Human Enhancement : the role of art and design ((new tools and methods)RCA 2008.02.12

Domesticating Enhancement Jon Turney Frankenstein -    make creature big and strong, which he regrets

Darwin -    descent with modification

Visions of future depend on visions of past Shift from one to another

HG Wells -    Darwinian education, taught by TH Huxkley -    Invented the future through langage -    1902 lecture ‘the discovery of the future’; when writing Anticipations -    ‘we of the early 20th c and particulary that growing majority of us…men, no longer more than the present phase of a development….all exploits of….shriva….castles in the sand’

when bgin on changing, why stop? We are technological creatures

two visions of enhancement

1.    transcendence

World, the flesh and the devil

Genetics frustrating path to …- Mechanical Man ‘he new man must appear to those…as a strange monstrious and..but only the logical outcome..although it is possible that man has far to go….before … becomes limiting factor….must happen sooner or later..then…mechanized man…advantage’

Herman Mueller -    genetiiciss – long perspective on ‘out of the night’ – 1936 ‘in time to come…beast thought of the race….evoution still to come….working out of genetic methods…eugenic ideals…new characteristics….further t interests and happiness of .. god like beings…

no indication of finishing point

‘new organs’ -    which?

A technological project

Also represented in sci fi

Late 1920s, X-ray showing genetic mutation made its way into sci fi mags

A ra nge of possibilities

Not sure much has been added since these


Now a more technological project Not speculative Chance to make it happen Genetic engineering – life extension –

Early 1960s, prospect of immortality visible -    first proposal of extending life

freezing organims and thawing

achieve immortality by having frozen, then reanimate

this first strand is the grandest one

Harrington ‘the imortalist’ 1969 -    wider range o cultural and philosophical than Ettinger. Now useful text for transhumanist movement -    starts by saying ‘death is an imposition on the human race and is no longer acceptable’

how you get there can vary

2 kinds of taken for grantedness

first, that can modify

this runs through a l

Adrian Wolfson – 2000 – ‘life without genes’ -    abstract vision of biology as a searching design space -    all virtually present in some realm -    biological search, but if mae more systematic can plumb more areas -    ‘when we have chartered…natural evolutionary…fully in a position to…modify living things….life willl enter anew….no longer historical domain of natural selection…instead.construct and design new living things…’

Other books ‘ fukuyama, essentialist view ofHN;

Greg Stock -    lets move to next stage of evltion -    it’s in our natre to expt - grand narratives on human lives

Lee M. Silver -    drawing on Huxley, etc

Singularity -    moment occur when humanit transcended -    2030 acording to Kurzweil -    humans wil not be most evolved form of intelligence

commuication -    fiction and nojn-fiction boundary highly problematic

Singularity not really a story -just says eth after will be different - cannot write about end of the world

need to sidestep into new reality

if singul=laiy means anything then culture should be so different that cannot say anything about it

‘your speculation is as good as mine’

other level of enhancements – lower level -    putting fuel injection into cars, for eg

these were adopted and developed to Vern Vinge – singulairity

-    1960s speculation on drugs, computers and cyborg

in sci fi, people take adv of a consensual future from which to write

currenty consensual feature includes these features

ME: how do you write unforeseen consequences? Do the unforeseen consequences of sci visions cohere with what actually took place?

State of art for enhancement limited – prozac and steroids

Still quite limited

One eg.

Novel 1992 – Greg Egan – sci fi author ‘Quarantine’ -    enhancement is incidental, though human modification is central -    centres on quantum realities -    consider argument between two of key characters, one defending brain modif, trashuman rhetoric’ -    ‘do you think that brain wiriting from natural selection…peoples attempt to change..touchstone of perfection….god hasn’t done a perfect job….take a long time …to grow out of that bullshit…outdated heap of excuses for the things we couldn’t have, but now we can’ -    also offers image of possibilitie of everyday enhancement – protagonist in flight must disguise himself, what could be more traditional than changing colour of skin: ‘many of the small traders start opening for business around dawn..nanoachines before strets become crowded….’breaking down…melanine in my skin..i stare transxied…as they fade from the dep black…to an olive complxion….reminisent of my grandfather….it’s absurd but pissing away my skin colour is at least as disorientating as….’

