[NetBehaviour] A Biopunk Manifesto - Meredith Patterson.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Jan 9 17:10:31 CET 2013

Hi Marco,

It's a funny thing transhumanism (or post humanism), an (x) British 
citizen, Max More (http://www.maxmore.com/) gained much attention with 
his ideas regarding what (i think) he termed as 'extropianism', and 
since has developed it with others through 'science and technology', now 
calling it 'transhumanism'.

"Transhumanists go beyond most of our traditional humanist predecessors 
in proposing fundamental alterations in human nature in pursuit of these 
improvements. We question traditional, biological, genetic, and 
intellectual constraints on our progress and possibility. The unique 
conceptual abilities of our species give us the opportunity to advance 
nature's evolution to new peaks. Rather than accepting the undesirable 
aspects of the human condition, transhumanists of all stripes challenge 
natural and traditional limitations on our possibilities. We champion 
the use of science and technology to eradicate constraints on lifespan, 
intelligence, personal vitality, and freedom."

And then you have an individual like Natasha Vita-More. Who has worked 
with More (perhaps related), proposing a cyber philosophy on 
transhumanism through paper's such as "The New [human] Genre --- Primo 
Posthuman" http://www.natasha.cc/paper.htm

What's interesting here, and this may get us closer to your question, is 
that cyberfeminism, biopunk and cyberpunk theory - all connects to this. 
For instance, she says "Other interpretations of a cyborg approximate 
the human, but encourage machine-images with superhuman powers. Donna 
Haraway's interpretation of the cyborg [Haraway, 1991, pp. 149-181] 
differs from the original ideal, and is more of a "transhuman" 
[Vita-More, 1983] in scope than actual cyborg. Yet, in most instances 
the cyborg lacks social consciousness and suggests a grim and dire 
nature by impersonalizing humanity."

and proposes, 'Primo is engineered like a finely tuned machine and 
displayed visually like a biological body to mirror the human shape for 
cognitive association, visual recognition, and aesthetic appeal. Yet, 
the Primo body does not age, is easily upgraded, has meta-sensory 
components, 24-hour remote Net relay system, and multiple gender 
options. Its outer sheath is primed with smart skin which vanguards 
practical designs purposes for communication. The model structure is 
composed of assembled massive molecular cytes or cells connected 
together to form the outer fabric of the body. The smart skin is 
engineered to repair, remake, and replace itself. It contains nanobots 
throughout the epidermal and dermis to communicate with the brain to 
determine the texture and tone of its surface. It transmits enhanced 
sensory data to the brain on an ongoing basis. The smart skin learns how 
and when to renew itself, alerts the outside world of the disposition of 
the person; gives specific degrees of the body's temperature from moment 
to moment; and reflects symbols, images, colors and textures across its 
contours. It is able to relate the percentages of toxins in the 
environment and the extract radiation effects of the sun."

What Natasha Vita-More, fails to get across when she discounts Haraway, 
are the contexts of why "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and 
Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century", is important - to 
women and men.

It is precisely about reclaiming our consciousness against the 
overpowering capitalist 'male' dominating structures. Although, 
unfortunately Haraway still relies on science to answer social problems 
but less 'potentially' as authoritarian in its poetic discourse. More's 
argument relies on top-down transhumanist values, alongside neoliberal 
contexts. So, it's liberation for the elite, whilst the poor swim in the 
sea of disease unless they can afford to pay for a longer life and all 
the technical attachments. Also, one of the annoying things many 
transhumanist's expound is "the human project has failed", which is also 
exudes a level of eugenics which is worth consideration regarding their 
'real' agendas.

What I have said is in no way suffient enough to crack open the deeper 
resonances of the dialogues and critical reasonings for and against 

I know others on this list may be qualified to add light on the subject. 
I can certainly suggest biopinks - such as Heath Bunting with his His 
D.I.Y. superweed kit (http://www.irational.org/cta/superweed/kit.html),

which he  "claims give's people the power to disrupt the introduction of 
genetically-modified crops by growing a ?superweed? that is naturally 
resistant to GM herbicides. Superweed? has strong resonances at a time 
when governments and public opinion, are in the process of deciding 
whether scientific advances in agricultural production are always 

If this dialogue expands, I have other examples & I'm sure you and 
others do as well :-)

Wishing you well.


> thanks for bringing this to the attention of the list Marc.
> The talk started circulating a few days ago (at least around my 
> newtwork), and I found the talk deeply interesting.
> I feel still unclear about the relation between biopunk and transhumanism.
> On another note, it is important to add that "biopunk" does not refer 
> only to dna and organism hackers, but includes also the physical body 
> hackers, a community within which I'm glad to identify myself. 
> Perhaps, without labelling though.
> See: http://www.grindhousewetware.com/projects-1
> best,
> --
> Marco Donnarumma
> New Media + Sonic Arts Practitioner, Performer, Teacher, Director.
> Embodied Audio-Visual Interaction Research Team.
> Department of Computing, Goldsmiths University of London
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Portfolio: http://marcodonnarumma.com
> Research: http://res.marcodonnarumma.com
> Director: http://www.liveperformersmeeting.net
>     From: netbehaviour <netbehaviour at furtherfield.org
>     <mailto:netbehaviour at furtherfield.org>>
>     Subject: [NetBehaviour] A Biopunk Manifesto - Meredith Patterson.
>     To: netbehaviour at netbehaviour.org
>     <mailto:netbehaviour at netbehaviour.org>
>     Message-ID: <50ED3ACB.1030604 at furtherfield.org
>     <mailto:50ED3ACB.1030604 at furtherfield.org>>
>     Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
>     A Biopunk Manifesto - Meredith Patterson.
>     A biohacker is a biopunk hobbyist who experiments with DNA and other
>     aspects of genetics.[3][4][6] A biohacker (or "wetware hacker") is
>     similar to a computer hacker who creates and modifies software or
>     computer hardware as a hobby, but should not be confused with a
>     bioterrorist, whose sole intent is the deliberate release of viruses,
>     bacteria, or other germs used to cause illness or death in people,
>     animals, or plants (in the same way a computer hacker should not be
>     confused with the more popular, yet erroneous, use of the term,
>     describing someone who spreads computer viruses or breaks into
>     computers
>     systems for malicious purposes).
>     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thn7d7-jywU
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