice, saj običajna znanstvena praksa že po svoji naravi omejuje poezijo, metaforiko in večpomenskost, na katerih cveti umetnost. Vseeno pa sem v tem projektu želel raziskati, do kakšne mere se lahko poistovetim s temi lastnostmi, ne da bi pri tem izgubil potrebno temeljitost in natančnost, ki sta tako pomembni za integriteto znanstvenega dela. Očitno predstavljata selekcija in nadzorovano vzgajanje do popolnosti vzporednici z osrednjo idejo družbenega darvinizma ter njegove skrajne oblike, evgenike. Evgenika je družbeni in politični poskus ustvarjanja rasne popolnosti. Sodobne znanstvene tehnike genskih sprememb in kloniranja v kombinaciji z družbeno in politično obsedenostjo s popolnostjo in dosežki govorijo o tem, da je evgenika še kako živa in ves čas prisotna med nami. Roman Toma Wolfa The Right Stuff (Prava stvar) in istoimenski film, ki so ga posneli po njem, govorita o


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Andy Gracie (UK/ES). Drosophila Titanus, 2010. Raziskovalni projekt – še traja / Research project in progress. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

astronavtih, ki so morali imeti “pravo stvar” – torej prave lastnosti in za pot v vesolje si popolna izbira, če imaš dobro vojaško izobrazbo, dober videz, karizmo in, kar je najpomembneje, če si ideološko korekten. S temi lastnostmi lahko poletiš v vesolje. Če jih nimaš, ostaneš. Ali imajo moje mušice tiste “prave” lastnosti, da lahko zapustijo Zemljo in odidejo na Titan, tam preživijo in živijo? Kako bi sploh definirali “prave” lastnosti pri insektih?

Z naraščanjem mojega zanimanja za astrobiologijo je prišlo do nekakšne obsesije s Titanom, največjo Saturnovo luno. Ker se ukvarjam z možnostjo ustvarjanja nove vrste, sem naletel tudi na “problem vrst”, na dejstvo, da ne obstaja vsesplošni konsenz o tem, kako pravzaprav ločimo eno vrsto od druge. Poznamo cel spekter konceptov vrst: ljudski koncept vrst, biološki koncept vrst; pa morfološke, genetske, paleontološke, evolucijske, filogenetske in bio-sistematične in sistemske definicije. Prevladujoči teoretični model je koncept bioloških vrst, vendar se, zanimivo, znanstveniki ne strinjajo niti glede tega. Obstaja veliko število dokumentiranih primerov umetne razvrstitve v laboratorijskih pogojih; tako za rastline, živali in seveda drosophilo, ki je eden “delovnih konjev” genetike. Posebej zanimiv primer je 57 years of darkness (57 let teme). Leta 1954 je japonski raziskovalec Syuichi Mori pričel z eksperimentom vzgajanja drosophile v temi. Mušice vrste drosophila so nagnjene k infekcijam in okužbam in izgubil je vse razen ene generacije. Ko je umrl, so drugi znanstveniki nadaljevali isto linijo drosophile in jo kar 57 let gojili v temi, kar ustreza 30.000 letom v človeškem merilu ali 1.400 generacijam. Naposled so se odločili, da jih nekaj odstranijo iz inkubatorja ter na njih izvedejo genske teste. Vedenjski testi so pokazali, da je njihovo razmnoževanje uspešnejše: razvile so boljše strategije, pogosteje in natančneje so odložile večje število jajčec: Odkrili so tudi, da je na 220.000 mestih v njihovem genomu DNK mutirala v primerjavi s kontrolno skupino, na 4.700 mestih pa so bili vstavljeni ali izbrisani DNK trakovi. Mušice, ki jih gojim za Titan, morajo biti odporne na nizke temperature in 180 stopinj pod ničlo je morda zaenkrat še prevelik zalogaj, uspelo pa mi jih je privaditi na nekaj stopinj pod normalno temperaturo. Za svoje raziskave uporabljam poseben fenotip vinske mušice s tako imenovanimi vestigialnimi krili; gre za enega naravnih fenotipskih mutantov z majhnimi krilci. Ker ne morejo leteti, jih je veliko lažje gojiti, saj med prenašanjem naokrog ne uidejo iz stekleničk, če pa že, jih je lažje pobrati in vtakniti nazaj. Na Titanu je ozračje tako gosto, težnost pa tako šibka, da bi človek lahko letel s kartonastimi krili. Pomislil sem, da bi lahko svojim vestigialnim mušicam, če jih uspem poslati na Titan, znova podaril dar letenja.

Češki znanstveniki so raziskovali arktično sorodnico drosophile po imenu Chymomyza costata, ki preživi v arktičnih razmerah, ker lahko nadzira formacije ledenih kristalov. Odkrili so namreč, da te mušice naravno proizvajajo velike količine aminokisline prolina, kar jih ščiti pred smrtjo zaradi zmrznjenja. Tudi drosophilo so začeli hraniti s prolinom in ugotovili so, da jih lahko zamrznejo za 30 minut, odtalijo in mušice bodo v najlepšem redu. Samo 15% se jih ni prebudilo. Zato tudi sam v aklimatizacijskem procesu svoje mušice hranim s prolinom,. to aminokislino nekateri ljudje v starosti uporabljajo za okrepitev mišičnega povezovalnega tkiva, in do danes sem takšnemu tretmaju izpostavil približno 20 generacij. Zgradil pa sem tudi “temperaturni gradient”, napravo, ki na sredi ohranja optimalno temperaturo za drosophilo, sicer pa ima hladni in topli del. Mušice, ki preživijo več časa v hladnem delu, imajo očitno raje mraz, zato jih izberem za nadaljnje gojenje. Naj omenim še eno zanimivo povezavo med drosophilo in vesoljem: eden od njenih genov se imenuje Jurij Gagarin. Raziskovalci drosophile imajo nenavadno manijo, da si izmišljajo čudna, prismuknjena imena za gene “svojih” mušic. Gen Jurija Gagarina je povezan z odzivom živali na težnost, pa tudi s produkcijo sperme. Prepričan sem, da se v tem odnosu skriva kakšna zanimivost, ki jo bom morda nekega dne vključil v katerega prihodnjih projektov. ENG

There was a ten-year period in my practice, up until about 4–5 years ago, where I was making what I would call hybrid ecosystem installations – hermetically sealed micro-informatic eco-systems, where I was combining robots, artificial intelligence, living organisms, ways of networking information and behaviors through synthetic and natural components. This work was often interpreted as being post-humanist, which is an interesting analysis, but I always considered that my work was very much about humanity, and specifically about our place within ecological systems, our relationships with nature, what and where those conditions might be in the future. This work was also very much about what life actually is, and what the boundary states of life might be – a theme that continues being of interest in my current projects. To contextualise some of the concepts involved in these projects I would normally talk a little about the quite well known Jakob von Uexküll and his theory of Umwelt, which seems to be an increasing narrative and context in people’s work. Suffice it to say that his notion of interaction between organisms and the meaningful signifiers in their environment are important to my work; especially so in the early hybrid ecosystem works, but I think they’re still very much relevant in the current work. Developing these kinds of hybrid, artificial, post-natural, closed ecosystem ideas eventually led me to the position

of disconnecting from the terrestrial context altogether. It seemed like the logical and extreme extrapolation of those ideas. Ideas of space colonies and huge migration ships, such as the Stanford Torus and its ilk, are common to the notional and conceptual position of a post-terrestrial humanity and closed ecosystems or artificial environments. But they also presented a relevant question to me about what is necessary for humans or another terrestrial organism to survive if we left the Earth at some point in the future, out of desire or necessity or whatever the driving force behind that would be. As my early works embodied the relationship between robotic sensing platforms and organic life, I began to look at the idea of space-exploration robots, probes and landers, which we’ve been sending into space for over 50 years as extensions of our sensory and perceptual network. We’ve been sending these probes, orbiters and landers to the moon, around the sun, around other planets and their moons, and we’re now at the very edge, at the boundaries of the solar system itself. Therefore, our perceptive and cognitive boundaries are now at a distance of 18 trillion 430 billion kilometers from here, and expanding at 14 km every second in every direction, thanks in particular to the Voyager and the Pioneer probe that were launched in the 1970s. These machines, especially the landers, and particularly the Curiosity robot, which landed on Mars not very long ago, have an often unstated subtext of looking for signs of life, or suitable conditions for life, or evidence of past life. In fact, many years into this research Curiosity is the first genuine interplanetary astrobiology lab that has been officially described as such. There are also many interesting stories about the actions and findings of these machines, such as the Viking landers and their proof of finding life, and then the disproof of their proof of finding life, and the on-going debates that surround the interpretations of the data its experiments generated. The upside of this is that there is always rich material for artists where scientists disagree among themselves and room for interpretation is left open. The scientific field of astrobiology is a relatively new field of science, which I have been working with and researching for the last few years. Astrobiology joyfully unites biology and physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and a whole range of other diverse branches of science. It needs to do this because the questions that it asks are fundamental: what is life? How does it happen? Why did it happen? Under what conditions? What conditions make it arise? How much do we broaden our definition of what life is and what it consists of? By answering these questions through re-examining what we know about Earth, we can then inform ourselves about where and how we should look, and if we should look in other places outside the Earth. Something that’s key to the science of astrobiology are the subset of organisms called


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extremophiles – predominantly bacteria and single-cell life-forms, but also some higher life-forms – which can live in, or survive in, or need, for example, highly acidic, highly salty, high pressure environments, fatal to other organisms. Fortunately this preference for extreme conditions also makes them quite easy to culture, because nothing will infect them. By learning more and more about these extremophiles we know more about the spectrum of conditions for life and we discover that this spectrum is much greater than we had first thought. We find more and more that life is not the simple thing we thought it was. Life is a complex, unpredictable, and still fairly indefinable concept. We need to be much more open-minded in light of the fact that over the last 40 years of looking for life or what life is, we have realised that for a long time we didn’t even know how to look, or what to look for, or what kind of sensors to use.

I always considered that my work was very much about humanity, and specifically about our place within ecological systems, our relationships with nature, what and where those conditions might be in the future. This work was also very much about what life actually is, and what the boundary states of life might be … I usually also talk a lot about various evolution theories: the key point is that pure Lamarckism is being rightfully discredited as an evolution theory, although there is a new acceptance or a form of soft inheritance. Certain aspects of the Lamarckian theory begin to creep back into Neo-Darwinism, post-Darwinism… the key point is the relationship between environment and genetic expression is still solid. I’ve made several works that respond to the theme of astrobiology, expanding cognitive boundaries, spaceprobe data, organisms of the future, the boundary states for life. Deep Data Prototype_1 is the first in this series of works which use space probe data and manipulated cultures of organisms, which are already used extensively in space bio-science. I’m using tardigrades, poly-extremophiles that can withstand a range of extreme conditions and have already survived exposure to raw space. This piece employs the idea of using deep space data (like the data from Voyager 2, which is one of the probes that is now crossing the boundaries of the solar system itself ). I’m taking the magnetic field data, measured by the onboard magnetometer on its 35-year journey through the solar system and I’m exposing tardigrades to these magnetic fields and observing their behaviors. It’s pretty much an observation experiment. There’s also the idea of collapsing scales – thinking on one hand about these unfathomably vast distances, scales and times that these things are working on, and at the same time we have to use another part of our brain to think about the concept of these microscopic creatures, and the microscopic effects that these macroscopic scales and concepts are having on them. Tardigrades have travelled in space and survived – images are available of the Photon Biopan Mission. Two species of tardigrades have flown into space: Richtersius coronifer and Milnesium tardigradum. They were placed inside the Biopan, which is a device where various life-experiments can be housed simultaneously, and the thing is then closed. The Biopan and its Photon satellite carrier begin to orbit the Earth, then the Biopan is opened and the creatures under experiment are exposed to various conditions of raw space. The tardigrades were exposed to vacuum, to the intense cold, and to intense cosmic radiation. The whole thing then lands on Earth, usually in a field in mid-Russia, Kazakhstan. The tardigrades were taken back into the lab for assessment and it was discovered that up to 40 % of the tardigrades that have been exposed to raw space are completely fine and are still capable of the benchmark of an organism surviving, which is creating viable offspring. So we really still do not know the boundaries of the most extreme extremophile that we know. As my interest in astrobiology continued, I developed an obsession with Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. I started making things like dioramas of the place where the Huygens probe landed in 2005, an area called Xanadu. Thanks to the Huygens probe we know a huge amount of things about Titan. It’s the most Earth-like place that

we know of. It’s the only place we know with a dense atmosphere, a liquid cycle, weather, lakes, rivers, continents, tectonic activity, etc. On the downside, however, there’s no oxygen and the temperature rarely rises above 180 degrees below zero. Despite all these challenges, about a year and a half ago I began a project called Drosophila Titanus, in which I have started to follow the necessary steps to breed a new strain or maybe even a species of drosophila that would be theoretically capable of living on Titan. It’s evidently impossible to do this. Although maybe in a couple of billion years, when the sun expands enough to engulf the Earth, the temperature of Titan will raise enough to release the liquid water that’s trapped in the subsurface, and it could be quite a nice place to live. What interests me most about this project is the relationship between art and science itself. I’m one of those people that don’t see the blissful future where art and science are united in a beautiful search for poetic truths, because regular scientific practice by its very nature restricts the poetry, metaphor and ambiguity on which art thrives. But in this project I wanted to see just how much of these qualities I can adhere to, while maintaining the necessary rigor to keep the work meaningful in scientific terms. Selection and controlled breeding for perfection have obvious parallels with the central idea of social darwinism and its extreme expression in eugenics. Eugenics is a socially and politically driven attempt at racial perfection. Modern scientific techniques of genetic modification and cloning combined with social and political obsession with perfection and achievement, mean that eugenics is very much alive and with us all the time. The Tom Wolfe book and subsequent film talked about astronauts having to have “The Right Stuff”, meaning that you’re a perfect human being for space if you have good military training, you have good looks, you’re charismatic, and most importantly you’re ideologically correct – if you have all these qualities, you’re ok to go to space. If you haven’t, you stay behind. Do my flies need to have the right stuff to leave the Earth and get to Titan, to survive and to live? How would you define the right stuff in insects? As I’m referring to the possibility of creating a new species, I also come up against what is known as “the species problem”, which is the fact that there is no universal agreement on how we actually distinguish one species from another. There’s a whole range of species’ concepts: the folk species concept, the biological species concept, the morphological, genetic, paleontological, evolutionary, phylogenetic and biosystematic definitions. The biological species concept is the predominant theoretical model, but it’s interesting because once again scientists don’t agree on it. There are all sorts of documented instances of artificial speciation in laboratory conditions, in plants, animals, and of course, drosophila, the latter being one of the work horses of genetic science. A particularly interesting example is 57 years of darkness. A Japanese researcher Syuichi Mori in 1954 began to experiment by breeding drosophila in the dark. Drosophila are prone to infections, infestations, etc. He lost all except one generations of his flies, in the meantime he died, and other researchers have maintained this line of drosophila, for 57

years in the dark, which is equivalent to 30.000 years in human terms, or 1400 generations. Eventually they decide to get these drosophila out of the incubator and run some genetic tests on them. And while the behavioral tests found that they’re actually breeding better – they had better strategies, laying more eggs, more precisely and more often, they also found that there was 220.000 spots in their genome, where the DNA had mutated compared to control flies; and 4700 places where strips of DNA have been inserted or deleted.

As my interest in astrobiology continued, I developed an obsession with Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The flies that I’m raising for Titan have to be tolerant to temperatures, and while minus 180 degrees might be tricky, I’m already down to a few degrees below normal. I’m using a special phenotype called vestigial wing, one of natural phenotypic mutants, which has tiny wings – it means it can’t fly, and is really easy to keep, because when you’re transferring flies in your culture vials, they don’t fly away; and if they escape, you pick them up and you put them back – which is why they’re really good to work with. I found out that the atmosphere of Titan is so thick, and the gravity so low, that a human being could strap on cardboard wings and fly. So, I thought, maybe if my tiny vestigial wings go to Titan, maybe I can give them the gift of flight again. Scientists in the Czech Republic were researching an arctic relative of drosophila, called Chymomyza costata, which survived by controlling ice-crystal formations. They found that these flies naturally developed huge amounts of amino-acid called proline, and that was the principle mechanism that allowed them to withstand death by freezing. So they began to feed drosophila with proline, and found that they could be frozen for 30 minutes, be thawed back, and be fine. Only about 15 % didn’t wake up. So, as part of my own acclimatization process I’ve been feeding generations of fruit flies drosophila with proline – an amino-acid that some people use to strengthen the muscular connective tissue as they age – I’ve been feeding maybe 20 generations. Then I built a “temperature gradient”, a device which keeps the optimal drosophila temperature in the middle, there’s a cold and a hot end, I put my flies in there and the ones that spend more time in the cold end like the cold more, so I select them for my breeding. Another of the many interesting connections between Drosophila and space is that it has a gene called Yuri Gagarin. Drosophila researchers have this mania for coming up with weird and crazy and funny names for their genes. The Yuri gene relates to the animal’s responses to gravity, and also sperm production. I’m sure there is something interesting in that relationship that maybe will become included in the project one day.

Andy Gracie (UK/ES). Drosophila Titanus, 2010. Raziskovalni projekt – še traja / Research project in progress. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič


Leo Peschta Razparač The Ripper

Leo Peschta. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Der Zermesser / Razparač 2007–2010, robot (aluminij, jeklo, motorji, elektronika, baterije) Delo Der Zermesser (Razparač) še najbolje opišemo kot avtonomni fizični objekt, ki se širi v prostoru, kjer se nahaja. Namen robota je občutiti okolje okrog sebe ter artikulirati odnos med svojo lastno obliko in okolico, ki ga obkroža. Njegova izhodiščna oblika je oblika pravilnega četverca ali tetraedra – je torej popolnoma simetričen predmet z med seboj skladnimi robovi, vogali in površinami. S spreminjanjem dolžine svojih stranic se ta popolna simetrija razbije; spremeni se način, kako se širi v prostoru, saj robot privzame dimenzije prostora. ENG

Vsaka izmed stranic deluje kot samostojna enota. Vse so opremljene z mikrokontrolerji, električnim tokom in motorji, tako da lahko same prilagajajo svojo dolžino in na ta način samostojno spreminjajo obliko celotnega objekta. Kljub temu pa je bistvenega pomena, da vsi deli naprave ves čas ostanejo v komunikaciji drug z drugim, saj vsaka odločitev posameznega modula pomeni tudi možnost, da se porušijo geometrijski principi objekta kot celote, to pa bi povzročilo, da se robot sesuje sam vase. Poznavanje položaja in razteznih možnosti posameznih modulov – ob upoštevanju njihovih medsebojnih razmerij – omogoča robotu, da se prosto giblje po prostoru, tako da spreminja svoje težišče. V trenutku, ko prispe do skrajnih točk prostora, kjer se nahaja (trije od štirih vogalov se dotikajo mejnih točk prostora) robot zavzame idealen, fizično stabilen in prepričljiv položaj: posamezni moduli si takrat zapomnijo, v kakšnem (relativnem) razmerju se nahajajo drug v odnosu do drugega. Prav te shranjene konfiguracije nato robotu služijo kot osnova za vse nadaljnje premike.

Leo Peschta (AU). Der Zermesser, 2007–2010. Samostojni robot / Autonomous robot. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Der Zermesser / The ripper 2007–2010, Robot (aluminium, steel, motors, electronics, batteries) The best way to describe this work is as an autonomous object that expands through the space around it. It’s a physical object whose purpose is to feel its way around and to articulate the relation between its own shape and that of the surroundings. Its initial form is a regular tetrahedron, a highly symmetrical object (all corners, edges and surfaces are identical). By changing the length of its sides, it can break down this perfect symmetry, change the mode of its expansion in space, and thus assume the proportions of that space. Each of the sides works an autonomous entity. Equipped with a micro-controller, power supply and motors, it is capable of determining its own length and thereby independently changing the form of the whole object. Nevertheless, it is of critical importance that all parts of the machine remain in constant communication with each other, since every decision by each module holds the possibility of violating the geometric rules of the overall shape, causing the entire body to collapse. The knowledge of the position and extension of the individual modules, and the interrelationship among their respective positions, enables the entire object to move freely within the space by shifting its center of gravity. Once the machine arrives at the limits of its surroundings – i.e. when three of its four corner points touch the boundaries of that space – it assumes an ideal, that is, stable and valid position: at this point the individual modules memorize their relative position to one another. These saved configurations then serve as the basis for all subsequent movements.


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Bill Vorn Robotika kot možen odgovor Robotics as the Way

Bill Vorn. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Ustvarjam robotske predstave – predstave s stroji in kibernetičnimi bitji, kakršna je tudi DSM-VI. Nisem izučen inženir ali celo umetnik; začel sem kot glasbenik-samouk, naposled pa sem se odločil za komunikacijske, medijske študije. Z roboti sem pričel delati, ko sem spoznal Louisa-Philippa Demersa, ki se je že takrat ukvarjal z osvetljevanjem, gledališko osvetlitvijo, pa tudi z računalništvom, robotiko in podobnim. Spraševala sva se, na kakšen način združiti zvok in luč ter dodati animacijo. Robotika se je seveda ponudila kot možen odgovor. Najin prvi skupni projekt se je imenoval Espace Vectoriel ali Vektorski prostor, šlo je za instalacijo več cevi, ki so delovale kot kanon za zvok in luč ter se odzivale na prisotnost gledalcev. Hkrati sva želela v projekt vključiti teme, povezane z umetno inteligenco: kompleksnost, pojavnost, evolucijo ter druge vplivne ideje tistega časa (pristop brez nadzora, ki ga sedaj imenujemo “soft control pristop”). Z Demersom sva sodelovala kakšnih sedem, osem let, danes pa delam sam na podobnih projektih, z nekoliko drugačnimi napravami, seveda. Začetni koraki so bili precej abstraktni, postopoma pa mi je uspelo v svoja dela vpeljati več zoomorfnih in antropomorfnih komponent. Kot veliko drugih je tudi ta projekt DSM-VI navdihnjen z nekoliko neotipljivo delovno tematiko, v tem primeru gre za DSM-IV (Diagnostični in statistični priročnik duševnih motenj), biblijo sodobne ameriške psihiatrije, kjer so navedeni opisi vseh človeških duševnih motenj. Pri delu pa ni šlo za replikacijo ali simulacijo le-teh, pač pa sem želel predvsem ustvariti naprave, ki bile sposobne na nek način izraziti koncept “duševnih motenj pri strojih”. Seveda bi si želel ustvariti še več takšnih naprav, slediti nekakšnemu lastnemu “slovarju strojnih duševnih motenj” in v zadnjih nekaj letih jih je nastalo toliko. Večina mojih projektov je visoko avdio-vizualnih in zelo dramatičnih, saj me bolj kot tehnologija zavoljo tehnologije same zanima odnos med človekom in tehnologijo ali natančneje interakcija človek-stroj. Veliko se posvečam vtisom gledalcev: kaj ljudje projicirajo na te naprave; kakšne so njihove interpretacije takšnih izkušenj? Ustvaril sem več podobnih projektov: eden izmed njih je Hysterical Machines (Histerični stroji), kjer obiskovalci “obiščejo” neke vrste umetni svet, ustvarjen posebej za robote. Pri tem me ne zanima samo objekt sam, temveč celotno okolje, v katerem so naprave predstavljene – celotno prizorišče postane robot, ne le naprava sama. Uporabljam vsa razpoložljiva gledališka “orodja”, na primer razne vire osvetlitve, kot so stroboskopske luči, dim, glasen zvok – torej vse vrste pripomočkov, ki pridejo prav v spreminjanju prostora v specifično robotsko okolje. S tem se spremeni tudi izkušnja gledalca, ki tako lažje projicira svoja čustva, občutke in vtise na robote. In prav to je tisto, kar me najbolj zanima: kaj s to izkušnjo pridobi gledalec; kakšni so njihovi odzivi, vtisi, občutki. Moja dela so pogosto skupinske narave: včasih gre za določeno vrsto ali kategorijo robotov s posebnim načinom obnašanja. Ukvarjam se namreč tudi s težko predvidljivimi vedenji in zato želim ustvariti robote z nepričakovanimi reakcijami, ki ne bodo preveč spominjali na repetitivne avtomate, ampak bodo bolj animalični. Pri projektu Red Light (Rdeče luči) gre za precej abstraktne robote s pnevmatičnimi zračnimi mišicami v funkciji aktivatorjev. V splošnem se velikokrat rad osredotočim na

določeno inženirsko ali znanstveno tehniko ali tehnologijo, nato pa jo obrnem, se z njo poigram, se zabavam. Pnevmatične mišice sem pričel uporabljati v kombinaciji z vzporedno mehansko strukturo, v zelo ohlapnem smislu in ko so si zadevo ogledali neki inženirji, je nikakor niso mogli doumeti. Zame je bila stvar veliko bolj preprosta – naredil sem robota, zgleda prav zabavno, saj je zelo organski, reagira prav prismuknjeno, temu sledi še proces replikacije, ki proizvede celo množico takšnih bitij. Gre predvsem za impresiven avdio-vizualni šov, zadevo bi težko poimenovali kot “konceptualno”, saj ne temelji na nečem, kar bi morali razumeti, pač pa je vse v izkušnji in zaznavi – kar lahko vidimo, občutimo in vsrkamo ob teh robotih. Projekt Grace State Machines je bolj performans v tradicionalnem smislu: ne vključuje interakcije z občinstvom, pač pa s plesalko na odru. Ta skuša ustvarjati dialog z zelo abstraktnimi robotskimi strukturami: pravzaprav gre za kopico Stewartovih ploščadi, eno vrh druge, povezanih na način, ki je med temi preprostimi, osnovnimi strukturami omogočil precej kompleksne gibe. Na začetku projekta je bila plesalka opremljena z izjemno kompliciranim sistemom za zaznavo gibanja, ki je bil ustvarjen za animacijo 3D likov. Pri tem se je ustvarilo preveč neuporabnih podatkov, zato smo sistem preprosto zamenjali z lastno različico, ki nam je zagotovila zelo natančne podatke za določene dele telesa. To so torej tehnologije, s katerimi se poigravamo; razvijamo lastne zamisli in jih integriramo v svoje projekte, najpomembnejši del pa je seveda rezultat – kar pokažemo občinstvu in kako občinstvo reagira na takšno vrsto dela. ENG

I’m working on robotic shows – shows with machines and cybernetic creatures like the DSM-VI installation. I was never trained as an engineer or even as an artist, I started out as a self-trained musician, but was eventually trained in communication studies (media studies). My work with robots began when I met Louis-Philippe Demers. He was coming from the field of lighting, theater lighting, but also computer science, robotics, etc. Together we were wondering how to integrate or put together sound and light, and animate it. So, of course, robotics imposed itself as the way to do that. Our first project was called ‘Espace Vectoriel’ or ‘Vector Space’ – there was a bunch of tubes acting as a cannon for sound and light, and reacting to the presence of viewers. At the same time we were integrating a lot of ideas related to artificial life: complexity, emergence, evolution and other influential ideas of that time (like the out-of-control approach which we now call the Soft Control approach). We worked together for about 7 to 8 years. Today, I work on my own on similar types of projects – but the machines are a bit different, of course. The beginnings were very abstract, but eventually I integrated more zoomorphic or anthropomorphic components into the machines. Like with so many others, the DSM-VI project was inspired by a vague working theme, in this case my source of inspiration was the DSM-IV, the Bible of American psychiatry that offers a description of all human mental disorders. The idea wasn’t to replicate or simulate any of these human mental disorders, but mostly to create

machines that could somehow express the concept of “machine mental disorders”. I would have liked to create even more, according to my own “dictionary of machine mental disorders”, but this is what I’ve come up with over the past few years. Most of the projects that I’m working on are highly audio-visual, very theatrical, because my greatest interest is not really in technology just for the sake of technology, but in the relation between man and technology, or more precisely, man-machine interaction. I work a lot with viewer impressions: what do people project onto these creatures, and their interpretation of this experience. I have created a lot of similar projects: one of them is called Hysterical machines, where the viewers can “visit” some kind of artificial world created specifically for the robots. I’m not only interested in the object itself, but the entire environment in which the machines are presented; it’s the whole stage that is turned into a robot, not just the machine itself. I’m also interested in using all the theatrical “tools” that I can, e.g. different sources of lighting like strobe lights, smoke, loud sound or any kind of prop that I can use to transform the space into a specific environment for the robots. This also helps to transform the experience of the viewer, it helps them to project their emotions, feelings, and impressions onto the robots – and again, this is what I’m most interested in: what the viewers get from such an experience, what are their reactions, impressions, feelings, etc. My work is often also about grouping machines, sometimes it’s about a certain kind of species or a certain category of machines that has different behaviors. This is because one of my interests is also to work with behaviors that are difficult to foresee or predict, so I want to create unexpected reactions for these robots – I don’t want them to become too much like repetitive automatons, but more animal-like. Project »Red Light« – the robots here are very abstract, I am using pneumatic air-muscles as actuators. I like to take some technique or technology developed by engineers or scientists, and just flip it around, play with it, have fun. I started to use the pneumatic muscles in combination with a parallel mechanical structure, but in a very loose way – there were some engineers that looked at this and couldn’t make any sense of it. For me, it was simpler: I made this robot, it looks fun, because it’s very organic, it reacts crazy … Then there’s the replication process and out comes an entire little population of these creatures. It’s quite an audio-visual show, it’s not really something that you can call “conceptual”, it’s not based on something that you necessarily have to understand, it’s really about the experience and about perception – what you can see, feel, absorb from being around the robots. Project Grace State Machines is more of a traditional type of performance. It is not interactive with the public, but with a dancer on stage. She is creating some kind of dialogue with these very abstract structures, which are in fact a bunch of Stewart platforms put on top of each other, in a way that makes it possible to create very complex movements with these simple, basic structures. At first, the dancer was wearing some kind of very complicated motion-detector system, created for animating 3D characters, but there was too much data that we couldn’t use, so we just replaced it with our own motion-tracking system – it gave us very precise data for specific parts of the body. These are the technologies we play with, we develop things and integrate them into our projects, but the most important thing is the result, what you show to the public and how the public reacts to this type of work.


Večina mojih projektov je visoko avdiovizualnih in zelo dramatičnih, saj me bolj kot tehnologija zavoljo tehnologije same zanima odnos med človekom in tehnologijo ali natančneje interakcija človek-stroj.

Bill Vorn (CA). DSM-VI, 2012. Robotska instalacija / Robotic art installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Most of the projects that I’m working on are highly audio-visual, very theatrical, because my greatest interest is not really in technology just for the sake of technology, but in the relation between man and technology, or more precisely, manmachine interaction.


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James Auger & Jimmy Loizeau Mesojedi hišni roboti in Onostranstvo Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots and Afterlife Predstavil bom dva projekta, prvi se imenuje Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots (Mesojedi hišni roboti) in naslov je morda res dolg, vendar je prav vsaka beseda v njem pomembna in nepogrešljiva. Projekt se je pričel okrog leta 2008. Na začetku smo sodelovali s podjetjem Bristol Robotics Laboratory – šlo je za združenje oblikovalcev in znanstvenikov z namenom vključevanja javnosti. Pri njihovih robotih je pomembna tehnologija, ki jo uporabljajo za proizvajanje električne energije: to so mikrobne gorivne celice, pomembne pa so zato, ker proizvajajo elektriko iz organskega materiala, prav to pa je tudi izhodiščna točka obeh najinih projektov. EcoBot se prehranjuje z muhami, premika se naokrog in pri tem proizvaja elektriko – osem muh zadostuje za približno 13-urno napajanje tega robota. Pravzaprav ne počne prav veliko, premika se sem in tja v prostoru; ne deluje prav zelo uporabno, niti ne zgleda kaj prida, ampak – tu postane pomembno oblikovanje – najin načrt je bil zasnovan na tem, da bi to tehnologijo preselili v domove ljudi. Kako ga torej učinkovito udomačiti? V širšem smislu pa sva želela podati tudi kritiko hišnih robotov. Že več kot 70 let v zgodovino lahko sledimo idejam hišnih robotov, ki naj bi vstopili v naše domove in za nas opravljali vsa mogoča (gospodinjska) opravila – od pometanja do skrbi za otroke. Zgodovina teh robotov v smislu tehnološkega ideala je torej izjemno bogata. Še vedno obstajajo zahtevni inženirski izzivi, nad katerimi se inženirji vedno znova navdušujejo, toda ideja o robotih, ki bodo postali del našega vsakdana, je v resnici prevara, saj v večini primerov to ni njihov pravi namen. V resnici gre tukaj za zelo kompleksna pravila udomačitve in vprašanje, kako so se določene vrste v naravi uspele prilagoditi; bile so umetno izbrane, da bi zadovoljile naše potrebe in želje, mi pa razmišljamo o njihovi kompleksnosti. Danes uspešno udomačene tehnologije sledijo podobnemu sistemu pravil, sistemu prilagoditve. Skozi leta se je spreminjal način interakcije – samo poglejte si računalnik iz leta 1951 in kakšnega od današnjih – spreminjale so se oblike pa tudi vloga in funkcija računalnikov, da bi postali bolj uporabni v našem vsakdanjem življenju. Vendar je vsem dosedanjim robotom pravzaprav spodletelo.

Obstajajo že, poznamo recimo razne robotske sesalce, ki tal pravzaprav sploh ne očistijo tako dobro in ne izpolnjujejo niti standardov funkcionalnosti, namesto tega jih imamo kot nekakšne igračke, pripomočke z zelo kratko življenjsko dobo. Ker se jih takoj, ko noviteta ni več zanimiva, naveličamo, so kot slab vic – ne trajajo prav dolgo. Enako velja za robote za zabavo, kot je Sonyjev AIBO, čigar povprečna življenjska doba je približno mesec dni: po tem obdobju postanejo dokončno predvidljivi. Tukaj v zgodbo vstopi gorivna celica – razmišljala sva namreč, da bi z najinimi roboti in uporabo tehnologije gorivnih celic lahko resnično izkoristila ravnovesje oziroma odnos med robotom kot umetno stvaritvijo in dejanskim življenjem muhe ter tako med njima ustvarila zelo dinamičen odnos. Za premagovanje koncepta predvidljivosti, ki je v pogubo tudi robotu AIBO, se naslanjava predvsem na naključno vedenje živih bitij. Ta koncept je po najinem mnenju ključ do razvedrila in zabave. Z Jimmyjem imava trenutno pet robotov, naj omenim samo nekatere: Lampshade robot (Robot senčnik), Fly stealing robot (Robot, ki krade muhe) in UV fly killer parasite (UV muholovec-parazit). Hkrati razmišljava še o drugih oblikah biomase, ki bi lahko bila primerna za hranjenje najinih robotov: hišnih ljubljenčkov seveda ne bova žrtvovala, je pa veliko škodljivih glodavcev, ki se jih sicer ves čas skušamo brez zadržkov znebiti. Takšno razmišljanje naju je privedlo do zamisli o še enem robotu, to je Coffee table mouse trap robot (Robot kavna mizica/mišja past). Ima eno podaljšano nogo z luknjo, ki vodi do vrha in je čez dan povsem običajna kavna mizica. Na njej lahko recimo postrežete kavo in piškote, ti bodo pustili drobtinice in ponoči, medtem ko vi mirno spite, se bodo miši ujele v sladko past drobtinic, splezale po izdolbeni luknji na vrh mizice, tam pa – na njihovo presenečenje – se nahaja avtomatski zaporni mehanizem. Napajajo ga infrardeči žarki, miši jih s svojim gibanjem prekinejo, mehanizem se sproži in se odpre in nato spet zapre, miš pa skozenj pade naravnost v mikrobno gorivno celico, ki proizvaja elektriko za napajanje celotnega sistema. Kar nas najbolj zanima pri takšnih robotih, sta življenjska doba in življenje samo, saj lahko rečemo, da se nahajajo

Jimmy Loizeau, James Auger. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Švarc

nekje na pol poti med živim in umetnim bitjem; so nekaj med izdelkom in hišno rastlino. Seveda očitno ne gre za pravo življenjsko obliko, gre pa za naše dojemanje življenja. Vsi ti robotki lahko umrejo, če gorivne celice ne dobijo dovolj energije; če okrog njih ne bo dovolj muh, bodo umrli in prenehali biti “živo bitje” – vstopamo v zelo drugačen odnos od tistega pri običajnih izdelkih. Projekt Afterlife, Onostranstvo, se ukvarja s smrtjo. Ozadje projekta najbolje povzema citat iz dela Technological Society (Tehnološka družba) avtorja Jacquesa Ellula: “Krščanstvo je desakraliziralo naravo in samo postalo sveto. Reformacija je desakralizirala cerkev v imenu biblije in Biblija je postala sveta knjiga. Znanost in razum sta desakralizirala svetopisemsko besedo in od takrat je Znanost postala sveta. Danes pa za sveto priznavamo tehnološko družbo.” Pomislila sva, da premik od organiziranih oblik religije k vrednostnemu sistemu tehnologije še najbolje povzema dejavnost podjetja ALCOR Corporation s svojo znanostjo krionike – zamrzovanjem ljudi po njihovi smrti v upanju, da jih bodo nekega dne lahko obudili nazaj v življenje. Michael Jackson je bil velik pristaš krionike, vendar žal sam ni mogel skozi proces zamrznitve, ker je bila njegova smrt označena za skrivnostno, je moral na obdukcijo. Krionična zamrznitev se namreč mora zgoditi takoj po smrti. Smrt je očitno enako komplicirana kot življenje – obstaja tako imenovana “legalna smrt”, kar pomeni, da moramo uradno umreti s podpisom zdravnika. Pri krioniki pa ne umremo zares, nismo biološko mrtvi, ampak v nekakšnem stanju zastoja. Verjamejo v tehnologijo in da bodo v prihodnosti vrhunske tehnologije, kot je recimo biološka nanotehnologija, zmožne ponovno zgraditi polomljeno telo, popraviti poškodovane celice, ki jih je prizadelo zamrzovanje, popraviti tisto, zaradi česar je človek sploh umrl, skratka, da bodo ljudje z njihovo pomočjo magično oživeli nazaj. Vsekakor gre za izjemno trdno prepričanje. Večina “resnih” ljudi seveda ne verjame, da je kaj takega mogoče. Kljub temu pa ta ideja lepo povzema omenjeni premik v vrednostnih sistemih; danes verjamemo v tehnologijo. Za primer naj omenim detektorje laži, ki jih lahko uporabljajo v ameriškem sodnem sistemu (ki na evropskih sodiščih (še) ne veljajo) za


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odločanje ali ima nekdo prav ali ne; napravam zaupamo bolj kot ljudem. Projekt traja že kar nekaj let, Jimmy ga je zasnoval že med letoma 2000 in 2001 (po smrti svoje mačke), od takrat naprej obstaja v številnih različicah. Pred nekaj leti sva z njim potovala na razstavo Design and the Elastic Mind v Muzeju moderne umetnosti MoMA (New York), kjer so se ljudje osredotočali bolj na fizično plat, sam proces pa je zbudil odpor in manj so se ukvarjali s potencialom posmrtne baterije. Kljub temu pa so razmišljanja o funkciji takšne baterije in predstave o tem, kaj bi ljudje z njo dejansko počeli, povzročili premik v pozornosti, tako da imava danes približno trideset predlogov za njeno uporabo – vse skupaj postaja nekakšen ganljiv memorial. Saj se ob tem tudi nasmejemo … ker je preprosto zabavno, vendar – ko resno razmislimo o zadevi, iz svoje lastne perspektive, kaj bi naredili s takšno baterijo, postane stvar bolj čustvena. Naj zaključim z nekaj predlogi za uporabo posmrtne baterije: Mike Michaels predlaga, da jo uporabimo za TV daljinca, ampak, kot sam pravi: “želel bi, da moja posmrtna baterija napaja poseben čip v daljincu, tako da ta izbira – povsem naključno, avtomatsko in na nepredvidljiv način – kanale, ki predvajajo dokumentarce o naravi. Dokler traja oddaja, kanala ne bi bilo možno zamenjati, televizijo pa bi lahko ugasnili samo ročno.” Razmišlja torej o svojem življenju, kako skupaj s svojo družino gleda televizijo, kako oni nočejo gledati dokumentarcev o naravi, on pa jih obožuje – in na ta način želi ohraniti svojo prisotnost po smrti. Naslednji scenarij so predlagali kolegi iz Londona (o ideji sta razmišljala kot par, ne kot posameznika): “Svojo baterijo bi uporabila za napajanje naprave za evtanazijo. Kot par nisva ravno prepričana, kako dolgo bi eden zdržal brez drugega. Če torej ni zadržkov, bi energijo tistega, ki bo umrl prvi, uporabila za to, da bi mu drugi čim prej sledil. Nisva ravno prepričana, če bi šlo v tem primeru za sporazumni umor, vsekakor pa najbrž za pomoč pri samomoru.” Naslednji predlog je moj, nekoliko solzav … oprostite za romantiko: “Moja družina in prijatelji stojijo na plaži St. Pierre, v Locmariaquerju, Bretanji, v severni Franciji. Sonce je ravnokar vzšlo in razkrilo brezhibno modro nebo. O

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I’m going to talk about two projects, the first one is called Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots – it’s a long title, but every single word is important and needs to be there. The project began around 2008. At the beginning we were collaborating with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory – it was a coming together of designers and scientists for public engagement purposes. The important thing about their robots is the technology that they use to generate electricity, i.e. the microbial fuel cells, which are important to us because they’re generating electricity from organic material – and this is really the starting point of both of the projects that we’re exhibiting here. EcoBot, for example, eats flies; it moves around and generates electricity – 8 houseflies will power this robot for around 13 hours. It doesn’t do anything, it just moves around a little bit around the place; not very useful, it doesn’t look very good, but – this is where the design came in – our agenda was to imagine how this technology could be migrated into the home. How could we domesticate it effectively? The bigger agenda here is more of a critique of domestic robots. There’s a lineage going back 70 years or more, of proposed domestic robots, coming into our home and doing all of the chores – sweeping the floors, looking after the babies, and so on. There is a vast historical record of these robots being used as technological dreams. There are always complex engineering challenges that get the engineers excited, but the idea of the robots coming into our homes is just

a falsity, because for the most part, there’s really no intention of doing that. What we’re really looking at are complex rules of domestication, and the issue of how in nature certain species have been adapted; they’ve been artificially selected to meet our needs and desires, and we’ve been addressing the complexity of those. We can see successfully domesticated technologies that follow a similar kind of rule-system, the system of adaptation. Modes of interaction have changed through the years (compare, for example, the computer from 1951 with the one from today); the forms changed, as well as the role and function of the computers, to be more useful to us in our domestic lives. The robots that have been promised to do that so far, have all failed. You have things like robotic vacuum cleaners – but they don’t really vacuum the floor very well, functionally they’re not great; we have them as gadgets, they have a very short life-span, and because once we come over the novelty, the spectacle, they become boring, they’re like a bad joke, they don’t last for very long. The same goes for entertainment robots – like Sony’s AIBO – the life-span on average is about one month; people live with them for about one month, and after that they ultimately become predictable. And this was where the fuel cell came in – because we were thinking that with our robots, using the fuel cell technology, we could really use that balance or relationship between the artificial robot itself and the actual life of the fly; and create a very dynamic relationship between those two things. We get over this idea of predict-

pišu vetra ni niti sledu. Moj sin Pépin napolni rdeč balon s helijem in ga zapečati s kamero. Priključi mojo 9V posmrtno baterijo in preveri brezžični signal. Moja hči Lily poveže sprejemnik s snemalno napravo in se prepriča, da kamera oddaja čisto sliko. Pritisnila je 'snemaj'. Pépin spusti balon. Moje zadnje potovanje … balon se vzpenja, zajema gibljivo sliko mojih najbližjih, ki mi mahajo v slovo. Končno se signal pretrga in slika se spremeni v belo šumenje.” – Gre za klasično idejo napravice: brezžični oddajnik pošilja slike s kamere; spremlja jih moja družina, medtem ko sam izginjam skupaj z balonom. Zadnji predlog prihaja od Jimmyjeve žene: “Medtem ko se najin zakon vali naprej v počasnem, pomirjujočem tempu, opažam, da se pristop k različnim pogledom nanj spreminja ter mu sproti dodaja tisto lepilo, ki vso zadevo drži skupaj. Z bolj ali manj občutljivimi temami sva nekoč ravnala v rokavicah in z vso resnostjo, sedaj pa jih doletijo le še neposredne izjave brez olepševanja, morda zaradi otrok, zmanjšane količine skupnega časa ali pa zaradi začasne okvare občutljivostnega radarja. Na primer: v strastnih trenutkih ljubljenja na začetku razmerja bi bila moja reakcija na komentar tipa “ljubica, grozljiv zadah imaš” lahko nekaj takega kot: a) takojšnja prekinitev razmerja; b) le stežka premagljiva bolečina; c) samozavesten udarec z desne, ki bi zagotovil veliko večjo previdnost pri kakršnemkoli bodočem komentarju v zvezi z zadahom. Kakorkoli že, po desetih letih zakona pa občasni komentar tipa “… tvoj zadah … mogoče bi si morala umiti zobe” sprejmem z narejeno zgroženostjo, s smislom za humor, s še enim poljubčkom za kazen. Zatorej se mi zdi primerno razmišljanje, da bo moj preljubi Jimmy po smrti resnično srečen samo na enem mestu (glede na to, da je človek akcije) – to je v mojih ustih, kjer bo pridno skrbel za moje zobe in zadah, da bo ta svež kot jutranja rosa, vselej in povsod, v vrhunski električni zobni ščetki.”