Domestication o enhancement is now pervasive

eg. ?Health and safety executive – upstream – foresight – might expect about conditions of workplace, but framed generously – 10 yars ahead – had 4 scenarios – in each one, they assume some technologies of enhancement will be deployed – suggested that in most auspicious scenario ‘digital rose garden’ rdescribe heightend comfort with managing risks, heightened…transhumanist 20s…..pharmacological….extrme sports enthusiasts’, less desirable, use of performance enhancing drugs imposed by company; corporate training involves training in their use; worse one involves use by organized crime – fourth option to use to cope with multiple jobs, to look after aged

was going to talk about Freeman Dyson and domestication of technology

Questions & Answers

Anders: prob with singularity, all thinking stops. Might be trends towards transitions; for singularity might; foresee big things happening and this makes us stop thinking about it

AXXX: coming from largest AL lab in world, they think in 500 years might work out how nematode worm function. Brain computer interfaces -

Mark: whose points of view do we give credence to – whose vision – eg. Delphi study; what is the science going to be?

Oron: an artist worked on Singularity. ME: Check who. I’m concerned that singularity appears apocalyptic

Anders: concerned about this idea that singularity is some sort of religious conviction. I’m now trying to defy idea of superintelligence; we can get some form of superintelligence quite easily; aspects of singularity get lost since people get caught up in apocalyptic trance

Jon: James Martin said Moore law will continue; don’t call artificial intel, but non-human intell;

James: dog project; wolf was peak of dog evolution; now changed  evolutionary characteristics; domestication has diminished; it’s ok as they no longer need them; senses redundant somehow;

Jon: standard line – genetic modification – dogs

Oron: domestication led to shrinking brain;

Jon: freeman dyson – david brind – think about conseqs of future technology is what would it be like if everyone had it – flower shows; bilt a whole culture around modifying organisms; genetics of butterly wing colour – some artist is probably doing it

Design Fictions Tony

How fictional/unrealistic design can play a part in how we think about biotechnology

Not about predicting t future or forecasting

Designers naturally domesticate technologies -    atterns of consmption

run through various types of design fictions

sketch book

Oron Catts – victimless meat

Wh the process of domestication might hav on

Dressing the Meat of Tomorrow Ames King

Interested in designing the meat

What would it look like?

What will be different about this meat? What size?

Family sies? What family?

Memnto Mori Michael Burton

Grow hair of loved one after theyhave died

Fiction is in the behaviour Assumes something has changed in society Has become normal Not saying this is a good idea, but what would people feel about this

Thr+ill Mikail Metthey

These are al 4 week projects

Engineer illness out of our lives

Maybe illness will become a recreational activity

Place where people went to infect themselves

Reasons: hallucinating, like drug use or to connect with previous selves

Proposing an environment

Cross between a car park, sick room and a pub

Recuperation beds

Indirect way of dealing with implications of technologies, rather than becoming obsessed with t technology itself They do become sci fi

The Race Michael Burton

Certain concept of healh care, based on particular notion of ecysystem

Question with ay rwe relate to nature

Maybe a different notion of health will emerged

Began with maggots; today could be used to treat infection, but most people disgusted by them

How to present maggots Biophilia Cinic Expose ourselves to constructive germs

Modify lamb to be extra dirty and spread to us

Future Farm -    body becomes farm -    refer to organ farming -    funghi grown onbody used by some company

body, activate genes and mutate to embrace more symbiotic nature -    woman facila hair developed into a cage for grasshopper as nest

these are iconic

Chrono_shredder Susanna Hertich If it were possible, to hibernatre Not to explore adv, bu how attitude towards time might change Made clock – chronoshredder, while asseep each page of calendar shreds; conserving energy; might live longer, but life is passing

Evidence Dolls Dunn and Raby, Pompidou Centre, 204-5

Produce design project for design as a form of critique To raise issues Hypothetical product called evidence doll

Prior bio projects in dept, someone would do a project about not laving genetic traces Ways of masking

What about for woman -    dna ‘penis drawers

samples of tissue analysed how might impact on dating, etc

each doll was customized to represent lover -    philosopher at oxford -    fantasy lover -    heartbroken woman

capture conversation

‘I would go and get the DNA stuff tested. There’s something romantic about collecting a hair sample..there is something lovely about that’

dvd of actress orating the interviews

‘Everything comes 10 years the project, we are trying to move upstream

turn fiction into

design fictions could be constructive

Biojewellery Tobbie Kerridge, Nikkis Stott, Dr Ian Thompson

New form of wedding ring, How could bioengineering impact on commitment Take bone from 2 lovers, worked on by jeweller to create  ring Once it got to this stage, generate interest, wrked with engineer Ian Thommpson to engineer Found couples who wanted to donate ring Once project becomes real, develops more focused Eg. how identify an audience representative of real people Eg. peple already interested in body adornment are interested Got to point where wanted to take sample, but could not find hospital that would take it for poetic reason Poetic need becomes a vald need

