Mednarodni simpozij: Humans and animals in the age of biotechnology

Slovensko društvo za estetiko in Univerza v Mariboru prirejata mednarodni simpozij o ljudeh in živalih v dobi biotehnologije:

Humans and animals in the age of biotechnology


Prof. Dr. María Antonia González Valerio, Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, National Autonomous University of Mexico
The project of art and science at the National University of Mexico and the art collective Bios ex MachinA

Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Reichle, FONTE guest professor, Institute of Cultural History and Theory, Humboldt University, Berlin
Identity / Privacy in Public Spaces: Genetic Surveillance in Contemporary Art

Robetina Šebjanič
Artist Talk

Dogodek se bo zgodil 31. avgusta 2015 na Univerzi v Mariboru, Pedagoški fakulteti, Koroška cesta 160, 2000 Maribor. Pot do predavalnice bo označena.

Simpozij bo potekal v angleškem jeziku. Moderatorka: izr. prof. dr. Polona Tratnik.


Prof. Dr. María Antonia González Valerio, Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, National Autonomous University of Mexico

The project of art and science at the National University of Mexico and the art collective Bios ex MachinA

What are the aims of a research group and an art collective that reunite scholars, artists, scientists, and students inside a huge university that shelters almost any research field that is being studied in the country?

What are the possibilities of working in the intertwining of art, science, technology and humanities in Mexico City and which ones could be the topics that should be addressed from a local point of view? And why local?

In this talk I will address these questions and present the recent projects that we have developed in Mexico City in the intertwining of arts, science and philosophy that deal with biotechnology, transgenic corn, bioartifactuality and animality.

María Antonia González Valerio is a philosopher working in the fields of aesthetics and ontology, with a focus on biotechnologies and the arts. She is full professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She is the author of three books: Cabe los límites. Escritos sobre filosofía natural desde la ontología estética (México, Herder, in press), Un tratado de ficción. Ontología de la mimesis (Herder, 2010) and El arte develado (Herder, 2005). She is editor of five books, the most recent: Pròs Bíon: Reflexiones naturales desde el arte, la ciencia y la filosofía (UNAM, 2014). She is the head of the interdisciplinary research group Art+Science based at the UNAM and the coordinator of the arts collective BIOS Ex machinA (workshop for the fabrication of the human and the non-human). She has also worked as curator in Mexico.

Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Reichle, FONTE guest professor, Institute of Cultural History and Theory, Humboldt University, Berlin

Identity / Privacy in Public Spaces: Genetic Surveillance in Contemporary Art

Artists have responded to what it means to be human in the age of biotechnology in multidirectional ways. In my contribution I want to critically analyze two artistic positions referring to personal genomic data, identity and genetic surveillance. The first part will introduce the art project Capture Room / The Infinity Engine by the influential San Franciscobased artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and NASA Scientist Josiah Zayner, presented in 2014 within the exhibition Civic Radar, a comprehensive retrospective at the ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany (2014–2015). With Capture Room our genetic make-up is determined from an image. Capture Room is an innovative and highly speculative project that attempts to identify a person’s genome through a non-invasive procedure; that is, without extracting and sequencing the DNA from a body cell, relying instead on information provided by an image or photograph of a person’s face. To develop Capture Room Josiah Zayner used current face recognition software and advanced statistics that are implemented in machine learning. His approach diverges significantly from the invasive procedures employed in DNA sequencing by U.S. companies like 23andMe, which around a decade ago introduced a service to provide personal ancestry-related genetic reports to a fee-paying public. Information about one’s own genome is now accessible to many people for the price of a whole genome sequencing run has dropped significantly since the advent of Next Generation-Sequencing technology.

The second part of my talk will present an art project that refers to a method that focuses on the relation of DNA and identity from the reverse perspective and has become well known in recent years as “forensic molecular photo fitting,” which has now even entered the art world.