James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau (UK). Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots, 2009. SC 2012, foto / photo Kuda begut sobaki

Kar nas najbolj zanima pri takšnih robotih, sta življenjska doba in življenje samo, saj lahko rečemo, da se nahajajo nekje na pol poti med živim in umetnim bitjem; so nekaj med izdelkom in hišno rastlino.


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James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau (UK). Afterlife, 2009. Raziskovalni projekt / Research project. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

ability – the thing that kills AIBO – through the random behavior of living things. We’re using that at the heart of the entertainment. There’s a series of five robots at the moment, including a Lampshade robot, a Fly stealing robot and the UV fly killer parasite robot. We are looking at other forms of biomass that might be suitable to be consumed by our robots. Obviously there is a fine divide – you don’t want to start risking the life of a family pet, but there are certain types of rodents that we very happily kill on a day-to-day basis. So, that led to the idea of the Coffee table mouse trap robot, which has one over-sized leg with a hole in it that leads to the table top. During the day, it’s a normal coffee table, you might have a piece of cake or some biscuits – those leave crumbs, and at night time, after you’ve gone to bed, the mice roam around the house, and they’re trapped into those crumbs. They go up the hole onto the table top, but what they don’t know is that there is an iris mechanism powered by infrared beams; so they break the beam, the iris mechanism opens and closes as the mouse walks through into the microbial fuel cell generating the electricity to power mechanism itself. We’re really interested in life-spans and life itself, because these robots effectively exist somewhere between the living thing and an artificial thing; somewhere between a product and a houseplant. Obviously, it’s not a real form of life, but it’s how we perceive life. These things can die if the fuel cells don’t get enough energy, if there aren’t enough flies around, they’ll die and stop being “a living thing” – we enter into a very different form of relationship than we would with a normal product. Project called Afterlife is kind of about death. The background to this project is summed up nicely by a quote from Technological Society (by Jacques Ellul): “Christianity desacralized nature, after which Christianity became sacred. The Reformation desacralized the church in the name of the bible, and the Bible became the sacred book. Science and reason desacralized the scriptures, and since that time Science has become sacred. Today it is the technological society that we hold sacred.” We were thinking about how this shift from organized forms of religion towards belief systems of technology, has really been summed up by ALCOR Corporation and the science of cryonics – it’s effectively freezing people after they die in the hope that one day they’ll be brought back to life. Michael Jackson was a big believer in cryonics, unfortunately he couldn’t go through the process because his death was slightly mysterious and he needed an autopsy. If you’re going to be cryonically frozen, it has to happen very quickly after your death. Death is equally complicated as life – and there is “legal death”, you have to be legally dead, signed off by a doctor; but with cryonics you’re not actually dead, you’re not biologically dead,

We’re really interested in lifespans and life itself, because these robots effectively exist somewhere between the living thing and an artificial thing; somewhere between a product and a houseplant. you’re just in some form of stasis. They believe in technology, they believe that superior technologies in the future, such as biological nanotechnology, will be able to rebuild the broken body, rebuild the damaged cells that were affected during the freezing process, fix the thing that killed the person in the first place, and they’ll magically come back to life. It’s a really big belief. Most “serious” people are thinking it’s never going to happen, but it does sum up this shift in belief systems. We believe in technology now – for example lie detectors can be used in the U.S. legal system (they don’t hold up in European courts) to decide whether somebody is right or wrong – we believe them over human beings. The project has been going on for a number of years. Jimmy originally conceived it around 2000–2001, (after his cat died). It’s taken many evolutions since then. We’ve shown it a few years ago at the Design and the Elastic Mind show in MoMA (New York) and we found people really focused on the body part of it, they were really disgusted by the process, focusing less on the potential of the battery. But looking at the function of the battery and imagining what people would actually do with it allowed for a shift in focus, and today we have around 30 proposals from people, about what they’d do with that battery – and it becomes a very poignant memorial. I mean, we laugh, it’s kind of funny, but when we get down to the matter of seriously thinking about it – thinking about ourselves, and what we’d do with the battery, it becomes quite moving. I’ll just finish off with a few examples of what people have proposed: Mike Michaels proposes using the battery for a TV remote control, but as he says, “I’d like my afterlife battery to power a circuit that makes the TV remote control select very occasionally, automatically and unpredictably a channel showing a nature documentary. The channel cannot be changed for the duration of the program, and the TV can only be switched off at the mains.” – He’s thinking about his life, about watching TV with his family, and the family not wanting to watch nature programs, and him wanting to watch the nature program – and he’s having his presence after he’s gone. The next one is from our colleagues in London (they thought about it as a couple, not as individuals): “We used our battery for a euthanasia

machine. As a couple, once one goes we’re not sure how long the other one would be able to hang on. So if it’s all too much, we could use the energy from the first one to go and help the second one on their way. I’m not sure whether it would be a form of consentual murder or not, but definitely an assisted suicide.”This is my own – it’s a bit soppy… so I apologize for the romance: “My family and friends are standing on the beach of St. Pierre, Locmariaquer, Brittany, northern France. The sun has just risen to reveal a flawless blue sky and there isn’t a breath of wind. My son Pépin fills a red balloon with helium and seals it with the camera attachment. He plugs in my 9V afterlife battery and checks the wireless signal. My Daughter Lily connects the receiver to the recorder and ensures that the camera is sending a clear picture. She presses record. Pépin lets go of the balloon. My final journey…the balloon rises capturing the moving image of those closest to me waving goodbye. Eventually the signal breaks, and the picture turns to white noise.” – A classic gadget shock: you’ve got a wireless transmitter sending camera images, being received by my family as I disappear off in the balloon. The final one is Jimmy’s wife – it feels a bit awkward reading this: ‘As our marriage trundles along at a reassuring pace, one notices that one’s approach to different aspects of it change, giving it the glue and binding that hold it all together. Raw or sensitive subjects once treated tentatively with great seriousness, instead become treated with blunt no frills statements, perhaps due to the kids and diminishing time alone together or due to a temporary failure of the sensitivity radar. For example: when in the passionate throws of lovemaking at the beginning of a relationship, my reaction to a comment such as “darling your breath is terrible” could have been: A. An immediate extinguishing of the relationship. B. Hurt that could be mended with great difficulty. C. A self assured right hook, ensuring that any future comment regarding breath to be considered more carefully. However after 10 years of marriage one takes the occasional comment of “… your breath… perhaps you should brush your teeth” with mock horror, laughingly taken, with another kiss dispatched as punishment. I therefore feel it appropriate that on the passing away of my beloved Jimmy, the only place he be would truly happy (being a man of action), would be in my mouth busily keeping my teeth and breath fresh as a daisy morning, noon and night in a high quality electric toothbrush.’


Arthur Elsenaar & Remko Scha Morfologija – premik obraza Morphology – Face Shift video dokumentarni film, 40 minut, NL, v angleškem jeziku, stereo zvok, DVD

video documentary film, 40 min, NL, in English, color, stereo, DVD

Morfologija – premik obraza predstavlja človeški obraz, podvržen zaporedju neprostovoljnih mišičnih krčenj, sproženih s pomočjo digitalnega računalnika. Prvi del prikazuje t. i. morfing (neopazno pretapljanje) med nepovezanimi konfiguracijami mišičnih krčenj. Drugi del pa prikaže običajne vzorce na obeh straneh obraza, ki so postopoma vse manj usklajeni, kar povzroči nenavadne asimetrične konfiguracije.

Morphology – Face Shift presents a human face as it goes through a sequence of involuntary muscle contraction configurations, triggered by a digital computer. The first part of the piece shows continuous morphings between unrelated muscle contraction configurations. The second part shows regular patterns on both sides of the face, which become gradually out of sync and give rise to unusual anti-symmetric configurations.

Zahvale: Face-Interface tehnologija, hardver dizajn, prikazovalna naprava: Arthur Elsenaar. Urejanje besedila, MIDI softver: Remko Scha. Velikodušna podpora: The Institute of Artificial Art (Amsterdam, Nizozemska).

Credits: Face-Interface technology, hardware design, display device: Arthur Elsenaar. Word processing, MIDI Software: Remko Scha. Generous support: The Institute of Artificial Art (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Arthur Elsenaar & Remko Scha (NL). Morphology / Face Shift, 2005 – še traja. Raziskovalni projekt / 2005-ongoing. Research project in progress. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah


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Maja Smrekar MaSm Metatransformacija MaSm Metatransformation

Maja Smrekar. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Maja Smrekar (SI). MaSm Metatransformacija, 2011. Začasno mobilno laboratorijsko okolje / A mobile temporary laboratory environment. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič


MaSm Metatransformacija 2011–2012, začasno mobilno laboratorijsko okolje

MaSm Metatransformation 2011–2012, mobile temporary laboratory environment

Zaradi posledic potencialnega globalnega primankljaja hrane in drastičnega zmanjšanja vrednosti materialnih dobrin projekt izhaja iz teze oziroma možnosti, da bi človeška molekularna proizvodna zmogljivost v DNA – kot eden redkih nekoloniziranih biotehnoloških materialov – lahko postala blagovno sredstvo, utemeljeno na sistemu genetskega posojila, kar bi bila lahko ena od naslednjih stopenj evolucije. Na presečišču znanosti, umetnosti in civilne družbe se torej sprašujemo, kdo nosi odgovornost za naša telesa. Smo lastniki ali zgolj prebivalci naših teles?

In this project the question is posed if there is a possibility, considering the consequences of potential global food deficit and drastic reduction of the value of material goods, that human molecular production capacity in the DNA, as one of the few uncolonized biotechnological materials, could become a trade tool (based on a system of genetic credit), which could become one of the next stages of evolution. By setting up the intersections of science, art and civil society, we therefore wonder who bears responsibility for our body? Are we the owners or just inhabitants of our bodies?

V sodelovanju z dr. Špelo Petrič in Markom Žavbijem. Posebna zahvala Inštitutu za biokemijo medicinske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani. Koprodukcija: Galerija Kapelica – Zavod K6/4. Projekt je bil izveden s finančno podporo MIZKŠ RS ter Mestne občine Ljubljana. Zahvala: Domel Tehtnica d.o.o. in Laboratorijski center Univerze v Mariboru.

Credits: In collaboration with Špela Petrič, Marko Žavbi. With special thanks to the Institute of Biochemistry, Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana. Coproduction: Kapelica Gallery – Zavod K6/4. The project has been executed within the financial support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia and Municipality of Ljubljana. Credits: Domel Tehtnica d.o.o. and Laboratory Center of the University of Maribor.


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Brandon Ballengée Praeter Naturam Dolgoletni koncept mojega umetniškega in raziskovalnega dela je Praeter Naturam (v latinščini “onkraj narave”). V kontekstu konference in tematike tehnološkega nezavednega ali po besedah Roya Ascotta s stališča spremenljive resničnosti je pomembno, da se zavedamo stanja okolja, pri čemer mislim na fizično realno ekološko okolje kot tudi na naš odnos do njega ter na to, kako tehnologija vpliva na naše zaznavanje in pristop do narave. Ljudje v splošnem dojemajo naravo in tehnologijo zelo različno, pogosto kot popolni nasprotji in tukaj leži paradoks: je naša tehnologija naravna ali je onkraj narave, je tehnologija zgolj korak v naravnem razvoju naše in drugih vrst, ki se prilagajajo venomer spreminjajočemu se okolju? O teh idejah je razpravljal že Fritjof Capra in se spraševal, zakaj bi bil nebotičnik manj naraven kot pajkova mreža. Gre za zaznavanje, z današnjimi digitalnimi in biotehnologijami pa tudi za materialnost. V sklopu razstave Soft Control: umetnost, znanost in tehnološko nezavedno se tehnologija v glavnem nanaša prav na te oblike, na digitalno in biotehnologijo. Hitro spreminjajoč se ali napredujoč razvoj na obeh omenjenih področjih bistveno spreminja naše kulturno pogojene koncepte in razmišljanja o tem, kaj je narava, na zaznavni in na biomehanski ravni. Obe področji predstavljata izziv našemu dojemanju naravnega ali resničnega okolja in kaj tvori posamezno živo vrsto. Zdi se, da se pri tem srečujemo s fuzijo ali stapljanjem digitalnega, virtualnega, modificiranega, umetnega s tradicionalno fizično naravnim. Vzemimo za primer spremenjene gene (transgene) in genska zaporedja, ki jih vse pogosteje najdemo v divji populaciji rastlinstva; ali primer pametnih telefonov, ki vse bolj postajajo podaljšek našega korteksa, nekakšen neo-korteks. Ali torej postajamo Borgi znotraj tehno-naravnega okolja, kot si je to zamišljal že Philip K. Dick? Bo naslednja krastača, ki jo bom pobral v naravi, narejena iz električnih žic in vezij kot nova vrsta nekoč udomačenih replikantskih dvoživk? Razen fuzije biološkega s tehnološkim želim govoriti tudi o izkustvu v smislu razlike med interakcijo ali fizično izkušnjo sveta in digitalno ali virtualno izkušnjo. S tem ko se naša vrsta na digitalnem področju vse bolj razvija, se bistveno spreminja tudi naš pristop do fizičnega sveta. Skozi več kot 300 generacij smo bili fizična bitja: prilagajamo se, učimo, ustvarjamo in uničujemo v odzivu na telesno, otipljivo okolje. Dobesedno v času ene človeške življenjske dobe pa se je to dramatično spremenilo v pridobivanje znanja iz posrednih ali sekundarnih izkušenj, kar je bistveno vplivalo in na mnoge načine osvobodilo dostop do informacij in novega znanja. Pomembno pa je, da ne spregledamo, da so te informacije selekcionirane, spremenjene, zapakirane, predstavljene preko drugih in nadzorovane. Pojavlja se tudi vprašanje, do katerih informacij naj ne bi dostopali. Še ena skrb se poraja ob dejstvu, da ima lahko pomanjkanje neposrednih izkušenj tudi svoje negativne posledice. Znanstveni teoretik in psiholog Edward Reed govori o naraščajoči “izkušenjski vrzeli” med mladimi in tudi v širši populaciji. Njegova predpostavka je, da so primarne izkušnje, ki jih pridobimo s čuti, najbolj temeljni način razumevanja resničnosti in pridobivanja znanja. Niso samo sestavni del našega pogleda na resničnost, temveč predstavljajo tudi 'jaz' oziroma sebstvo v 'nas samih'. Kakšen bo konstrukt jaza in pogled na svet pri novih generacijah, ki konja prvič vidijo na iPadu namesto na travniku in se učijo plezanja v virtualnem svetu Second Life, ne da bi se kdaj dotaknili prave skale? In kako bosta nadaljnje pomanjkanje izkušenj ter integracija z virtualnim vplivala ne samo na naše zaznavanje narave, temveč tudi na naš odnos do okolja? Tehnologija lahko tudi obogati naše izkušnje z naravo, recimo v obliki aplikacij za pametne telefone, ki so namenjene identifikaciji vrst, topografiji itd. Uporabna je tudi pri razumevanju naravnih pojavov širših razsežnosti; na primer podnebne spremembe zaznavamo v glavnem s pomočjo računskih modelov. Tistih, ki verjamejo, da se podnebje spreminja in segreva, je veliko: gre za narodno

mešano skupino ljudi, ki jim je uspelo pridobiti informacije o podnebnih spremembah iz najrazličnejših virov. Ko pa sem vprašanje o tem zastavil pred nekaj meseci na jugu ZDA, je pritrdilno odgovorilo le 10 do 15 odstotkov vprašanih. To se po mojem mnenju navezuje na nadzor nad informacijami in v primeru ZDA gre za distribucijo dezinformacije. Sprašujem se ali bi nas moralo skrbeti tudi glede informacij, ki služijo okrepitvi naravnih izkušenj.

Bo naslednja krastača, ki jo bom pobral v naravi, narejena iz električnih žic in vezij kot nova vrsta nekoč udomačenih replikantskih dvoživk? Naj spregovorim o svojem delu – sem umetnik, biolog in pedagog na področju okolja in ekologije. Takšna transdisciplinarna delovna praksa med posameznimi disciplinami nenehno ustvarja pretok znanja, informacij in navdiha, laboratorijske študije in delo z ljudmi pa navdihujejo moje vizualne umetniške stvaritve. Vizualna umetnost mi daje prostor za razmislek o teh izkušnjah in navdihuje nadaljnje ekološke raziskave. Na primarni ravni znanstvenega raziskovanja, kot biolog, specializiran za dvoživke, gledam na žabe, krastače, močerade in pupke kot na pomembne bio-indikatorje. To so organizmi, ki zgovorno opisujejo ekološko zdravstveno stanje določenega kraja v določenem trenutku v zgodovini. Najnovejše študije kažejo, da dvoživke v splošnem pravzaprav niso kredibilni zgodnji pokazatelji ekološke ogroženosti, pač pa so bolj tisti trdoživi, zadnji preživeli; ena zadnjih vrst, ki izumre v preveč spremenjenih, ogroženih oziroma okrnjenih okoljih. Namesto primerjave s kanarčki v rudniku bi bila zato najbrž ustreznejša primerjava s kapitanom potapljajoče se ladje. Z dvoživkami sem se začel ukvarjati v poznih 90-ih, najprej v umetniškem smislu in nato v znanstvenem s pridihom umetnosti kot odziv na globalni upad njihove populacije. Danes na svetovni ravni spremljamo strmo upadanje celotnih populacij dvoživk, zadnja poročila kažejo, da kar 40 odstotkov znanih vrst dvoživk izginja. Gre za pojav, ki traja manj kot stoletje, fenomen, ki se dogaja prav zdaj, pred našimi očmi. V preteklih nekaj letih sem se specializiral za deformacije oziroma malformacije pri dvoživkah, ki jih v glavnem srečujemo pri razvoju zadnjih okončin, pogosto gre za popolno odsotnost zadnjih okončin. Ali je možno, da so takšne deformacije, posebej pri velikih odstotkih populacije, odsev ekološke ogroženosti? To je eno od poglavitnih vprašanj mojega raziskovalnega dela. Zanima me tudi ali je ta pojav značilen samo za področje severne Amerike ali se pojavlja tudi drugje? Pri živalih pogosto naletimo na prav osupljive anomalije, na dodatne zadnje okončine ali na primerke, ki jim kakšna noga manjka. Vizualno nam v spomin prikličejo človeške otroke z deformacijami, žrtev ekološke katastrofe Agent Orange, zastrupitev s talidomidom ali radioaktivnega sevanja v Černobilu. Vzroki za pojav deformacij pri dvoživkah ostajajo sporna tema znanstvenih razprav, trenutno pa se največ pozornosti posveča študijam teratoloških kemikalij (v glavnem kmetijskih kemikalij), zajedavskih okužb, poškodb plenilcev ali možnim sinergijam med omenjenimi in drugimi možnimi dodatnimi okoljskimi dejavniki. Moja študija se je začela v severni Ameriki, potem pa smo z delom nadaljevali v Evropi, Aziji in Avstraliji. Deformirane žabe smo našli povsod in resnično gre za mednarodni pojav: posnetke si lahko ogledate iz Kanade, Kostarike, Koreje, Konga, Avstralije in Minnesote. Na deformacije sem naletel skoraj pri vsaki preučevani populaciji, poleg tega tudi zbirke iz naravoslovnih muzejev kažejo, da ne gre za nekaj novega. Pri tem se pojavlja opazna razlika v odstotku anomalij. V muzejskih zbirkah je šlo samo za posamezne primere (okvirno 1 do 4 %), pri živih populacijah pa se je odstotek anomalij precej dvignil, zabeleži-

Brandon Ballengée. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

li smo 5, 12, 30 ali več odstotkov. V majhnem številu so razvojne anomalije popolnoma običajen naravni pojav pri vseh vretenčarjih in brezrepih dvoživkah, pri čemer je trenutna sprejemljiva normalna pogostost (tj. endemična osnova) v splošnem nižja od 5 % celotne populacije. Danes nekateri raziskovalci pri določenih populacijah omenjajo tudi do 85 % preobraženih brezrepih dvoživk z deformacijami. To so mlade žabe in krastače v smislu večstopenjske metamorfoze ali preobrazbe od paglavca do žabe na začetku preobrazbe v kopenska bitja, ko se odmikajo od vode. Če so deformacije prehude, ne bodo preživele in pogosto jih odkrijemo na kopnem, ko se bojujejo s svojimi ponesrečenimi kraki, sestradane, izčrpane in so lahek plen. Ob vedno večjem številu anomalij in smrtnosti se sprašujemo, kakšen bo dolgoročen vpliv na populacije, za nekatere izmed njih poguben učinek. Raziskovalci so že našli primere malformacij med nekaterimi ogroženimi vrstami dvoživk, pri katerih lahko visoka smrtnost vodi samo v nadaljnje izumiranje. Deformacije se pri določenih populacijah še naprej razraščajo in resnično gre za veliko stopnjo zaskrbljenosti za ohranitev njihove vrste. Deformacije okončin pri dvoživkah običajno razvrstimo v dve kategoriji: z dodatnimi okončinami in z manjkajočimi okončinami ali okončinskimi strukturami. Vse anomalije so bolj pogoste pri zadnjih kot pri prednjih okončinah. Čeprav so veliko bolj spektakularne in poročanja o njih bolj pogosto zasledimo tudi v medijih, so dodatne okončine redkejše, največ jih najdejo v zahodnem delu severne Amerike, čeprav se kot pojav širi. Sam sem jih recimo zasledil med žabjimi in krastačjimi populacijami na skrajnem severovzhodu in na jugu Quebeca v Kanadi. Dvoživke z dodatnimi okončinami so našli tudi v srednji in južni Ameriki ter v preteklosti v zahodni Evropi, Evraziji in Avstraliji. O zadnjih primerih poročajo iz Azije. V severni Ameriki so s pomočjo eksperimentov odkrili enega izmed povzročiteljev takšnih deformacij pri brezrepih dvoživkah. To je zajedavski ploski črv ali natančneje sesač (Trematoda). Našli so več primerov žab z dodatnimi kraki in potrdili njihovo infekcijo s sesačem vrste Ribeiroia ondatrae. Ta digenetski sesač ima kompleksen življenjski cikel, ki pogosto vključuje več gostiteljev, med drugim vodne polže, dvoživke, ribe, vodne ptice in druge. Eksperimenti z brezrepci v razvojni fazi so pokazali, da Ribeiroia ondatrae načrtno prizadene normalen razvoj okončin, kar ima za rezultat širok spekter deformacij zadnjih nog. Ko se naselijo, ti zajedavci v telesu paglavca-gostitelja oblikujejo cisto, ki ovira normalen razvoj okončin. Posledica je rast dodatnih okončin ali njihovih delov s pomočjo celične interkalacije. Gre za mehanizem oblikovanja vzorcev, ki vključuje okvare prostorskih razmerij signalizirajočih celic pri okončinah v razvoju. Na to temo je bilo napisanih že več kot 50 nalog, ki opisujejo in nedvoumno dokazujejo domnevo o vplivu sesača. Okužba z Ribeiroia ondatrae, ki ima za posledico deformacije brezrepih dvoživk, je že po definiciji naraven pojav. Nedavne študije pa vendarle kažejo, da se stopnja okužb morda pojavlja tudi na ravni “onkraj narave”. Število okužb z Ribeiroio narašča in se pojavlja kot bolezen med populacijami dvoživk v divjini. Dodaten dejavnik v


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moji in drugih nedavnih študijah je tudi kakovost močvirskih okolij. Vse kaže tudi na to, da so ribniki na kmetijah z visoko stopnjo evtrofikacije ugodni za razvoj populacij Ribeiroie. Nove študije kažejo, da v ribnikih upadla biotska raznovrstnost povečuje tveganje za okužbo v razvojnih stadijih žab in krastač, saj prihaja do zmanjšanega števila potencialnih gostiteljev za omenjenega parazita. Študije prav tako kažejo, da okoljski stresorji, kot na primer določene kmetijske kemikalije, povečujejo tveganje in vpliv okužb. Znova lahko govorimo o konceptu praeter naturam, “onkraj narave” v divjini.

Najnovejše študije sicer govorijo o tem, da dvoživke v splošnem pravzaprav niso kredibilni zgodnji pokazatelji ekološke ogroženosti, pač pa so bolj tisti trdoživi, zadnji preživeli; ena zadnjih vrst, ki izumre v preveč spremenjenih, ogroženih oziroma okrnjenih okoljih. Namesto primerjave s kanarčki v rudniku bi bila zato najbrž ustreznejša primerjava s kapitanom potapljajoče se ladje. Najbolj razširjeno skupino deformacij med žabami in krastačami uvrščamo v kategorijo manjkajočih okončin. Takšne primere sem srečal povsod pri svojem delu, pri vseh populacijah. In čeprav videz ni tako dramatičen kot pri žabah z dodatnimi kraki, se je izkazalo, da jih je veliko težje razložiti. Leta 2006, ko sem pisal doktorat, sem na testnih raziskavah v Yorkshiru v Angliji naletel na množico deformiranih primerkov majhne vrste žab v bližini Wakefielda, natančneje v kraju z imenom Havercroft Village Green Pond. Preobražene krastače so imele vse vrste pomanjkljivosti, od deloma razvitih nog, prisekanih okončin do primerkov brez zadnjih krakov. Vse skupaj me je resno vznemirilo, saj se ribnik nahaja v naseljenem območju, kjer se otroci pogosto v vodi igrajo ali lovijo ribe. Zato sem se odločil narediti serijo eksperimentov, da bi ugotovil ali voda vsebuje kakšne kemikalije ter s tem potrdil učinek potencialnih onesnaževalcev v vodi in usedlinah na razvoj paglavcev. Vsi so bili negativni. V drugem in tretjem letu sem pričel raziskovati druge možne dejavnike, parazite, a spet nisem prišel do nikakršnih pomembnih zaključkov. Leta 2008 pa sem se začel ukvarjati s previdno nadzorovanimi eksperimentalnimi simulacijami, v katerih sem preučeval paglavce krastač v različnih razvojnih fazah v odnosu do raznih vrst vodnih plenilcev, ki jih srečamo v ribniku Havercroft. Med te plenilce spadajo ribe, druge dvoživke in nekaj vrst členonožcev, med njimi so tudi kačji pastirji v fazi nimfe. Kar sem odkril, je bilo naravnost neverjetno: v eksperimentih se je izkazalo, da v določeni razvojni fazi kačji pastirji lovijo paglavce in pojedo samo majhen delček, največkrat zadnje noge, potem pa paglavce izpustijo. Ravno tako neverjetno je bilo dejstvo, da večina paglavcev preživi te poškodbe, tudi najhujše, na primer odstranitev obeh zadnjih okončin. Paglavci so si opomogli in se razvijali naprej, neusodne poškodbe, ki so jim jih zadale nimfe kačjih pastirjev, pa so ostale v obliki trajnih deformacij okončin, identičnih tistim, ki sem jih nekoč našel v ribniku Havercroft. Na podlagi teh študij smo objavili publikacije, podprte z močnimi eksperimentalnimi in terenskimi dokazi, ki potrjujejo tezo, da lahko manjkajoče okončine pri dvoživkah povzročijo poškodbe specifičnih plenilcev, v tem primeru nimfe kačjih pastirjev. Vidimo torej, da se te komaj izležene ličinke (nimfe), pa tudi drugi plenilci z majhnimi usti, ki ne morejo zaužiti celega paglavca, zatekajo k delnemu konzumiranju ali kot temu praviva z mojim sodelavcem Stanleyjem K. Sessionsom k “selektivnemu plenjenju”. To pomeni, da paglavca ujamejo in pojedo samo del svojega plena, pogosto zadnje noge. To pa skupaj z znanim dejstvom, da regeneracijska sposobnost paglavcev upade na začetku kasnejših faz njihovega razvoja, ponuja razlago za značilen spekter deformacij, ki jih srečamo pri populacijah v divjini. Omenjene študije smo objavili leta 2009 v reviji Journal of Experimental Zoology. Naslednja postaja mojega raziskovalnega dela je bila v južnem Quebecu, kjer sva z enim izmed gostujočih profesorjev na Univerzi McGill uporabila podobne metode dela kot prej v Angliji. Za predmet raziskav sva izbirala močvirja po ključu okoljskega gradienta od naravnih rezervatov do degradiranih kmetijskih zemljišč in pre-

Brandon Ballengée, Requiem Still. Fotografija z dovoljenjem avtorja / Photo courtesy the artist

učevala brezrepe dvoživke, njihove poškodbe in deformacije; analizirala sva populacije plenilcev in nato izvajala številne eksperimentalne simulacije. Rezultati so bili ponovno osupljivi. V eksperimentih sem opazoval, kako nimfe kačjih pastirjev “selektivno plenijo” paglavce različnih vrst kanadskih žab, kar je imelo za posledico širok spekter anomalij zadnjih okončin v stadiju preobrazbe. Skratka, šlo je za zelo podoben pojav kot v Angliji, le da je druga vrsta kačjih pastirjev in rib počela isto drugi vrsti žab. Vse kaže, da obstaja širši trend, ki ga zaenkrat še raziskujemo. Na izbranih lokacijah so študije pokazale še nekaj zanimivih ugotovitev. Na osiromašenih močvirnih področjih najdemo večje populacije za paglavce specifičnih plenilcev, ki se hranijo z razvijajočimi se okončinami. Vzorci brezrepcev, pobrani na teh območjih, pa kažejo tudi višji odstotek poškodb in deformacij. Ta povezava, sinergija med poškodbami zaradi plenilcev in kakovostjo močvirskih ekosistemov do danes še ni bila podrobno raziskana, zato želimo to storiti zdaj. V študijah smo preučevali 10.000 primerkov dvoživk. Z delom nadaljujemo tudi v prihodnje, da bi ugotovili ali obstaja širši trend. Rezultati pa vsekakor znova opozarjajo na koncept praeter naturam. Ključna komponenta mojega dela je tudi vključevanje javnosti. V obliki “participatorne biologije” oziroma znanstvenih programov za državljane po imenu Eco-Actions treniram javnost in mlade za sodelovanje pri primarnih terenskih raziskavah. Cilj je pripraviti ljudi do tega, da se vrnejo v naravo in se učijo o ekologiji s praktičnimi terenskimi izkušnjami. S pomočjo neposrednega stika z močvirskim okoljem in njegovimi živalskimi prebivalci želim ljudi navdihniti za učenje ter jih spodbuditi k skrbi za lokalno okolje, tudi za močvirja, za katera se mnogi niso nikdar posebej zmenili. Gre za spodbujanje ideje skrbništva, za razvijanje čuta za odgovornost in razumevanje takšnih krajev ter željo, da jih zaščitimo, kar je ključ do njihovega ohranjanja. V skupnosti za ohranitev dvoživk sem od nekdaj zagovarjal vključevanje javnosti v terensko raziskovanje. Eden izmed razlogov je omenjena ideja “izkušenjske vrzeli”, s katero se vsi soočamo, ljudem pa želim ponuditi rešitev s tem, da vzbudim za-

nimanje za ekologijo na njihovih lastnih dvoriščih. Upam tudi, da udeleženci s tem pridobijo dostop in vpogled v znanstveno-raziskovalno delo. Spodbujam jih, da o svojih izkušnjah razmislijo; rišejo, pišejo, skratka, da razmišljajo na podlagi tega, kar so videli. Upam, da je to korak k demokratizaciji znanosti in umetnosti, saj sta obe zelo izolirani področji. Za delo na terenu dobesedno treniram ljudi, učim jih, kako pomagati pri različnih vidikih terenskih raziskav in pri tem strogo sledimo znanstvenim smernicam. Naučijo se, kako varno ravnati z živalmi in dokumentirati, pomagajo pri zbiranju in opazovanju ter se učijo in izkušajo plat lokalnega okolja in narave, ki je do zdaj niso. Takšni programi so v veliko pomoč tudi s stališča znanstvenega raziskovanja. Področje ohranjanja dvoživk, posebno terensko delo, je namreč največkrat slabo financirano, čeprav preživimo tudi do 40, 60 ali 80 ur tedensko na terenu v težavnih pogojih zaradi vremenskih razmer, komarjev, pijavk itd. Težko bi bilo najeti tako veliko število ljudi, da bi dobili ustrezno veliko količino podatkov z močvirskih območij. Če pa se nam pri tem pridružijo skupine 10, 15 ali 20 izučenih prostovoljcev, je zadeva takoj lažja. Zanje pa so te izkušnje tudi nekaj novega in vznemirljivega, ob njih se učijo, kar je v bistvu dober način, kako lahko javnost razume populacije dvoživk na določenem kraju v določenem trenutku v zgodovini. Poleg programa Eco-Actions je bilo ustanovljeno tudi več javnih laboratorijev za bioumetnost. Namen takšnih začasnih laboratorijskih instalacij je izvajanje znanstveno-raziskovalnega dela, ki so odprte za javnost in nastale z njihovim sodelovanjem. Postavili smo jih v tipično neuniverzitetnih ali neznanstvenih okoljih, recimo v galeriji na prostem v Angliji, v skladišču v ZDA in v tehnološko-umetniškem prizorišču v Kanadi. Ker so odprte za javnost, ljudje pogosto prihajajo, sprašujejo, delijo svoja mnenja in se tudi prijavijo kot prostovoljci pri laboratorijskem opazovanju ali drugih nalogah. Oblikovali smo posebne skupine prostovoljcev (žabje ekipe), jih poučili o ravnanju z živalmi, tako da lahko dokumentirajo eksperimente in se ukvarjajo z obiskovalci. Spodbujamo jih k uporabi opreme za izdelovanje lastnih umetnin, foto-


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Brandon Ballengée, Eco-Action. Fotografija z dovoljenjem avtorja / Photo courtesy the artist

grafij in video posnetkov in celo svojih lastnih eksperimentov, skratka, spodbujamo idejo ustvarjalnega procesa. Tudi sam ustvarjam v laboratorijskem kontekstu, zbiram podatke itd., hkrati pa, ko recimo delam na video posnetku, dobivam ideje za znanstvene projekte, zato zraven rišem, skiciram in podobno. Gre za to, da želimo z uporabo strategij participatorne biologije spodbuditi razumevanje obiskovalcev o lokalnih ekoloških pojavih ter okoljskih vprašanjih. Za temi metodami se skriva pobuda za odprto raziskovalno delo in “ekosistemski aktivizem”. Glede svojega lastnega umetniškega dela lahko povem, da me navdihuje prav ta kombinacija dela v laboratoriju, na terenu, z živalmi in z ljudmi. Iz umetniške prakse rastejo nove ideje za eksperimente, raziskave in programe – gre za nekakšno povratno zanko, za transdisciplinarnost, kjer je vse tesno povezano med seboj. Najbolj fizični artefakti kot produkti tega procesa se oblikujejo v mojih vizualnih umetniških delih. Iz posnetkov deformiranih žab, trajno pohabljenih in mrtvih ali umirajočih, ustvarjam portrete ali relikviarije. Ustvarim jih tako, da deformirane primerke najprej kemično očistim in razbarvam. Gre za kemičen proces, ki vključuje posebno tehniko razbarvanja tkiv, kostnega ali hrustančnega tkiva in odstranjevanja kože ter mišic. Proces obsega približno 20 do 25 faz, končni izdelki pa so videti kot slikoviti, živopisni rentgenski posnetki. Pri tem gre za izkrivljenost neposredne likovne reprezentacije, saj nikakor nočem razstavljati povečanih podob “pošasti”, kot bi si organizme v zastrašujočem in izkoriščevalskem smislu utegnili predstavljati. Sledi visoko resolucijsko fotografiranje vsakega primerka s skenerjem in tako nastanejo posamezni portreti. Natisnem jih z uporabo črnila na vodni osnovi na posebnem papirju za vodni tisk in vsi so unikati. S postavitvijo skušam doseči videz lebdenja v oblakih ali plavanja v motnih nebesnih vodah. K nezemeljskemu videzu pripomorejo tudi naslovi, ki prihajajo iz zakladnice antičnih grških mitoloških likov. Pri imenih sem sodeloval tudi s pesniki in umetnostnimi zgodovinarji. Končni portreti so povečani, tako da so žabice v velikosti človeškega malčka in s tem želim spodbuditi občutek empatije namesto hladnosti ali strahu, saj po izkušnjah vem, da premajhnih portretov ljudje sploh ne opazijo, prevelike pa vidijo kot pošasti. Vsako zaključeno delo je unikatno in nespremenjeno v spomin posamezni živali kot relikviarij njihovemu kratkemu nečloveškemu življenju. V muzeju so dodatno predstavljeni tudi dejanski primerki. Imenujem jih Styx (Stiks), gre pa za nekakšen kiparski izraz kompleksnosti najdb deformiranih žab v naravi – v

Ključna komponenta mojega dela je tudi ideja vključevanja javnosti. V obliki “participatorne biologije” oziroma znanstvenih programov za državljane po imenu Eco-Actions treniram javnost in mlade za sodelovanje pri primarnih terenskih raziskavah. čustvenem in razumskem smislu. Serija se imenuje po legendarni reki iz grške mitologije, ki teče med svetovoma živih in mrtvih. Za serijo Styx so drobni, očiščeni in razbarvani dejanski primerki razstavljeni na velikih, temno obarvanih strukturah, ki spominjajo na padle obeliske, mračne vode, težke abstraktne oblike ali če hočete na praznino. Primerki so majhni, vendar gre tu pravzaprav za protislovje, saj so majhni po naših, človeških merilih. Premišljeno so osvetljeni znotraj svojih steklenih posod, zato postanejo “svetloba” in središčna točka, ki pritegne obiskovalce k intimni izkušnji razstave. Od blizu spominjajo na čudovite dragulje ali morda na spektakularne vitraže iz velikih katedral. Nekaj čarobnega je na njih, nekaj nezemeljskega, presunljivega in hkrati grozljivega in tragičnega. To so živali, ki se kot paglavci borijo za obstanek v sovražnih okoljih; ko pa so dovolj odrasli za selitev na kopno, postanejo žrtve svojih lastnih okončin, saj se zaradi njihovih pomanjkljivosti ujamejo v pasti, se borijo, stradajo in umirajo. Evolucijska usoda, skupaj s posledicami sicer nenamerno povzročene okoljske škode, je do teh bitij zelo kruta. S svojo umetnostjo želim zato ovekovečiti ta majhna, nečloveška življenja in se pri tem dotakniti ideje minljivosti. ENG

I will be talking about the concept of what my art and scientific research has been dealing with for some time, ‘Praeter Naturam’, literally the Latin for ‘beyond nature’. Within the context of this conference and the theme of technological unconscious or, as Roy Ascott mentioned, from the perspective of variable reality, it is important to remember the state of the environment, i.e. the physical real ecological environment and our relationship with it – how technology is influencing our perception of and approach to nature.