We discovered that when have wisdom teeth removed, also bone tissue, which could be harvested

Indirectly we access labs in imperial college Might start in fictional, then through vision end up in producing a product

Practical side not exclsive or

Questions & Answers

Jens: what does it change when becomes a reality? To do it the other way around, more hermenutical approach, what does the relative factors change?

Tony: on going debate on interaction in design; extremely difficult to get access to labs; where take more classical design approach, model more poetically, is easier.  When at this point, are making a decision about wanting it implemented. When started project, consulted bioengineers; what we’re trying to do with these projects is sit in fuzzy space – between moral ground - ; interesting space between idea of fiction, reality and fantasy that we can occuy and have different purposes

Joanna Z: science – what kind of relationship exists between these projects and ttradl discourses of science; wary of sci art collaborations – have been v conservative – artists trying to get some of scientists money – so, describe what you do with students as different; other q is whether, destination of projects, where they are going; just a conceptal exercise to become better designers? Are they aimed for galleries

Tony: where this work sits in the world is a big isse; don’t want to be seen simply as art for galleries; as a designer, if categorized as art, then can be wacky; but when proposals about alternative health care, people more wary; when someone says it’s art, leads to specific conntations; imp that we present as designl bt aren’t places in design to present it; so end p crossing over intogallery spaces; MoMa new york will display some of these works; we’re very aware of sciart and we are quite critical; we try to look at science as driving focce and ask how are we going to engage; instead of designing applications, we look at implications; one of the roles is as a provocation; these things are quite banal, quite down to earth, not to critizes but rather than let natural flow happen, by looking at positive and negative outcomes, try to stay way from that; one thing we’re really missing so far is how to make that leap; connecting to organizations to have impact is next step;

Anders:  qite a bit of my work might be on wrong questions; what enhancements do people want; a day dreaming enhancement might be better than a memory enhancement; find out what people wish for is needed

Tony: V&A project looking at visions of teenagers for enhancement; went into a school with 10yr olds; talked about nano and bioart, worked with teacher to brainstorm and came up with over 100 genetically modified toys; no shortage of imagination; processes for facilitating interactions and facilitating through plicy makers to go to higher level, not sure how would happen; lower level is easier

XXXX: what if work with ethicist

Tony: Elio Caccavale is doing this; working at PEALS; trying to speculate on what happens when technology allows for different family structures to emerge; trying to create serious design hypothetical capsules to act as medium for conversations;

SymbioticA – a model for artistic engagement with t life sciences Oron Catts

Recently been changed to a Centre. Miranda Grounds, Stuart Bunt and Oron Catts

Life asa raw material -    HG Wells, 1895 – We overlook only too often the fact that a living being may also be regarded as raw material, as something plastic, something that may be shaped and altered’

Ear on back of mouse – ear fell off two weeks after those images were taken

‘fighting the hype’ -    crusader against genohype -    Keynote address at genomics and society meeting (I will ask them to change their name)

Artistic lab

Critique of life sciences

Steve Kurtz, ORLAN,

Not just a production residency, but research, so not reqd to come up with outcome

Only masters in Biological Arts offered in a science faculty in t world

Also engage in exhibitions and symposia

Core project: Tissue Culture and Art Project (initiated in 1996) Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr

Promoting notion of useless research

To engage with ideas, should design objects for cultural discussions

We refus funding from pressure groups

Would never accept funding from biotech companies

But our work is funded, but not by sciart funding

History of Living-Fragments / Semi-Living -    1885 Roux embryonic chick cells stay alive in a saline solution -    1907 Harrison’s first partial life entity; amphibian spinal cord in lymph clot -    1913 Carrel grows cells in cultre for long periods – fed regulary under aseptic conditions -    1948 first animal cell line (mouse) -    1951 HeLa cell line established -    Standard of Tissue Culture (model, tool) -    1990s – Tissue Engineering / regenerative medicine /antibody production / non biomedical use