The Chicago-based artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg is collecting DNA samples from her neighborhood, traces of DNA people accidentally leave behind on things like a carelessly discarded chewing gum. In her art project Stranger Visions (2012–2014) Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates three-dimensional physical reconstructions of faces behind the anonymous DNA to show that leaving a hair behind in a place may soon be like leaving a photograph of one’s face. One of the leading expert in the field of forensic molecular photo fitting, Mark D. Shriver, a population geneticist at Pennsylvania State University has used this method in forensics to generate a physical description of an individual (like skin, eye, and hair color) from the analysis of DNA found at a crime scene, effectively turning physical DNA traits into a genetic eyewitness.

In recent years the collection of our personal data by amazingly powerful corporations and governments alike have garnered much of our attention. With his exposures the American whistle-blower Edward Snowden made it quite evident to what extent our personal data is collected and processed without our consent, and showed us that we lost control over our personal data some ago. The next question is whether we will also lose control over our genetic information and what kind of potential misuse of DNA profiling, privacy, and genetic surveillance will there be.

Ingeborg Reichle a cultural theorist and art historian, writing on art and science, bio technologies, ethics and art. She is a Reader in art history and a Lecturer of Contemporary Art and „Bildwissenschaft“ at Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, Humboldt University Berlin. She is the author of Art in the Age of Technoscience. Genetic Engineering, Robotics, and Artificial Life in Contemporary Art (Springer, New York 2009), and the co-editor of IMAGE MATCH. Visueller Transfer, „Imagescapes“ und Intervisualität in globalen Bildkulturen (with Martina Baleva et al. Fink Verlag 2012). Since 2000 she gave guest lectures at various international institutions including the School of Visual Arts, New York, the MIT Boston, the National University of Singapore, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, the University of Western Australia, Perth and the City University of Hong Kong.

Robertina Šebjanič

Artist talk

Since the last 2 years Robertina Šebjanič has been working on a bigger research about marine organism, more exact jellyfish in relationship with its environment, humans and in the context of the Anthropocene epoch. In the era of the Sixth Extinction of species, after pulsating through the world’s seas and oceans for over 500 million years without ever being endangered, the jellyfish are the perfect evolutional archive, showing us potential moves the future might make.

The most substantial aims of the Aurelia 1+Hz project are to explore the phenomena of regeneration and regenerative medicine (stem cell treatment, human inner organ regrow), biopolicy of prolonging life and longevity, increasingly topical ideas of anti-aging and facts of prolonging of the middle-age period in the modern society as well as theoretical biological immortality (the immortal jellyfish, the freshwater polyp Hydra), immortality in humanist science and in literature, interspecies communication and cohabitation of species – biological life forms are inseparable from their restrictions which we have not yet managed to fully understand.

The human life expectancy almost doubled during the last century while we attempt to solve the limitations of our bodies with the regenerative medicine whose research is lately focused on biologically immortal animals. We study their cells and proteins with the hope to acquire their properties via “biotech download” in our cells.

While much effort has been spent trying to prolong life itself, it is important to understand the quality of an extended life.

Robertina Šebjanič, Ljubljana, is working in the intersection between humanism and natural science. Her art/research is since several years oriented towards the field of living systems (bio-art), noise/sound art and ambient immersive environments. Her works are often realized in collaboration with other authors. Robertina is a member of Hackteria Network, Ljudmila, UR Institute and Theremidi orchestra.

Robertina is internationally exhibited artist. She did performed /presented / exhibited at solo and group exhibitions as well as in gallery’s,  biennials, triennials and festivals: Le Cube_Decalab_Paris, Ars electronica – Stadtwerkstatt_Linz, Touch me festival organised by Kontajner at Klovičevi dvori_Zagreb, Eyebeam & CT-SWaM_New York,Kiblix_ Maribor, Rencontres at Bandits-Mages_Bourgers, PORTIZMIR#3 -Triennale of contemporary art_ Izmir, Gallery Kapelica_Ljubljana etc.