To begin, I would say generally the populace views nature and technology very differently, often as complete opposites. Herein lies the paradox – is our technology natural or beyond nature, or is technology just a natural development by our species and others to adapt with a constantly changing environment? Fritjof Capra discussed these ideas, how is a skyscraper any less natural than a spider web? It is a matter of perception, and with today’s digital and biotechnologies a matter of materiality. For the Soft Control exhibition, technology is mostly referring to these forms of digital and biotechnology. Rapidly changing or evolving developments in both these fields are greatly changing our cultural concepts or ideas of what is nature from both a perceptual to biomechanical level. Both these fields challenge our perception of what is a natural or a real environment, or even what constitutes a living species. What appears to be happening is a fusion or melting of the digital, virtual, modified, artificial, etc. with the traditionally physically natural. For example transgenic genes and sequences spreading to wild populations of plants; our smart phones becoming an extension of our cortex, perhaps a neo-cortex – are we becoming Borg in an techno-natural environment imagined by Phillip K. Dick? Will the next toad I find in nature be made of circuits and machinery – a new breed of feral Replicant amphibians? In addition to the fusion of the biological with the technological I also want to discuss experience. Particularly how we interact or physically experience the world versus digital or virtual experiences. As our species is becoming increasingly digitally enhanced this has fundamentally changed our approach to the physical world. For over 300 generations we have been physical beings, adapting, learning, creating and destroying in response to a corporal environment. Literally within one human lifespan this has drastically changed towards gaining knowledge from indirect or secondary experiences. This has of course greatly changed and in many ways liberated access to information and new knowledge. However, it is important that we remember that this information is selected, modified, packaged, presented to us by others, and controlled. Also, what information should we not be given access to? Another concern is that a lack of direct experiences may have consequences. Science theorist and psychologist Edward Reed talks about an increasing ‘experiential gap’ among youth and the general populace. What Reed pos-


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Brandon Ballengée (US). Malamp Reliquaries, 1996 – še traja / 1996-ongoing. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Will the next toad I find in nature be made of circuits and machinery – a new breed of feral Replicant amphibians? its is that primary experiences, gained through the senses, are our most basic way of understanding reality and learning for ourselves. They construct not only our view of reality but the ‘self’ in ourselves. So what will the constructed self and worldview be for new generations seeing a horse for the first time on an iPad instead of smelling the grass of the field, or learning to climb a mountain only in Second Life without ever touching stone? Also, how will further experiential loss and virtual integration influence not only our perception of nature but our attitudes towards environment? Of course technology is also able to enhance experiences with nature, such as recent smart phone apps for species identification, topography, etc. Technology is also utilized to understand natural and large-scale phenomenon: we perceive climate change largely from computational modelling. There are many of you here today that believe the climate is changing and warming. As an international group you all were able to gather knowledge of climate change from varied sources, whereas I asked that same question a few months ago in the southern United States and I would say that only about 10–15% of people raised their hands. This goes back to what I sad earlier about the control of information, and in the case of USA the distribution of misinformation. I wonder if we should be also be concerned about the information provided to enhance natural experiences. Now to talk about my own work: I am an artist, biologist and environmental educator. This transdisciplinary working practice informs and inspires from one discipline to the next. Laboratory studies and working with the public inspire the creation of visual art. The visual art allows me to reflect on these experiences and then inspires more ecological research, and so on. On the primary scientific research side, as amphibian biologists, we see frogs, toads, salamanders and newts as bio-indicators. These organisms tell the story of the ecological health of a particular place at a particular moment in history. Recent studies suggest that overall amphibians actually are not good early indicators of ecological compromise, but in fact are tough survivors; some of the last species to become absent in environs

too altered, compromised or degraded. So, instead of the ‘canary in the coal mine’ we should probably be using the ‘captain of a sinking ship’ metaphor. My amphibian work began in the late 1990s, first as art, then as science still with art, in response to global declines in their populations. In fact, globally we are seeing populations of amphibians plummeting, with recent reports saying that there may be as much as 40% of known species disappearing. This phenomenon is recent; we believe it’s been going on for less than a century – so this is something that is happening “right now”. My specialized area of research for the past few years has been amphibian deformities, sometimes called malformation, which is mostly seen in the development of the hind limbs (often a complete absence of the hind limbs). Could such limb deformities, particularly in high ratios, reflect ecological compromise? This is one of the primary research questions. I am also wondering whether this is an exclusively North American phenomenon, or does it happen in other places as well? These animals often have striking abnormalities; some have extra hind limbs, others have limbs missing. Visually they recall malformed human children: victims of Agent Orange, thalidomide, or the radioactive aftermath of Chernobyl. The causes for deformed amphibians remain scientifically controversial, while some of the major causes currently investigated include teratological chemicals (mostly agrochemicals), parasitic infection, predatory injury, or a potential synergy between these and perhaps other environmental factors. As I said, my studies began in North America and were later continued in Europe, Asia and Australia. What I found was there were deformed frogs everywhere – this is truly an international phenomenon (you can see the photos from Canada, Costa Rica, Korea, the Congo, Australia, Minnesota). I found deformities in almost every population examined, even in natural history collections, which suggests that this is not something new. However, there was one difference: the ratio of abnormalities. In historic samples there were only a few deformed individuals (approx. 1%–4%), but among contemporary populations the abnormality ratios appeared to be much higher – greater than 5%, 12%, 30% or higher. Low levels of developmental abnormalities occur naturally in all vertebrates and in anuran amphibians, the current expected normal background (i.e. endemic baseline) incidence for abnormalities is generally less than 5% of the overall population. Today however, some research-

Recent studies suggest that overall amphibians actually are not good early indicators of ecological compromise, but in fact are tough survivors; some of the last species to become absent in environs too altered, compromised or degraded. So, instead of the ‘canary in the coal mine’ we should probably be using the ‘captain of a sinking ship’ metaphor. ers have seen as high as 85% of metamorphic anurans with deformities in some populations. These frogs and toads are at a young metamorphic stage of the tadpoleto-frog cycle; right as they are transforming to life on land and moving away from the pond. If the deformities are severe these animals do not appear to survive – we often find them struggling on shore with misshapen hind limbs; starving, exhausted, easily predated. With high numbers of deformities and mortalities we are concerned about how this will impact populations on a long term basis. It could have a potential really bad impact on sustaining that particular population. Already some researchers have found malformations among threatened species of amphibians, and such high mortality may lead to further demise. Deformities appear to be increasing among some populations, and the whole issue is a major concern in amphibian conservation. As for amphibian limb deformities, they fall more or less into two categories: those featuring extra limbs or supernumerary limb structures and those with full missing limbs or limb structures. These abnormalities appear to be more prevalent in hind limbs than forelimbs. Although much more spectacular and reported more often in the media, extra limb deformities appear to be less common and still more often reported in western North America, but this phenomenon is spreading. I found them among populations of frogs and toads both in the far north east as well as in southern Quebec. Amphibians with supernumerary limbs have been found also in middle and southern America and historically in western Europe, Eurasia and Australia. Recent reports have come in from Asia.


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In North America, a suggested cause for anurans with extra limbs has been shown experimentally caused by a parasitic flatworm or trematode. Likewise, field collected frogs with extra legs have been documented with infection by this Trematoda, called Ribeiroia ondatrae. This digenetic trematode has a complex life cycle often involving multiple hosts, including aquatic snails, amphibians, fishes, aquatic birds and others. In developing anurans, Ribeiroia ondatrae has been demonstrated in numerous experimental simulations to target and attack normal limb development resulting in a large array of hind leg deformities. Once embedded, the parasite forms a cyst inside the host tadpole body disrupting normal limb development. This results in the growth of additional limbs and limb parts through cellular intercalation (a powerful mechanism of pattern formation involving the disruption of the spatial relationships of signaling cells in developing limbs). Over 50 papers have continued to demonstrate and prove the “trematode hypothesis beyond a reasonable doubt”. So, by definition, any Ribeiroia infection resulting in anuran deformation is a natural phenomenon. However, recent studies suggest infection rates may be occurring at preternatural levels. The Ribeiroia ondatrae infection appears to be spreading – it is becoming an emerging disease among wild populations of amphibians. Likewise, wetland quality may be a factor in my own and other recent studies. Farm ponds with high degree of eutrophication appear to support Ribeiroia populations. New studies also show that at these farm ponds a decreased biodiversity increases the risk of infection in developing frogs and toads – as there are less potential hosts for the parasite. Studies have also shown that the so-called environmental stressors, for instance agrochemicals, increase the risk and impact of infections. So, again, here is the concept of praeter naturam, “beyond nature” in the wild.

Another core-component to my work is the idea of public engagement. Here through participatory biology, or citizen science programs called EcoActions, I train members of the public and youth to participate in primary field surveys. The mission is to get people back out into nature and learning about ecology through hands-on field experiences. By far the largest group of deformities among frogs and toads falls into the ‘missing limb’ category. In all of my fieldwork they have been found among all populations, to some degree. Although not as dramatic looking as frogs with multiple extra limbs, these turned out to be much more difficult to explain. During my Ph.D. research in 2006, on a pilot survey in Yorkshire, England, numerous deformed Toadlets were found with abnormalities at the Havercroft Village Green Pond outside of Wakefield. The metamorphic toads showed an array of deformities ranging from partial legs, truncated limbs, to both hind limbs fully removed. I was very concerned as this pond was in a residential community, and often during surveys children would be wading in the water or fishing. As a result I conducted a series of experiments to look at the chemicals in that water and tried to ascertain the effect of potential pollutants in the Havercroft site water and sediment on normal tadpoles. All yielded negative results. By the second and third year, I began to look for other factors, such as parasites, and again had no substantial results. By 2008, my focus shifted to carefully controlled experimental simulations with toad tadpoles at different stages of development with the varied aquatic predators – those found at the Havercroft pond. These included fish, other amphibians and several species of arthropods, including dragonflies at the larval nymph stage. What I found was amazing; in experiments larval dragonflies would capture tadpoles and only consume a small portion of them – often their hind limbs, and then release them. What was just as amazing was that the majority of these tadpoles survived injuries from the nymphs, even severe damage such as having both hind limbs removed. As the tadpoles healed and continued to develop, these non-lethal nymph-induced injuries created permanent

limb deformities identical to those found at the Havercroft site. These studies resulted in the first publication of strong experimental and field evidence supporting the idea that missing limbs in deformed amphibians can be caused by predation injury, in this case specific predators, the dragonfly nymphs. We saw that these insect larvae (as well as other predators with mouthparts that are too small to consume an entire tadpole) practice partial consumption, or what my collaborator Stanley K Sessions and I call “selective predation”, capturing tadpoles and eating only portions of that prey – often the hind limbs. This finding, coupled with the well-known decline in regenerative ability at the onset of later stages of tadpole development, offers an explanation for the idiosyncratic range of deformities found in wild populations. This work was published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology in 2009. Next, my studies took me to southern Quebec where as a visiting scientist at McGill University I used similar methods to the UK studies. Here, wetland sites following an environmental gradient (nature reserves to degraded farmland sites) were chosen. Anurans were scored for injuries and deformities, populations of predators were analyzed, and numerous experimental simulations were performed. The results were again amazing: I found several dragonfly nymphs who would ‘selectively predate’ tadpoles of different species of Canadian frogs, which resulted in a large range of hind limb abnormalities at metamorphosis – a very similar phenomenon as in the UK, except with a different species of dragonflies and fish doing the same thing do a different species of frogs. This suggests perhaps a larger trend, which we still are exploring. The site choice studies also yielded some other very interesting results: degraded wetlands supported higher populations of specific tadpole predators (those identified to eat developing anuran limbs) and had higher rates of injury and deformities among anurans sampled. This connection or synergy between predatory injury and wetland ecosystem quality had not been previously explored and we are publishing this now. These studies were limited, involving around 10.000 amphibians, but we are continuing with more field sites over the next few years to see if we can establish a larger trend. The preliminary results suggest once more the concept of praeter naturam. Another core-component to my work is the idea of public engagement. Here through participatory biology, or citizen science programs called Eco-Actions, I train members of the public and youth to participate in primary field surveys. The mission is to get people back out into nature and learning about ecology through hands-on field experiences. Through direct experiences with animals in the wetlands I hope to inspire them to learn more and to be concerned with their local environments – even places like wetlands, which many have never focused on. The hope is to inspire stewardship, a sense of understanding to these places and the desire to protect them – a key to conservation. In the amphibian conservation community I have been a big proponent of involving the public in field research. One of the reasons again comes from the idea of the experiential gap we are all facing, and I am trying to offer a solution by getting people immersed in the ecology of their backyards. Hopefully, this enables the participants to have access to, and become involved in actual scientific research. I also encourage participants to reflect on their experiences by making drawings, writings; to think through what they have seen. This hopefully democratizes science and art more – which are both very insular fields. For the field work, I literally train people to go help do different aspects of field surveys. We follow strict scientific guidelines and they learn how to safely handle and document animals; they help with the collection, the observation, and by doing this they are hopefully learning and experiencing a side of their local nature that they haven’t before. These kinds of programs are also very helpful from the scientific research standpoint: amphibian conservation, especially field work, often lacks sustainable funding and typically we may spend 40 to 60 or 80 hours per week out in difficult positions – weather, mosquitoes, leaches, etc. So it can be really hard to hire large numbers of people for rich wetland data-sets. However, if groups of 10 or 15 or 20 trained volunteers can collect data, it is really helpful. In addition, such experiences are new for volunteers and exciting, hopefully they learn and experience while gathering data – it is a public a way to understand amphibian populations, at that place and at a particular moment in history. In addition to the Eco-Actions, several public bio-art laboratories have been established. These temporary labo-

ratory installations are designed to conduct actual scientific research, yet are open to and in collaboration with the public. They have been established at typically nonuniversity or non-science settings, such as a sculpture park in England, a warehouse in the USA and a technology and art venue in Canada. By being open to the public, they often inspire people to come in, ask questions, share their opinions, and often volunteer in the lab observations or other duties. Lab core-groups of volunteers (Frog Teams) have been trained in animal care, they help with documenting experiments and interacting with the visitors. Volunteers are encouraged to use equipment to make their own art, photographs and videos and even run their own experiments – we are encouraging the idea of the creative process. I make my art well within the laboratory context, I’m collecting data, etc. But also, for example, as I’m doing a video, I’m getting ideas for projects, so I’m sketching or doing other things along the way. Again, the underlying idea is to utilize strategies of participatory biology to increase visitor understandings of local ecological phenomena and environmental issues. Underlying these working methods is an impetus for making research open and making it become a form of “ecosystem activism”. For my own visual art this combination of working in the lab, in the field and working with the animals and the public somehow inspires me to create art. From this artistic practice, new ideas for experiments and research and programs come – it is a feedback loop, in the transdisciplinary sense it is all very interconnected. The most physical form of artefacts from this process comes from my visual art practice. From the abnormal frogs found in nature, those that are terminally deformed; either dead or dying by the time we find them, I create portraits or reliquaries. These reliquaries are created firstly by chemically “clearing and staining” the deformed specimens. This process is chemical and involves staining tissues such as bone and cartilage while clearing away skin and muscle – it is about a 20 to 25-stage process, and they end by looking like vivid x-rays. This obscures direct representation – as I do not want to exhibit large images of “monsters”, which would be frightening and be exploitative to the organisms. This process is followed by high-resolution scanner photography of each specimen to create individual portraits. These portraits are printed in watercolor ink on watercolor paper and only made once, they are never made into editions. Each individual specimen is centred, appearing to “float” in what looks to be clouds, or murky celestial waters. This otherworldly quality is reinforced by the titles named after ancient characters from Greek mythology. I’ve collaborated with poets and art historians to give them the Greek titles. The finished portraits are scaled so the frogs appear approximately the size of a human toddler, to invoke empathy instead of detachment or fear, because from my experiences I learned that if they are too small, they will be dismissed, but if they are too large, they will become monsters. Each finished artwork is unique and never made into editions; to recall the individual animal and become a reliquary to a short-lived non-human life. In addition, I also exhibit the actual specimens at the museum. I refer to the show as Styx, and it is a kind of sculptural expression of complexity of finding these abnormal frogs in nature – emotionally and rationally. The sculptural series is named after the legendary river from Greek mythology that moved between the worlds of the Living and the Dead. To create Styx, the tiny actual deformed cleared and stained specimens are carefully displayed on large dark structures, to resemble fallen obelisks, dark water, abstract heavy forms, or a void if you will. The specimens are small in contradiction, out of our normal human-scale, but precisely illuminated within glass dishes, to become the ‘light’ and the focal point and to draw viewers in to have an intimate experience. Viewed up close they resemble beautiful gems or perhaps the stained-glass windows from cathedrals. There is something enchanting, otherworldly, striking, but also terrible and tragic about them. These animals struggle to survive as tadpoles in hostile environments, and as they grow to move onto land, their own hind limbs are literally their own demise, as they find them themselves trapped, struggling, starving and dying. Evolutionary fate, coupled with the consequences of our unintended damage to the ecosystems, is harsh to these creatures being born to land. My hope is to give, through the art, a lasting presence to these small non-human lives, capturing the ephemerality of life.


Louis-Philippe Demers Umetna mi(s)toza Artificial Mi(s)tosis

Umetna mi(s)toza je umetniški komentar na iskanje znanstvene verodostojnosti pri geminoidih in humanoidih. Spominja na neke vrste noro znanost in možnost napačnih zaključkov na področjih biotehnološke, nanotehnološke in umetno-inteligenčne evgenike. Paradoksalno je ta robotski artefakt neposredno izpeljan iz naravnega primerka. Gre za živo žabo z več zadnjimi okončinami, ki so rezultat zajedavske infekcije in simptom degradacije okolja. Umetna mi(s)toza predstavlja utelešenje nekoč že obstoječega naravnega fenomena, ki ga posledično dojemamo kot fiktivno, skoraj zunajzemeljsko vrsto. Projekt predlaga pravo, realno vizualizacijo umetnega življenja tega skrivnostnega, v naravi živečega organizma.

Artificial Mi(s)tosis is an artistic comment on the quest of verisimilitude found in geminoids and humanoids. It is reminiscent of some kind of mad science and the potential of biotech, nanotech, and artificial intelligence eugenics gone wrong. Paradoxically, this robotic artifact is directly derived from a specimen found in nature. It is a living frog found with multiple hind limbs as a product of parasitic infection and symptomatic of environmental degradation. Artificial Mi(s)tosis is an embodiment of an existing natural phenomena that, in turn, is perceived as a fictitious, almost otherworldly, species. It proposes a real artificial-life visualization of an uncanny natural-life living organism.

2010, robot, video, hitri prototipski materiali, gonilniki

Concept: L.-P. Demers, Brandon Ballengee. Mechatronics: L.-P. Demers, Dennis Low, Royston Phang, Patrick Liew. Producers: Interaction and Entertainement Research Centre, Digital Realities StartUp Grant (NTU).

Koncept: L.-P. Demers, Brandon Ballengee. Mehatronika: L.-P. Demers, Dennis Low, Royston Phang, Patrick Liew. Produkcija: Interaction and Entertainement Research Centre, Digital Realities StartUp Grant (NTU).

2010, robot, video, rapid prototyping materials, actuators

Louis-Philippe Demers (SG). Artificial Mi(s)tosis, 2010. Samostojna robotska instalacija / An autonomous AI robots installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič


David Bowen Mušji tweet in Mušji cepelini Fly Tweet & Fly Blimps

50 drones (50 brenčačev) Delo z naslovom 50 brenčačev iz leta 2003 sestoji iz serije 50 aluminijskih in PVC enot, povezanih s trimetrskimi kabli. Vsaka izmed enot se premika samostojno, s svojimi postavitvami pa pri tem ustvarjajo naključne in nepredvidljive vzorce.

fly drawing device (mušja risalna naprava) Instalacija ustvarja risbe na podlagi pretanjenega gibanja hišnih muh. Ko muhe priletijo v majhno komoro, senzorji zaznajo njihovo gibanje. Mikrokrmilnik nadzira risalno roko v realnem času, seveda na osnovi gibanja muh. Kadar senzorji v komori ne zaznajo več muh, se papir zavrti naprej, naprava pa počaka na novo muho in nato prične z novo risbo.

growth rendering device (naprava za spodbujanje rasti) Naprava je sistem za zagotavljanje svetlobe in hrane (v obliki hidroponične raztopine) rastlinam. Rastlina se na napravo torej odziva z rastjo, naprava pa posledično reagira na rastlino tako, da ustvarja njene pretvorjene, rasterizirane risbe vsakih štiriindvajset ur. Po vsaki dokončani risbi sistem avtomatsko zavrti papirni zvitek naprej za približno deset centimetrov, tako da se lahko v naslednjem ciklu ustvari nova risba. Sistem je programiran, da lahko deluje neomejeno količino časa, končnega rezultata pa ni mogoče predvideti.

swarm (roj) Roj je avtonomna tavajoča naprava, čigar gibanje določa roj hišnih muh. Muhe živijo v okrogli komori, nameščeni na samo napravo. Senzorji zaznavajo tudi najmanjše izmed njihovih aktivnosti: mušje gibanje in številčnost usmerjata smer in hitrost naprave. Ta se lahko glede na vhodne podatke v vsakem trenutku premika v vseh smereh. Mušji roj deluje v funkciji možganov celotne naprave – povzroča njeno premikanje po prostoru ter interakcijo z objekti in ljudmi, vse na osnovi orientacije in naklonjenosti muh. Projekt swarm je bil izdelan leta 2008 po naročilu Exit Art iz New Yorka, za razstavo z naslovom Brainwave: Common Senses (Preblisk: Zdrava pamet).

growth modeling device (naprava za izdelovanje modelov rasti) Naprava s pomočjo laserjev skenira rastlino čebule iz enega od treh možnih kotov. Nato tako imenovana naprava za ciljno nalaganje na podlagi pridobljenih informacij v realnem času ustvari plastičen model čebule. Postopek se ponovi vsakih štiriindvajset ur, vsakič iz drugega zornega kota. Po vsakem novem modelu se tekoči trak avtomatsko pomakne naprej za približno pol metra, da se lahko cikel ponovi. Rezultat je serija plastičnih modelov, ki ilustrirajo rast rastline iz treh različnih zornih kotov. Znotraj razstavnega prostora instalacijo sestavlja serija 42 mehanskih naprav z x/y nagibom, ki so povezane s tankimi, posušenimi rastlinskimi peclji, podoben pecelj pa je povezan z merilnikom pospeška zunaj galerijskega prostora. Slednji ob vetrnem vremenu zaniha; merilnik pospeška zazna njegovo gibanje in ga prenese na skupino napravic v galeriji. Peclji v galeriji se tako v realnem času gibljejo v sozvočju z gibanjem vetra. V juniju in juliju leta 2010 je bilo delo postavljeno v moskovskem Laboratoria Art & Science Space, senzorji pa na oddaljeni lokaciji, ob zgradbi laboratorija Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab Univerze v Minnesoti. Tako so se posamične komponente instalacije v Moskvi gibale v sozvočju s smerjo in močjo vetra na drugem koncu sveta. Med nadziranjem in zbiranjem realno-časovnih podatkov s

David Bowen. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Švarc

tele-present wind (teleprezentni veter)


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tako oddaljene in odročne lokacije je sistem posredoval fizično ponazoritev dinamičnih in spreminjajočih se podnebnih razmer.

fly blimps (mušji cepelini) Instalacijo sestavlja serija samostojnih, s helijem napolnjenih balonov – cepelinov, njihovo gibanje pa določajo majhni roji hišnih muh. Muhe so pravzaprav možgani vsake posamične naprave, ki določajo njihovo medsebojno interakcijo in odziv na prostor in ostale naprave. V vsaki izmed komor, pritrjenih na balone, živi do petdeset muh. Komore vsebujejo hrano, vodo in senzorje, ki zaznavajo gibanje muh. V realnem času senzorji pošiljajo informacijo do motoriziranih propelerjev, ki usmerjajo naprave v balonu. Cepelini so tako posamična, vendar med seboj povezana sredstva javnega prevoza. Muhe živijo v lastnih, samozadostnih svetovih, kjer poudarjeno izražajo skupinsko vedenje.

tele-present wind (teleprezentni veter)

tele-present water (teleprezentna voda) Teleprezentna voda zbira informacije na podlagi intenzitete in gibanja vode na oddaljeni lokaciji. Posodobljeni podatki o valovih prihajajo iz podatkovne boje ameriške Nacionalne uprave za oceane in ozračja, natančneje s postaje št. 51003. Ta je bila sprva zasidrana 205 navtičnih milj jugozahodno od Honoluluja v Tihem oceanu. Nato se je odtrgala in odplavala, zadnje poročilo iz mesta, kjer je bila zasidrana, pa je bilo poslano okrog 25. aprila 2011. Tako še vedno oddaja relevantne podatke, vendar je njena natančna lokacija neznana. Umetniško delo uredi zbrane podatke o intenziteti in pogostosti valov ter jih prenese na mehansko mrežno strukturo: rezultat je simulacija fizičnih učinkov, ki jih povzroča gibanje vode na tej oddaljeni, neznani lokaciji. teleprezentna voda tako fizično poustvarja oddaljeno izkustvo in omogoča opazovanje aktivnosti izoliranega objekta, ki bi bil sicer izgubljen v oceanu, s pomočjo neposredne komunikacije.

growth rendering device (naprava za spodbujanje rasti)

tele-present wind, out (teleprezentni veter, zunaj)

fly tweet (mušji tweet) Instalacija omogoča pošiljanje twitter sporočil na osnovi aktivnosti velikega roja muh. Muhe živijo v akrilni krogli, v kateri je računalniška tipkovnica. Med svojim gibanjem in interakcijo preletavajo tipke na tipkovnici. Njihovi premiki so zbrani v realnem video prenosu. Ko preletijo določeno tipko, je ustrezen znak vpisan v twitter tekstovno polje. Ko je polje polno oziroma vsebuje 140 znakov ali ko muhe preletijo tipko ‘enter’, je sporočilo poslano. Tako so twitter sporočila poslana v realnem času glede na preprosto vedenje skupnosti hišnih muh. Naraščajoča zbirka sporočil postane arhiv neke naključne aktivnosti znotraj širšega področja družabnih medijev in mreženja.

tele-present water (teleprezentna voda)

swarm (roj)

ENG

50 drones

fly drawing device This installation produces drawings based on the subtle movements of houseflies. When flies enter a small chamber sensors detect their movements. A micro-controller articulates a drawing arm in real time based on the fly’s movements. When a fly is no longer detected in the chamber the paper scrolls over and the device waits until a new fly enters the chamber to begin another drawing.

David Bowen (US). Fotografije z dovoljenjem avtorja / Photo courtesy the artist

50 drones from 2003 consists of a series of 50 aluminum and pvc units connected to 3 meter tethers. Each unit moves independently as they displace and arrange one another in random and unpredictable patterns. growth modeling device (izdelovanje modelov rasti)

growth rendering device This system provides light and food in the form of hydroponic solution for the plant. The plant reacts to the device by growing. The device in-turn reacts to the plant by producing a rasterized inkjet drawing of the plant every twenty-four hours. After a new drawing is produced the system scrolls the roll of paper approximately four inches so a new drawing can be produced during the next cycle. This system is allowed to run indefinitely and the final outcome is not predetermined.

50 drones (50 brenčačev)

fly drawing device (mušja risalna naprava)

Swarm is an autonomous roving device whose movements are determined by a collective of houseflies. Sensors detect the subtle activities of flies housed in a spherical chamber mounted to a roving device. The device’s direction and velocity are determined by the movements and density of the flies. The device can move about a space in any direction at any time based on the swarm’s input. The collective acts as the brain of the device causing it to travel throughout the space interacting with objects and people based on the flies orientation and predilections. swarm was commissioned by Exit Art,

Fly tweet @ flycolony

swarm


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NY in 2008 for an exhibition titled Brainwave: Common Senses.

growth modeling device Device uses lasers to scan an onion plant from one of three angles. As the plant is scanned a fuse deposition modeler in real-time creates a plastic model based on the information collected. The device repeats this process every twenty-four hours scanning from a different angle. After a new model is produced the system advances a conveyor approximately 17 inches so the cycle can repeat. The result is a series of plastic models illustrating the growth of the plant from three different angles.

tele-present wind An installation that consists of a series of 42 x/y tilting mechanical devices connected to thin dried plant stalks installed in a gallery and a dried plant stalk connected to an accelerometer installed outdoors. When the wind blows it causes the stalk outside to sway. The accelerometer detects this movement transmitting the motion to the grouping of devices in the gallery. Therefore the stalks in the gallery space move in real-time and in unison based on the movement of the wind outside. In June and July of 2010 this piece was installed at Laboratoria Art & Science Space in Moscow and the sensor was installed in an outdoor location adjacent to the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab at the University of Minnesota. Thus the individual components of the installation in Moscow moved in unison as they mimicked the direction and intensity of the wind halfway around the world. As it monitored and collected real-time data from this remote and distant location, the system relayed a physical representation of the dynamic and fluid environmental conditions.

fly blimps Fly blimps consists of a series of 3 autonomous helium filled blimps whose movements are controlled by small collectives of houseflies. The flies are essentially the brain of each of the devices, determining how they interact and respond to the space as well as the other devices. Up to 50 houseflies live within the chambers attached to each blimp unit. These chambers contain food, water and allow the light needed to keep the flies alive and flourishing. The chambers also contain sensors that detect the changing light patterns produced by the movements of the flies. In real-time, the sensors send this information to an on-board micro-controller. This controller activates the motors connected to the propellers that direct the devices based on the actions of the flies. The floating, wandering blimps are separate but intersecting community vehicles. The flies exist in their own self-contained and self-sustaining worlds, collectively creating an amplified and exaggerated expression of group behavior.

tele-present water David Bowen (US). Fly tweet, 2012. Mešana medijska skulptura / Mixed media sculpture. SC 2012 / foto Matej Kristovič

Tele-present water draws information from the intensity and movement of the water in a remote location. Wave data is being collected and updated from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data buoy station 51003. This station was originally moored 205 nautical miles Southwest of Honolulu on the Pacific. It went adrift and the last report from its moored position was around 04/25/2011. It is still transmitting valid observation data but its exact location is unknown. The wave intensity and frequency collected from the buoy is scaled and transferred to the mechanical grid structure, resulting in a simulation of the physical effects caused by the movement of water from this distant unknown location. This work physically replicates a remote experience and makes observation of the activity of an isolated object, otherwise lost at sea, possible through direct communication.

fly tweet

David Bowen (US). Fly blimps, 2010. Mešana medijska skulptura / Mixed media sculpture. Fotografije z dovoljenjem avtorja / Photo courtesy the artist

Fly tweet sends twitter messages based on the activities of a collection of houseflies. The flies live inside an acrylic sphere along with a computer keyboard. As the flies move and interact inside their home, they fly over the keys on the keyboard. These movements are collected in real-time via video. When a particular key is triggered by the flies, the key’s corresponding character is entered into a twitter text box. When 140 characters are reached or the flies trigger the “enter” key, the message containing the accumulated characters is tweeted. Thus live twitter messages are perpetually sent in real-time based on the simple movements of the community of houseflies. These constantly accumulating messages appear as records of random activity within the larger sphere of social media and networking.


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Vicky Isley & Paul Smith Prava polžja pošta Real Snail Mail

Vicky Isley & Paul Smith, SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

Vicky Isley: S Paulom pod skupnim imenom boredomresearch sodelujeva že dvanajst let. V tem času sva ustvarila številne različne projekte: računske sisteme, spletna okolja, javne instalacije, nedavno pa tudi tiskana dela. Prihajava iz Združenega kraljestva, natančneje iz Southamptona, ki ga morda poznate kot precej slavno pristanišče, od koder so na pot odplule številne velike čezoceanske ladje, vendar se nekatere izmed njih niso nikdar vrnile. Paul Smith: Titanik so torej zgradili in ga poslali na misijo, s katero naj bi parnik porušil svetovni rekord v hitrosti prečkanja severnega Atlantika. Vendar se za ladjo pod pritiskom mrzlične, s hitrostjo obsedene misije in kapitana, ki jo je s polno paro pognal naravnost v ledeno goro, stvari niso izšle povsem po načrtu in kasnejša raziskava je kot glavni vzrok katastrofe pokazala prav pritisk, da bi sledili vse bolj nerealističnim časovnim pričakovanjem. Na žalost pa obsedenost naše kulture s hitrostjo ni potonila skupaj s 1503 življenji, ki so ugasnila 15. aprila 1912. Vicky Isley: Kaj pa sto let kasneje, ali smo že ozdravili svojo bolezensko željo po hitrosti? Vse kaže, da ne: danes se na spletu oglašujejo “pravljice za lahko noč, ki jih preberete v eni minuti”. Parodija na to temo prihaja tudi izpod peresa finske pisateljice Anu Lahtinen, ki je na spletni strani Book-a-Minute Classics pred kratkim objavila svojo različico romana Prevzetnost in pristranost in s Paulom jo bova predstavila tudi vam. Paul bo nastopil v vlogi gospoda Darcyja, jaz pa bom igrala Elizabeth Bennet (prepričana sem, da delo vsi poznate, vendar morda ne v tej različici): Paul Smith (kot g. Darcy): Nič ni dovolj dobro zame. Vicky Isley (kot Elizabeth Bennet): Za nič na svetu se ne bi hotela poročiti s tem preponosnim moškim. Nato si oba premislita. Konec.

Tehnologija, ki jo uporabljamo vsak dan, v nas pušča občutke naglice, gneče in pospešenega pritiska. Paul Smith: Davno, preden so ga merili z atomsko natančnostjo, je čas ponazarjal izkušnjo spreminjanja. Spreminjanja letnih časov, spreminjanja dneva v noč. Tako je bilo vse do trenutka, ko je nekaj podjetnih glav opazilo premikanje nebesnih teles in ugotovilo, da lahko to uporabijo za napovedovanje sprememb letnih časov ter tako zagotovijo pravočasno setev in obilno žetev. Tako je nadzor nad časom postal oziroma povzročil večjo moč in bogastvo. Vicky Isley: Z izumom ure se je zlila povezava med minevanjem časa in uspešnostjo obilne žetve. Danes sta ta dva pojma enaka. Čas je denar, in če prihranimo čas, postanemo bogatejši. Tehnologija nam zagotavlja orodja, s katerimi stvari še pospešimo – saj nas prihranek časa bogati. Isto tehnologijo pa lahko uporabimo tudi za tratenje časa ali zapolnjevanje časa. Tehnologijo vzmeti, zobnikov in koleščkov, ki so jo uporabljali že urarji v 18. stoletju, so uporabili tudi za izdelavo umetnega življenja, recimo avtomatizirane mehanske race, ki je gagala, jedla in celo izločala. V tem primeru je mehanika minevanja časa ponovno oživljena kot življenje samo. Mehanska raca namreč zaseda in porablja čas. Vendar pa pri takšnih izdelkih učinkovitost ni na prvem mestu. Mesto ur danes zasedajo računalniki, ki so nadomestili zobnike in koleščke – namesto njih imamo zdaj softver in silikonske čipe.

