Intimate SK-interfaces

Things have been a little quiet on this list for a while now. I thought I might just draw attention to Sk-interfaces series of events that are taking place at FACT in Liverpool ove the next month or so.

http://www.fact.co.uk/news/?id=128

I attended a workshop yesterday (Saturday 2nd Feb) that got me thinking...

Zbigniew Oksiuta was giving a demonstartion, and allowing us to try out the techniques used in his project 'Breeding Spaces' growing 3D gelatin spaces. From the press release "The artist proposes the possibilities of designing biological spatial structures that can serve as a new kind of habitat and presents a new form of spatial coexistence between man and nature". I do have a few concerns about some of the concepts that lie behind his work (I will go into these on a blog post later this week) particularly the concept of Gaia and the fact that using gelatine can hardly be seen as (unproblematically) co-existing with non-human nature. That aside, the concept of a living habitat did capture my attention... read on.

Of particular interest to me, and I thought possibly to this list, was the ability to grow cell cultures on 'gelatin scaffolds'. We got talking about the use of these 'habitats' underwater and in 'outer-space' - the extreme of this, was the seeding of the habitat with stem cells - possibly take from plants to allow for the conversion of C02 into oxygen. Beyond this, and perhaps following on from the work of artists such as TC&A (Catts and Zur)I started wondering about the possibility of seeding these habitats with ones own cells - the habitat becoming, literally part of us. To reflect on the theme of the sk-interfaces project, there seemed an opportunity to 'grow' a bios-sphere habitat of ones own skin cells - if these could respond to touch as they do when part of the body, what would that do to an idea intimacy - could one, or even would there be a responsibilty to be intimate with our extended-body habitat.

Just a thought - I will add to this but I'd like some comments - is anyone else planning on attending the event? There is a conference next Saturday - key note speech from Orlan if anyone fancies it.

Ben

Copied from the Wiki...

Thank you Ben for pointing out such an interesting event.

there seemed an opportunity to 'grow' a bios-sphere habitat of ones own skin cells - if these could respond to touch as they do when part of the body, what would that do to an idea intimacy - could one, or even would there be a responsibilty to be intimate with our extended-body habitat.

I think Art Orienté objét project could be directly linked to your point. The French duo has created biopsied, cultured, hybridized and tattooed skin made from their own epidermis and pig derma to create living biotechnological self-portraits. In this case the artist himself has to interface with a sort of biological alter-ego. It could be similar to the intimate experience of looking at their own image reflected into a mirror, but far stronger since the image is made of their own cells. I'm seriously tempted to invite the artists to tell us whether they perceive the external part as their own body or as something different, like we could perceive for exemple an object we're emotively strongly linked to.

What I find particulary connected to the "intimacy" subject is Julia Reodica's "hymNext Designer Hymen Series" project. The American artist provocatively merges her own vaginal tissue with the muscles of other animals, to create a designer product. This art work clearly addresses the attention on the values of purity and gender roles. The most intersting part to me is that the sculptures pose as products to be marketed and are intended as objects of novelty for ‘re-virginisation’. The issue of how different cultures value female virginity and the associated pressures and the issue of female mutilation are here provocatively presented and address our attention to how intimate can be our relationship with our own body depending on how much we let our culture influence us.

About the conference, I think I'm going to attend the Saturday event, but I'm still not completely sure about it.

And... My reply from the Wiki...

Submitted by bencraggs on Fri, 15/02/2008 - 11:04.
Quote:

I think Art Orienté objét project could be directly linked to your point. The French duo has created biopsied, cultured, hybridized and tattooed skin made from their own epidermis and pig derma to create living biotechnological self-portraits. In this case the artist himself has to interface with a sort of biological alter-ego. It could be similar to the intimate experience of looking at their own image reflected into a mirror, but far stronger since the image is made of their own cells. I'm seriously tempted to invite the artists to tell us whether they perceive the external part as their own body or as something different, like we could perceive for exemple an object we're emotively strongly linked to”

.

Yes, I saw this piece, it was very interesting. At the conference Art Orienté talked about the process involved, part of the reasoning behind the hybridized cultures was the difficulty they had in producing (epidermal) skin cultures of their own that were obviously ‘skin’. This is perhaps abstracting the concept slightly but it does seem to highlight the role the non-human animal has always played in the conceptualization/visualization of the human. I did feel that this piece, in a way, seemed to neglect the important role the non-human animal had played in the process, perhaps there was simply not time to convey this aspect of the work.

In terms of engaging with the work, developing an intimate relationship with ‘disembodied’ cells, or even flesh may be a tall order. Culturally we seem to have a relationship with the ‘whole body’. An example of this, I would argue is the consumption of meat. I was a vegetarian for a number of years, partly because I found the way in which I consumed the non-human animal distasteful. As soon as the flesh ceased to be part of the animal I ceased to have an emotional engagement with what it was, or what it could have been. Does the cell cease to hold cultural meaning when it is no longer tied to a culturally inscribable body?

The hymNext piece also triggered a related line of reasoning. Your reference to the ‘designer’ body product seems particularly relevant, not only does this highlight the cultural inscriptions we make upon the body, but also its link to a philosophical line of reasoning that, whilst shattering old myths about a fixed and immutable nature and sacrosanct body, we are in danger of solidifying neo-liberal myths about marketable and individualistic bodies. Bodies break down into individual products that can be remade, packaged and sold, breaking down erroneous ideas of identities fixed by gender or race. I probably need to develop this line of reasoning – I am forcing myself to question a rhetoric (that I have to readily accepted) that celebrates the break down of old myths about nature and have yet to build the philosophical foundations to analyse them! Any ideas?

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