[NetBehaviour] Radars & Fences II - Tactical Bioart in the Age of Biotechnology.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Mar 4 11:46:15 CET 2009

Radars & Fences II
Tactical Bioart in the Age of Biotechnology

In the age of genetics, biotechnology, and bioinformatics, life is 
increasingly fashioned and configured at the intersection of several 
discourses and practices, such as population genetics, molecular and 
informatic sequences, human enhancement technologies, and the 
therapeutic and agricultural applications of genomics.

Asides from raising crucial epistemological questions, these 
technoscientific practices compete for attention, credibility, and 
funding within the scientific community, the market place, and the 
public domain. But as the far-reaching implications of biotech research 
unravel, the opacity and secrecy surrounding the industry and the 
patenting of life become increasingly problematic. This is partly due to 
the difficult ethical questions raised by the life sciences, but also to 
the rapid extension of scientific knowledge production to a number of 
non-scientific environments.

As Bruno Latour (2001) has pointed out, the tendency of the experimental 
method to transcend its modern boundaries is the result of three 
distinct processes: 1) the end of the scientific laboratory as a 
secluded space available only to specialists; 2) the increasing agency 
of patients and ordinary citizens in formulating the scientific 
questions to be solved; 3) and the extension of the scale of scientific 
experiments to the whole planet, as in the case of global warming, AIDS, 
and so on.

Within this triple displacement, which turns the technoscientific 
experiment into a more and more collective endeavor, a thriving 
community of bioartists, researchers, and hobbyists have provided new 
analytical and activist models by which to intervene and participate in 
the life sciences. Through a broad set of hands-on interventions that 
provide a critique-in-action of both the political economy and the 
naturalization of the biotech industry, bioartists and researchers have 
fostered interspecies contacts, engineered hybrid life forms, and set up 
independent Biolabs. Together, they propose new scientific protocols and 
call for a wider, and far more direct participation among lay, artistic, 
activist, and academic publics.

Radars & Fences II features five researchers and artists who have been 
at the forefront of the battle for the democratization of the life 
sciences over the last decade: Beatriz da Costa, Natalie Jeremijenko, 
Richard Pell, Claire Pentecost, and Paul Vanouse will present their own 
work and discuss with the public models of interdisciplinary engagement 
at the beginning of the "biological century."

Full conference overview and schedule can be found here:

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