Zaradi velikega povpraševanja po počasnosti imava celo več pošte, kot je zmorejo ubogi polži dostaviti. Trenutni čas dostave znaša približno štiri leta in se vsak dan upočasnjuje. Kot ste najbrž že uganili, gre pri projektu za idejo minevanja časa, v tem času pa se spremeni veliko stvari: spremenijo se ljudje, spremenijo se načini dela … Ti stroji lahko za nas izračunajo karkoli, kar lahko opišemo kot algoritem, in to vedno hitreje. Paul Smith: Vzemimo za primer igro 'kače in lestve', ki ni nič drugega kot algoritem in večina staršev najbrž ve, da lahko traja celo večnost – je pa tudi igra, pri kateri noben od igralcev ne sprejme nobene odločitve: vržete kocko, premaknete svojo figurico, vržete kocko, premaknete svojo figurico itd. V tem sva videla idealno priložnost za optimizacijo in pospešitev in tako sva s pomočjo programerskega znanja ustvarila 'hitre kače in lestve' – točno tako se imenujejo – pri kateri preprosto vtipkate število igralcev in pritisnete 'igraj'. Preden pa se zabava sploh začne, vas vesel pisk obvesti, da je igre konec in vam zaupa ime zmagovalca. Tako torej igrico, ki bi lahko trajala ure in ure, izračunamo v mikrosekundah. Takšno časovno-varčno učinkovitost bi lahko uporabili tudi pri svojih delih, tako da bi jih uskladili s povprečnim časom ogleda galerije, ki se giblje nekje okrog 0,6 sekunde. Kar počnemo, pa je živo nasprotje tega: ustvarjamo dela, ki so sama po sebi bolj proces kot zaključeno delo. Vicky Isley: In prav to sva storila v delu Lost Calls of Cloud Mountain Whirligigs (Izgubljeni klici visokogorskih vrtavk). Gre za spletno okolje z virtualnimi bitji, ki letajo vse naokrog. Poimenovala sva jih vrtavke. Živijo v okolju, ki je visoko v skalnatih planinah; ko se utrudijo, se ustavijo na žicah, počivajo in (včasih) zaspijo in ko se prebudijo, zapojejo še majhno pesmico. Gre za okolje, ki se dogaja v daljšem časovnem obdobju. Vsake toliko časa, ko jim usahne energija, lahko dobijo dodatno življenje. Paul Smith: Vsaka vrtavka se rodi s posebno notranjo uro, ki čas odšteva nazaj do ničle. Ko pride do ničle, dobi navodila, naj gre na “dooolg sprehod”: določimo ji izvenzaslonsko pozicijo, kamor pridno odleti; in takoj, ko je ne vidimo več, jo odstranimo iz sistema. Sproti ustvarjamo nove vrtavke, tako da populacija nikoli ne pade pod določen prag. Vicky Isley: Vsaka skupina vrtavk je edinstvena – imajo drugače oblikovane repke, propelerje, telesa in vsaka drugačno pesmico. Obstaja preveč variacij, da bi lahko videli vse. Njihova raznolikost je izražena skozi vzorce, barve in oblike, v zelo dolgem časovnem obdobju. Zato je pri tem delu pomembno “vzeti si čas”, nikoli pa se ne bo nehalo ali ponovilo. Ni dovolj časa, da bi si ogledali vse kombinacije vrtavk. Paul Smith: Gre torej za to, da je dobesedno ali matematično nemogoče, da bi videli vse in četudi bi vse človeštvo pustilo vse drugo in samo sedelo in opazovalo vrtavke, do konca vesolja (no, recimo do konca sončnega sistema), bi še vedno ne mogli videti vseh.

Vicky Isley: Delo lahko primerjamo s prej omenjeno avtomatsko raco iz 18. stoletja, prepričana pa sva tudi, da je nekakšno nasprotje marsikateri programski opremi, ki jo vsakodnevno uporabljamo, pri kateri gre vselej za hitrejše in učinkovitejše življenje in ustvarjanje dodatnega časa za bolj lagodne aktivnosti. Tehnologija, ki jo uporabljamo vsak dan, v nas pušča občutke naglice, gneče in pospešenega pritiska. Paul Smith: Oglejte si izris poti prvega transatlantskega telegrafskega kabla. Preden so ga leta 1855 položili, je bilo za prenos sporočila iz Londona do New Yorka potrebnih vsaj 10 dni. Prvi telegram je za to potreboval pičlih 17 ur, kar pomeni 93-odstotno povečanje v hitrosti v enem samem “kosu tehnologije”. Ampak, kar se nama zdi neverjetno, je dejstvo, da so v naslednjem mesecu, v želji, da bi stvari še dodatno pospešili, operaterji zviševali napetost in kabel zažgali! Samo pomislite, uspelo jim je raztegniti žico preko celega severnega Atlantika, medtem ko je cel svet nejeverno zmigoval z glavo: “nikoli vam ne bo uspelo”. Dosegli so 93-odstotno povečanje hitrosti, ampak niti to ni bilo dovolj! Naravnost neverjetno! Vicky Isley: Drugi kabel so položili leta 1866, bil je 50 krat hitrejši od prvega, hitrostno mrzlico pa očitno nadaljujemo še danes z optičnimi vlakni. Po vsem svetu komuniciramo s svetlobno hitrostjo. Paul Smith: London – New York v 0,0286 sekunde. Neverjetno! Tega ne more nič prekositi in po resnici povedano, mislim, da bi pri poskusu komunikacije nad svetlobno hitrostjo naleteli na resne ovire v časovno-prostorskem kontinuumu – najbrž bi bilo precej težko prejeti sporočilo, še preden je bilo poslano. Naše vesolje se torej podreja svetlobni hitrosti, sami pa menimo, da nas tehnologija svetlobne hitrosti ne sme omejevati. Zato sva se z Vicky vprašala: ali še obstaja prostor za storitev, ki potrebuje čas? Vicky Isley: Seveda obstaja! Če se vam zdi vredno vzeti si čas, potem je Prava polžja pošta pravi odgovor za vas! Zdaj lahko pošljete elektronsko pošto od koderkoli kamorkoli v polžjem tempu! Ampak pozor: prosimo vas, da pri tem upoštevate precejšnjo količino časa od trenutka, ko je bilo sporočilo poslano, do trenutka, ko bo doseglo svojega naslovnika.

Zato sva se z Vicky vprašala: ali še obstaja prostor za storitev, ki potrebuje čas? Paul Smith: Polž bi za isto pot od Londona do New Yorka v tipičnem polžjem tempu s hitrostjo 0,0037 km/h potreboval približno 170 let, 40 tednov in 2 dni in to brez postankov za počitek, malico ali stranišče. Seveda pa od najinih polžev niti ne zahtevava, da opravijo celo pot, za začetek zato, ker v povprečju živijo le tri leta. Prosiva jih, da elektronsko pošto prenašajo na razdalji kakšnih 50 centimetrov. Vicky Isley: Zaradi velikega povpraševanja po počasnosti imava celo več pošte, kot je zmorejo ubogi polži dostaviti. Trenutni čas dostave znaša približno štiri leta in se vsak dan upočasnjuje. Kot ste najbrž že uganili, gre pri projektu za idejo minevanja časa, v tem času pa se spremeni veliko stvari: spremenijo se ljudje, spremenijo se načini dela …


Vicky Isley & Paul Smith (UK). Real Snail Mail, 2008 – še traja. Instalacija, zasnovana na omrežju z RFID tehnologijo. / Network-based installation with RFID Technology. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič


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Paul Smith: … in spremenijo se odnosi. V angleški folklori zavzemajo polži prav posebno romantično mesto. Pravijo, da če polža čez noč pustimo v pepelu na domačem ognjišču, najdemo naslednje jutro v njem iz polžjih sledov izpisane začetnice svoje bodoče ljubezni. Vicky Isley: Polži so hermafroditi, tako da imajo že sami po sebi pestro ljubezensko življenje, zato lahko pričakujete precejšnjo zamudo pri dostavi vašega sporočila. Paul Smith: Med obiskom razstave ali spletne strani boste zato morda začutili posebno romantično energijo; nenadoma vas bo prijelo, da morate poslati tisto posebno sporočilo, ki si ga že lep čas želite poslati tisti posebni osebi, ki jo imate resnično radi, in za katero veste, da bo zmeraj tako. Vicky Isley: Ko pa boste pošto oddali, bo trajalo nekaj let, mogoče celo štiri ali več, preden boste sploh prejeli potrditveno sporočilo, da je vašo pošto prevzel, recimo mu agent št. 76, znan tudi kot Patrick. V tem času se bo pomen sporočila za vas morda spremenil. Zato nama ljudje – morebiti boste nekoč med njimi tudi vi – pošiljajo sporočila in moledujejo, naj polže z njihovimi sporočili prestreževa. Paul Smith: Tak primer naju je čakal danes zjutraj, ni prvi in zagotovo ne zadnji. Vicky Isley: Ta projekt naju je ogromno naučil. Zgodilo se je že, da so ljudje dobili pošto od nekoga, s komer več niso bili v romantičnem odnosu. Paul Smith: Vsekakor upava, da večina razmerij traja več kot štiri leta. Verjameva, da romantična polžja pisma pozitivno vplivajo na odnos, ko enkrat končno prispejo. Večkrat pa sva od pošiljateljev, po tem, ko prejmejo potrditveno sporočilo nekaj let kasneje, slišala, da si želijo, da bi takrat bolje razmislili o tem, kaj bodo v sporočilu povedali.

And, because of high demand for slowness we have more e-mails than our poor snails can cope with. Currently, the service is working to four years, and slowing every day. As you’ve probably gathered, this project is about time passing, and in that time lots of things change: people change, work patterns change… provides us with the tools to speed things up – saving time makes us richer. And we can use this technology to waste time or also fill time. The same technology of springs, cogs and wheels that was used by watchmakers in the 18th century was also used to create artificial life automata, such as this mechanical duck, which could actually quack, eat and also excrete. Here, the mechanics of time passing are re-animated as life itself. It (the duck) occupies and consumes time. But these particular artifacts are not made to be efficient. So – the clocks of today are computers, which have replaced the cogs and wheels, and now we use software and silicone chips. Anything that can be described as an algorithm can be computed by these machines, increasingly faster.

Vicky Isley: Paul and I have been collaborating as boredomresearch for 12 years. During this time, we’ve created a lot of different projects: computational systems, on-line environments, public installations, and (recently) prints as well. We’re UK-based artists; we live in Southampton, which some of you may know as quite a famous port where some big liners set sail and some of them didn’t return.

Paul Smith: Take the game of ‘snakes and ladders’, which is nothing more than an algorithm and as most parents will know, it can go on a bit. But it is also a game where no player makes any choices: you just roll the dice, move your counter, roll the dice, move your counter… We felt that we have the perfect opportunity for optimization and acceleration, so, using our software skills, we built ‘quick snakes and ladders’ and that’s exactly what it says on the tin. You simply enter the number of players, and hit ‘play’. And before the fun begins, a satisfying beep informs you that it’s over and who’s the winner. So a game that could have taken hours can be computed in microseconds. We could apply this time-saving efficiency to our own work, bringing works in line with average gallery-viewing times, which can be as little as 0.6 seconds. But our tendency is to do the opposite: create works that are themselves a process rather than a conclusion.

Paul Smith: Once they built the Titanic and sent it on its obsessive quest to break the steamship record for crossing the North Atlantic, the ship charged with this speedobsessed mission, and the ship’s captain went on full throttle into an ice field – things didn’t quite go according to plan. The subsequent inquiry confirmed the pressure to keep up with the increasingly unrealistic time schedules as the main cause (of the disaster). Sadly, our culture’s obsession with speed wasn’t lost with the 1503 lives that perished on the 15th of April 1912.

Vicky Isley: And that’s exactly what we did in this work Lost Calls of Cloud Mountain Whirligigs, which is an environment where we have created virtual creatures that fly around. We call them whirligigs. They live in an environment which is high up in a craggy mountain, and when they get tired they reach out for these wires, then they roost, and then fall asleep (sometimes); and when they wake up they sing a little song. It’s an environment that happens over an extended period of time. Occasionally, when their energy drops, they regain life.

Vicky Isley: A hundred years later, have we cured our hurry-sickness? The “one-minute bedtime story” suggests not. Anu Lahtinen just wrote a parody on this (subject), on the Book-a-Minute Classics web site, of Pride and Prejudice, which Paul and I have decided to perform for you today. Paul’s going to be Mr. Darcy, and I’m going to be Miss Elizabeth Bennet (I’m sure you’re all aware of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice – but maybe not this particular version):

Paul Smith: Each whirligig is born with an internal clock which counts back to zero. On reaching zero, it’s instructed to go for a long walk, at which point it’s given a position off-screen, to where it obligingly flies, and as soon as it’s out of sight, we remove it from the system. As the population never drops below some threshold, new whirligigs are created.

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Paul Smith (as Mr. Darcy): Nothing is good enough for me. Vicky Isley (as Elizabeth Bennet): I could never marry that proud man. They change their minds. The end.

This sort of technology that we use in our daily lives ends up leaving us quite rushed and accelerated. Paul Smith: Before time was measured with atomic accuracy, time was about the experience of change. The change between seasons, the change from light to dark. All until some enterprising humans noticed the motion of celestial bodies in the sky and realized that they could use those to predict the changing seasons, ensuring the timely sewing of crops for a successful and bountiful harvest. Control over time became, or caused the increase of power and wealth. Vicky Isley: The arrival of the clock fused this connection between the passing of time and the success of the bountiful harvest. Today the two are equivalent. Time is money. And if we save time, we get richer. Technology

Vicky Isley: Each group of whirligigs is unique – they have their own tail design, their own propellers, the body and a particular song. There are more variations than anyone will be able to see. This diversity is expressed through their pattern, color, and form over a very extended period of time. This work is all about taking time, and it will never end or repeat. There is not enough time to see every single combination of whirligig. Paul Smith: It’s literally, or mathematically impossible to see them all – even if the whole of the human race did nothing but sit down and watch the whirligigs until the end of the universe (ok, let’s say the end of solar system), we wouldn’t be able to see them all. Vicky Isley: We see this work as being comparable to the 18th century automata that I talked about earlier, and we feel like it contrasts with a lot of software that we daily use, which is all about making our lives speedier and more efficient, and creating time for more leisurely pursuits. This sort of technology that we use in our daily lives ends up leaving us quite rushed and accelerated. Paul Smith: Have a look at the path of the first Transatlantic telegraph cable. Before it was laid in 1855, it would have taken at least 10 days to send a message from London to New York. The first telegram that was sent took a mere 17 hours to send – that’s a 93% speed increase

(in just one “piece of technology”). But what we find incredible is that within a month, in an attempt to speed things up, the operators started to crank up the voltage, and burned the cable out. I mean, just imagine, stretching a wire across the whole of the North Atlantic, with everyone in the world saying ‘no, it’s never going to work’ – then you achieve that 93% speeding increase, and it’s not fast enough! Incredible! Vicky Isley: The second cable was laid in 1866, and was 50 times faster than the first one, and obviously, we’re continuing this quest today, with fiber optics. We’re communicating at light speed all around the globe. Paul Smith: London–New York in 0,0286 second. Incredible! No match has been done to improve on this and I think there are serious problems with faster than light speed communication – it would be quite hard to see the messages before they were sent in the space-time continuum. Our universe may be limited by the speed of light, but we feel we don’t have to be limited by light speed technology. So we ask ourselves, is there space for a service that takes time? Vicky Isley: Of course there is. When time is worth taking, Real Snail Mail is for you! Now you can send an e-mail from anywhere to anywhere at a snail’s pace. But beware! We ask you to consider the significant time from sending your message to when it reaches its recipient. Paul Smith: A snail making that same journey from London to New York at a typical snail pace of 0,0023 mph would take approximately 170 years, 40 weeks and 2 days, and that is without stopping for a rest, or for something to eat or toilet breaks. And of course, we don’t ask our snails to make the whole journey – for a start, they only live for three years – we ask them to carry the emails for about 50 cm. Vicky Isley: And, because of high demand for slowness we have more e-mails than our poor snails can cope with. Currently, the service is working to four years, and slowing every day. As you’ve probably gathered, this project is about time passing, and in that time lots of things change: people change, work patterns change… Paul Smith: … relationships change. In English folklore, snails have quite a romantic presence. It’s said that if you take a snail and you leave it in the ash on your hearth, you will awake the next morning to find the initials of your future life-long partner.

So we ask ourselves, is there space for a service that takes time? Vicky Isley: And as snails are hermaphrodite, they have quite an interesting love life of their own, and this can obviously delay your message considerably. Paul Smith: Visiting the enclosure, or the website, you might feel this romantic energy, and you might suddenly feel compelled to send that special e-mail, the one you’ve been wanting to send to that special person, that you really truly deeply love, and know deep down that you always will. Vicky Isley: But once you’ve sent that message, a few years, maybe 4 or more, may pass before you actually receive your confirmation e-mail, that your message has been picked up, for example by agent 76 also known as Patrick – and during that time, your message has obviously changed its meaning. So, some people, or you, might e-mail us to plead with us to intercept your message. Paul Smith: This was in our inbox this morning – it’s not the first – and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Vicky Isley: We have learned lots of lessons during this project. One of them is that sometimes someone receives an e-mail from someone that is no longer with us. Paul Smith: We do hope that most relationships last longer than four years. And we like to think that recipients of romantic snail mails have their relationship strengthened, when they eventually arrive. But there is one thing that we’ve heard repeatedly from senders when they’ve received confirmation that their e-mail has been picked up by a snail or has been forwarded a few years after – so many people have said that they really wished they had taken the time to think of something more meaningful to say.


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STELARC KROŽEČE MESO

Stelarc (AU). Protetic Head, 2003. Utelešen konverzacijski agent / An embodied conversational agent. 3D model: Barrett Fox. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

V dobi, ki jo zaznamujejo transgenetika, transvrste, postčloveškost in umetno življenje, je telo izpostavljeno. V dobi genskih kart, vdiranja v telo, spreminjanja spolov, živčnih vsadkov in protetičnih dodatkov postaja vprašanje, kaj je telo in kako deluje, problematično. MESO, KOVINE IN PROGRAMSKE KODE se prepletajo v nepričakovane hibridne sisteme. Pošastno ni več tuje. Živimo v dobi krožečega mesa. Telesne tekočine in telesne dele znamo konzervirati; postali so potrošna dobrina. Kri, ki se danes pretaka po mojem telesu, se bo morda že jutri pretakala po vašem (če ste krvne skupine O+). Organe odstranjujemo iz enega telesa in jih vsajamo v drugega. Odstranjena jajčeca lahko oplodimo s spermo, ki je bila nekoč zamrznjena. Ude, ki jih kirurško odstranimo iz mrtvega telesa, lahko ponovno prišijemo in jim vrnemo funkcionalnost na živem telesu. Zamenjujemo lahko obraze. Obraz iz trupla, ki ga prišijemo na lobanjo prejemnika, postane TRETJI OBRAZ, ki ni več podoben obrazu darovalca. Bolj robustno in zanesljivo umetno ustvarjeno srce po principu turbine nenehno poganja kri v obtok, brez utripanja. V bližnji prihodnosti boste morda naslonili glavo na prsi vašega ljubljenega. Čutili boste toploto, slišali njegovo dihanje; vsekakor je živ – ampak SRČNEGA UTRIPA NE BO IMEL. Brez Srčnega utripa. Nič več ne bomo umirali biološke smrti. Umrli bomo takrat, ko bodo odklopili naprave za ohranjanje življenjskih funkcij. TRUPLO, NEZAVEST IN HIMERA Truplo lahko neskončno dolgo ohranjamo s pomočjo plastinacije; hkrati lahko nezavestno telo vzdržujemo na napravah za ohranjanje življenjskih funkcij. Ni nujno, da mrtva telesa razpadejo in ni nujno, da skoraj mrtva telesa umrejo. Možgansko mrtvim bije srce. MOŽGANSKO MRTVIM BIJE SRCE. Pravica do smrti postaja enako pomembna kot pravica do življenja. »Živeti« je pogosto rezultat priključitve na instrumente in naprave. Danes smrt za mnoge pomeni tisto, kar se zgodi, ko telo odklopimo od tehnoloških naprav za ohranjanje življenjskih funkcij. Mrtvi, skoraj mrtvi, še nerojeni in delno živi obstajajo istočasno. Kriogensko ohranjena telesa pa čakajo, da jih ponovno oživijo v neki namišljeni prihodnosti. V laboratorijih z inženiringom ustvarjamo HIMERE, transgenetske entitete iz človeških, živalskih in rastlinskih genov. In-vitro podvojene matične celice ponovno injiciramo in jih uporabljamo za popravljanje tkiv in-vivo. Iz matičnih celic lahko vzgojimo celice kože in mišic. Kožno celico impotentnega moškega lahko z inženiringom spremenimo v celico sperme. Še bolj neverjetno je, da lahko tudi kožno celico ženske preobrazimo v celico sperme! Maternice pokojnih darovalk, ki bodo zmožne zdržati skozi celo obdobje nosečnosti, bomo kmalu lahko vsadili drugi osebi. Še več: če lahko zarodek vzdržujemo v umetni maternici zunaj telesa, potem se življenje telesa nujno ne prične z rojstvom in ne konča s smrtjo. Glede na to, da imamo možnost nadomestitve okvarjenih delov telesa. Rojstvo in smrt, evolucijski sredstvi za mešanje genskega materiala, s katerim se ustvarja raznolikost naše vrste ter izvaja nadzor nad populacijo, ne bosta več predstavljala mejnikov našega obstoja. S telesnimi deli, ki jih umetno podvajamo in eksponentno množimo, vstopamo v dobo preobilja. Namesto organov klinično mrtvih, ki jim bije srce, ali revežev, ki prodajajo svoje organe, so sedaj na voljo neverjetne alternative. Tiskanje organov je hibrid med tehnikami hitrih prototipov in tkivnim inženiringom. Predstavljajte si tiskanje, ki namesto kartuš z barvnim črnilom uporablja nastavke, ki nanašajo žive celice, plast za plastjo na biološko razgradljiv papir. Takšne globule živih celic bi se nato povezale v kos vene, arterije ali drugega dela telesa, ki bi ga lahko presadili in se izognili resnim težavam zaradi imunološke zavrnitve. Če bomo znali računalnik oskrbeti z informacijami o strukturni kompleksnosti organov, kot je srce, in mu razložiti vse tipe celic in tkiv, potem nam Hewlett-Packard obljublja, da bo razvil 3D Tiskalnik Organov. Toda natisniti srce bi predstavljalo samo del celotnega problema. Zdaj bi ga morali oživeti. Organ bi bilo treba potopiti v hranljivo

STELARC Protetična glava 2003. Izvirna programska oprema

STELARC Prosthetic Head 2003. Original software

Originalna programska oprema: Karen Marcelo, Sam Trychin, Barrett Fox. Nova verzija: Martin Luerssen, Trent Lewis skupaj s profesorjem Davidom Powersom, Flinders University. From Talking Heads to Thinking Heads: (ARC/NH&MRC Thisnking Systems). Vodja: profesor Denis Burnham, MARCS Labs, University of Western Sydney.

Credits: Original software: Karen Marcelo, Sam Trychin, Barrett Fox. New version: Martin Luerssen, Trent Lewis with Associate Professor David Powers, Flinders University. From Talking Heads to Thinking Heads: (ARC/NH&MRC Thinking Systems). Leader: Prof. Denis Burnham, MARCS Labs, University of Western Sydney.

snov, segreto na 37 stopinj Celzija, mu zagotoviti dotok krvi in potem v presledkih stresati z elektrošoki, zaradi česar bi, upajmo, pričelo utripati. Inženiring organov s pomočjo matičnih celic ali TISKANJE ORGANOV bi povzročilo njihovo preobilico. To ne bi bila več doba Telesa brez Organov, ampak doba organov, ki čakajo na telesa. Doba ORGANOV BREZ TELESA. Organov brez telesa. V takšni dobi izobilja bi bili izbrisani vsi etični pomisleki glede pridobivanja matičnih celic iz tkiv zarodkov in pridobivanja organov od ljudi v državah tretjega sveta.

pogledi prispevajo k osebnosti konverzacijskega agenta in mu omogočajo tudi neverbalno komunikacijo. Pri utelešenih konverzacijskih agentih (UKA) gre za komunikativno vedenje. Ideje inteligence, zavesti, identitete, aktivnosti in utelešenja postanejo problematične. Fizično telo je izpostavljeno kot neprimerno, prazno in neprostovoljno, obenem pa UKA postaja privlačen s svojo izjemno sposobnostjo simulacije prepoznavanja in odzivnosti v realnem času. V začetku sem moral izbrati ustrezno podatkovno bazo ter se odločiti, ali bo glava patološka, filozofska ali spogledljiva. S povečevanjem podatkovne baze postaja Protetična glava vse bolj informirana in samostojna v svojih odgovorih. Zato čez čas ne bom mogel več prevzeti polne odgovornosti za to, kar bo povedala.

UTELEŠENI KONVERZACIJSKI AGENTI Ustvariti smo želeli avtomatizirano, animirano, informirano, logično inteligentno umetno glavo, ki se pogovarja z izpraševalcem. Projekt PROTETIČNA GLAVA je tridimenzionalna avatarska glava s sinhronizacijo premikanja ustnic v realnem času, sintezo govora in obraznimi izrazi. Kimanje, nagibanje in obračanje glave ter spremenljivi

DRUGO ŽIVLJENJE / DRUGA KOŽA Poleg razvijanja interaktivnih performativnih možnosti v virtualnih prostorih z razširjenim spektrom gibov in


animacij novejši performansi eksperimentirajo z vmesnikom Kinect, ki aktivira in animira mojega avatarja z gestami rok in premiki telesa. Za občinstvo so performansi bolj privlačni s kontrastno prisotnostjo fizičnega telesa z njegovim virtualnim dvojnikom. Vse bolj se od nas pričakuje, da znamo nastopati oziroma delovati v polju Mešanih Resničnosti, včasih kot biološka telesa, pogosto mehansko pospešena in okrepljena z instrumenti, razen tega pa moramo obdelovati tokove podatkov v virtualnih sistemih. Telo postane neke vrste himera iz mesa, kovin in programskih kod. Ti projekti in performansi raziskujejo vprašanja odsotnosti, prisotnosti, identitete, svobodnega delovanja in vmesnikov.

be fertilized by sperm that was once frozen. Limbs that are amputated from a dead body can be reattached and reanimated on a living body. Faces can be exchanged. A face from a cadaver stitched to the skull of the recipient becomes a THIRD FACE, no longer resembling the face of the donor. A more robust and reliable turbine designed heart circulates the blood continuously, without pulsing. In the near future, you might place your head against your loved one’s chest. He may be warm to the touch, he may be breathing, he is certainly alive – but THERE WILL NOT BE A HEARTBEAT. No Heartbeat. We will no longer die biological deaths. We will die when our life-support systems are switched off.

ŽIVOST: AVATARJI NIMAJO ORGANOV

THE CADAVER, THE COMATOSE & THE CHIMERA

Šele ko bomo znali z inženiringom, z bio-tiskom ali iz matičnih celic ustvariti teratomi podobno tkivno gmoto – s sluzasto kožo, trzajočimi mišicami in odprtinami, iz katerih bodo prihajali zvoki – katere se bomo lahko dotaknili in jo natančno preiskali, bomo soočeni z mogočnim umetniškim delom, ki bo naslavljalo vprašanja, kot sta: “kaj pomeni biti živ” in “kaj pomeni biti človek”. Raziskati je potrebno, kaj je tisto, kar tvori živost. Danes obstaja množica liminalnih prostorov, v katerih so telesa zabrisana. Če želijo bioumetnost, robotika ali virtualna bitja prikazovati živost, morajo biti utelešena in interaktivna (odzivna in izrazna). Z INŽENIRINGOM USTVARITI ANATOMSKE ARHITEKTURE IN DEJANJA. Konec koncev v dobi Krožečega Mesa, Fraktalnega in Fantomskega mesa ni več jasno, kaj telo je, kako deluje in kaj tvori njegovo živost. Genske modifikacije in mehanske razširitve bodo proizvedle pošastno. Nekoč liminalno telo, danes pošast, je nekaj čisto običajnega, kar proizvajamo in množimo. Današnji svet je naseljen s telesi KIBORGOV in ZOMBIJEV, ki postajajo vedno bolj avtomatizirana in neprostovoljna. Kiborg je hibridni sistem človeka-stroja, Zombi nima svoje pameti in deluje neprostovoljno. Bojimo se neprostovoljnega in čutimo tesnobo, ko pomislimo, da bomo postali avtomatizirani. Toda bojimo se tega, kar smo zmeraj bili in kar smo že postali. Kiborgi in Zombiji. Kaj z etičnimi vprašanji o korporacijah kot izvajalcih evolucije, ki morda ne bodo samo gensko spreminjale ljudi, temveč bodo patentirale z inženiringom ustvarjena telesa? Nikakršne Singularnosti ne bo, samo množica RAZLIČIC PRIHODNOSTI, ki jih bomo lahko raziskovali in ocenjevali, morda prilagajali ali tudi opustili. Že zdaj se bujno širijo konkurenčni Kiborg konstrukti. Mange in telesa vojaških Kiborgov, na veliko opremljena z zunaj-skeletnimi napravami, so samo ena izmed možnosti. Čeprav bo morda v prihodnosti vsa tehnologija nevidna, ker bo skrita v notranjosti telesa – in bo telo gostitelj nanotehnološke re-kolonizacije svoje notranjosti. Umetno inteligenco je potrebno utelesiti. Potrebujemo več nadzora, toda ne na javnih mestih. Uveljaviti se mora notranji medicinski nadzor telesa in začeti moramo uporabljati nanosenzorje in nanobote. Morda pa doba post-človeškega ne leži v svetu teles in strojev, temveč v svetu virusnih entitet, ki jih vzdržujejo elektronski mediji in svetovni splet. Te interaktivne in operacijske entitete se lahko utelesijo v obliki podob. Telesa in stroji so okorni. Njihovo delovanje je omejeno s težnostjo, s težo in trenjem. Podobe delujejo s svetlobno hitrostjo. Njihovo izvajanje je gladko in brezšivno. Telesa so minljiva, podobe so nesmrtne. AVATARJI NIMAJO ORGANOV. Avatarji nimajo organov. Vprašanja identitete in drugačnih, intimnih in neprostovoljnih izkušenj telesa, kot tudi telematično razvrščanje izkušenj, postajajo vse pomembnejša. Tehnologija je vstavljena in vsebovana. V telo smo vdrli, ga nadgradili in razširili. Virtualno-aktivni vmesniki omogočajo telesu delovanje v elektronskih prostorih. Pri tem ni več pomembna samo identiteta telesa, temveč njegova zmožnost povezovanja – ne njegova mobilnost ali lokacija, ampak telo kot vmesnik.

We can preserve a cadaver indefinitely with plastination whilst we can simultaneously sustain a comatose body on life-support systems. Dead bodies need not decompose, and near dead bodies need not die. The brain-dead have beating hearts. THE BRAIN DEAD HAVE BEATING HEARTS. The right to die becomes as important as the right to live. To live is often the result of being connected to instruments and machines. Death now for many means that which happens when the body is disconnected from its technological life-support systems. The dead, the near-dead, the not yet born and the partially living exist simultaneously. And cryogenically preserved bodies await reanimation at some imagined future. We engineer CHIMERAS in the lab, transgenic entities of human, animal and plant genes. Stem cells replicated in-vitro are reinjected and repair tissue in-vivo. Stem cells can become skin and muscle cells. A skin cell from an impotent male can be re-engineered into a sperm cell. More interestingly a skin cell from a female can be transformed into a sperm cell! Wombs from a deceased donor that would last the full term of a pregnancy will soon be able to be implanted into a patient. And further, if a foetus can be sustained in an artificial and external womb, then a body’s life would not begin with birth- nor necessarily end in death. Given the replacement of the malfunctioning parts of the body. Birth and death, the evolutionary means for shuffling genetic material to create diversity in our species and for population control, will no longer be the bounding of our existence. As parts of bodies are replicated artificially and proliferate exponentially, we enter an age of excess. Instead of harvesting organs from the brain-dead with beating hearts, or the poor selling their organs there are now surprising alternatives. Organ printing is a hybridization of rapid prototyping techniques with tissue engineering. Imagine printing not with cartridges of coloured ink but rather with nozzles depositing living cells, layer by layer on biodegradable paper. These globules of living cells would then fuse into a section of a vein or artery or other body parts that could be implanted, without the serious problem of immunological rejection. And if we can provide a computer with the information of the structural complexity of an organ such as the heart and indicate all its cell and tissue types, then Hewlett-Packard promises us to develop, a 3D Organ Printer. Having printed a heart though, would only be a part of the problem. We would now have to animate it. We would have to immerse the organ into a vat of nutrients, heated to 37 degrees centigrade, provide a blood supply and then intermittently electrically shock it, which would hopefully start it beating. Engineering organs by stem-cell growing them or ORGAN PRINTING them, would result in an abundance of organs. No longer an age of a Body without Organs, but rather of organs awaiting bodies. Of ORGANS WITHOUT BODIES. Of organs without bodies. This age of excess would erase ethical issues of harvesting stem-cells from foetal tissue and harvesting organs from people in third world countries.

ENG

CIRCULATING FLESH In this age of the Transgenic, the Trans-Species, the PostHuman and of Artificial Life, the body is exposed. In this age of gene mapping, body hacking, gender reassignment, neural implants and prosthetic augmentation, what a body is and how a body operates has become problematic. MEAT, METAL & CODE mesh into unexpected hybrid systems. The monstrous is no longer the alien other. We live in an age of circulating flesh. Body fluids and body parts have been preserved and are commodified. The blood flowing through my body today may be flowing in your body tomorrow. (If you are O+). Organs are extracted from one body and are implanted into another body. Ova that have been harvested can

EMBODIED CONVERSATIONAL AGENTS The aim was to construct an automated, animated and reasonably informed if not intelligent artificial head that speaks to the person who interrogates it. The PROSTHETIC HEAD project is a 3D avatar head that has real-time lip synching, speech synthesis and facial expressions. Head nods, head tilts and head turns as well as changing eye gaze contribute to the personality of the agent and the non-verbal cues it can provide. The Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA’s) are about communicative behavior. Notions of intelligence, awareness, identity, agency and embodiment become problematic. Just as a physical body has been exposed as inadequate, empty and involuntary, so simultaneously the ECA becomes seductive with its uncanny simulation of real-time recognition and response. Initially I had to make decisions about its data-

base and whether it would be a pathological, philosophical or flirting head. As the Prosthetic head increases its data-base, becoming more informed and autonomous in its responses. I would then no longer be able to take full responsibility for what my head says. SECOND LIFE / SECOND SKIN As well as developing interactive performance possibilities in virtual spaces with extended movement and animation possibilities, the recent performances experiment with a Kinect interface to actuate and animate my avatar with arm gestures and body movements, making the performances for a real life audience more compelling counterpointing the presence of the physical body and its virtual doppelganger(s). We are increasingly expected to perform with Mixed Realities, sometimes as biological bodies, often accelerated by our machines and extended by our instruments and also having to manage data streams in virtual systems. The body becomes a kind of chimera of meat, metal and code. These projects and performances explore issues of absence, presence, identity, free agency and interface. ALIVENESS: AVATARS HAVE NO ORGANS Until we can engineer, stem-cell grow or bio-print a terratoma-like lump of living tissue whose skin is slimy, whose muscles are twitching, whose orifices are sighing– and we can caress and probe it, if we can do that we will have a more potent artwork that interrogates what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. What constitutes aliveness needs to be interrogated. There is now a proliferating of liminal spaces where bodies are blurring. For bio-art, robotics or virtual entities to display aliveness, they need to be embodied and interactive (responsive and expressive). TO ENGINEER ANATOMICAL ARCHITECTURES AND ACTIONS. In conclusion, in this age of Circulating Flesh, Fractal and Phantom flesh, what a body is and how a body operates and what constitutes its aliveness, is no longer clear. Genetic modification and machine augmentation will produce the monstrous. Once a liminal body, the monster is now common-place, being manufactured and multiplied. We are now populated by CYBORG and ZOMBIE bodies, becoming increasingly automated and involuntary. A Cyborg is a hybrid human-machine system; a Zombie has no mind of its own and performs involuntarily. We fear the involuntary and are anxious about becoming automated. But we fear what we have always been and what we have already become. Cyborgs and Zombies. What of the ethical issues of outsourcing evolution to corporations that might not only genetically modify people but would patent the engineered bodies? There will be no Singularity, only a multiplicity of CONTESTABLE FUTURES that can be examined and evaluated, possibly appropriated or probably discarded. There are already a proliferation of competing Cyborg constructs. Manga and military Cyborg bodies massively extended by exoskeleton machinery are only one possibility. All technology in the future might, on the other hand, will be invisible because it is inside the body – the body as a host for nano-recolonization of its interior. Artificial intelligence needs to be embodied. More surveillance is needed, but not of public spaces. Internal medical surveillance of the body needs to be implemented and nano-sensors and nano-bots need to be deployed. But perhaps the age of the post-human may not be in the realm of bodies and machines but rather in the realm of viral entities sustained in electronic media and the World Wide Web. These interactive and operational entities may be embodied as images. Bodies and machines are ponderous. They have to operate in gravity, with weight and friction. Images operate at the speed of light. They perform smoothly and seamlessly. Bodies are ephemeral, images are immortal. AVATARS HAVE NO ORGANS. Avatars have no organs. Issues of identity and alternate, intimate and involuntary experiences of the body, as well as the telematic scaling of experience, become more important. Technology is inserted and contained. The body is invaded, augmented and extended. Virtual-Actual interfaces enable the body to perform in electronic spaces. What becomes important is not merely the body’s identity, but its connectivity – not its mobility or location, but its interface.

STELARC. SC 2012. Portret / Portrait by Damjan Švarc


folio / volume 4 (2012) / / 60

Louis-Philippe Demers Gre za zaznavanje It's all just about the perception

Louis-Philippe Demers, SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

V času svoje umetniške kariere sem ustvaril veliko performansov, ki vključujejo stroje: gre za obsežnejše instalacije z do petdesetimi roboti, ki na skorajda obsesiven način nastopajo pred ljudmi. Nekateri so takšne nastope doživeli kot agresivne, čeprav gre v bistvu zgolj za primer “obrnjenega gledališča” – občinstvo je tisto, ki ga opazujejo roboti in nekateri obožujejo to novo vrsto tehnološke cerkve. Tako se od nastopov, kjer objekti nastopajo pred nami, premikamo k tipu performansa, kjer ljudje pravzaprav nastopajo skupaj z roboti, pri tem spremembe v zaznavanju doživljajo tudi njihova telesa (na primer način, kako ljudje dojemajo vertikalno pozicijo “normalnega” plesa). Pri delu Devolution (Devolucija, 2006) nastopa skupaj trideset robotov in deset plesalcev. Zvok v predstavi spominja na techno; “petje” robotov je glasen, post-industrijski zvok. Pomemben del te predstave je bilo sodelovanje s koreografom. Skupen navdih sva črpala iz knjige z naslovom Parasite Rex avtorja Carla Zimmerja, ki govori o zajedavstvu, simbiozi ter podobnih pojavih v družbi in znotraj ekoloških sistemov, opisuje pa raznolikost odnosov med njihovimi posameznimi elementi. Podoben primer je delo po navdihu gledališča Bauhaus in Lászlá Moholy-Nagyja, ki so ga zanimali performansi izključno s stroji. Želel je “začarati” občinstvo, posebej v kontekstu ne-antropocentrične situacije – to pa ni enostavno, saj se morajo ljudje pri tem vživeti v zgodbe, ki nimajo opraviti s človeško vrsto, pač pa s stroji ali nečim povsem abstraktnim. Gledališče kot takšno pa je seveda, tako kot performans, v tradicionalnem smislu nekaj, kar pripada izključno ljudem. Tudi sam sem vsakič, ko delam s performerji in koreografi, soočen z dejstvom, da resnično nočejo opustiti ideje o performansu, ki temelji na človeku kot izvajalcu. Ne strinjajo se z idejo, da ima lahko vsak stroj sam po sebi neke vrste performativne ali interpretativne lastnosti. Prav zato se ukvarjam s projekti, kot je Tiller Girls (Tillerjeva dekleta). Pri premikajočih objektih vedno znova naletimo na določen zanimiv pojav: ljudje bodo v psihološkem smislu na vsak način skušali dognati, kaj se dogaja na vseh ravneh odnosa. Na primer, kako je možen transfer določenega vedenja od enega telesa/morfologije/objekta k drugemu, denimo – helikopterji in čebele lahko letijo, mi pa ne. The walking table (miza, ki hodi) je bila ustvarjena za glasbeni performans (komedijo) in ljudje so se poistovetili z načinom hoje tega objekta: miza v tehničnem smislu dejansko hodi, je pa počasna, nerodna itd. Pri tem se torej pojavi nek nenavaden mehanizem empatije; četudi ni vam lasten, poznate idejo oz. koncept hoje, koncept nog in podobno.

Pri robotiki ne gre vedno za ustvarjanje kopij nas samih; vse skupaj je bolj študija morfologije, gre za vprašanje kakšne vrste vedenja bodo določene vrste oblik lahko ustvarile v danem okolju. Zgodnejša različica Tillerjevih deklet so bili robotki z imenom Stumpies, ustvarjeni v laboratoriju umetne inteligence kot predmet študije gibanja in premikanja. Z laboratorijem sem takrat sodeloval pri nekem drugem projektu, nato pa sem opazil njihove robotke. Najprej

sem pomislil, da bi že sama številčnost teh robotkov popolnoma spremenila način, kako jih zaznavamo, kasneje pa sem idejo eksperimentiranja z gibi in premikanjem, vprašanja bistva, hitrosti gibov, stabilnosti želel prenesti v odrsko situacijo, kjer gibanje postane ples. Zato temu pravim performans in sem jih poimenoval Tillerjeva dekleta.

Še pomembneje se mi zdi, da so Tillerjeva dekleta del procesa, ki se je zgodil kot umetna inteligenca z dna navzgor, to je morfološkega računalništva. Roboti nimajo inteligence. Njihovo premikanje je posledica načina konstrukcije. Vedno bolj me pri tem zanima – predvsem, ker s tem prihranim veliko časa na račun programiranja – izdelovanje objektov, ki se na določen način obnašajo zaradi svoje oblike, tj. morfologije, ne pa zato, ker jim tako naročim v smislu programiranja. Zakaj? – Predvsem zato, ker je s takšnimi in drugačnimi “perfektnimi” programi za nadzor nad roboti vse skupaj videti kot sinhrono plavanje, mene pa zanima nepredvidljiva plat dela. Naj na tem mestu omenim čudovito, pomembno misel Rodneya A. Brooksa na temo umetne inteligence z dna navzgor: “Najboljši model sveta je svet sam.” Gre za popolnoma nasprotno idejo od tiste z začetkov obdobja umetne inteligence, ko so na vsak način poskušali poiskati modele za vse. Danes se razvoj umetne inteligence tej ideji umika, saj razumejo, da je to nemogoče, namesto tega ustvarjajo inteligentne materiale in se z njimi poigravajo. Za Tillerjeva dekleta sem najprej naredil odlitek. Naj omenim, da sem s plesalci sodeloval deset, petnajst let kot odrski oblikovalec. Z ozirom na sodobni ples sem pri tem želel doseči predvsem učinek ironije. Mnenje teoretikov performansa je, da so to samo stroji, ki plešejo, jaz pa sem želel obrniti to situacijo. Ime Tillerjeva dekleta sem pravzaprav dobil veliko kasneje, po mojim začetnem navdušenju nad roboti. Teoretiki bodo torej trdili, da ima robot performativne veščine, ker se lahko premika, vendar nobenega smisla za interpretacijo. Sam pa mislim, da roboti, ustvarjeni s pomočjo morfološkega računalništva, premorejo tudi interpretativne sposobnosti, saj so njihovi gibi nepredvidljivi in odvisni od cele vrste dejavnikov oziroma situacij. V Tillerjevih dekletih tako lahko opazujete način gibanja, ki spominja na obrnjeno nihalo. Povezavo z njimi kot objekti lahko vzpostavimo zaradi svoje lastne, človeške linije pasu in ramen. Veliko je nenavadnih gibov, zaradi katerih se nam še vedno zdijo “čudni” – recimo, ko vibrirajo, drsijo ali se premikajo naprej in nazaj – saj gre za zelo hitre gibe; so pa tudi drugi načini njihovega premikanja, recimo nekakšno poskakovanje, ki znotraj naše zaznave ustvarijo podobnost s telesom. Lahko jih nekoliko nadziram, ampak ne gre za pravo krmiljenje. Če bi želel, bi lahko dosegel tudi to, a trajalo bi celo večnost, preden bi prišli od točke A do točke B, zato bi postal performans preveč dolgočasen. Seveda se poigravam s konfiguracijo postavitve, ampak osebno je moj najljubši del čisti kaos, ki se zgodi na koncu. Če pozorno spremljate, boste opazili, da se lahko v bistvu osredotočite samo na nekaj vzorcev gibanja, vseh skupaj je daleč preveč. S Tillerjevemi dekleti sem se torej pomaknil z ve-

likih odrov na manjše, skoraj miniaturne postavitve, ki se mi zdijo preprosto srčkana – kar je zame dokaj nenavadno, narediti namreč srčkanega robota. Ljudi pa v splošnem ne zanima najbolj ta skrivnostni del celotne zadeve, bolj se navdušujejo nad izkušnjo, ki jo lahko doživijo v smislu samih objektov. Ob ogledu predstave so bili nekateri recimo videti precej prestrašeni, odzivajo se na podoben način, kot bi se običajno v takšni groteskni situaciji. Eno od zadnjih del se imenuje Blind Robot (Slepi robot) in je prav tako povezano s fenomenologijo, idejo telesa itd. Nanaša se na Merleau-Pontyjevo idejo slepega moža: vstopite v sobo, v kateri se nahaja robot, ki se vas dotika in tako skuša ustvariti nekakšen miselni zemljevid tega, kar čuti. Neverjetno presenetljivo pa se mi zdi, da večina ljudi na to sploh ne reagira kot na nekaj skrivnostnega ali nerazložljivega, celo grozljivega, pač pa vsi hočejo sodelovati pri tej izkušnji; zelo jih zanima, kaj je to “slepi robot”. Ampak, ali ni nenavadno, da se te dotika nekaj, kar ni ravno palica za slepe, pač pa nekaj “skrivnostno živega”? Zares se dogaja nekaj čudnega. S posnetkov otvoritve sem ugotovil, da je k robotu pristopilo več kot tri četrtine žensk, medtem ko so se ga moški nekoliko bali. Na splošno pa so bili vsi navdušeni nad robotom, zelo so si želeli verjeti v ta objekt, ki je tam in se jih dotika. V ozadju se seveda skriva zelo inteligenten računalnik z nevralno mrežo. Predstavljajte si, znati mora locirati položaj telesa, ramen, obraza itd. – kar je pravzaprav zelo kompleksen problem. Slepi robot je moderna verzija robota-šahista The Turk, z osebo v ozadju, ki upravlja celoto in včasih se pošalim, naj še za to naredi robota. Gre preprosto za to, da ko imate nek objekt in ga pre-objektificirate, nato pa postavite v določeno situacijo, se bo s tem spremenilo vse: industrijskemu robotu verjetno ne bi dovolili, da se vas dotika, tukaj pa imamo očitno situacijo, ko se ljudje z veseljem prepustijo rokam slepega robota – in prav to želim povedati: ne gre za nikakršno inteligenco, gre samo za zaznavanje. ENG

As an artist, I have been doing a lot of performances with machines: big scale installations with around 50 robots obsessively shining among the people which some people may find aggressive – but basically, it’s a situation where you reverse the theater – the audience is being observed by the robots, and you have people adoring this new kind of technological church. So, going from performances where you have objects performing in front of you, to having people performing with the robots; their own body changing, we can alter their sense of defining what the vertical position of “normal” dancing is. A piece called Devolution (2006) includes 30 robots and 10 dancers. The sound is noisy, with techno-ish beats; a post-industrial sound (the robots are “singing”). One of the important parts of this work was working with the choreographer. Together we were inspired by a book called Parasite Rex – it’s about parasites, mutualism, etc. in the society and the ecological systems, and the variety of different relations between elements of them. Another example is a piece inspired by the Bauhaus theater and László Moholy-Nagy, who was interested in creating performances based solely on machines. The challenge was to try and captivate the audience, especially in a non-anthropocentric situation – which is quite difficult, because you are telling them stories that are not about humans, but about machines or something rather abstract. The theater as such and the performances are traditionally something that belongs entirely to humans.


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And every time I have to deal with performers, choreographers, and so on, they really, really do not want to give up the idea that the performances are based on humans as the performers. They will not agree that any machine can have some sort of performative or interpretative quality on its own. This is why I am dealing with projects like the Tiller girls. There is a certain phenomenon that occurs when you have objects moving around – the people, psychologically, will try to establish what is happening with all kinds of correspondence. How can we transfer behaviors from one body/morphology/object to another, like for example flying: helicopters fly, bees fly, but we don’t. The walking table was created for a musical performance (a comedy), and people can in fact relate to the kind of walking that this object is performing. It’s not walking defectively, it’s slow, it’s clumsy, etc. There is some strange mechanism of empathy that occurs, even though it may not be specific to yourself, but you know about the idea or concept of walking, you know about legs, etc.

Robotics is not necessarily about making copies of ourselves, it’s more like a study of morphology – what kind of behaviors these morphologies can create in a given environment. The early version of the robots you have seen in the performance (the Tiller girls) are called Stumpies, they’re from an AI lab and they were made to study locomotion. I have been collaborating with the AI lab on another project, when I saw these robots in their lab. At first I thought, ok, I’ll just make a lot of robots like these, because it’s going to change the whole perception. Later I wanted to take this idea of an experiment with locomotion and gaits (looking at the substance, the speed of movements, the stability, etc.) and transfer it to a stage situation, where locomotion becomes dance – maybe just because of the fact that I call this a performance, and especially because I called it The Tiller Girls.

What is even more important is that they are part of a thing that happened in a more bottom-up AI, which is called morphological computing.

The robot has no intelligence. It moves the way it does because of the way it’s constructed. I am becoming more and more interested – especially to save my time in programming – in making objects that behave in a certain way just because of their morphologies, not because of what I tell them to do in terms of programming. Why? Usually, when I have a “perfect” program to control the robots, it all looks like synchronized swimming, whereas this kind of work (like the Tiller girls) has a lot of unpredictable elements. There is a great and important quote by Rodney A. Brooks, on the topic of bottom-up AI: “The world is its own best model”. This is totally opposite from the time when AI started, when they tried to model everything. Today, the AI is giving up on the idea of modelling everything, they realize we cannot, they are making intelligent materials, and playing with them. For The Tiller Girls I first made the cast. I should mention that I have worked with dancers for 10 to 15 years, as a stage designer, etc. I wanted to achieve irony with respect to modern dance. In performance theory, they will say that they are just machines dancing, and I reversed that situation. The idea for the name really came much, much later, after my initial interest in robots. Performance theorists will say that a robot has performative skills, it’s able to move, but it has no sense of interpretation. But I think when you have robots that use morphological computing, they start having a sense of interpretation, because their movements are unpredictable and depend on a number of situations or factors. What you see in the Tiller Girls is an inverted pendulumtype of movement. We can relate to them as objects because of our own waste line and shoulders. There are some movements that still seem strange to us and are a little harder to relate to, for example when they vibrate, or glide, or move back and forth – because it’s very fast; but then there’s others, like a sort of hopping around, that create a kind of body resemblance inside our perception. I can control them a little, but I can’t really steer them. I could if I wanted to, but it would just take forever for them to move from point A to point B on the stage, and the whole performance would be too boring. I do, of course, play with the configuration of the line-ups, but the most interesting part for me is when it’s just pure, deconstructed chaos – which happens at the end. If you

watch closely, there are only a few patterns of movements that you can concentrate on, there are too many altogether. With the Tiller girls, I went from big stages to these miniature settings – they are just cute, and it’s really strange for me to do a cute robot. The people are not so much interested in the uncanny aspect of it, they are much more interested in the experience they can have with the objects. For example, many were afraid – they relate to the situation in a similar way they would usually do in this kind of a grotesque situation. One of my more recent works is called The Blind Robot – of course, most of my work is about phenomenology, bodies, etc. It’s a take on the blind man from Merleau-Ponty: you go into a room, there is a robot there and it touches you, it creates a sort of a mental map of what he feels. What is incredibly surprising is that most people will not have an uncanny reaction to this, they are really willing to engage in the experience, they are all interested in what this blind robot is. But it is strange to be “poked” by something that doesn’t really feel like a stick, but is kind of “strangely alive”. There’s a strange kind of agency. From the footage that I made at the opening night I saw that more than 75% of the people that engaged in it were women, while the men were a little afraid. Anyway, generally all people are really willing to engage with the robot, they really want to believe in the object that is there touching them. Of course, in the background there is a very intelligent computer, there is a neural network (imagine, it has to know where the body is, where the shoulders are, where the face is etc. – and it is in fact a very complicated problem). It is a modern version of the Turk chess player robot – there is somebody in the back that operates the whole thing, and I sometimes joke that he should build a robot to do his work as well. The whole idea is when you have an object, and if you pre-objectify this object, then you put it in a certain situation, it will totally change everything: if you put an industrial robot out there to touch you, you would say “no way”, but here, we have a situation where the people are really willing to engage – and this the point that I am trying to make: there is no intelligence needed, it’s all just about the perception.

Louis-Philippe Demers (SG). The Tiller Girls, 2010. Robotska instalacija / An autonomous AI robots installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

Tillerjeva dekleta Tiller Girls


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Joe Davis Kako narediti ogenj Making Fire 2008, video dokumentarec, 10’ 25”, US, angleščina, barva, stereo, DVD “Sem gojitelj magnetotaktičnih bakterij. Z laboratorijskimi vrstami lahko delam samo znotraj nadzorovanih okolij, zato zbiram v naravi prisotne organizme, ki jih lahko brez težav uporabim tudi v napravi zunaj laboratorija. Po naključju sem odkril, da določen sev bakterij v anaerobnih kulturah ob prisotnosti katalitičnih železovih opilkov proizvaja vodik. Takšne bakterije lahko izkoriščamo za pridobivanje goriva in elektrike. Pravzaprav ti živi organizmi vsebujejo tudi glavne komponente nihajnega električnega kroga.” ENG

2008, Video documentary film, 10’ 25”, US, in English, color, stereo, DVD “I grow magnetotactic bacteria. I can only work with laboratory strains in controlled environments, so I collect wild-type organisms that I can freely incorporate into apparatus outside the lab. By chance, I found that one wild strain produced hydrogen gas in anaerobic cultures with catalytic iron filings. These can be used to make fuel and electricity. They also happen to contain principal components of LC circuits ‘in vivo’.”

Joe Davis (US). Making Fire, 2008. Prizor iz videa / Video still. SC 2012


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Neurotica Tihi plaz Silent Barrage 2009, video dokumentarec, 5’ 39”, AU, angleščina, barva, stereo, DVD Dokumentarec prikazuje robotsko instalacijo: roboti se premikajo vzdolž navpičnih stebrov ter pri tem za seboj puščajo sledi. Te so pravzaprav prikaz digitalnega obstreljevanja z in vitro gojenimi nevroni, na tisoče kilometrov oddaljenih od same instalacije. Vzporedno s tem dogajanjem senzorji, nameščeni okrog objekta, ujamejo gibanje občinstva, ki prav tako vpliva na gibanje robotov. Kolektiv Neurotica sestavljajo umetniki Guy Ben-Ary in Philip Gamblen ter Peter Gee, dr. Steve Potter in Riley Zeller-Townson, nevroznanstveniki iz laboratorijev za nevroinženiring na inštitutu Georgia Tech v Atlanti, ZDA. ENG

2009, Video documentary film, 5’ 39”, AU, in English, colour, stereo, DVD Robots move vertically along various columns, leaving traces that are actually the representation of the firings of neurons cultivated in a glass dish located thousands of kilometers away. Parallel to this, sensors located around the installation capture the movements of the public, which stimulate back the neurons. Neurotica is made up of artists Guy Ben-Ary and Philip Gamblen and Peter Gee, as well as Dr Steve Potter and Riley Zeller-Townson, neuroscientists from the laboratory of neuro-engineering at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, United States.

Neurotica (Avstralija/US). Silent Barrage, 2011. Prizor iz videa / Video still. SC 2012


Marina Abramović, Suzanne Dikker & Matthias Oostrik, SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

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Marina Abramović Suzanne Dikker & Matthias Oostrik Skupinsko strmenje Mutual Gaze S. Dikker: Z Matthiasom se ukvarjava z interaktivnimi nevroznanstvenimi instalacijami. Gre za interaktivno, nevroznanstveno in umetniško instalacijo, pri kateri sodelujemo z Marino Abramović, pomemben pa je tudi prispevek udeležencev delavnic Art & Science: Insights into Consciousness (Umetnost in znanost: vpogledi v zavest). Instalacijo predstavljamo v spomin in poklon Danielu Sternu, ki je na žalost preminil. Stern je revolucionarno zaznamoval področje psihoanalize in prav on je bil glavni pobudnik omenjenih delavnic, ki se vsako leto odvijajo v umetniškem središču Robert Wilson Watermill Center. Na teh prireditvah se srečujejo umetniki in znanstveniki, predstavljajo in izmenjujejo svoje ideje in razmišljanja na tematiko zavesti. V letu 2010 je bila ena ključnih sodelujočih tudi Marina Abramović – to je bil čas, ko je ravno zaključila svoj trajajoči performans The Artist is Present (Umetnik je prisoten) v newyorškem muzeju MoMA. Tudi v sklopu delavnic je brez prekinitve sedela v posebno dovzetnem, meditativnem stanju kar 75 dni. Nasproti nje se je zvrstilo preko 1500 ljudi iz občinstva, ki so lahko poljubno dolgo strmeli vanjo, nekateri so to počeli le dve minuti, drugi tudi do osem ur. Naj za ilustracijo popularnosti nastopa omenim, da je nekdo iz občinstva celo razvil video igrico, v kateri igralci čakajo v vrsti, da bi se udeležili eksperimenta z Marino. Za udeležence delavnice so bili najbolj osupljivi močni čustveni odzivi, ki jih je izkušnja vzbudila pri občinstvu, pa tudi pri Abramovićevi osebno. Pričeli smo razmišljati ali nemara obstaja nekakšna fizična, nevralgična korelacija teh močnih občutkov povezanosti ali intersubjektivnosti – zato smo se odločili, da projekt poimenujemo Nevroznanstveni eksperiment št. 1 (želimo jih namreč izvesti več). Merjenje magičnosti skupinskega strmenja torej nastane kot ponovitev performansa Umetnik je prisoten; v obeh ljudje iz občinstva

postanejo nastopajoči oziroma performerji, le da smo dodali še en dejavnik – postanejo namreč udeleženci in subjekti nevroznanstvenega eksperimenta. Udeleženci 30 minut neprekinjeno strmijo drug v drugega, pri tem so opremljeni s prenosnimi EEG napravami, kasneje pa izpolnijo tudi vprašalnik o svoji izkušnji oziroma doživetju. Z Matthiasom sva razvila posebno opremo, s pomočjo katere v realnem času snemava, analizirava in vizualizirava možgansko aktivnost, ki ju dvoje možganov proizvaja. Vizualizacija prikazuje dve glavni značilnosti: (1) notranje duševno stanje udeležencev – pri tem se poslužujeva grobe, morda ne najnatančnejše klasifikacije, ki sva jo ustvarila glede na duševna stanja, ki jih povezujemo s tipičnimi nihanji nevronske aktivnosti ob različnih frekvencah. Dva vrtljiva, tridimenzionalna modela možganov utripata na frekvenci, ki v določenem trenutku v možganih udeleženca najbolj izstopa. Pri tem počasno utripanje zaznamuje bolj sproščena in meditativna miselna stanja, hitrejše utripanje pa vznemirjenost, razburjenje ali koncentracijo. S tem omogočimo občinstvu nekakšen intuitiven vpogled v duševna stanja udeležencev eksperimenta, medtem ko se njihova telesa ne premikajo. (2) razen EEG signalov, ki jih proizvajajo posamezni možgani, oprema beleži tudi primerjavo EEG aktivnosti med možgani obeh udeležencev. Vizualizacija prikazuje trenutke, v katerih so podobnosti med možganskim valovanjem najočitnejše ali drugače: prikazuje trenutke, v katerih so možgani na isti valovni dolžini. Instalacijo smo premierno predstavili lani v središču za sodobno kulturo (Garage Center of Contemporary Culture) v Moskvi. Posamezno možgansko aktivnost torej vizualno spremljamo kot utripanje, trenutke sinhronosti pa vidimo kot valovanje, ki povezuje dvoje možganov. Po

koncu vsake razstave sledi obdelava podatkov, s katero želimo natančneje opredeliti te trenutke sinhronosti oz. povezanosti. Ali bo močnejša pri ljudeh, ki imajo globlji občutek medsebojne povezanosti drug z drugim? Kakšna bo primerjava med popolnimi tujci in dolgoletnimi prijatelji? Tudi moje področje je sicer kognitivna nevroznanost, zato se mi zdi ena najbolj edinstvenih in vznemirljivih stvari pri tem eksperimentu, da znanost nima odgovorov na ta vprašanja. Pravzaprav je kognitivna nevroznanost popolnoma novo področje, zaradi česar je delo Merjenje magičnosti skupinskega strmenja v pravem pomenu besede interdisciplinaren, “crowd-sourcing” eksperiment, ne pa parada dobro znanih in potrjenih znanstvenih dejstev. M. Abramović: Oglašam se iz Moskve, kjer se zaključuje simpozij v muzeju znanosti in tehnologije, nahajam se torej v vzporedni resničnosti; žal pa še nimam klona in biti na dveh mestih hkrati. Tukaj poteka obsežen simpozij na temo robotike, kjer smo si med drugim lahko ogledali japonske znanstvenike in njihove humanoide. To so pravi človeški dvojniki, ki imajo enak glas, kožo in lase kot izvirniki – torej osebe, po katerih so jih zasnovali. Kar hočem povedati je, da že imamo tehnologijo, s katero bi lahko bili na več mestih v enem trenutku. Dvodnevni nevroznanstveni simpozij, z znanstveniki in umetniki, se ukvarja z vprašanji: kaj sploh so možgani; kaj je zavest in kaj um? Nobenih dokončnih odgovorov nimamo, nobenega dokaza za to, kar naj bi zavest bila; še vedno pa tudi nimamo jasnih odgovorov na vprašanja, kaj je celotna funkcija možganov. Ne vemo niti, kaj je pravzaprav izvor življenja ali kako obstajamo na tem planetu. To so torej odprta vprašanja. Bistvenega pomena pri tem se mi zdi, da danes spremljamo željo po sodelovanju znanstvenikov in umetnikov po vsem svetu. Prav


Marina Abramović (RS/US), Suzanne Dikker & Matthias Oostrik (NL). Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze, 2011. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej KristoviÄ?


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zato sem navdušena nad dejstvom, da se (vsaj) dva simpozija te vrste odvijata ob istem času na dveh različnih krajih na svetu. Prihodnost je usmerjena v raziskovanje, iskanje, pridobivanje vpogledov na to temo in kot veste, umetniki delujejo z intuicijo, znanstveniki pa z dejstvi. Znanstveniki ne verjamejo v nič, česar ne morejo dokazati, umetniki pa verjamejo v vse; to sta dve popolnoma nasprotni stališči. Ampak prav zato je vse skupaj toliko bolj zanimivo: dva nasprotna bregova, ki delujeta skupaj in skušata ustvariti nekakšno novo resničnost. Danes smo si v Moskvi lahko ogledali tudi nadvse privlačno predstavitev robotike – robote, ki so videti kot človeška bitja, imajo kožo, lase, oči. Znanstveniki torej skušajo opredeliti videz nove generacije računalniške inteligence … to pa je po mojem mnenju v splošnem zelo nevaren koncept: pomembno je, da vedno ohranimo občutek odgovornosti, moralne vrednote v odnosu do vprašanja, kako daleč se smemo pri celotni zadevi podati – da ne bi prišlo do podobnih katastrof, kot je bila recimo atomska bomba. Resničnost namreč postaja vse bolj podobna znanstveno-fantastičnim romanom iz 1950-ih in 60-ih, današnja znanstvena fantastika pa bo najbrž postala del neke druge resničnosti nekoč v prihodnosti. Gre torej za izjemno pomembne zadeve. Osebno me pri tem trenutno najbolj zanima razumevanje človeške energije in ustvarjanje določenega čustvenega konteksta.

Vizualizacija prikazuje trenutke, v katerih so podobnosti med možganskim valovanjem najočitnejše ali drugače: prikazuje trenutke, v katerih so možgani na isti valovni dolžini. Vprašanje iz občinstva: Med vašim performansom se je pred vami zvrstilo ogromno število ljudi. Mislite, da bi katerega izmed njih tudi dejansko prepoznali, recimo na ulici? Tudi sam sem namreč sodeloval pri eksperimentu in mislim, da obraza gospe, ki je sedela pred menoj, ne bom nikdar pozabil! Nikogar nisem še nikoli tako dolgo opazoval. M. Abramović: Gre za zelo svojevrstno izkušnjo. Tudi jaz sem večino časa strmela v oči popolnih neznancev, brez verbalne komunikacije. Na ta način se sproščajo izjemno intenzivna čustva, saj se običajno “skrivamo” za besedami ali med besedami. Ko nekoga prvič spoznate, se z njimi pogovarjate. Povsem drugače pa je, če se z neznano osebo podate v tako dolg kontakt samo z očmi. Pravijo, da so oči ogledalo duše – in to je res; osebo lahko spoznate po očeh, če jo le dobro pogledate, boste izvedeli več, kot lahko povedo besede, le da gre tukaj za povsem drugačen tip informacij. Skratka, pri našem performansu je šlo za izjemno močno izkušnjo – zrla sem v oči 1756 ljudi, kar je ogromno. Ne morem reči, da se spominjam vseh, a tistih, ki so z menoj sedeli najdlje in tistih najintenzivnejših (čustev) se bom zagotovo spominjala vse življenje. Lahko rečem, da smo doživljali prave drame. Na splošno sem v New Yorku videla toliko osamljenosti, nesreče in bolečine. Ljudje so popolnoma odmaknjeni od svojega telesa in duše in mislim, da se pristni človeški stiki vse bolj izgubljajo, predvsem na račun (razvoja) tehnologije: pošiljamo si sporočila, ne videvamo se več, raje se pokličemo po telefonu; ni pa več tistega brezpogojnega kontakta, oseb, ki sedita druga ob drugi in si posvečata vso pozornost … človeško vedenje se je resnično spremenilo. Vprašanje iz občinstva: Ali mislite, da boste s pomočjo tega tehnološkega vmesnika lažje razumeli dogajanja v medčloveških odnosih? M. Abramović: Na takšnih simpozijih spoznavamo, kako malo pravzaprav vemo o možganih. Uporabljamo manj kot 35 odstotkov možganov, ostalo pa je neznanka. Zato mislim, da bo karkoli, kar nam znanost lahko ponudi – kakršnokoli razumevanje – bistvenega pomena; kot luč na koncu temnega predora. Kot umetniki se zanašamo na svojo intuicijo, na nekakšen šesti čut. Neverjetno je, kako lahko ljudje intuitivno razumemo določene stvari, za katere so znanstveniki porabili tako dolgo, da jih dokažejo. Imamo torej neko intuitivno znanje, ki je neprecenljivo in hkrati zanimivo tudi za znanstvenike, saj bi predstavljalo velik uspeh dokazati to intuitivno znanje na znanstven način; tako bi šlo za neke vrste dvojen dokaz. Prav to se zdaj dogaja z našim eksperimentom: svetlobno valovanje lahko vidite, vidite lahko nezavedne povezave z drugo osebo in vizualizirate energijo prenosa. Do sedaj je veljalo, da je performativna umetnost nematerialna oblika umetnosti, energija pa je nekaj, česar ne moremo videti, pač pa jo lahko samo občutimo – v eksperimentu pa jo z današnjo tehnologijo lahko tudi vidite.

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S. Dikker: Together with Matthias Oostrik we build interactive neuro-science installations. It’s an interactive installation, a neuro-science and art installation, with Marina Abramović and in collaboration with participants of the Art & Science: Insights into Consciousness workshop. I want to present this installation in honor of Daniel Stern who sadly passed away. He revolutionized the field of psycho-analysis and he was also the main initiator behind Art & Science: Insights into Consciousness, an annual workshop series at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, bringing together artists and scientists to share their thoughts and insights around the theme of consciousness. In the 2010 meeting of the workshop, Marina Abramović was one of the key participants. She had just completed her durational performance The Artist is Present at her retrospective at the MoMA (New York). She sat in a receptive meditative state, without interruption, for a total of 75 days. Over 1500 audience members lined up to sit face to face with her, engaging in mutual gaze with her for as long as they pleased, ranging from 2 minutes to 8 hours. An index of the popularity of the performance might be that someone took the time to develop a video game where you can wait in line to sit with Marina. What was particularly striking to participants of the workshop were the heavy emotional responses that the experience stirred in the audience members, and Marina herself. This led us to wonder whether there might be a neural correlate of this sense of enhanced connectedness or intersubjectivity, hence Neuroscience experiment 1 (the idea is to have more). Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze was born as a re-performance of The Artist is Present, where the audience members (as in the previous performance) become performers, but we add an extra layer – so they also become participants, or subjects in a neuroscience experiment. They engage in mutual gaze for 30 minutes, wearing portable EEG sets, and later fill out questionnaires about their experience. Matthias and I have developed a pipeline that records, analyses and visualizes the brain activity generated from the two brains in real-time. The visualization displays two core features: (1) The internal mental state of the participants (here, we capitalize on the rough, possibly not entirely accurate classification that has been made with respect to the mental states associated with neural activity oscillating at different frequency ranges). Two rotating 3D brain models pulsate at the frequency that is most prominent at any given moment in the participant’s brain, with slowly pulsating brains reflecting more relaxed and meditative states of mind, and faster pulsations reflecting agitation, excitement or concentration. This gives the audience an intuitive sense of the mental state of each participant, while their bodies are immobile. (2) In addition to the EEG signals generated by individual brains, our pipeline compares the EEG activity between the participants’ brains. The visualization shows moments where similarities in the sitters’ brainwaves are high, in other words: when their brainwaves are on the same wavelength. The installation was first shown last year at the Garage Center of Contemporary Culture in Moscow. The individual brain activity is represented as pulsations and the moments of synchrony in the form of waves connecting the two brains. After the exhibition, we look at the data to investigate the factors that might determine this synchrony. Is it higher for people who have a stronger sense of intersubjectivity with each other? Or for strangers vs. long-time friends? As a cognitive neuroscientist, one of the most unique and exciting features of this experiment is that science does not have answers to these questions. In fact, interactive neuroscience is a brand new field, making Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze a true interdisciplinary crowd-sourcing experiment, instead of a show-case of well-established scientific facts. M. Abramović: Right now we are finishing a symposium in Moscow, in the museum of science and technology. So this is parallel reality, and I am really sorry I don’t have a clone to be in two places at once. There is a big robotics’ symposium held here, and we saw Japanese scientists who created a humanoid; a double that can have the voice, the skin, and the hair of the original person. So, there is the technology for us to be at many spaces at one time. This two-day neuro-science symposium hosts scientists and artists dealing with questions like: what are the brains, the consciousness, the mind? There are no final conclusions here, no proof of what is the consciousness, and we still don’t know what the complete function of the brain is. We even don’t know what the source of life is, how do we exist on this planet. These remain

open questions. But I think it’s very important to see this new wish of artists and scientists to be working together world-wide – I think this is crucial. And in this sense I think it’s amazing that two symposiums of this kind are happening at the same time in two different parts of the world. I think the future is oriented into more searching, getting more insights on the matter, because – as you know – artists work with intuition, and scientists work with facts. Scientists don’t believe in anything they can’t prove – and artists believe in everything – so these are really two opposite positions. But this is what makes it all so interesting – to have these two opposites working together, and creating some kind of new reality. Today we also saw a very interesting presentation of robotics – we saw robots that looked like human beings (they had skin, hair, eyes), scientists trying to figure out what the new computer intelligence looks like… And I think this is a very dangerous concept, because it’s important that we always have responsibility, some moral values as to how far we can go with this, so that we don’t create another disaster like the atomic bomb. Reality is becoming more and more like science fiction books of the 1950s and 60s – and new science fiction books will become part of another reality in the future. So, this whole thing is very important. I’m interested in understanding human energy, and creating a certain emotional context.

The visualization shows moments where similarities in the sitters’ brainwaves are high, in other words: when their brainwaves are on the same wavelength. Question from the audience: During your performance, you saw so many people. Do you recognize – like, on the street – any of the people that were in the experiment with you? I tried it and I think that I will remember the face of the lady that was sitting across me forever! I’ve never observed anybody for such a long time. M. Abramović: It’s a very specific thing. Most of the time, you are looking in the eyes of a total stranger, without any verbal communication. The emotions created in this way are very intense. Because normally, we always hide behind the words, or between the words – when you meet somebody for the first time, you will usually have a conversation. But when you don’t know a person and just engage in that prolonged eye-contact… You know, they say that the eyes are the doorways to the soul, and it’s true, you can learn from a person’s eyes; by looking at him/her, you can learn about them more than you would have in a lifetime of talking, it’s just a completely different set of information. So, it was an extremely strong experience – I looked into 1756 people’s eyes, which is a lot. I can’t say I remember all of them, but the ones who sat down with me longer or those very intense emotions I will remember all of my life. There was real drama. One thing that haunts me about New York is that I never saw so much loneliness, unhappiness and pain. The people are just so detached from their own bodies and souls, and I think especially with (the development of ) technology, we don’t have any more of human contacts: we text each other, we don’t see each other, we make phonecalls; but there’s no unconditional contact, sitting next to each other, giving each other complete attention – human behavior has really changed. Question from the audience: Do you think that this technological interface will help you to understand what is going on in interpersonal relationships? M. Abramović: Like we said before, in this symposium we see how little we actually know about the brain. We use less than 35% of the brain, and the rest is unknown. And I think anything that science can give us – any kind of understanding – will be really important, like light at the end of a dark tunnel. As artists we rely on our intuition, on a kind of 6th sense. It’s very interesting how we intuitively understand things, which take such a long time for scientists to prove. We have this intuitive knowledge that is very precious, but at the same time it’s interesting to scientists, because there’s a great satisfaction of proving that intuitive knowledge scientifically; it’s a kind of double proof. This is what’s happening now with our experiment – you can see the luminous waves, you can see the subconscious connection with another person, and visualize the transmission energy. Because performance art is an immaterial form of art, energy is something that is not visible; you have to feel it, but with this technology you can also see it.


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Guy Ben-Ary Kirsten Hudson Konstruirani možgani Manufactured Brains

Guy Ben-Ary. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

Guy Ben-Ary: Projekt In-potentia predstavljamo premierno, sicer pa se z umetniškimi projekti, navdihnjenimi z nevroznanostjo, ukvarjam že preteklih deset let, Silent Barrage (Tihi plaz) je eden izmed takšnih. Ob neki priložnosti sem o svojih delih govoril s kolegico, bolgarsko umetnico, ki je izpostavila vprašljivost uporabe denimo mišjih celic v mojih projektih. Tudi sama kot medij uprizarjanja umetnosti uporablja lastno telo in verjame, da bi morali vsi umetniki pri svojem delu uporabljati samo lastne celice ali celice iste vrste. Ne želim razpravljati, ali je imela prav ali ne, vendar sem po najini debati res začel razmišljati, od kod prihajajo nevroni ali živčne celice, ki jih uporabljam za svoje projekte. Spraševal sem se, kako bi za prihodnje projekte dobil človeške nevrone. Kmalu zatem sem izvedel za iPS tehnologijo (tehnologijo induciranih pluripotentnih izvornih celic), ki jo je okoli leta 2006 razvil japonski znanstvenik, profesor Yamanaka (Nobelov nagrajenec 2012). To pomeni, da lahko zdaj odrasle celice reprogramiramo in jih vrnemo nazaj v čas, da postanejo izvorne celice. Izvorne celice lahko zatem diferenciramo, tako da lahko iz njih nastane katerikoli tip celic – nevroni, mišice, itd. Ko sem prvič slišal za tehnologijo iPS, sem bil naravnost fasciniran; izjemno me je pritegnila ideja transformacije bioloških materialov in ob vseh teh “alkimističnih” procesih sem pričel razmišljati o vzvratnem biološkem inženiringu in o tem, kako vodljivo je pravzaprav človeško telo; preprosto lahko vzamemo osnovne enote in spremenimo njihovo usodo … z zvijačo jih prepričamo, da postanejo nek drug tip celic. Tako se mi je porodila ideja o umetniškem projektu, kjer bi se lahko poigral s to tehnologijo. V tem času sem spoznal tudi Kirsten Hudson. V svojem delu je skušala vzgojiti celice kože iz izvornih celic, izoliranih iz materinega mleka ali posteljice. Začela sva se pogovarjati o možnostih nove iPS tehnologije ter se odločila za skupen projekt. Hkrati sem z drugo skupino znanstvenikov delal na še enem laboratorijskem projektu, ki je med drugim vključeval gojenje celic prepucija. Tako je vse sovpadlo: celice prepucija lahko gojimo in vitro, lahko jih spremenimo in manipuliramo z uporabo iPS tehnologije. Želel pa sem tudi problematizirati tehnologijo iPS s pomočjo absurdnega scenarija: zakaj ne bi vzel celic prepucija in jih obdelal na način iPS-a, jih reprogramiral, pretvoril v izvorne celice in nato iz njih ustvaril nevronsko mrežo – biološke možgane? Kirsten Hudson: Svoje izkušnje sem v veliki meri nabirala na področju zgodovine raziskovanja, ki se ukvarja z rodoslovjem in filozofijo telesa, bolj specifično pa z ustvarjanjem video del ali minimalnih abstraktnih objektov, ki zbujajo neprijetna občutja utelešenih subjektivitet. Zaradi svojega udejanjanja na dveh umetniških področjih – v performativni umetnosti in kiparstvu – me je izjemno privlačilo vprašanje, kako lahko umetnost problematizira ali kritizira ontološke in epistemološke zahodne predpostavke, ki jih tipično povezujemo s pozicijami utelešenja. Tako sva v pogovorih z Guyem nenehno skakala naprej in nazaj; glede na njegovo preteklo delo sva razmišljala, kako bodo moja stališča in perspektive trčila ob njegova. Prišla sva do skupne odločitve: ne le, da naju oba zanima, kako potencialno problematizirati vpliv tehnologije izvornih celic na materialno razumevanje življenja in materialnost človeškega telesa, pač pa tudi, da želiva oba

ustvariti dela, ki ne bi slonela na principih laboratorijsko osnovane estetike, ki jo tako pogosto povezujemo z bioumetnostjo. Porajalo se nama je vedno več vprašanj o tem, kako ustvariti dialoge o naši utelešeni prihodnosti, kot sredstvo kritičnega izpraševanja in razmisleka o obstoječi obsedenosti z materialnim in transformativnim potencialom človeškega mesa. Osebno me je predvsem zanimalo, kako premakniti te meje in zaobiti tanko črto med kritiko in razpravo. V času teh razmišljanj me je Guy povabil k sodelovanju pri projektu In-potentia.

… zakaj ne bi vzel celic prepucija in jih obdelal na način iPS-a, jih reprogramiral, pretvoril v izvorne celice in nato iz njih ustvaril nevronsko mrežo – biološke možgane? Guy Ben-Ary: Projekt se je na vmesni stopnji imenoval Project Dickhead (Kurceglavec), sprememba imena pa je bila pogoj za finančna sredstva. Projekt se osredotoča na štiri tipe tehnologij, prva izmed njih je iPS. Kadar berete o tem ali se pogovarjate z znanstveniki, se vedno zdi zelo preprosto. Izkušnje pri delu na centru SymbioticA so me naučile, da je vse prej kot to. Bolj ko sva se ji posvečala, bolj sva se skupaj s Kirsten pričela zavedati tudi “mračne plati” tehnologije iPS – težav, stroškov, okvarjenih celic (v večini primerov so nastale celice rakave) in etičnih pomislekov, ki jih je ta nova tehnologija, ustvarjena zato, da bi nekatere izmed njih razrešila, pravzaprav povzročila. Pri inženiringu nevronske mreže sva doživela toliko neuspehov in zdaj sva končno prišla do točke, da razstavljava celice prepucija, ki sicer prihajajo iz ameriškega Wisconsina, reprogramirane v izvorne celice in diferencirane v nevrone. Uspehi v laboratoriju so se pojavili šele v zadnjih šestih mesecih – ustvarila sva pravi virus za boj proti infekcijam in sedaj gojiva iPS celice v laboratoriju. Še eno “področje poizvedbe” je bioreaktor, sistem življenjske podpore celicam. V obdobju preteklih osmih do desetih let so se rezidenčni ustvarjalci na centru SymbioticA lotevali različnih prototipov bioreaktorjev, tako da sem imel srečo, da sem lahko gradil na nakopičenem znanju in informacijah v tej organizaciji. Razmišljali smo o različnih predlogih za poenostavitev sistema, vendar smo na koncu celotnega procesa naleteli na zid, zato smo se vrnili k zelo kompliciranemu bioreaktorju, ki pa deluje. Pri snovanju dizajna smo želeli izboljšati laboratorij za tkivne kulture, izboljšati elektrofiziološki laboratorij, nadgraditi estetiko in ustvariti umetniški objekt, ki bi dejansko funkcioniral ter nam pomagal obdržati nevronsko mrežo pri življenju. Tretja komponenta dela je elektrofiziološki sistem. Odločili smo se, da razvijemo lastno naredi-sam elektrofiziološko tehniko snemanja in naredi-sam posodo s štirimi elektrodami iz nevronske mreže. Trenutno še nima stimulacijske sposobnosti, vendar delamo na tem, da bi dodali tudi to, saj so nevroni bolj aktivni in se bolje odzivajo, kadar jih stimuliramo. Pri tem smo sodelovali s podjetjem Backyard brains, ki se ukvarja z razvojem preprostih elektrofizioloških naprav za srednješolske potrebe.

Prototipe smo poslali v laboratorij na testiranje in dobili ugodne rezultate. Ugotovili smo, da se med zvoki in povratnimi informacijami iz naših posod skrivajo tudi signali iz nevronov. To je zadoščalo, da smo jih, kot simbolno gesto, predstavili na razstavi skupaj z ostalim sistemom. Zadnja komponenta je dizajn samega dela. Pri oblikovanju končnega objekta nas je najbolj navdihovala estetika znanstvenega instrumentarija. Ozirali smo se po izboljšavah laboratorija za tkivne kulture. Želeli smo ga polepšati, zakriti laboratorijsko estetiko in predstaviti našo nevronsko mrežo na podoben način, kot je razstavljen nakit. Kirsten Hudson: Na koncu koncev sva se z Guyem vprašala, kaj pravzaprav pomeni narediti biološke možgane iz celic prepucija? Ena izmed težav, ki se pri tem pojavlja, je “mračna plat” tehnologije induciranih pluripotentnih izvornih celic oziroma iPS. Na začetku so tehnologijo iPS častili skoraj po božje. Predstavljala je etično olajšanje, odmik od raziskovalnega dela z zarodnimi izvornimi celicami. Danes pa vidimo, da je iPS korenito posegla na etično področje raziskav izvornih celic in sicer iz dveh glavnih razlogov: prvi je relativna lahkost, s katero bi lahko iPS celične vzorce potencialno jemali brez zavestne privolitve, drugi pa potencialne etično sporne rabe iPS tehnologije za pridobivanje gamet, oziroma človeških reproduktivnih celic sperme in jajčec. Na začetku so slavili tehnologijo, ki bi lahko rešila nekatere izmed teh etičnih dilem. Zdaj pa postaja jasno, da se s pomočjo iPS – prav zato, ker imajo celice potencial, da postanejo gamete – postavlja izziv in vprašanje, kaj v filozofskem in ontološkem smislu pomeni začetek in konec življenja. In kaj to pomeni zdaj, z ozirom na to, kaj danes pomeni 'biti človek'. Ob vsem tem se soočamo z resnimi etičnimi dilemami. Na celični ravni potencial iPS tehnologije pomeni, da imamo danes sposobnost definirati in upravljati z vse manjšimi in manjšimi enotami žive snovi, s tem pa omogočamo vse bolj pretanjene definicije in razlikovanja med eno vrsto življenja in drugo. In pri vsej tej eksploziji življenja, čemur Colin Milburn pravi “prizorišče dezintegracije”, kjer se življenje nenadoma razlije, se pojavijo kompleksne hierarhije, medtem ko se odmikamo od starih standardov za določanje življenja, kot so: ali dihamo? Ali vi dihate? Ali so vse vaše celice še nedotaknjene in nepokvarjene? Ali vam bije srce? – k veliko bolj zahtevnemu standardu: ali ste človek? Ali je to, kar dela vas vas, še vedno nedotaknjeno? Kar je bilo doslej v domeni filozofov in duhovnikov, je danes v rokah zdravnikov in medicine: oni določajo našo legalno človečnost, na osnovi idej, ki se tičejo osebnosti ter vprašanj sposobnosti razuma in zavesti, ne pa več tradicionalnih bioloških snovnih kriterijev. Politika okrog sprejemanja in zanikanja ideje osebnosti pa je bila v zadnjih dveh desetletjih deležna velike pozornosti, saj je tehnološkoznanstveni razvoj destabiliziral vélike genealoške, teleološke in evolucijske teorije, s pomočjo katerih največkrat razumemo življenje. To nam razkriva, da je tisti ali tisto, čemur danes pravimo človek, med drugim tudi zelo pogojna zgodovinska formacija, tako predmet kot tudi vir trajajočih kulturnih sporov ter da je zmeraj, zmeraj v procesu izgradnje. Vse to nam kaže, da znanstvena praksa, skupaj z diskurzivnimi sistemi oblasti, oblikuje naše razumevanje tega, kako življenje, smrt in osebnost prisojamo, izpodbijamo in udejanjamo. Medtem ko smo priča naraščajočemu številu liminalnih bitij, kot je In-potentia, ki lebdijo v dvoumnem polju med življenjem in smrtjo – ne mrtva, pa vendar ne povsem živa – in ki so jih v življenje obudila pota biomedicinskih tehnik, skupaj z legitimnimi, družbeno-ekonomskimi in bio-etičnimi aparati, vzdržujejo pa jih sodobne medicinske prakse, kot je tudi naš sistem življenjske podpore, začenjamo razumeti omejitve svojih obstoječih razumevanj tega, kaj pomeni biti živ in kaj pomeni biti človek. S polastitvijo in prerazporeditvijo od telesa ločenih človeških delov, v našem primeru celic prepucija, ter z uporabo iPS tehnologije iz-


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Kirsten Hudson. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

vornih celic na kulturno neavtoriziran in ne-utilitarističen način, skuša projekt In-potentia načrtno poiskati ločnico med subverzivnostjo in konformizmom na tak način, da izziva ustaljeno percepcijo o obstoju jasne meje med tem, kar se dojema kot normalno in sprejemljivo in tem, kar ni normalno oziroma je nedopustno; oblike zavesti, utelešenja in torej tudi osebnosti. S spodbujanjem angažiranja in kritičnega razmisleka o tem edinstvenem kulturnem trenutku, ko smo priča – čemur bi sama rekla evolucija biomedicinskih načinov ne-smrti brez primere: transfuzija, transplantacija, implantacija, globoka koma, možganska smrt, kriogenska prezervacija ter iPS, skuša In-potentia prestopiti mejnike med življenjem in smrtjo, med bitjem in ne-bitjem ter posledično prisiliti neke vrste ponovno postavitev zahodnih predstav o življenju, smrti in osebnosti. In-potentia poraja nekaj zanimivih etičnih vprašanj, glede na to, kaj pomeni imeti zavest in biti človek. Z rušenjem družbeno pogojenih razlikovanj med umom in snovjo, med prepucijem in možgani, ponujava tale skoraj absurden eksperiment, ki na humoren in ironičen način izziva predstave sodobnega zahodnega sveta, da biti človek pomeni imeti možgane; ko so možgani prisotni, smo živi, ko pa jih nimamo, pa nas ni več ali smo mrtvi. Torej: možgani = um = človek. Naj za zaključek postavim nekaj vprašanj, o katerih bi želela, da o njih razmislite: z bio-inženiringom je zdaj mogoče ustvariti človeške možgane in če zavest in osebnost res prebivata v možganih, kakšen potencial imamo, da ustvarimo zavest v uporabne namene? Ali se nam z iPS celično tehnologijo ponuja možnost, da z bioinženiringom ustvarimo čuteča bitja? Kakšna bo videti prihodnost s podobno konstruiranimi možgani ali “kurceglavci” povsod okrog nas? Bi to sploh opazili? ENG

Guy Ben-Ary: This is the first showing of the In-potentia project. I have been involved in art projects that are concerned with neuro-science for the past ten years, Silent Barrage is one of them. When I was talking about this work with a friend, a Bulgarian artist, she thought it was questionable to be using for example, mouse cells in my project. She is a body artist herself, who uses her own body – and believes all artists should use their own cells only, or cells that come from the same species. I don’t want to discuss whether she was right or wrong, it just made me think where the neurons that I used in these projects came from. I started to think about how I could get neurons that originated from humans in the future. Then I heard about the iPS technology. It was developed around 2006 by a Japanese scientist, prof. Yamanaka, Nobel Prize winner 2012. In a nutshell, it means that we can now take adult cells, reprogram them, and take them back in time to become stem cells. The stem cells can then be differentiated and become any type of cells – neurons, muscles, etc. I was really fascinated when I first heard about the iPS technology, I was very interested in the idea of transformation of biological materials, all these “alchemical” processes made me think about biological reverse engineering, about how malleable our bodies really are, we can just take the basic units and change their destiny – trick them

into becoming a different type of cells. It all made me think about starting a project, where I could play with this technology in the form of an art project. At the same time, I met Kirsten. She was interested in trying to grow skin that originated from stem cells, which were isolated from breast milk or the placenta. We started to discuss the possibilities of this new technology (iPS) and decided to come up with a project. At the same time, I was working with other scientists on another lab-project which involved growing foreskin cells. Then everything just clicked: you can grow foreskin cells in vitro, you can convert/manipulate them through the use of the iPS technology. I was thinking about problematizing iPS technology by putting forward an absurd scenario: taking foreskin cells and iPS-ing them, reprogramming them, turning them into stem cells and then creating a neural network out of them – a biological brain.

I was thinking about problematizing iPS technology by putting forward an absurd scenario: taking foreskin cells and iPS-ing them, reprogramming them, turning them into stem cells and then creating a neural network out of them – a biological brain. Kirsten Hudson: I had a background practice in research history that explores the genealogy and philosophy of the body, and specifically how to create video works or minimal abstract objects that evoke unsettling senses of embodied subjectivities. Because I had a practice in both – performance and sculpture – I was really invested in how art can problematize or critique ontological and epistemological western assumptions, typically associated with embodied positions. While Guy and I were talking, we would jump back and forward in these discussions, we started to think how my position and my perspective bumped up against his, given the kind of work that he did in the past. We decided not only that we both had an interest in how to potentially problematize stem cell technology’s influence on the material understandings of life and the materiality of the human body, but we were also interested in how we could create works that didn’t rely upon a lab-based esthetic that is often associated with bio-art. We started to have more and more questions about how to generate dialogues about our embodied future, as a means to critically question and negotiate current obsessions with the material and transformational potential of human flesh. I was interested in how we can start to push those boundaries and skirt that fine line between critique and negotiation. From these discussions then, Guy invited me to collaborate in the project called In-potentia. Guy Ben-Ary: Temporarily, we referred to the project as Project Dickhead, for obvious reasons, but we could not get the funds unless we changed that name. The project focuses on four types of technologies, the first one being the iPS technology. Reading about it, or talking to

scientists, you always get the feeling that it’s really easy to do, but my experience at SymbioticA has taught me different. The more we started to work with iPS, the more aware Kirsten and myself became about “the dark side” of iPS – the difficulties, the expenses, the defective cells (most of the time the produced cells are cancerous), and the ethical problems this new technology, which is supposed to solve some of them, has in fact created. We had so many failures trying to engineer this neural network to get to this point: the cells shown in this exhibition were purchased from a company in Wisconsin. Foreskin cells were reprogrammed into stem cells and differentiated into neurons. We started to have successes in the lab in the past six months. We created the right virus for infections and we are growing similar iPS cells in the lab. The bio-reactor or the life-sustaining system for the cells is another “avenue of investigation”. Residents at SymbioticA have been working on a number of different prototypes of our bioreactors for the last 8 to10 years, so there is accumulated knowledge and accumulated information in the organization that I was lucky to build upon. We were thinking about different ideas to simplify the system, but at the end of the process we hit a brick wall and went back to the very complicated bio-reactor, that works. The whole idea of the design was to try and refine the tissue culture lab, to refine the electrophysiology lab, to refine the esthetics and to come up with an art-object that would actually be functional and would allow us to maintain the neural network alive. The third component of the work includes an electrophysiological system. We decided to develop our own DIY electrophysiological recording and a DIY dish that would have four electrodes from the neurons; there are no stimulation capabilities yet, but we are working on adding them, because the neurons are more active and they respond better when you stimulate them. We worked with a company called Backyard brains; they develop simple electrophysiological devices for high school students. We sent the prototypes to a lab to be tested, and the results were ok. What we realized is that among this noise and feedback that we get from the dishes, there are signals that we receive from the neurons. We thought that was enough, as a symbolic gesture, to be exhibited together with the system. The last component is the design of the piece. We were inspired by scientific paraphernalia aesthetics to design the final object. We wanted to refine the tissue culture lab, to make it look beautiful, to hide the lab-esthetics and to be able to actually show this neural network in a similar way that you show a piece of jewelry. Kirsten Hudson: I guess we ended up asking ourselves, what does it mean to make a biological brain from foreskin cells? One of the things that come up is “the dark side” of this induced pluri-potent stem cell technology or iPS. Originally, iPS was hailed as the Holy Grail of stem cell technology. It was seen as being an ethical relief from embryonic stem cell research. What happened is that the iPS now has transformed the ethical landscape of stem cell research for two main reasons: one is the relative ease with which iPS cell samples could be potentially taken without knowledgeable consent, and two, the ethically fraudulent potential uses of the iPS technology for the derivation of gametes, i.e. human reproductive cells of sperm and eggs. What was initially hailed was a technology that would resolve some of these ethical dilemmas. It’s actually clear now that with iPS – because they have the potential to become gametes – we are starting to challenge ourselves, philosophically and ontologically, on the question of where life begins and where life ends. And what does that mean now, with regards to what it now constitutes to be human. All this poses some serious ethical dilemmas. On the cellular level, the potential of iPS technology now means that we have the ability to define and manipulate smaller and smaller units of live matter, enabling the increasingly subtle definitions and distinctions between one kind of life and another. And with such an explosion of life, what Colin Milburn calls “the scene of disintegration”, where life is suddenly splattered, perplexing hierarchies begin to emerge as we start to shift away from the old standards for determining life, such as ‘are we breathing? Are you breathing? Are your cells still intact and not putrefying? Is your heart beating?’ in favor of a much more demanding standard: ‘are you a person? Is what makes you you still intact?’ Previously, the domain of philosophers and priests – today it seems as though medical practitioners are determining our legal humanity, based upon ideas to do with personhood, and ideas of mind and consciousness capability, rather than traditional biological matter-criteria. The politics surrounding assertions


In-potentia 2012, mešani mediji (tkivni inženiring, elektro-fiziološki posnetki, iPS, računalniško nadzirane naprave in zvok, celice prepucija, izvorne celice, nevroni) Zahvale za sodelovanje: Mark Lawson, Stuart Hodgetts, Anne Kramer in Mark Brims. Projekt "In-Potentia" gosti SymbioticA, Center odličnosti za biološke umetnosti, Šola za anatomijo in človeško biologijo Univerze Western Australia. Zahvala: Laboratorijski center Univerze v Mariboru

2012, Mixed media (tissue engineering, electrophysiological recordings, iPS, computer controlled devises and sound, foreskin cell, stem cells, neurons) Credits: In collaboration with Mark Lawson, Stuart Hodgetts, Anne Kramer, and Mark Brims.

Guy Ben-Ary & Kirsten Hudson (AU). In potēntia, 2012. Mešana medijska instalacija / Mixed media installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

"In-Potentia" is hosted in SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia. Credits: Laboratory Center of the University of Maribor

and denials of personhood have received a great deal of attention over the last two decades, as techno-scientific developments have destabilized the genealogical, teleological and evolutionary grand theories, through which life is often being comprehended. This reveals that who or what is now called a person is among other things a highly contingent historical formation, both the sight and the source of on-going cultural contests; and it is always, always under construction. It shows that scientific practice, together with discursive power-arrangements, shapes our understandings of how life, death and personhood are attributed, contested, and enacted. As we witness a growing number of liminal beings, such as Inpotentia, who hover in an ambiguous zone between life and death – not dead, but not fully alive – brought into being through the workings of biomedical technique, together with legitimate, socio-economic and bio-ethical apparatuses, and sustained by modern medical practices, such as our life-sustaining system, we start to comprehend the limitations of our current understandings of

what it means to be alive, and what it means to be human. For us, by hijacking and re-deploying disembodied human parts, or foreskin cells in this situation, and using stem cell technology of iPS in culturally unauthorized and non-utilitarian ways, In-potentia intentionally skirts to find a line between subversion and compliance, as it challenges the perception that there’s a clear distinction between what is considered normal and acceptable and what is abnormal and intolerable; forms of consciousness and embodiment, and therefore personhood. By encouraging engagement with and critical reflection on this unique cultural moment, where we are witnessing what I would call an unprecedented evolution of bio-medical modes of un-death: transfusion, transplantation, implantation, deep coma, brain dead, kryogenic preservation, and iPS, In-potentia seeks to transgress the boundaries between life and death, between being and non-being, and in turn is intended to force a kind of re-mapping of the western notions of life, death and personhood.

In-potentia thus raises some interesting ethical questions, with regard to what now constitutes to be conscious, and to be human. By collapsing the socially coded distinctions between mind and matter, foreskin and brain, we offer this kind of an absurd thought experiment that humorously and ironically challenges the modern western perception that man is his brain and that when the brain is here, he’s alive, and when his brain is missing, he’s gone or dead. So: brain = mind = person. To conclude, I would like to pose some questions for you to think about: as it is now possible to bio-engineer a human brain, and if consciousness or personhood resides in the brain, what kind of potential do we now have to create consciousness for utilitarian purposes? Does iPS cell technology suggest the possibility of bio-engineering sentient beings? What will the future look like with other similarly manufactured brains or “dickheads” living all around us? Or would we even notice?


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Tuur Van Balen Tehnologija v vsakdanjem življenju The technology in our everyday lives Tuur Van Balen. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

Moje sodelovanje z Revitalom Cohenom se je pričelo več let nazaj, nedavno pa sva tudi uradno združila moči v oblikovalskem studiu z imenom Cohen Van Balen. Izkušnje sva nabirala na področju dizajna – oba sva bila študenta na Royal College of Arts v Londonu – vendar nama same oznake ali gre za oblikovanje ali umetnost ne pomenijo prav veliko. Najino delo je eksperimentalne narave, navdih pa v glavnem prihaja s področja tehnologije oziroma novih in prihajajočih tehnologij. Pri tem naju ne zanima toliko tehnologija kot takšna, pač pa se osredotočava predvsem na to, kakšen pomen ima lahko le-ta v naših vsakdanjih življenjih, torej njen kontekst. Pigeon d’Or (Zlati golob) je delo, v katerem želiva ustvariti posebno vrsto bakterije, ki bi povzročila, da bi golobi iztrebljali milo, kar se sliši zelo preprosto. O tem, zakaj sva izbrala prav golobe, nekoliko več kasneje, lahko pa povem, da sam vidim golobe kot zelo nenaravne živali. Morda bi celo trdil, da so golobi že zdaj pravzaprav produkti biotehnologije. Nasploh je veliko mojih del navdihnjenih z idejo živali kot objekta. Skratka, če torej želite narediti goloba, ki bo izločal milo, morate vedeti kakšno stvar ali dve o sintezni biologiji (v veliko pomoč pri najinem delu je bil James Chapel z Inštituta za sintezno biologijo na Imperial College London). Ta znanstvena disciplina uporablja principe inženiringa na področju biologije. Sanje vsakega sinteznega biologa pa vključujejo tudi t. i. register standardnih bioloških delov. Zanimiv je jezik tega arhiva oziroma predvsem vizualni jezik sintezne biologije. Posebej aktualna se mi zdi v luči idej kartezijanske ontologije; o tem, kako mi – torej človeštvo – vladamo in nadzorujemo svet okrog nas. Govorimo o uporabi principov inženiringa v biologiji, o standardizaciji in karakterizaciji, pri tem pa nekoliko zanemarjamo pojavitev, evolucijo, mutacije itd. Register standardnih bioloških delov je v sintezni biologiji kot velika škatla lego kock v igralnici: gre za zbirko bioloških delov, ki jih lahko uporabimo za izgradnjo katerekoli biološke naprave. Po kazalu registra se lahko sprehodimo na spletu, na primer brskamo po seznamu naprav glede na njihov tip; opazimo lahko, kako je njihov vizualni jezik podoben jeziku mehanskega ali elektronskega inženiringa. S klikanjem na povezave se nam odpre cela vrsta reporterjev, inverterjev, proteinskih generatorjev itd. – na primer oznaka GFP generator pove, da ta del proizvaja zelene, fluorescentne in proteinske bakterije. Izvemo lahko tudi, kje so posamezne dele naredili oziroma oblikovali (recimo laboratorij Endy Lab) ter dolžino vsakega posameznega biološkega dela, v našem primeru 876 bp (baznih parov) DNK. Najbolj vznemirljiv trenutek sledi, ko s klikom na polje “pokaži izbrano zaporedje” (“get selected sequence”) vidimo dejansko DNK kodo za določeno napravo. Četudi je sintezna biologija morda problematična v smislu nepriznavanja ali zanemarjanja pomembnosti konceptov pojavnosti, nastajanja in ostalih lastnosti, sva z Revitalom vznemirjena in navdušena nad tem, kaj vse bi lahko dosegla s svojim potencialom odprtosti, dostopnosti in možnostjo hekanja. Od tod izvira velik del navdiha za najin projekt. Za izdelavo bakterije, ki bi golobje iztrebke spremenila v milo, sva potrebovala posebno biokocko (biobrick), ki še ni obstajala. Izločiti sva želela lipazo, encim za razkroj maščobe v bakterijah – ampak ta pravzaprav ne obstaja;

ni ga še v registru. Ubrati sva morala svojo pot. Posebej za ta projekt sva izdelala biokocko in jo dodala registru. Zelo pomembno se nama je zdelo, da je zdaj v tej ogromni znanstveni podatkovni bazi vsaj en delček, ki ima malo manj smisla. Na žalost, ta bakterija je namreč gensko spremenjen organizem, je nisva smela odnesti izven laboratorija. Nekaj testov sva izvedla znotraj laboratorijskega okolja in preizkusila sva njene čistilne sposobnosti, med drugim tudi z golobi. Upava, da ima ta majhen delček v registru standardnih bioloških delov danes svoje mesto v svetu. Če vas torej zamika, da bi goloba pripravili do tega, da izloča milo, se preprosto oglasite na spletni strani, prenesite informacije in izdelajte svojo lastno bakterijo. Vsekakor pa naju je pri vsem tem bolj zanimal kulturološko-etični kontekst, družbeni kontekst okrog golobarjev in golobov. Doživela sva veliko nenavadnih, navdihujočih srečanj in druženja s številnimi golobarji po vsem Londonu. Golobarstvo je resen posel, kjer se pretakajo velike količine denarja. Od nekdaj je zelo popularno v Angliji in Belgiji (od koder prihajam), na Kitajskem in mislim, da tudi v Sloveniji. Zanimivo se mi zdi predvsem stališče do golobov kot objektov – v tem primeru objektov zabave. Med poglabljanjem v projekt sva si predstavljala razne scenarije, po katerih bi lahko golobi postali del tehnologije oziroma arhitekturne tehnologije – gre namreč za to, da si naše gensko spremenjene bakterije nisva želela zamisliti same po sebi, ampak kot del golobjega ustroja, goloba pa kot prebivalca mest. Ko se torej poigravamo z idejo bakterije, se v bistvu hkrati poigravamo z organizmom ogromnih razsežnosti – mestom. To naju je pripeljalo do ideje o objektu, v katerem bi lahko prebivali golobi na okenskih policah, nekakšnem vmesniku med notranjostjo in zunanjostjo. Na ta način jih lahko hranite, izbirate, jih ločujete, tako da jih hranite z različnimi vrstami bakterij in jih nato spustite. S pomočjo najinega drugega objekta pa lahko golobe ujamete in zaprete na vrhu svojega avtomobila, kjer bodo njihovi izločki očistili vetrobransko steklo. Naj na kratko spregovorim še o ideji goloba kot objekta. Skozi generacije so ljudje redili golobe, da bi se ti čim prej vrnili domov – in to ne samo v športne namene, pač pa tudi kot pismonoše. Za njimi so torej cela desetletja nadzorovane evolucije, zato ni nič čudnega, da se je z njimi pričel ukvarjati tudi Charles Darwin, ki je tudi sam postal golobar. Njegove nagačene golobe skupaj s skicami golobnjakov še danes hranijo v enem izmed prirodoslovnih muzejev v Angliji.

Mnogi ljudje na začetku reagirajo na ta projekt z vprašanjem: “Ampak zakaj? Saj to ni naravno!” Eden mojih tipičnih odgovorov na to je: kaj pa je pravzaprav narava? Kaj to pomeni, da je nekaj nenaravno? Koncept in raba besede “naravno” v jeziku sta problematični, saj nas pogosto pripeljeta do konservativnih ideoloških stališč tipa: narava je “zadeva”, ki je popolnoma neodvisna od nas; kakorkoli vanjo posežemo, ji s tem škodimo, zato tega ne smemo in moremo narediti; vse, kar lahko storimo, je, da jo ohranjamo … – takšno stališče pa za naju ni sprejemljivo oziroma smiselno. Cook me – Black Bile (Skuhaj me – črni žolč) je umetniško delo, navdihnjeno z idejo o sintezni biologiji, ki bi bila dostopnejša tudi za druge ljudi, ne samo znanstvenike. V tem delu jo predstavljava kot obliko “kulinarike”. Kar predlagava, je recept za nadzorovanje lastnih občutkov melanholije. Navdih sva črpala pri Hipokratu in njegovi teoriji štirih enot – da je namreč človek skupek štirih tekočin na dveh nogah: krvi, sluzi, rumenega in črnega žolča – čeprav danes vemo, da črni žolč ne obstaja. Hipokrat je povezoval telesne tekočine in njihovo ravnovesje s človekovim duševnim stanjem. Če se torej pacient ni počutil dobro, fizično ali psihično, je bilo to zaradi neravnovesja omenjenih telesnih tekočin. Kot eden glavnih postopkov zdravljenja se je takrat uveljavilo puščanje krvi. Seveda danes vemo tudi, da je na ta način več ljudi umrlo kot ozdravelo, kljub temu pa sva z Revitalom mnenja, da je zanimivo predvsem priznanje povezave med fizičnim in duševnim zdravjem. Najin recept zahteva uporabo posebne kuhalne naprave, v kateri se med drugim kuha tudi pijavka, ki se je najprej hranila s krvjo iz vašega lastnega telesa (postopek je kar dolgotrajen, tudi do nekaj ur). Naprava na začetku služi temu, da pijavka ostane na mestu, ob tem pa delno zaposli tudi roko (občasno stiskanje pesti poveča dotok krvi). Ko pijavka odpade z roke, jo marinirate: marinada vsebuje gensko spremenjene kvasovke, ki zaznajo stopnje serotonina v vaši krvi (zaznavajo, kaj se dogaja v vašem telesu) in nato po potrebi proizvajajo serotoninske agente. Takšne “interaktivne” kvasovke v marinadi torej “začutijo”, kako srečni ste in vas v skladu s tem naredijo bolj ali manj srečne. Pri projektu uporabljava še smejalni plin (dušikov oksid), saj ta ubije pijavko (upajmo, da nežno), pa tudi sicer se uporablja za stepanje smetane in daje najini jedi fino penasto strukturo.

Tuur Van Balen, Cook me black bile. Fotografija z dovoljenjem avtorja / Photo courtesy the artist


Tuur Van Balen (BE). Pigeon d'Or, 2010. Mešana medijska instalacija / Mixed media installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

ENG

Revital Cohen and I run a small studio together at London called Cohen Van Balen. We’ve been working together for quite a few years, but have only recently officially merged our practice. Our background is in design, we were both students at the Royal College of Arts – but we don’t really care much about the labels (whether it’s design or art). We do experimental work, mostly inspired by technology, or emerging technologies. We’re not very interested in the technology as such; we are focusing more on what they might mean in our everyday lives (their context). The work Pigeon d’Or (Golden Pigeon) is about trying to make bacteria that can make a pigeon shit soap (sounds relatively simple). Why pigeons – I’ll come to that later, but I think that pigeons are very unnatural animals, I would almost argue that pigeons are products of biotechnology already. Much of my work is inspired by the idea of animal as an object. To make a pigeon shit soap you need to know a little bit about synthetic biology – we use it to try and achieve this. I was helped by James Chappel from the Institute for Systems and Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London. Synthetic biology applies engineering principles to biology. One of the “dreams” of synthetic biologists is the registry of standard biological parts. It’s interesting to have a look at its language, not just the language but also the visual language of synthetic biology. We were talking about the idea of Cartesian ontology and the view of us, humans, being in control of the world around us – I think synthetic biology is particularly interesting in that sense. We talk about applying engineering principles to biology, we talk about standardization, characterization, but there’s a lack of acknowledging emergence and evolution, mutation etc. The registry of standard biological parts is like the Lego box of synthetic biology: it is a collection of biological parts you can use to build a biological device. You can browse the on-line catalogue of the registry of standard biological parts; e.g. you can browse devices by type; you can see that their visual language borrows from the mechanical/electronic engineering language. By clicking on links you can see a whole list of reporters, inverters, protein generators, etc. For example, the GFP generator means that it produces green, fluorescent and protein bacteria. You can also see where specific parts were designed at – in this case Endy Lab. You see its length – in our case 876 bp (base

pairs) of DNA. The really exciting part is that if you click on “get selected sequence”, you see the DNA code for this device. So, although synthetic biology might be quite problematic in its not acknowledging the emergence, the becoming, and other properties, we are excited and inspired by how successful it might be; by its potential to be open, accessible, hackable. That is part of the inspiration of our project. To make our bacteria that would make pigeons shit soap, we needed a bio-brick that didn’t exist. We wanted to express lipase, which is an enzyme that digests grease in these bacteria – but it doesn’t really exist; it’s not in the registry yet. We had to make our way. We made a biobrick specifically for this project, and later added it to the registry. We thought it was quite important that in this huge database of science there is now at least one part that makes a little less sense. But unfortunately – because this bacterium is a genetically modified organism – we weren’t allowed to take it outside the lab, so we tried to do some testing inside the lab, to test its cleaning capabilities, and we also did some work and tests with pigeons. We hope that this part, which is now in the registry, is sort of “out there”, in the world. If you would want to make a pigeon shit soap, you can go to this web-site and download this part and make your own bacteria. But we were really much more interested in the cultural-ethical context, the social context surrounding pigeon fanciers and pigeons. We had a number of hugely inspiring encounters; hanging out with pigeon fanciers in London. There’s a lot of money and serious business involved in pigeon fancying. It’s very big in England and in Belgium, where I’m from originally; it’s huge in China, I think it exists in Slovenia as well – and it’s interesting to perceive these pigeons as objects, in this case objects of entertainment. So, we went a bit further into it, imagining scenarios in which these pigeons would become technology, in this case architectural technology, because we can’t just consider the bacteria or the genetically modified bacteria on its own, we should consider this bacterium in the pigeon, and the pigeon in the city, and hence if we play around with this bacterium, we’re in fact playing around with this gigantic organism, which is the city. We then built an object that would allow the pigeons to live on your window shelf as an interface between the inside and the outside. You can feed them, select them, separate them – by feeding them different bacteria, and then send them out. Our second object allows catching

and trapping the pigeons on the top of your parked car, so they defecate and clean your windshield. Very briefly about the idea of a pigeon as an object: pigeons, over generations, have been brought up to come home quicker, not just for racing purposes, but also to deliver mail. They had a controlled evolution for generations and generations, which is one of the reasons why even Charles Darwin was interested in pigeons initially and why he eventually became a pigeon fancier himself. The stuffed pigeons of Charles Darwin, together with the drawings of his pigeon lofts, are still kept in one of the natural history museums in England. The initial reaction of many people to this project is: “But why? This is unnatural.” One of my answers to that is: well, what is nature anyway? What is this idea of something being unnatural? The idea and the use of “nature” as a word in our language are problematic, because it becomes a conservative ideology: nature is this “thing” that is unaffected by you, and anything you do to it harms it, so we shouldn’t, and we can’t; and the only thing we can do is to preserve it – which doesn’t make much sense to us. Cook Me – Black Bile is a work in which we were very inspired by the idea of synthetic biology becoming more accessible to other people, not just scientists. In this work we portrayed it as a form of cooking. The work proposes a recipe for controlling your own feeling of melancholy. It was inspired by Hippocrates and his theory of the four units – that we were all walking sacks made up of four fluids, yellow bile, blood, phlegm and black bile. We now know that there’s no such thing as black bile. But Hippocrates also linked these physical fluids and their balance to our mental state. Whenever a patient was either physically or mentally unwell, it would be because their fluids are not in balance. One of the main treatments would be bloodletting. We now also know that it killed more people than it cured, but what is interesting is this acknowledgement to the link between physical health and mental health. The recipe calls for this special cooking device, which allows you to cook with a leech that first feeds itself on your own body (it takes a while, a couple of hours). The device is used initially to keep the leech in place and keep your arm occupied (occasional pumping increases the blood flow). When the leech falls off you marinate it: the marinade contains genetically modified yeast that senses for the serotonin levels in your blood (it senses what’s going on inside your body) and produces serotonin agents accordingly. So this “interactive” yeast in the marinade “feels” how happy you are, and makes you more, or less happy. We also used the laughing gas (nitrous oxide) because it kills the leech (presumably gently), and also because it’s used to make whipped cream – it provides the mousse in our dish. About future work – the first one is about mass manufacturing in China. We did some research and filming, focusing on the role of the human body in the assembly line, and especially on the relationship between the product that is being assembled and the movements the workers make, asking the question of who is in control. Is it the object controlling the laborer or is it the laborers controlling the object?


Stefan Doepner Lars Vaupel The Drill Bot Robot Partner 3.0

2009, Vrtalni in plezalni robot (elektronika, mehanika, pnevmatika) Laboratoriji f18labs se posvečajo raziskavam in razvoju robotov za praktično rabo v prizadevanju, da postanejo roboti spremljevalci ljudi v vsakdanjem življenju in povečajo življenjsko udobje. Na podlagi strokovnega znanja in preteklih izkušenj pri razvoju robotov za osebne aplikacije je bil naslednji korak inštituta razvoj robota, ki lahko živi z ljudmi in jim zagotavlja storitve na različnih mestih: v pisarni, doma, v javnem prostoru. Novi robot sestoji iz štirih vrtalnih glav, ki se lahko gibljejo v treh smereh, sedmih pnevmatičnih prožil za gibanje in centralne procesne enote, ki nadzira celotnega robota.

2009, Drilling and climbing Robot (electronics, mechanics, pneumatics) f18labs are conducting R&D on robots for practical use, in the quest for robots to support people and make their lives more convenient. Building on its past expertise in developing robots for personal-use applications, f18 went further to the next level by developing a robot that can co-exist with people and provide services in a variety of places such as offices, homes and public facilities. The robot is comprised of four drill-heads, moving in three dimensions, seven pneumatic actuators for the movement and a CPU that controls the entire robot. Stefan Doepner & Lars Vaupel (SI/DE). DrillBot – Robot Partner 3.0, 2009. Samostojna robotska instalacija / Autonomous robotics installation. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah


folio / volume 4 (2012) / / 73

Jurij Krpan

Rad bi predstavil zgodbo o težavi, ki me skrbi že dalj časa. Gre za izgubljeno naklonjenost občinstva v galeriji Kapelica1. Ne glede na to, kako dobro ste seznanjeni z delom galerije Kapelica, lahko povem, da je naš program dobro strukturiran; na prvi pogled se morda zdi precej mešan, toda v resnici ima zelo natančno opredeljeno rdečo nit. Večina ljudi, ki jih poznam in ki poznajo galerijo Kapelica, so seznanjeni samo z eno platjo našega programa. To lahko razumemo kot simptom, ki se izraža v delitvi naših obiskovalcev na dve skupini, vendar ena ne ve za drugo in obratno. Imamo ljudi, ki komentirajo v stilu “obožujem vaše body art projekte; res so izjemni, težki”. Pravijo tudi, da “je tako pomembno, da se s tem ukvarjate; za zahtevno delo gre, ampak sponzorjev ne boste dobili”. Drugo skupino pa predstavljajo ljudje, ki v glavnem obiskujejo projekte, povezane s tehnologijo in so zelo tehnično ali računalniško usmerjeni, zanima jih robotika in podobno. Gre za medijsko kulturo, za ukvarjanje z vprašanji, ki jih poraja razširjena uporaba naprednih tehnologij v vsakdanjem življenju. To navidezno vsebinsko razhajanje pa zamegljuje osrednje zanimanje, ki smo ga doslej vedno ohranjali v galeriji Kapelica: osredotočenost na ‘življenje’. Spregovoril bom o konceptih, ki stojijo za mojim osebnim razumevanjem življenja ter simptomom nerazumevanja, ki se nanaša na naše občinstvo. Večini obiskovalcev se zdi program galerije Kapelica prezahteven. To ni kraj, kamor bi se prišli zabavat. Pri nas svoje delo jemljemo smrtno resno, saj verjamemo, da je umetnost izjemnega pomena ter da ni namenjena razvedrilu. Na ta način lahko primerno predstavimo umetnike, ki so tudi sami resni v odnosu do vprašanj, s katerimi se ukvarjajo v svojih delih. Umetniki so tisti, ki premikajo meje našega razumevanja ter raziskujejo in preizprašujejo meje naših prepričanj. Sodelovali smo s številnimi umetniki, ki se ukvarjajo z dekonstrukcijo svoje identitete, z raziskovanjem svojega psiho-okolja, z vprašanji, povezanimi z njihovimi hendikepiranimi telesi na ekspliciten način in tako naprej. V tistem času ni bila prisotna nikakršna tehnologija v njihovih delih. Samo telesa umetnikov, pogosto gola. Predstavljali pa smo tudi številne projekte, ki so uporabljali spektakularne tehnologije: robotiko, mehanske metafore telesa ali delov telesa, konstruirane metafore življenja kot takega, veliko je bilo strojnih naprav, računalnikov, žic itd. Formalno ni med temi umetniškimi deli obstajala nikakršna povezava. Vendar smo v kuratorskem delu zmeraj sledili raziskovanju odnosa med človekom in strojem – med Zoe in Bios, pri čemer z Zoe mislimo na umetniška dela, ki se ukvarjajo z živimi “materiali”, Bios pa so umetniška dela, ki so v glavnem kulturne interpretacije “žive narave”, ki pogosto vključujejo vzvratni tehnološki inženiring določenega naravnega pojava. Namen te kuratorske predpostavke je ustvariti določeno napetost v dihotomiji Zoe in Biosa ter problematizirati položaj in vlogo tehnologije v družbi in v bio-politični sferi. Med pripravami na najrazličnejše umetniške projekte smo se zmeraj srečevali s strahom ali bomo ustrezno povezali krhkost “živega faktorja” ter uspešno izvedli performans, razstavo ali instalacijo. Na primer Stelarcov performans (Split Body: Voltage In/Voltage Out, 1997) bi moral trajati šest ur, a se je končal po eni uri. Dogodek se je odvijal v začetku junija in bilo je tako neverjetno vroče, da nikakor nismo mogli ohladiti prostora. Stelarcu so se zaradi močnega potenja od telesa odlepile vse elektro1 Jurij Krpan je umetniški vodja Galerije Kapelica. Od leta 1995 oblikuje poslanstvo in programsko usmeritev galerije. / Jurij Krpan is Art Director of Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana. Since 1995 he has been developing mission and program direction of Kapelica Gallery.

Jurij Krpan. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

Zoe in Bios v galeriji Kapelica Zoe and Bios at Kapelica Gallery

de. Bilo je nevarno, saj bi si lahko poškodoval neenakomerno aktivirane mišice. To anekdoto navajam kot prikaz Zoe (mokro, živo telo) in Biosa (tehnološki konflikt). Z željo po čim globljem razumevanju dihotomije človek-stroj smo se lotevali podrobnih raziskav. Iskali smo umetnike, ki so bili resnično specialisti na svojem področju. Vedno bolj smo se posvečali podrobnostim, vedno bolj smo postajali hermetično zaprti, vedno več občinstva smo izgubljali. Sistematično smo želeli zagotoviti podroben vpogled v dihotomijo Zoe in Bios, da bi s tem njeno kompleksnost približali našim obiskovalcem. Ampak na žalost smo dosegli ravno nasproten učinek. Kljub našemu navdušenju nad zapleteno naravo izraznosti, ki jo zmorejo producirati umetniške naprave z namenom posnemanja, reflektiranja ali kritiziranja, jih večina ljudi dojema kot zgolj še enega v množici strojev, podobnega že videnim, ki je bolj ali manj lep kot prejšnji. Samo še en objekt. Gibljiv, toda še vedno samo objekt. Interaktiven, toda zgolj lep ali grd. Niti besede o umetniškem sporočilu. Umetnikom smo pomagali pri izvedbi projektov in sčasoma smo se naučili, da gre pri tem za proces, ki je pogosto enako zanimiv kot umetniško delo. Pričeli smo se spraševati, kako bi pritegnili občinstvo, ki bi lahko sodelovalo pri procesu produkcije. Takrat je bilo to videti nemogoče. Nato smo začeli predstavljati trajna dela – torej dela, ki zahtevajo čas. Goste smo vabili, naj pridejo znova. Kuai Shen, denimo, je razstavljal kolonijo mravelj; mravlje so gradile svoje strukture, ki so pravzaprav sožitje gliv in prsti; struktura je bila na začetku tako majhna, da ljudje niso vedeli, da gre za mravljišče, nato pa je postopoma rasla. Občinstvo želimo vključiti in hočemo, da postanejo del naših projektov. Na primer, pri projektu Špele Petrič smo publiko povabili, naj postane “telematski” del projekta. Veliko smo se naučili tudi kot gostitelji projekta SymbioticA. Zadovoljiti smo morali standarde sterilnega okolja, zato smo galerijo spremenili v laboratorij. Umetniki so izvajali neprekinjen nadzor, oskrbo in vzdrževanje. K sodelovanju smo vabili strokovnjake z različnih področij. Povezave so se okrepile, tako da imamo danes v galeriji Kapelica celo vrsto institucij, znanstvenikov in strokovnjakov, ki sodelujejo z nami in z umetniki. V projektu Unique je Polona Tratnik ustvarjala portrete obiskovalcev: iz različnih delov njihovih teles je jemala vzorce. Po določenem času so si lahko darovalci ogledali del sebe, ki ga do tedaj še niso videli, v petrijevkah. Z razvojem dela na tej ravni, z združevanjem biotehnoloških tem, materialov, postopkov in protokolov, smo se znašli na področju, ki je bilo na prvi pogled neprivlačno in na otvoritvenih večerih organizmi še niso bili popolnoma razviti. V tem času je na naše otvoritve prihajalo približno petnajst ljudi, večinoma naših prijateljev. Sčasoma smo doumeli, da moramo zgraditi novo občinstvo, takšno, ki bo razumelo povezavo med Zoe in Biosom ter med naravo in stroji. Razviti skušam diskurz, ki bi na preprost način razložil povezavo med naravnim življenjem in življenjem kot metaforo, proizvedeno s strani strojev. Poimenoval sem ga življenje kot objekt. Navdih sem črpal iz teoretične psihoanalize, ki raziskuje teorijo objektov in tudi vid in sluh razume kot objekta. Želim, da bi življenje kot objekt dojemali na podoben način kot tišino po Johnu Cageu: pred njim je tišina obstajala kot pogoj za igranje glasbe. Z njim je postala del kompozicije. In prav to je to, kar iščem: diskurze, ki bi nam omogočili razumevanje življenja kot nečesa, kar lahko dosežemo, naredimo, ustvarimo, dopustimo.

Ta Lacanov matem je zame prava uganka:

Preberemo ga lahko takole: resnično lahko razumemo nekaj, kar že obstaja v naravi; kar prilagaja naš vid funkciji, kar lahko sprejmemo v simboličnem odnosu do človeka. Torej, prilagajamo naše ugibanje o njegovi funkciji, ki jo lahko sprejmemo v simboličnem odnosu do človeka. ‘V naravi’ se nanaša na Zoe in (- j”) na tehnološke metafore, na Bios. Opažam, da pri umetniških delih, ki jih zdaj ustvarjamo in razvijamo, prihajamo na raven, kjer ni kot v naravi. Manjka nam simbolični teorem, ki bi nam pomagal razumeti, kaj bi lahko bila umetniška dela. Ustvarjamo “slepo pego”, okrog katere se Zoe in Bios spreminjata, približujeta. V galeriji Kapelica pripravljamo nekaj projektov, v katerih umetniki raziskujejo žive materiale s pomočjo biotehnoloških sredstev na tako neraziskani ravni, da je težko razumeti njihov pomen v povezavi z našo kulturo in sistemom vrednot. Teh poskusov ne opisujem kot “ustvarjanje narave” ali celo “proizvajanje post-narave”, raje jih razumem kot odprto strukturo Narave, ki je tudi sama po sebi vedno sposobna sprememb. Kaj to pomeni z ozirom na koncept življenja? Ali človeško ustvarjeni ‘oblikovalski atomi’ (kvantne pike), ki razširjajo periodni sistem elementov, spreminjajo anorgansko naravo? Ali bodo te nove življenjske oblike spremenile organsko naravo? Z raziskovanjem možnosti novih umetniških izrazov hkrati raziskujemo tudi možnosti seznanjanja občinstva z novimi umetniškimi oblikami. Vse več časa namenjamo delavnicam in različnim izobraževalnim programom. Mednje spada tudi NanoSmano – triletni ciklus delavnic, kjer gre za “nano punk” aktivnosti. Udeleženci se v prvem letu srečujejo z orodji, v drugem z materiali in v tretjem letu raziskujejo žive nano-strukture. Veliko je ‘naredi-sam’ naprav, ‘naredimo-skupaj’ protokolov, terenskega dela, bioelektronike in tako naprej – vse skupaj z namenom ustvarjanja diskurza med nami, umetniškim svetom in občinstvom, ki ga želimo pridobiti. Ko govorim o življenju kot objektu, želim povečati tudi občutljivost ter dovzetnost prihodnjih obiskovalcev galerije Kapelica za živo, polživo, neživo, skoraj živo in podobne oblike. ENG

I would mainly like to speak about an issue that has been bothering me lately, in fact it is a story about the lost love of our audience at Kapelica gallery. I’m not sure how familiar you are with our work at Kapelica Gallery, but our program is well structured; at first glance it may seem quite hybrid, but it has a very precise common thread. Most of the people that I know, and who know Kapelica Gallery, are only familiar with one side of our program. This can be understood as a symptom – it is expressed in a division of our visitors to two audiences, where one doesn’t know about the other. There are those who say ‘oh I love those body art projects that you are doing, they are really nasty, difficult, etc.’ They say ‘oh, it is so important that you’re doing this work; it is so difficult; but you’re never going to find sponsors’, and so on. On the other side you have people that mostly frequent projects related to technology; they are very techno- or computer-oriented, very much into robotics and similar. It is all about media culture, which deals with questions brought up by the extensive use of advanced technology in our everyday lives. This imaginary content divergence


Jurij Krpan. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

is blurring the focus that we always had at Kapelica Gallery: a focus on Life. In this presentation I am going to speak about the concepts behind my understanding of life and the symptom of misunderstanding (referring to our audience). Most visitors find the program at Kapelica Gallery too difficult. It is not the place they want to visit to be entertained. We are dead serious about what we are doing because we believe that art is something so very important, and that it’s not about entertaining people. In this way, we can properly introduce the artists, who are also serious about the issues they want to address in their artworks. They are the ones pushing the boundaries of our understanding, as well as researching and questioning the limits of our beliefs. We have been working with numerous artists who were deconstructing their identity, investigating their psychoenvironment, questioning their handicapped bodies in a very explicit way, and so on. In their artworks, there was no technology whatsoever vividly present at the time. Just bare, and very often naked ‘artists’ bodies. On the other side, there have been various projects employing the most spectacular of technologies: robotics, mechanical metaphors of bodies or bodily parts, engineered metaphors of life as such, lots of machinery, computers, wires, etc. Formally there was no connection between these artworks. However, in our curatorial thread we were always following the premise of investigating human-machine relationships – Zoe and Bios, where Zoe stands for artworks dealing with (a)live “materials”, and Bios for the artworks that are mostly cultural interpretations of “live nature”, often including the technological reverse engineering of a single natural phenomena. The aim of that curatorial premise is to bring the dichotomy of Zoe and Bios to a certain tension and to problematize the position and role of technology in society and in the sphere of bio-politics. Through the preparation of different art projects, we were always in fear whether we would properly match (succeed or fail) the fragility of the “live factor”, and successfully execute the performance, show or installation. For example, Stelarc’s performance (Split Body: Voltage In/Voltage Out, 1997) was meant to be a six-hour performance, but it ended in less than an hour. Why did this happen? Well, we organized it in the beginning of June, and it was so incredibly hot that there was no way we could cool the space. Stelarc was sweating so much that all the electrodes fell off his body. There was a danger that he could damage his unevenly actuated muscles. I am using this anecdote here as a demonstration of Zoe (this moist, alive body) and Bios (the (technology) conflict). In order to understand well the human-machine dichotomy, we were interested in very detailed investigation. We were looking for artists that were true specialists in their fields. We would go more and more into details, we became more and more hermetical, and lost more and more of our audience. We tried to systematically provide a detailed insight into the Zoe-Bios dichotomy, so that our visitors would be able to understand the complexity of the phenomenon. Sadly, the effect was just the

opposite. Despite our fascination with the complexity of expressions that different art machines are able to produce in order to mimic, reflect or criticize, the majority of gallery goers recognize them as just another machine, very similar to the one they saw before; more or less beautiful than the previous one. Just another object. Movable, but still an object. Interactive, but beautiful or ugly. Nothing about the art message. By assisting artists to carry out the projects, we began to understand that these were processes and that often the process is equally interesting as the artwork itself. So, we began to think about how to attract an audience that would take part in our process of production. At the time, that was impossible. Then we started to present “process works” – works that took time. And we would ask our guests please, come again. Kuai Shen, for example, brought one of his two ant colonies, and the ants were building their ant structures, which are in fact a symbiotic construction of fungus and soil; at the beginning it was small and nobody knew it had anything to do with ants, and then it grew bigger and bigger. We are trying to engage the audience; we want them to become a part of our projects. For example in Špela Petrič’s project the audience was invited to become a “telematic” part of the project. We learned a lot when we hosted the SymbioticA project at Kapelica Gallery. The gallery needed to be changed into a laboratory, to be able to conform to the standards of an aseptic environment. The artists performed continual monitoring, feeding and healing procedures. We started to invite experts from different fields to the gallery, and we have expanded these connections, so that today there are a lot of institutions, scientists and experts working with us and the artists at our gallery. In her project Unique, Polona Tratnik was portraying visitors by taking samples from various parts of their bodies. After a while the donors were able to see a part of themselves they never saw before, in the Petri dishes. By beginning our work on this scale, combining a lot of biotechnology topics, materials, procedures and protocols, we actually started to enter a realm that was completely unattractive at first sight, since the organisms were not fully developed at the opening of the exhibition. This was a time when we had no more than fifteen visitors at our openings and most of them were our friends. In time we realized that we have to build a new audience, one that will understand the connection between Zoe and Bios, between nature and machines. I am trying to develop a discourse which would describe in simple terms the connection between natural life and life as a metaphor produced by the machines. I named it life as an object. I got the inspiration from theoretical psychoanalysis, which deals with the theory of objects and sight and sound are also understood as objects. I want life as an object to be seen similarly to what John Cage did with silence: before him, silence was a condition for playing music. After him, it became a part of the composition. And this is what I’m really looking for: discourses that would allow us to understand life as something we can achieve, make, produce, allow.

I recall a Lacanian matheme, which really puzzles me:

We can read it like this: we can really understand something that is already in nature; that is adjusting our sight to the function, which can be accepted in symbolical relation to human. That is, adopting our guess about its function, which can be adopted in symbolic relations by man. ‘In nature’ stands for Zoe and (- j) stands for technological metaphors, i.e. for Bios. I see that with our artworks, which we exhibit and help to develop now, we are coming to a level, where it’s not like in nature. We are lacking this symbolic theoreme which could help us understand what the artworks could be. We are actually creating this ‘blank spot’, around which Zoe and Bios are alternating, coming closer. At Kapelica Gallery we are producing a couple of projects where the artists are exploring living materials with biotechnological means, at a level that is so unexplored, that it is difficult to understand meanings in relation to our culture and the system of our values. I wouldn’t describe these attempts as ‘designing nature’, or even ‘producing post-nature’, but rather understand them simply as an open structure of Nature which is, also in itself, always capable of changing. So what does this mean with respect to the concept of life? Are man-made ‘designer atoms’ (quantum dots), which are enlarging the periodic system of elements, changing inorganic nature? Will these new life forms change organic nature? In order to explore the possibilities of new artistic expression, we are simultaneously exploring possibilities to communicate these new art forms to the audiences. Thus we become increasingly involved with workshops and education actions of different kinds. NanoSmano is one of them: it is a three-year workshop cycle of ‘nano punk’ activities, where participants were exploring tools in the first year, exploring materials in the second, and exploring living nano-structures in the third. There were a lot of DIY machines, DIT protocols, field trips, bioelectronics, and so on – all in order to create a discourse with us, the art world, and the audience we are trying to build. By speaking about life as an object, I would also like to raise the sensitivity of the future visitors of Kapelica Gallery to the living, semi-living, non-living, almost-living and so on.


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Sveži principi domačega bioarta Fresh Principles of Slovenian Bioart

Pogovor s Špelo Petrič, Majo Smrekar in Sašo Spačal Discussion with Špela Petrič, Maja Smrekar and Saša Spačal Miha Colner & Ida Hiršenfelder

Projekti v polju raziskovalnih umetnosti in zlasti bioarta praktično niso mogoči brez sodelavcev; tudi pri bolj programski umetnosti je zelo redko, da je isti človek avtor koncepta, programer in tudi organizator procesa. Kako si sploh umetnik izbere ljudi, s katerimi bo delal? Kako poteka ta komunikacija in kje je največ šumov? Maja Smrekar: Predvsem je pomembna vzpostavitev etike medsebojnega sodelovanja, katere izhodišča so pogojena s področjem, ki ga zastopa vsak k projektu povabljeni sodelavec. Saša Spačal: Pri mojih dosedanjih projektih je bil izbor sodelavcev precej spontan. Med raziskavo in koncipiranjem projekta sem naletela na strokovnjake, ki so pokazali interes za sodelovanje in so bili dovolj odprti, da se lotijo postavljenega problema na drugačen način, kot so bili navajeni. Pri komunikaciji s sodelavci se trudim, da bi imeli vsi dostop do vseh informacij tudi z drugih področij, kot jih kot strokovnjaki pokrivajo – saj menim, da le popolna transparentnost in odkrit dialog pripeljeta do globljega razumevanja vprašanja, ki si ga zastavimo, pa tudi do boljših rešitev, ki dvignejo naše delo na raven, ki jih sam strukturni ustroj znanosti ni zmožen doseči zaradi administrativnih omejitev in produkcijskih pogojev dela. Zato se v naših dialogih pojavljajo tudi vprašanja, ki lahko izzvenijo banalno na določenih strokovnih ali znanstvenih področjih, a so ključna, da se pomeni jasno prenesejo iz enega diskurzivnega oziroma strokovnega polja v drugo. Vsi sodelujoči smo neke vrste prevajalci, ki prevajamo določene termine, znanstvene protokole, tehnične pogoje ali estetske koordinate. Vzpostavi se specifičen dialog, znotraj katerega preizprašujemo smiselnost zastavljenega problema in izvedljivost našega odgovora nanj. Špela Petrič: Uspešna komunikacija se redko vzpostavi spontano, saj običajno zahteva precej obojestranskega potrpljenja, truda in interdisciplinarnega delovanja. Odvisno je od ravni, na kateri se povežemo: ali gre za sodelavce, ki pomagajo le pri tehnični izvedbi ali pa za soavtorstvo z osebo, ki kritično presoja tudi vsebinski del projekta. Pri soavtorstvu je izziv sproti utemeljevati hierarhijo in povezave med elementi projekta, ker se med raziskovalnim procesom spreminjajo. Obenem pa kontinuirano preizpraševanje idejo izčisti in tako se lahko bistveno spremeni tudi način predstavitve. Kje pravzaprav iščete sodelavce? Gre namreč za umetniške projekte, ki različnim sodelavcem v finančnem smislu ne ponujajo veliko. MS: Po navadi do sodelavcev, ki jih želim povabiti k projektu, pridem skozi raziskavo področja. Nato na podlagi informacij in pridobljenega znanja vzpostavim okvirje produkcijskih zmožnosti ter dialog s posamezniki iz naravoslovne in/ali humanistične znanstvene smeri. Pri medinstitucionalnem sodelovanju je dostikrat težko najti prave povezave in socialni kapital pride zelo prav. Po navadi to pomeni vrsto sestankov z ljudmi na fakultetah, inštitutih ali podjetjih, ki jim je potrebno na ustrezen način predstaviti idejo in vse elemente potencialnega sodelovanja. Ali se vzpostavi sodelovanje, je odvisno od višine produkcijskih sredstev, ki so za projekt na voljo; tudi zato je pomembno sodelovanje z institucionalnimi kadri in souporaba tehnološkega materiala produkcijskih partnerjev. SS: Pri dogovarjanju s potencialnimi sodelavci je pomembno tudi institucionalno ozadje umetnika, saj so navajeni komunicirati znotraj institucionalnega okvira. Predvsem zaradi produkcijskih pogojev – uporabe določene tehnične opreme ali sistema referenc – sodelovanje na projektu, ki ga podpira določena državna ali mednarodna institucija, kotira višje. Skozi takšne institucionalne vezi se lahko začnejo dogovori in posveti, kjer se pojasni

osnovna ideja ter tehnološka in konceptualna plat projekta. ŠP: Proces iskanja sodelavcev je predvsem oranje ledine. Ko so odnosi enkrat vzpostavljeni, zlasti če so izkušnje pozitivne, je v drugo veliko lažje sodelovati. Zgodi se celo, da začetno zadržanost strokovnjakov nadomestita entuziazem in samoiniciativa. Delovanje v preseku znanosti in umetnosti je vezano tudi na kulturno okolje oziroma na državo. Na Nizozemskem, na primer, je področje kreativnih industrij in biotehnologije bolj razvito in dobro podprto, bolj utečeni so mehanizmi razpisov za umetnike, ki jih nudijo raziskovalne institucije ali industrija. Z iniciacijskega in administrativnega stališča je lažje vstopiti v strokovno okolje, ki nudi projektu ustrezno podporo in financiranje, a je tudi zanimanje in s tem konkurenca med umetniki veliko večja. Kako je z avtorstvom pri sodelovanjih, kjer imajo vsi nek interes v javnem polju in vsi želijo reference? Kako se dodeljuje avtorstvo sodelavcem in kako se vzpostavljajo različni nivoji sodelovanja? Kaj pravzaprav za znanstvenika pomeni imeti referenco v polju umetnosti? ŠP: Če se osredotočim na vprašanje referenc, je to zelo odvisno od interesa osebe, ki sodeluje z umetnikom. Nekateri znanstveniki sodelujejo ali svetujejo pri projektih, vendar javno ne želijo biti omenjeni, ker se morda ne znajo ali na primer ne želijo opredeliti do posledic, ki bi jih takšno sodelovanje lahko imelo zanje. Nekatere institucije izrecno povedo, na kakšen način želijo biti predstavljene; gre zlasti za organizacije, podjetja ali inštitute, katerih financiranje je odvisno od njihovega pojavljanja v javnosti. Če pa gre za tesno sodelovanje na različnih produkcijskih nivojih, se na osnovi osebne etike in konsenza odločimo za soavtorstvo, pri čemer se tudi odgovornost za izvedbo projekta porazdeli med avtorji. SS: Po mojih izkušnjah se nihče ni branil omembe ali celo zavračal navedbo pri projektu. Sodelavce vedno prosim, da jasno artikulirajo način navedbe, da bi bilo njihovo sodelovanje vsaj do neke mere prepoznano tudi znotraj njihove stroke. O avtorstvu se dogovorimo na začetku projekta glede na konceptualno zasnovo in potrebe produkcije, kar vključuje tudi prevzemanje odgovornosti za določene faze produkcije. Če bi se v času razvoja dela izkazalo, da je nekdo ključno doprinesel h konceptualni zasnovi ali prevzel veliko večji delež odgovornosti za organizacijo produkcije, kot je bilo predvideno v začetku, se lahko avtorstvo tudi razširi. Avtorstvo pri tovrstnih delih je torej stvar dogovora, ki zahteva nenehno ozaveščanje stopnje angažmaja vseh sodelujočih. MS: Zgodi se tudi, da so nekateri sodelavci ambivalentni in se jim ne zdi pomembno, da bi bili omenjeni pri javni predstavitvi projekta, čeprav jih vedno omenim v zahvalah. Sicer pa se s sodelavci skupaj dogovarjamo o poimenovanju njihovega segmenta sodelovanja. Če se dogovorimo za delno kritje materialnih stroškov, smo naredili nekaj tudi znotraj področja, s katerim se ti sodelavci ukvarjajo, pri čemer pomeni sodelovanje pri projektu dodatno referenco tudi zanje.

sodelovanja, vzpostavimo metodo dela in časovni okvir izvedbe posameznih faz projekta. ŠP: Ena izmed objektivnih razlik med raziskovalcem in umetnikom, ki želi delovati v polju znanosti, je, da ima umetnik na voljo veliko manj časa za praktično izvedbo raziskave in projekta. Inkubacijski čas preigravanja idej in konceptualnega osmišljanja je lahko poljubno dolg, pri meni na primer več let, čas za iskanje različnih izvedbenih možnosti in zlasti preverjanje pa je veliko krajši. V idealnih razmerah bi imel umetnik laboratorijsko infrastrukturo na voljo ves čas procesa, vendar v trenutnih razmerjih z institucijami, ki so prostorsko, stroškovno in tudi kadrovsko omejene, to ni možno, zato sodelovanja potekajo v najkrajšem možnem roku in izven delovnega časa. MS: Zaradi raziskovalne narave nikoli ne sestavim koncepta čisto do konca, ampak ostaja praviloma odprt. Če strokovni sodelavci poleg tehnološkega diskurza z umetnikom komunicirajo tudi na konceptualni ravni, je to idealno – vendar, tudi če ni tako, se vsebina gradi skozi proces raziskovanja, kar na koncu privede do rezultata oziroma produkta. Hkrati se pojavi ključno vprašanje, kaj sploh je intermedijska umetnost? Vzpostavljen je namreč trend, da mora biti javno predstavljeno delo zaključeno (karkoli naj bi to že pomenilo), kljub temu, da se ukvarjamo s področjem, kjer je praviloma v ospredju proces. SS: To pravzaprav zahteva sistem financiranja. Sicer tega nihče ne bi želel narediti – glede na to, da imamo vedno premalo časa in produkcijskih sredstev, obenem pa kup idej, kako stvari nadgraditi. Moja izkušnja je, da sem po navadi postavila koncept, nato sem začela komunicirati z znanstveniki in programerji. Postavila sem hipotezo, ki smo jo potem testirali in skozi dialog na različnih strokovnih področjih tudi modificirali. Končni rezultat se je vselej pojavil zaradi postavljenega roka, a ta rezultat bi prej kot “končni produkt”, kar zahteva logika financiranja, lahko imenovala predstavitev faze, do katere je bila raziskava mogoča pod danimi pogoji. Vedno namreč obstajajo področja, ki bi jih bilo mogoče bolj raziskati in drugače izpeljati, dalje testirati in postavljati nove hipoteze. Ta proces je res neskončen in pravzaprav nekompatibilen z logiko izpeljave končnih izdelkov, ki jih strukturno narekuje sistem. Seveda pa je mogoče to strukturno pogojenost preseči s čim večjo stopnjo transparentnosti raziskave in razkritjem samega procesa gledalcu. ŠP: Zame ni izziv določiti, kdaj je delo končano, temveč tudi, kako ga pokazati izven okvirov končnega produkta. Kako razpreti proces, ki je pripeljal do umetniškega dela? Ta proces, ki vključuje številne kompromise na račun “narave živega”, vse spremembe koncepta, ki niso posledica površnega poznavanja literature, temveč ker se realnost v konkretnem primeru enostavno ne sklada s predvidevanji, je značilnost dela z živimi bitji, v znanstveno-raziskovalni sferi ali v bioumetnosti. Prav tu se znanstvena paradigma v smislu metodologije stika z umetnostjo. Tako umetnik kot znanstvenik ne vesta, dokler ne poskusita. Končna izvedba ali prezentacija težje prikaže vse tiste šume in napake, ki so se zgodili v procesu.

Kako pa poteka sodelovanje z znanstveniki v praksi? Eno je na ravni pogovora in svetovanja, verjetno pa opravljajo zelo konkretne naloge, ki jih sami umetniki ne bi zmogli. MS: Skozi umetnost tematiziram življenje tukaj in zdaj v najširšem smislu ter iz najrazličnejših perspektiv, pri tem me raziskovanje določenega fenomena pripelje do vzpostavitve komunikacije s strokovnjaki s področja naravoslovnih znanosti. Umetniki in znanstveniki delimo skupno intenco po raziskovanju in če se z vzpostavljenimi pravimi ključnimi besedami srečamo na teh stičiščih, se dialog praviloma konstruktivno nadaljuje. Ko zastavimo temelje konceptualnega, logističnega in tehnološkega

Ko govorimo o raziskovanju in vzporejamo znanost in umetnost, se pojavita dva popolnoma različna pristopa: v znanosti eksperiment pomeni nekaj povsem drugega kot v umetnosti. Za razliko od umetnikov, ki se pogosto prvič srečujejo s temi procesi, pomenijo znanstvenikom določeni postopki rutino in ne eksperimenta. Znanstveniki verjetno ne delajo inovacij v umetniške namene. SS: Najlažje je, ko znanstvenik sam izrazi željo po sodelovanju, ker vidi v konceptu umetniškega projekta možnost za testiranje določenih tez, izvajanja protokolov in eksperimentov, ki jih znotraj znanstvenega polja ne bi mogel izpeljati zaradi rigoroznosti pogojev dela.


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MS: Večinoma umetniki vzpostavljamo dialog z znanstveniki in jih povabimo k sodelovanju znotraj področja, ki ga raziskujejo; predstavitev teme v umetniškem kontekstu je njegov vsebinsko-formalni odvod. SS: Trenutno sem s svojim projektom Sinergija v situaciji, kjer bi bilo – če bi imeli več časa in bi znanstvenik lahko izvedel vse protokole – to do neke mere celo mogoče. Projekt smo izvedli do določene faze – in če bo možno, ga bomo nadaljevali, saj rokujemo s tehnologijo, ki do sedaj ni bila dostopna, in potrebnih bo veliko več testov. Pri tem projektu proučujemo možnost komunikacije možganskih valovanj treh oseb hkrati, kar do sedaj – zaradi tehničnih omejitev in verjetno tudi kakšnih drugih interesov znotraj znanstvenih krogov – še ni bilo testirano v takšnem obsegu. Znotraj znanstvenega polja se testi večinoma opravljajo na enem človeku, medtem ko mi delamo na opazovanju komunikacije več možganskih valovanj hkrati.

Skratka, ti projekti so bolj kot v sami znanosti uporabljajo v didaktičnem procesu. ŠP: Komentirala bi še nekoliko utopično trditev o sodelovanju med umetnostjo in znanostjo, da naj bi umetnik neposredno oplemenitil znanstvenikove raziskave s tem, ker misli “out-of-the-box”, skratka z idejami, ki jih raziskovalci dotlej niso imeli. Kot prvo, tudi ob predpostavki, da se je umetnik predhodno izčrpno pozanimal o interesnem polju, mora imeti nekaj sreče, da postavi znanstveno relevantno vprašanje – torej takšno, ki ni niti preveč banalno niti nerešljivo ali znanstveno-fantastično. Ta točka je pravzaprav izziv tudi za znanstvenike. Kot drugo, ne gre pričakovati, da bi znanstvenik v delovnem času izvajal umetnikove poskuse, če so izven teme, ki jo sicer proučuje. Preden umetnik participira pri delu, se mora podučiti o praktičnih aspektih izvedbe – čas, ki ga znanstvenik porabi za to, da umetniku približa področje, ni enako učinkovit, kot če bi se zadeve lotil sam. Praktično vrednost umetnikove intervencije v strokovni svet je treba iskati drugje kot pri neposredni izboljšavi znanstvenih raziskav – njegova radovednost, zlasti ob možnosti dodatnega financiranja, lahko omogoči raziskovalcu, da se loti nečesa novega, izven raziskovalnega programa in brez pritiskov nadrejenih. Menim, da bi tudi sicer raziskave pridobile na kvaliteti ali vsaj inovativnosti, če bi se občasno odvijale izven okvirov pridobivanja izključno “objavljivih” rezultatov. MS: Sodelovanja so sicer medinstitucionalna, vendar nimamo skupnih razpisov in skupnih rokov oddaje. Če bi bila sodelovanja institucionalizirana na tej ravni, bi to pripomoglo k spremembi načina vzpostavitve delovnih odnosov in k pojmovanju (so)avtorstva. Ko govorite o avtorstvu in soavtorstvu, kakšnih praks ste se posluževale do zdaj? Se umetnik običajno postavi v vlogo avtorja? Kako je to potekalo na primer pri sodelovanju Saše Spačal s Tadejem Droljcem? SS: Avtorstvo vidim kot stvar dogovora oziroma kot ozaveščanje stopnje angažmaja sodelujočih, ki temelji na doprinosu h konceptu in prevzemanju odgovornosti za organizacijo produkcije. Pri delu 7K: nova oblika življenja sem bila jaz navedena kot avtorica, Tadej Droljc in Joby Harding pa kot tehnična ekipa. Delo Sinergija pa že od samega koncepta dalje razvijam skupaj s Tadejem Droljcem in zato sva oba navedena kot avtorja. MS: Konteksti so različni. Zame je avtor tisti, ki skozi povezovanje vseh omenjenih meddisciplinarnosti avtorsko artikulira vsebinsko in formalno plat projekta, hkrati pa je koordinator procesa in sodelavcev ter vseh vpletenih akterjev in sprejme odgovornost na vseh ravneh projekta. V primeru kakršne koli napake ali zaustavitve procesa se odloči, v katero smer se bo projekt nadaljeval. Ne nazadnje sprejema tudi finančne odločitve, torej, kako se bodo porazdelila sredstva znotraj projekta, upoštevajoč vse uspehe in neuspehe na poti do realizacije. Vsekakor pa morajo biti pri javnih predstavitvah projekta omenjeni vsi sodelavci – v kakšnem kontekstu se bo to zgodilo, pa je pri mojih avtorskih projektih odvisno od medsebojnega dogovora.

Maja Smrekar. SC 2012, foto / photo Boštjan Lah

Presenetljivo, saj je proučevanje možganov staro vsaj toliko kot genetika. SS: Kognitivni nevroznanstvenik Simon Brežan, svetovalec pri projektu, mi je razložil, da to do sedaj ni bilo mogoče zaradi tehnoloških omejitev. Meritve signalov možganskih valov niso bile dovolj natančne, kar je bila dodatna motivacija Brežana, da se nam pridruži pri projektu, saj bi znotraj svojega znanstvenega okolja težje izvedel tovrstni eksperiment. ŠP: Znanstveniki lahko v umetniških projektih vidijo njihovo didaktično vrednost. Raziskovalno temo lahko predstavijo na način, ki za razliko od strokovnih člankov presega utilitarnost in hermetičnost znanstvenega jezika in tako širši publiki omogoča njeno razumevanje.

ŠP: Morda je smiselno izpostaviti, da je tudi v znanosti avtorstvo že zelo dolgo tema razprav in marsikdaj rak-rana sodelovanja. Avtorstvo se v znanosti namreč dodeljuje po nenapisanih, a rigidnih pravilih. V strokovnih člankih je na primer vodja laboratorija običajno korespondenčni avtor, ne glede na to, koliko je prispeval k raziskavi. Poleg raziskovalca, ki opravi večino laboratorijskega dela, so pri članku pogosto navedeni še sodelavci, ki izvedejo določen postopek, vendar ne sodelujejo pri interpretaciji svojih rezultatov v kontekstu celotnega članka. Za posameznika, zlasti tistega, ki je vložil največ časa in dela, je lahko situacija frustrirajoča, saj se kasneje točkovna vrednost objavljenega članka deli s številom avtorjev. V situaciji, ki jo je opisala Maja – torej, da je za ves proces odgovoren en človek – vprašanja avtorstva pravzaprav ni. Ker pa se delovni proces večinoma ne odvija tako enoznačno, je ključno, da se preko pogovora doseže konsenz, ki ustreza vsem vpletenim. Poleg samega procesa in rezultatov imajo vaši projekti tudi sporočilno noto, ki je običajno zelo ideološka. Kakšen je odnos med odprtostjo in svobodo umetniškega izraza, ki lahko ostaja na ravni ideje, fikcije, in znanostjo, ki zahteva jasne rezultate, fakte. Kako pomembna so ta sporočila in kako pomembno je to, da jih dejansko dokažete z znanstvenimi sredstvi? Je dovolj le izraziti in predstaviti idejo? MS: Odgovor je odvisen od konteksta, kaj je za nekoga ideja in kaj je končna izjava, kar je posledica odločitve avtorja ali avtorske skupine. Nekatera dela ostanejo na ravni ideje. K temu, da delo zgolj ilustrira idejo ali je predstavljeno kot povsem polnokrven interdisciplinaren produkt sodelovanja umetnikov in znanstvenikov, botrujejo mnogi razlogi. SS: Kaj je ideja in kaj končna izjava, je stvar konteksta. Vsako raziskovanje s svojim okvirjem narekuje tudi stopnjo realizacije. Prizadevam si, da bi idejo pripeljala do praktične realizacije, neke vrste prototipa, ki ostaja znotraj umetniškega polja, v polje znanosti pa lahko vstopi le kot opomba možnega. A situacije, kjer bi se to dalo

realizirati do končne faze, so zelo redke – mogoče je priti zgolj do točke, ki jo omogoča materialna situacija, s tem mislim na produkcijske pogoje in tehnične omejitve. ŠP: Dela, ki so fantastična ali radikalna, so ravno tako pomembna kot tista, ki apropriirajo že znane postopke. Vendar se mi zdi pomembno, da umetnik publiki razkrije, če gre za simulacijo oziroma miselni eksperiment ali za nekaj, kar se je dejansko izvedlo. Če je simulacija razkrita, ima v mojih očeh delo večjo kredibilnost kot prepričevanje o verodostojnosti z nerazumnimi “dejstvi”. Ob neuspelem poskusu/projektu se umetnik sooči z najbolj neusmiljeno lastnostjo bioumetnosti, z njeno neprilagodljivostjo in nepredvidljivostjo. In tako bioumetnik odkriva tudi tkanino znanosti, kjer beseda “ne vem” iz ust strokovnjaka ni stigmatizirana, ampak je dojeta kot gonilna sila raziskovanja. Načeli smo vprašanje predstavitve projektov. Govorile ste o tem, da je treba predstavljati tudi sam proces, ki mora biti jasen tudi publiki. Kakšen je pri vaših projektih odnos med didaktičnostjo in pripovednostjo ter estetiko in poetiko, ki presega poučevanje o znanstveni paradigmi? Kako pogosto estetika laboratorija postane fetiš? ŠP: To je pravzaprav vprašanje osebnih preferenc. Sama sem trenutno v obdobju, ko se mi zdi, da je način komunikacije preko snovnosti projekta zelo pomemben, saj omogoča razumevanje dela tudi tistim, ki bi jih didaktičnost odbila – program Discovery ni po okusu vsakega. Stremim k temu, da delo obiskovalce nagovori na senzoričen in ne le na intelektualen način. SS: Menim, da lahko poetika in estetika pomenita idealen vstop v vsebino in pripoved dela, da lahko pritegneta umetnika in proizvedeta določeno intelektualno radovednost. Če je izkušnja dela potopitvena oziroma imersivna, tako da prevzame vse čute gledalca, lahko omogoči izkušnjo drugačne realnosti, je tudi komentar na trenutno sprejeto realnost, ki jo imamo za resnično. Izkušnja je tako namig na nekaj možnega, kar (še) ne obstaja. Po uvodni čutni izkušnji je globina branja vsebine dela pov-


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sem odvisna od posameznika in s tem tudi njena dostopnost. Je ta poetika dovolj za zaključek ali prezentacijo umetniškega dela? MS: Tudi na področjih slikarstva in kiparstva so se stoletja odkrivale tehnologije, orodja in načini, s katerimi so umetniki izražali vsebino in preko nje komunicirali s publiko. Podoben princip velja tudi pri bioumetnosti. V splošnem okviru komunikacije vsebine, pri kateri govorimo o “tukaj in zdaj”, torej se ukvarjamo z življenjem per se, se stvari praviloma odvijajo v realnem času. Ker za prvine svojega izražanja uporabljamo materiale s področja znanosti, moramo temu primerno oblikovati tudi okolje v galeriji ali drugje izven laboratorija, kjer je projekt predstavljen. Povezovanje znanosti in umetnosti se vzpostavlja že kar nekaj časa, in prav je, da vsebino predstavimo gledalcem tudi vizualno, ker želimo vzpostaviti dialog z najširšo publiko. Živimo v dobi podob in te obiskovalca praviloma nagovorijo, kako vstopiti v projekt, kar ga povede naprej v poglobitev in konzumacijo vsebine, skozi katero lahko vzpostavi transfer s projektom. Projekti so večkrat lahko videti hermetični, ker se material naše komunikacije pogosto nahaja na ravni nevidnih naravnih aksiomov. ŠP: S povedanim se strinjam, čeprav se mi zdi, da si na ta način zelo hitro omejen z reprezentacijami, ki so bile narejene za znanstvene namene. Tudi bela halja, gelska elektroforeza ali pipeta so rezultat oblikovanja, ki danes nima samo funkcionalne vrednosti, temveč tudi simbolno. Zanimivo vprašanje pa je, kako reprezentirati polje znanosti, ne da bi se oprli na te kodekse. MS: To je sicer umetnikova odločitev, vendar je rezultat lahko neprimerljivo bolj hermetičen, če proces, v katerem je vsebina tesno povezana s tehnologijo, ni skomuniciran. ŠP: Zato se mi zdi to zanimivo izhodišče ali izziv. Pogovor se seveda nanaša na vaše delo, a povezovanje znanosti in umetnosti se kaže tudi pri delih, ki temeljijo na programih. Ali v polju bioumetnosti vladajo druge zakonitosti pri vprašanjih estetizacije? Kako se določene paradigme prevajajo iz znanosti? MS: Pri predstavitvi projekta BrainTV/rcv: 10.95 – 11.7 GHz, snd: 5.8 GHz je bilo pomembno, da se celoten proces prikazuje na razstavljenih zaslonih v realnem času. S sodelavcem Luko Prinčičem sva v performansu ves proces spremljala in ga sooblikovala v živo skupaj s performerko Alenko Marinič, vendar bi bilo premalo, če bi prikazali samo ta del projekta. Pomembno je bilo nastalo frekvenčno materijo sporočati na način, ki je razkrila dokaz. S tem je bila vsebina projekta boljše predstavljena kot zgolj na formalni in diskurzivni ravni. SS: Menim, da konkretnih zakonitosti reprezentacij oziroma estetizacije ni oziroma, da si jih vsak sam postavi. Razvijajo se, če jih avtor konsistentno izvaja, da sporoči želeno. Pri vsakem delu posebej potrebuje specifične vizualne in prostorske zakonitosti, pa tudi dramaturške prijeme. Glede prevajanja znanstvenih paradigem pa bi rekla, da se vsekakor lahko uporabijo kot estetska rešitev, seveda z namenom proizvajanja določenega učinka. Pri delu 7K: nova oblika življenja smo uporabili mikroskopske posnetke in na zaslonu v realnem času prikazovali graf količine CO2. Izpostavili smo dejstvo, da se na zaslonu ne prikazuje fiktiven scenarij oziroma znanstvena fantastika, ampak da ima ta scenarij znanstveno osnovo, na podlagi katere je bil zasnovan in razvit. Seveda bi bilo idealno, da bi bil v celoti izveden v realnem času oziroma sočasno, a na žalost takšna tehnologija še ni razvita. Kakšen je vaš odnos do naprednih tehnologij, biomedicine, biotehnologije in genetskega inženiringa? Znanost je pod državno kontrolo ali je del korporacij in je v družbi predstavljena pozitivno kot nekaj, kar bo prineslo napredek. Kakšen je vaš odnos do tega? Ali znanost in razne tehnologije služijo svojem namenu? MS: Znanost naj bi prinašala napredek, ki ga družba vidi kot nekaj pozitivnega, hkrati pa je prisoten tudi faktor strahu v zvezi s spremembami. Predvsem mediji in pop kultura podžigajo to ambivalenco, kakor jim pride prav v določenem kontekstu. Ali je strah upravičen? SS: Pri tehničnem napredku in znanstvenih odkritjih je ključno vprašanje, kdo jih je omogočil in zakaj. V kasnejših fazah je pomembna njihova dejanska aplikacija, torej, kako se ta dognanja uporabljajo, ali je javnosti omogočen dostop. Na tem mestu naletimo na vprašanje politike in moči, ki ta dognanja spravijo v materialno realnost in kasneje tudi v splošno uporabo. Mediji imajo moč, da vsebine manipulirajo do stopnje, ko javnost to razume tako ali drugače. Posamezne dosežke prikazujejo ustrezno promociji določenih industrij, pri čemer je faktor

strahu povsem upravičen, saj javnost stežka prepoznava, kaj služi interesom finančnega kapitala in kaj posamezniku. ŠP: Ena od možnih funkcij bioumetnosti je tudi razkrivanje, da znanstveni procesi niso neodvisni. Zavedati se moramo, da znanstvena paradigma določa, katera področja se bodo raziskovala, kako bo proces potekal in celo, kakšni naj bodo zaključki. Dejstvo je, da so politični ali kapitalski interesi posredno odločujoči dejavniki pri določanju teme raziskave. Znanstveniki so morda glede tega malce slepi; v skladu z znanstveno metodo iščejo dejstva, obenem pa jih ne zanimajo konteksti, v katerih delujejo. Umetnik je v privilegirani poziciji, da poudari razliko med znanostjo in znanjem ter tako zmanjša avtoriteto znanstvenih zaključkov (ki so, konec koncev, zgolj logične interpretacije doslej zbranih podatkov) – tu imam v mislih predvsem medijsko razvpite primere klimatologije, medicine ali nutricionizma. Znanost proizvaja znanje le znotraj svoje paradigme, toda znanje lahko pridobimo tudi na druge načine. Kje tu nastopi umetnik s svojim kritičnim odnosom? Znanstveniki so vseeno bolj obveščeni o tem, kako delujejo farmacevtski izdelki ali vojaške tehnologije. Ali ni morda preveč optimistično pričakovati, da bi imel umetnik večje možnosti reagirati na uporabo rezultatov? Kakšna je dejanska potenca umetniških subverzij? ŠP: Kot prvo se mi ne zdi, da bi bilo umetnikovo poslanstvo rešiti človeštvo … MS: Morda vsaj tretji svet … (smeh) ŠP: … niti ne menim, da bi smeli znanstvene raziskave glede na njihovo potencialno uporabnost klasificirati kot “dobre” ali “slabe”. Poudarjam zgolj dejstvo, da lahko umetnik s sinteznim pogledom predstavi različna gledišča. Na primer, kakšna je sociopolitična ali ekonomska vloga znanosti v družbi? V znanosti moraš delovati malce

obsesivno in zelo fokusirano, da si sposoben na primer vsako jutro z britvico prerezati vrat petim mladim podganam, ali mleti koščke tkiva, ki so jih odvzeli bolnikom, umrlim zaradi raka na želodcu. A verjetno ni le trda koža tisto, kar povzroča slepoto za kontekst raziskovanja. Gre za občo človeško lastnost, da se na znanem terenu počutimo udobno in nimamo potrebe po tem, da bi svoj mir kalili z drugačnimi, nebistvenimi nazori. Umetniško delo, ki je prevod znanstveno-raziskovalnega dela, hkrati pa se opira na družbene pojave, je zaradi možnosti identifikacije izvrsten medij, da si raziskovalci postavijo vprašanje: »Kako bi delo, ki ga opravljam, dojemal pravnik, ekonomist ali upokojenec?« MS: Višina v raziskavo vloženega kapitala povečuje eksplicitno moč nadzora znanstvenih raziskav in posledično možnih zlorab. Odvisno je tudi od geopolitičnega konteksta, o katerem področju sveta govorimo: nekdo je lahko eksistencialno primoran, da postavi etiko svojega sveta in preživetja pred etiko celotne družbe. Spet drugi imajo izbiro. Če govorimo o znanstvenikih, s katerimi sodelujem v institucijah, ki so financirane predvsem ali zgolj iz javnih sredstev, pomeni to čisto nekaj drugega, kot če bi sodelovala s privatnimi znanstvenimi inštituti oziroma s podjetji, kot je na primer Monsanto, delniško družbo, pri kateri se zasebni kapital pač mora povrniti. Ekonomski odnosi v globalnem smislu veliko prej privedejo do skrajno neetičnih situacij. Oddelek Monsanta na primer razvija in patentira gensko spremenjene organizme, del te industrije pa proizvaja hrano za “tretji svet”. To je tudi logika organizacije UNICEF. MS: V tem kontekstu tega ne vrednotim kot dobro ali slabo. Govorim o dejstvih. To zveni kot sistem vzpostavljanja monopola?

Maja Smrekar, Špela Petrič (SI), Delavnica DNA zaporedje: Referenčne verjetnostne strukture Workshop DNA Sequencing: Referential Probability Structures. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič


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Ali je danes v umetnosti še prostor za dela, ki se ne ukvarjajo zgolj z družbeno političnim vprašanji, ampak z antropološkimi temami, ki ne naslavljajo zgolj tega, kar je novo ali trenutno najbolj problematično? MS: Pri svojih projektih se ne sprašujem, kaj je najnovejše. Zanima me življenje, v vseh oblikah, in če me znotraj tega v ožjem smislu zanima povezovanje znanosti in umetnosti, me v kontekstu časa zanimajo tiste tehnologije, ki jih zdaj uporabljamo, ni pa nujno, da so to najnovejše tehnologije. Glede družbeno političnega diskurza, ki je vpet v tovrstne projekte, se mi zdi pomembno zlasti njihovo ovrednotenje tudi s tega vidika. Ne govorim toliko o ideologijah – mogoče si sicer kdaj sposodimo diskurze, ki izhajajo iz ideologij – temveč o širšem okviru. Sodobni teoretski diskurzi skozi dela, ki skozi poglabljanje v dinamike, ki jih diktirajo kapital, družbeni statusi in meddisciplinarna področja s kompleksnimi načini delovanja v ozadju, parafrazirajo duh časa. SS: Vsak projekt poraja vprašanja, ki na začetku izhajajo iz naivne antropološke pozicije opazovalca. Šele kasneje to pozicijo ozavestim, razgradim in vpnem v mrežo logike kapitala, ideologij, tehnologij in znanosti. Poskušam poiskati vse tisto, kar pogojuje nek antropološki fenomen, ki naslavlja realnost v vsakdanjem življenju. Dejansko se

ukvarjam z aktualnim družbeno političnim in antropološkim hkrati, saj je nemogoče ubežati tej kombinaciji. Vidnost tega pa je odvisna od branja dela. ŠP: Zaradi lastne fascinacije posegati po najnovejši tehnologiji se mi ne zdi utemeljeno, saj ostaja v domeni prihodnosti in kot taka omogoča, da se aktualna vprašanja, ki jih obravnavam, pomete v koš z »globalnim segrevanjem« ali »trajnostnim razvojem« (torej z ideologijami, ki jih zaradi njihove negotovosti zlahka ignoriramo). Zanimajo me prepleti “udomačenih tem”, na primer GSO, genetsko testiranje ali vpliv sonca na počutje, in relevantnih znanstvenih diskurzov, skozi katere želim informirati in s tem emancipirati obiskovalce. Maja (Smrekar), poudarila si, da je vedno vse odvisno od kapitala. Kakšen bi bil utopični svet, če bi bila znanost nadrejena kapitalu? Vsi: (smeh) MS: Odnosa do kapitala ne poudarjam kot nekaj slabega ali kot vdanost v usodo. Je realnost, pri kateri imaš vrsto odgovornosti, ki označujejo tvoje delo. Mogoče se bo komu zdelo naivno, ampak do sedaj se je izkazalo, da delo v lokalnem okolju, s sredstvi, ki jih imamo za raziskovanje, reprezentacijo in realizacijo avtorskih projektov, dopušča precejšnjo svobodo izbora pri odločanju o refleksiji vsebin na področju znanosti. Videli bomo, kako bo s tem v prihodnje. Vprašanje je, kako na vsebinski in reprezentativni ravni reševati stisko časovnih omejitev, ki jo sproža birokratski aparat. Morda tako, da z vsemi ravnmi kapitala, ki ga kot umetnik vložiš v projekt, vselej bivaš onkraj njega. ENG

Projects in the field of research arts, especially bioart, are practically impossible to carry out without associates; even with programming art it is very rare to have the same person as the author of the concept, programmer, and organizer of the process. How do artists choose the people they will work with? How does this communication run, and where do most communication noises occur? Maja Smrekar: Above all, it is important to establish an ethics of mutual cooperation, whose starting points are conditioned by the fields represented by each of the individual associates that were invited to the project. Saša Spačal: So far, the choice of collaborators in my projects has been quite spontaneous. During re-

search and project conception I came across experts, who showed an interest to collaborate, and were open enough to tackle the posed problem in a different way from what they were used to. In communicating with my co-workers, I try to let everyone have access to all the information from different areas of expertise besides their own, because I believe that only full transparency and an open dialogue can lead to a deeper understanding of the question we are asking, and also to better solutions, which will elevate our work to a level that would otherwise be impossible to reach by the mere structural scientific system, because of administrative restrictions and production working conditions. This is why our dialogues often involve questions that may sound trivial in certain expert or scientific domains, but are of vital importance for the meanings to be clearly transferred from one discourse (or expert) field into another. We are all some sort of translators, translating specific terms, scientific protocols, technical conditions, or aesthetic coordinates. A specific dialogue is established, wherein we re-question the sense of the posed problem and the feasibility of our solution to it. Špela Petrič: Successful communication is rarely achieved spontaneously, because it usually demands a great deal of patience, effort, and interdisciplinary action on both sides. It depends on the level of connection: whether we are talking about co-workers who only help with the technical execution or about shared authorship with a person that critically estimates the content of a project as well. With co-authorship it is a challenge to substantiate regularly the hierarchy and the links between different project elements, because they change during the research process. At the same time a continuous re-questioning will have a purifying effect on the idea, which means that the way it is presented can also be altered significantly. Where do you actually look for collaborators? Considering that these art projects do not offer a lot – in terms of finances – to the various associates? MS: I usually meet the people I want to invite to join the project through field research. After that, on the basis of information and acquired knowledge, I establish a framework of production capacities and a dialogue with individuals from humanistic and/or natural science disciplines. With inter-institutional collaboration it is often hard to find the right connections, and social capital

Maja Smrekar, Špela Petrič. Galerija Kapelica 2011. Fotografija z dovoljenjem avtorice / Photo courtesy the artist

SS: Zastavlja se vprašanje, koliko je hrana, proizvedena za tretji svet, dejansko kvalitetna. Bila so namigovanja, da ima ta hrana določene kapitalske namene in da obstajajo razlogi, da jo pošiljajo v točno določene konce sveta. MS: Vsekakor, vendar tudi “kvalitetna” hrana, ki jo konzumiramo v Evropi, prihaja iz “tretjega sveta”. To je realnost. Kakšen diskurz bo vzpostavil umetnik in v kakšna razmerja bo postavil omenjena področja, je odvisno od njegovega vrednotenja odgovornosti v kontekstu polja znanosti, ki ga v svoji umetnosti parafrazira. Ker so naši avtorski projekti financirani iz davkoplačevalskega denarja, je prav, da so diskurzi in vsebine politični, da nagovarjajo družbo, ne samo v smislu didaktičnega izobraževanja, temveč da je diskurz umeščen onkraj pluralnosti sodb, ki temeljijo samo na dobri in slabi plati zgodbe. ŠP: V 90. letih, v času biotehnološkega entuziazma in razmaha bioumetnosti, so podjetja najemala umetnike kot glasnike njihovega tehnološkega napredka. Podjetja so določala okvir za interpretacijo umetniških del in na ta način manipulirala s sporočilom. Financiranje s strani davkoplačevalskega denarja omogoča delovanje, neodvisno od pritiska korporacij.


Špela Petrič. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

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comes in very useful. Usually this means a number of meetings with people from universities, institutes, or companies, who require an appropriate presentation of the idea and all the elements of potential collaboration. Whether collaboration is established depends on the amount of the production means available to the project; which is also why it is important to have a cooperative relationship with the institutional cadre, and a shared use of technological materials between production partners. SS: The institutional background of the artist is also an important factor in making arrangements with potential associates, because artists are used to communicate inside an institutional framework. Projects supported by the state or an international institution will rate higher – especially because of the production conditions: the use of specific technical equipment or a system of references. Such institutional bonds can therefore serve as a starting point for arrangements and meetings, where the basic idea and the project’s technological and conceptual perspectives are explained. ŠP: The process of looking for partners is, above all, breaking new ground. Once the relationships have been established, especially if the experience was a positive one, it is much easier to work together a second time. It even happens that the initial experts’ reservation is replaced by enthusiasm and self-initiative. Working at the crossroads of science and art is also connected to the cultural environment, i.e. the country. In the Netherlands, for example, the field of creative industries and biotechnology is more developed and firmly supported; the mechanisms for announcing public tenders for artists, or those offered by research institutions or the industry, are more settled. In terms of initiative and administration, it is easier to enter into an expert field that offers an appropriate support and financing to the project, but this also raises the general level of interest and competition among the artists.

cause they may not know how, or do not want to, take a stand towards the potential consequences of such collaboration. Some institutions will state explicitly in what way they want to be presented; these are mostly organizations, companies or institutes, whose financing depends on their public appearance. However, in the cases of close-knit collaboration on different production levels, we decide on co-authorship on the basis of personal ethics and consensus, which means also that the responsibility for the execution of the project is distributed among authors. SS: In my experience, no one ever avoided or even refused to be mentioned in the project. I always ask the people I work with to clearly articulate the way in which they are to be mentioned, so that their contributions would at least to some extent be recognizable inside their fields of expertise. We define authorship at the beginning stage of the project, considering the conceptual basis and the production needs, which also involve taking responsibility for specific production stages. If it turns out during the progress of the work that someone contributed crucially to the conceptual design, or took on a much bigger part of responsibility in the organization of production than was originally planned, their authorship can be extended. The question of authorship with such works, therefore, is a matter of agreement, which requires a constant awareness of the level of engagement on behalf of everyone involved. MS: It happens occasionally that some of the collaborators are ambivalent, and don’t think it’s important to be mentioned in a public presentation of the project, although I always mention them in the acknowledgements. But in general, my partners and I discuss together how we should term their segment of collaboration. If we agree on a partial reimbursement of material costs, it means that we also did something inside their field of work; and participating in such a project will serve as an additional reference to them as well.

What about authorship in those collaborations where everyone has a certain interest in the public field, and everyone is after references? How is authorship assigned to associates, and how are different levels of collaboration established? What does it mean actually, for a scientist to have a reference in the field of art? ŠP: Focusing on the part of references – it depends very much on the interest of the person collaborating with the artist. Some scientists contribute work or advice to projects, but do not wish to be mentioned publically, be-

What is working alongside scientists like in practice? It is one thing to have discussions and take advice, but they probably also have very concrete assignments, which artists could not perform on their own. MS: For me art is a way of thematizing life, here and now, in the broadest possible sense and from the most varied perspectives; through this the research of a particular phenomenon leads me to establish a communication with experts from the field of natural sciences. Artists and scientists share a common intent for research, and

if we manage to come together in these juncture points, by establishing the appropriate key vocabulary, then the dialogue will generally have a productive way forward. Once we set the foundations of the conceptual, logistic and technological cooperation, we set up a working method and a timeline for the individual project stages. ŠP: One of the objective differences between a researcher and an artist aspiring to work in the field of science, is that the artist has a much more limited amount of time available for the practical execution of the research and the project. The incubation period of playing with ideas and conceptual meaning-giving can vary in length; with me, for example, it’s as long as a few years, but the time for finding different execution possibilities, and especially checking them, is much shorter. In perfect conditions a laboratory infrastructure would be available to the artists during the entire time of the process, but in the current institutional relations – limited in space, costs, and personnel – this is not possible, so collaborations are conducted in the shortest possible time and outside of regular working hours. MS: Because of its research-oriented nature, I never finish the concept completely, generally leaving it some space. It is ideal if the expert collaborators, apart from the technological discourse, communicate with the artist on a conceptual level as well – but even if this is not the case, the content is constructed through the process of research, which ultimately leads to results, i.e. a product. At the same time a key question occurs: what is, in fact, intermedia art? A trend seems to have been set, that a publicly presented work has to be completed (for whatever that means), despite the fact that we are working in a field that generally emphasizes the process. SS: It is in fact required by the financing system. Otherwise, nobody would want to do that – considering that we are always short on time and production means, but have all these ideas about how to upgrade things. Personally, I usually set the concept first and then began to communicate with scientists and programmers. I postulated a hypothesis, which was then tested and modified through a dialogue in various expert areas. The final result always occurred because of a previously set deadline, but rather than calling it a “final product”, I would prefer to refer to this result – in terms of the logic of financing – as a presentation of the stage to which the research was allowed to develop under the given conditions. You see, there are always areas that could be further explored and treated differently, more tests could be applied and new


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hypotheses set. The process truly is an endless one, and in fact incompatible with the ‘final product’ logic that is being structurally dictated by the system. But indeed, this structural conditioning can be overcome with the highest possible level of research transparency, and the disclosure of the process itself to the viewer. ŠP: To me, the challenge is not to define the end-point of the work, but also the question of how to present the work outside the framework of an end-product. How does one ‘unfold’ a process that led to a work of art? This process, which includes a number of compromises on account of “the nature of the living”, and all the changes of the concept, which are not a consequence of a superficial knowledge of the literature, but result from the fact that reality in the concrete example just doesn’t fit the expectations – are characteristic of working with living beings, either in the research-scientific sphere, or in bioart. It is here that the scientific paradigm in the sense of methodology touches the art. Both the artist and the scientist will not know, until they have tried. It is harder for the final product or presentation to demonstrate all those obstacles and mistakes that have occurred during the process. When we talk about research and draw parallels between science and art, two entirely different approaches occur: in science, experiment is something quite different than it is in the field of art. As opposed to artists, for whom experiments are often processes they encounter for the first time, scientists consider certain procedures as routine, rather than experiment. Scientists probably do not create innovations for artistic purposes. SS: The easiest way is when scientists express their own desire to collaborate in an art project, because inside the concept they recognize a possibility for testing certain theses or conducting protocols and experiments that cannot be carried out in the scientific field, because of the rigorous working conditions. MS: Most artists try to establish a dialogue with the scientists. We invite them to work with us inside an area of their research; the presentation of the subject in an artistic context is its content-formal derivation. SS: With project Synergy, I am currently in a situation where that would almost be possible to a certain extent – if we had more time and the scientists could conduct all their protocols. We brought the project to a particular stage, and if possible, we will continue, because we are dealing with technology that was inaccessible up to this point, and which requires many more tests. The project studies the possibility of brain-wave communication between three persons simultaneously, something which so far – due to technical limitations and probably some other interests inside scientific circles – has not yet been tested in such a range. In the science field such tests are usually conducted on a single person, while we are trying to observe the communication of multiple brainwaves at the same time. That’s surprising, given that brain studies have been around for at least as long as genetics. SS: Simon Brežan, cognitive neuroscientist and project advisor, explained that it was not possible before because of technological limitations. Brain-wave signal measurements were not accurate enough, which was an additional motive for Brežan to join us, as it would be much harder to conduct such an experiment inside his scientific environment. ŠP: Scientists can observe their didactic value in art projects. A research subject can be presented in a way that, unlike scientific publications, goes beyond the utilitarianism and the impenetrability of the scientific language, and offers an understanding also for the wider audience. Anyway, these projects are not used in science, but in didactic process. ŠP: I would like to comment on the somewhat utopian statement about the collaboration between art and science, i.e. that the artist is supposed to directly enhance the scientist’s research by thinking “out-of-the-box”, that is, introducing ideas that researches have not. Firstly, even with the assumption that the artist has done a thorough research of the interest field in advance, he still needs a bit of luck to pose a scientifically relevant question – one that is not too banal, or unsolvable, or science-fiction. It is in fact a challenge even for the scientists. Secondly, you can’t expect the scientist to perform the artist’s experiments during working-time, if they are outside the subject he is currently investigating. Before the artist can participate, he must learn about the practical aspects of the execution – the time a scientist needs to draw the subject closer to an artist, is not as efficient

Saša Spačal, 7K nova oblika življena / 7K New Life Form 2011. Fotografija z dovoljenjem avtorice / Photo courtesy the artist

as it would be, if artists were to do it on their own. The practical value of the artist’s intervention into the expert’s world must be sought elsewhere, not as a direct improvement of scientific research – the artist’s curiosity, especially with the possibility of additional financing, can allow the researcher to take on something new, outside the research program and without the pressure from the superiors. I think that in general, research could benefit in terms of quality or at least innovation, if it strayed occasionally outside the box of obtaining exclusively “publishable” results. MS: Collaborations are indeed inter-institutional, but we do not respond to the same tenders or have the same deadlines. If collaborations were institutionalized on this level, it would help to change the way working relations are established, and shape the idea of (co-)authorship. When you speak about authorship and co-authorship, what practices have you been employing so far? Does the artist usually take on the role of author? For example, how did this work in the collaboration between Saša Spačal and Tadej Droljc? SS: For me, authorship is a matter of agreement, or awareness about the participants’ level of engagement, based on their contributions to the concept and on taking responsibility for the organization of production. With the work 7K: a new form of life, I was listed as the author, while Tadej Droljc and Joby Harding were listed as the technical team. As for the work Synergy, Tadej Droljc and I have been working on it together, from the very concept onward, which is why we are both listed as authors. MS: Contexts differ. I think the author is someone who, by connecting all the mentioned interdisciplinarities, articulates an auctorial content and formal side of a project, while at the same time he or she acts as the coordinator of the process, the co-workers and all the people involved, and accepts responsibility on all levels of the project. In case of any kind of mistake or standstill in the process, the author must decide which way to continue. Last but not least, the author also makes financial decisions about the division of funds within the project, considering all the successes and failures on the way to realization. Of course in any kind of public project presentation, all contributors have to be mentioned – but in my own projects the context in which this will happen is a matter of mutual agreement. ŠP: It may be sensible to highlight that even in science authorship has long been the topic of discussions and often the dark side of collaboration. This is because authorship in the field of science is being attributed according to unwritten, yet rigid rules. In professional writings, for example, the head of laboratory is usually listed as the corresponding author, regardless of the amount of his contributions to the research. Apart from the researcher, who does most of the laboratory work, articles often list the co-workers working on specific procedures, even if they do not contribute to the interpretation of their results in the context of the whole article. This can be a source of frustration to the individual, especially one that invested the most time and effort into the work, because later the credit points of the published article are distributed among all authors. In the situation described

by Maja – i. e. that a single person is responsible for the entire process – the question of authorship is not really an issue. However, since the working process is usually not so straightforward, it is crucial to discuss things until a consensus is reached, which suits all the parties involved. Apart from the process itself and the results, your projects also carry a communicative message, which can be very ideological. What is the relationship between the openness and freedom of artistic expression, which can remain on the level of ideas or fiction, and science, which requires clear results and facts? How important are these messages and how important is it that you actually support them with scientific means? Is it enough to express just the idea? MS: The answer depends on the context – what qualifies as an idea, what is a final statement; this is a consequence of the author’s or author group’s decision. Some works remain at the level of ideas. There are a number of reasons that contribute to whether the work is just an illustration of an idea, or is presented as a thoroughbred interdisciplinary product of artist-scientist collaboration. SS: What is an idea and what is a final statement is a matter of context. Any kind of research dictates the level of realization – with its framework. I try to bring the idea to a practical realization, develop some sort of prototype, which stays inside the artistic field, while it can only enter in the field of science as a commentary of the possible. But situations where this could be realized to the final level are extremely rare – it is only possible to reach the point enabled by the material situation; by that I mean production conditions and technical limitations. ŠP: Fantastical or radical works are just as important as those appropriating the already known procedures. But I think it’s important that the artist reveals to the audience whether the work is a simulation or intellectual experiment, or something that actually happened. If a simulation is revealed, I think the work gains a lot more credibility than trying to convince about it with irrational “facts”. In the case of a failed experiment/project, the artist is confronted with the most ruthless characteristic of bioart: its lack of adaptability and its unpredictability. In this way the bioartist discovers the fabric of science, where “I don’t know” coming from the mouth of an expert is not stigmatized, but perceived as the driving force of research. We started the question of project presentation. You spoke about having to present the process itself, which also has to be clear to the public. In your projects, what is the relationship between the didactic and the narrative; between aesthetics and poetics, which transcends teaching about a scientific paradigm? Could “laboratory aesthetic” become an artistic fetish? ŠP: It is really a question of personal preferences. I am currently in a period where I believe that the manner of communication through the project’s substance is vital, because it enables an understanding of the work even to those people, who would generally be repelled by its didactic features – Discovery channel is not everyone’s favourite. My goal is to create a work that addresses the visitors in a sensory way, not just intellectually.


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SS: I think that the poetics and aesthetics can act as the perfect introduction to the content of the work, its narrative; they help to create a certain intellectual curiosity. When the experience of the work is an immersive one, it will include all the senses and enable an experience of a different reality; it is also a commentary to the momentarily perceived reality, which we consider real. The experience is thus a hint to something that is possible, but which does not (yet) exist. After the initial sensual experience the depth of reading the content of the work depends exclusively on the individual, and so does its accessibility. Is the poetics enough for concluding or presenting an artwork? MS: Even in the fields of painting and sculpture there have been centuries of discovering technologies, tools and ways with which the artists discovered the content, and used content to communicate with the audience. A similar principle is applied in bioart. In the general framework of content communication, wherein we speak about the “here and now”, i.e. we are dealing with life per se, things generally happen in real time. Since we use scientific materials as elements of our expression, we have to accordingly form the environment in the gallery or elsewhere outside the laboratory, wherever the project is presented. Content should also be presented to the spectators visually, because we aim to establish a dialogue with the widest possible audience. We live in an era of images, and these usually tell the visitor how to approach the project, then lead him forward into depth and content-consuming, through which he can establish a transfer with the project. Projects often appear air-tight, because the material of our communication is placed on the level of invisible natural axioms. ŠP: I agree, but I think that in this way you will quickly become limited by representations that were created for scientific purposes. Similarly the white gown, gel electrophoresis or pipettes are the result of a design that has more than just a functional value today: it is also symbolic. But the interesting question is how to represent the field of science without leaning on these codes. MS: It is indeed the artist’s decision, but the result becomes even more air-tight when the process, in which the content is closely linked to the technology, is not communicated. ŠP: This is why I find it to be an interesting starting point or challenge. Naturally this conversation refers to your works, but the connection of science and art is also present in works that are based on certain programs. Do different laws apply to questions of aesthetization in the field of bioart? How are specific paradigms translated from science to art? MS: In the presentation of project BrainTV/rcv: 10.95 – 11.7 GHz, snd: 5.8 GHz it was important for the entire process to be demonstrated on the exhibition screens in real time. My colleague Luka Prinčič and I traced the entire process during the performance, and shaped it ‘live’ together with performer Alenka Marinič, but it would not be enough if we only showed this part of the project. It was crucial to communicate the created frequency matter in a way that revealed the evidence. By doing so the content of the project was presented in a better way, not just formally and on the level of discourse. SS: I think there are no concrete rules for representations or aesthetizations, or rather, that everyone sets their own. They develop, if the author uses them consistently to communicate what he wants. Every individual work requires specific visual and spatial laws, as well as dramaturgic procedures. As for the translation of scientific paradigms, I think they can definitely be used as an aesthetic solution, with the intent, of course, of producing a certain effect. With the work 7K: a new form of life we used microscope recordings and displayed a CO2 quantity graph on a real-time screen. We emphasized the fact that the screen did not show a fictional scenario or science fiction, but that this scenario has a scientific foundation, on the basis of which it was formed and developed. What is your attitude towards advanced technologies, bio-medicine, bio-technology and genetic engineering? Science under state control or science as a part of corporations, is presented in society as something positive; the road to progress? Do science and the various technologies serve their purpose? MS: Science is supposed to bring progress, which is perceived by the society as something positive, but at the same time there is a presence of fear in connection to the changes. The media and pop culture above all are the

ones to instigate this ambivalence, as it best suits them in a given context. Is the fear justifiable? SS: With technical progress and scientific discoveries the key question is who made it possible and why. In the later stages what matters is their application, i.e. how these findings are really being used; does the public have access to them? At this point we come across questions of politics and power, which make these findings become tangible reality, and eventually commonly accessible. The media have the power to manipulate the content to a level where the public understands them, one way or the other. Individual achievements are portrayed according to the promotion of certain industries, and the fear factor is entirely legitimate, because the public will have a hard time recognizing what serves the interests of financial capital, and what serves the individual. ŠP: Another possible function of bioart is revealing that scientific processes are not independent. We have to realize that the scientific paradigm defines which areas will be explored, how the process will run, and even what the findings should be. It is a fact that political and capitalist interests are indirectly decisive factors in determining the subject of research. Perhaps the scientists are a little blind about it; they look for facts according to the scientific method, but they are not interested in the contexts in which they work. The artists have the privileged position where they can emphasize the difference between science and knowledge, and consequently diminish the authority of scientific findings (which are, at the end of the day, nothing but logical interpretations of the collected data) – I am hereby referring mainly to the notorious media examples of climatology, medicine, or nutritionism. Science only produces knowledge inside its paradigm, but there are a lot of other ways to obtain knowledge. How does the artist working with a critical attitude fit in this picture? In spite of everything, scientists are still better informed about how pharmaceutical products or military technologies work. Isn’t it perhaps too optimistic to expect that the artists will have a better chance reacting to the use of results? What is the true potential of artistic subversions? ŠP: Well, to begin with, I don’t think it is the artist’s mission to save humanity… MS: Perhaps just the Third World… (Laughs) ŠP: … I also do not believe that scientific research should be classified according to its potential usefulness as “good” or “bad”. I am merely trying to stress the point, that the artist, with a synthetized view, can present different perspectives. For example, what is the socio-political or economic role of science in society? In science, you have to display an ounce of obsession, and extreme focus, to be able to, for example, cut the throats of five baby rats each morning with a razor; or grind pieces of a tissue that was taken from patients who died of stomach cancer. But having a thick skin is probably not the only thing which causes the ‘context-research blindness’. It is the general human characteristic to feel comfortable on familiar ground, with no need to disturb our peacefulness by different, inessential beliefs. Because it offers the possibility of identification, a work of art – a translation of a scientific-research work, leaning upon social phenomena – is the perfect medium for the researchers to ask themselves: “How would my work be perceived by a lawyer, an economist and a pensioner?” MS: The level of research-invested capital increases the explicit power of control over scientific research, and consequently its possible abuses. It also depends on the geopolitical context; which part of the world we are referring to: somebody may have the existential need to place the ethics of their world and their survival before the ethics of the entire society. Others have a choice. To mention the scientists I am working with, coming from institutions financed mainly or exclusively from public funds, is very different than working with private scientific institutes or companies, like for example Monsanto – a stock company, whose private capital has to repay at some point. Economic relationships in the global sense will lead to extreme unethical situations a lot sooner. For example, a department of Monsanto is developing and patenting genetically modified organisms, while a part of this industry produces “third-world food”. This is also the logic behind the UNICEF organization. MS: In this context, I don’t value that as either good or bad. I’m talking about facts here. It sounds like a monopoly establishing system. SS: The question arises about the actual quality of the food produced for the third world. There have been in-

sinuations that this food has a certain capital-related purpose and that there was a good reason why it is being sent to specific parts of the world. MS: Absolutely, though even “quality” food, which is consumed in Europe, comes from the “third world”. This is reality. The kind of discourse the artists will establish, and the relations they will choose to constitute the mentioned issues, is up to the value they attribute to the responsibility inside the context of science, which they paraphrase in their art. Since our author projects are financed by the taxpayers’ money, it is fair that the discourses and contents be political, that they address the society; not just in the sense of didactic education, but for the discourse to be placed beyond the plurality of judgments based exclusively on the good-and-bad side of the story. ŠP: In the nineties, in the time of biotechnological enthusiasm and the boom of bioart, companies hired artists as messengers of their technological progress. The companies set the framework for an interpretation of artworks, and in this way manipulated the message. Being financed by the taxpayers’ money allows working independently from such corporate pressures. Does art today still leave room for works, which do not deal with just social-political issues, but with anthropological questions, not necessarily addressing what is new or currently most problematic in the public? MS: In my projects, I don’t consider what is ‘newest’. I am interested in life, in all forms. In this sense I am more closely drawn to the connection between science and art, but in the context of time, I am more interested in those technologies that we use today, but they don’t have to be the latest ones. As for the social-political discourse that is involved in this type of projects, I think the evaluation of technologies is also important from this point of view. I’m not speaking so much about ideologies – though we do occasionally borrow discourses originating from ideologies – what I’m referring to is a much wider framework. Contemporary theoretical discourses use works that, through a detailed insight into the dynamics dictated by the capital, the social statuses, and the interdisciplinary fields with complex modes of activity in the background, paraphrase the spirit of the age. SS: Every project raises questions, which initially stem from a naïve anthropological position of an observer. It is only later that I become aware of this position; dissolve it and try to attach it inside the network of the logic of capital, ideologies, technologies, and sciences. I am trying to look for all those things that condition an anthropological phenomenon, the reality in everyday life. I am actually working simultaneously on the topical sociopolitical and the anthropological, because it’s impossible to escape this combination. The visibility of this depends on interpretation of the work. ŠP: Reaching for the latest technology because of one’s fascination does not seem reasonable to me, because it remains in the domain of the future, and as such it enables for the current issues I am dealing with to be tarred with the same brush as “global warming” or “sustainable development” (that is, ideologies easily ignored because of their uncertainty). I am interested in the mix of “domesticated subjects”, such as GMO, genetic testing, or the influence of the sun on our mood, and relevant scientific discourses, which I want to use to inform and emancipate the visitors. Maja (Smrekar), you emphasized that everything always depends on the capital. What would a utopian world be like, if science was superior to capital? Everyone: (laughter) MS: I am not stressing the attitude to capital as something negative, or as giving in to fate. It is a reality, with which comes a series of responsibilities that characterize your work. Perhaps people may doubt this, but so far it has turned out that working in a local environment, with the funds for research, representation, and realization of author projects, allows quite a lot of freedom of choice in the decisions about reflecting the contents in the field of science. The question is how to resolve – on the level of content and representation – the pressure of time limitations triggered by the bureaucratic apparatus. Perhaps so, that with every level of capital which you invest in a project as an artist, you always reside beyond it.


Maja Smrekar, Špela Petrič (SI), Delavnica DNA zaporedje: Referenčne verjetnostne strukture / Workshop DNA Sequencing: Referential Probability Structures. SC 2012, foto / photo Matej Kristovič

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Maja Smrekar, Špela Petrič (SI) DNA zaporedje: Referenčne verjetnostne strukture / DNA Sequencing: Referential Probability Structures Delavnica / Workshop


BioCyberKidzz Monika Pocrnjić, Špela Petrič (SI), Marc Dusseiller (CH)

Delavnico je potekala v sklopu projekta BioTehna, ki sta ga leta 2012 pričela izvajati Galerija Kapelica in Hackteria – Open Source Biological Art. / The workshop was presented as part of the BioTehna project initiated in 2012 by Kapelica Gallery and Hackteria – Open Source Biological Art.

Andrey Smirnov (RU) Tereminova kuhinja / The Theremin Kitchen Workshop

Andrey Smirnov (RU), Delavnica Tereminova kuhinja / The Theremin Kitchen Workshop. SC 2012, foto arhiv / photo archive KIBLA

BioCyberKidzz delavnica / workshop by Monika Pocrnjić, Špela Petrič (SI), Marc Dusseiller (CH). SC 2012, foto arhiv SC 2012, foto arhiv / photo archive KIBLA

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“Z razkritjem logike ustvarjanja novih tehnoloških oblik in novih identitet nam umetnost pomaga izoblikovati osrednjo nalogo posameznika v dobi novih tehnologij: konstrukcijo žive prihodnosti, torej prihodnosti, ki nam podarja svobodo, ne pa mrtve, mehanizirane prihodnosti, zgrajene brez našega sodelovanja.” “By demonstrating the logic in the creation of new technological forms and new identities, art articulates the primary task of the individual living in the age of new technologies: the construction of a living future – that is, a future that endows us with freedom – and not a dead, mechanized future that is being built without our participation.” Dmitry Bulatov

Folio Letnik / volume 4  
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