Eduard Uhienhuth wrote in 1916 -    ‘Through the discovery of tissue culture we have, so to speak, created a new type of body on which to grow the cell’

Carrel -    regarded a Dr Frankenstein -    claied his lab in Rockerfella institute was inspiration for Hollywood rankenstein

New Kind of Body – the tecno scientific body -    semi-living entities ‘cared’ for in a techno-scientific body

problem with humancentric view

when examine bodies, notice similarities

Tissue culture as a science -    1910-1930

semi-living dos not seem to conform to either Linnaean taxonomy nor molecular systematics


Helacyton gartleri – a new species Van Velen and Maiorana 1991 -    ‘species originated in diverse ways. HeLa cells are t best-known cultured cells of human origin…’

McCoy cell line – human/mouse cells -

Steven Erfelt

Cell fusion Break of membrane

The Pig Wings Project (2000-2003)

Questions & Answers

Anders: You say uncomfortable with human enhancement but what about biomass?

Oron: yes

Jo Z: engagement aspect; how is agenda of provocateur – moralistic way of teaching -

Oron: 2 roles, artist and provocateur;

Tony: what wouldn’t you do? (ethical boundaries to performance?) Oron: some of the work in SymbioticA I find disturbing, but I wouldn’t censor it eg. nerve cultures; engaging with animal also engaging. Became vegetarian after victimless meat project; but as long as society is utilizing animals, artists at least have a right to do the same – implicit and explicit violence; I hold 5 ethics approvals for artists to undergo biopsies on themselves for their work;

Jimmy: Kevin Warwick’s brain cell work – culturing brain cells from rats, projecting when human brain cells might be cultured;

Oron: we were involved in a project that was doing this;

Jens: becoming vegetarian – Peter Singer – victimless lover – singer wrote paper for art magazine, artist killed animals for photograph, arguing it is unacceptable,

Oron: in Singer’s recent book, doesn’t say shouldn’t eat meat, but should eat ethical meat; Craig Ventor – said about misuse of biological knowledge;

Presence/Representation – Metaphore/Metonymy: Approaches to Art involving Biotechnology Jens Hauser

presence –

Liverpool FACT exhibit – curating of presence effects


Technological visualization tools

Reading images – how far is appropriate?

Image instead of text

NYAS – Art and Biology conf, April 2007

Many scientists complain that have powerpointization of science – hollywoodization

To engage artists, stress signif points

Edgard Varese (1883-1965) -    composer sound sculptor visionary -    music, embodies new world

why does music produce better presence effects than visual arts?

What would an art be like that achieves productive tension?

FACT conference

Denis Noble – synthetic biology – ‘the music of life’ -    played song on his guitar for start of presentation -    stress not to search for programme, all about harmony

title ‘sk-interfaces’ to avoid pointing to the future.

‘exploding borders, creating membranes’ – sub-title of exhibition

not a sciart show, not illustrating scientific knowledge

Hans Ulrich – meaning effects vs presence effects -    ‘Production of Presence: What meaning cannot convey

should not dance to a tango with lyrics -    lyrics disrupts tango -    deprive full pleasure of fusion between tango music an movement of body -    when dancing, even most proficient dancers cannot grasp lyrics

Victimless Leather

The Eighth Day-  Eduardo Kac -    biobot moves with colony; biology invades mechanics -    camera accessed by web audience

Meaning culture vs Presence culture

Quoting: artists as seismographs –

Questions & Answers

Claim that rate of viewers at FACT is five times higher than other exhibits

High emphasis on training of gallery personnel

Mark: mechanism for recording peoples reactions to exhibit

Jens: phd student from york university doing audience research

Tony: does the emotional response matter to you?

Technologies, Art & Identity Sandra Kemp

Future Face

Photograph -    how are artists, technologists using it?

Peter Butler – face transplant surgeon

Enhancement, identity

‘Still life with stem cells’

‘lump’ – Life form with Uninvolved(?) Mutant Properties

Human Mutant Project

Patricia Puccini -    FRankentstein’s mistake, not a good parent

What constitutes a family

Thomas Broomfield’s ‘Misfit’

Rhona ‘Animal/Hman’

Doesn’t take sides

Social values / relationships that count

‘Give your child a chance in life, don’t leave it up to nature’

Kac’s Bunny -    feel different if it’s your pet bunny

Penny McCarthy -    ‘clones live in the fridge’

Orson Welles – DR Moreno ‘ existence limits of plasticity unlimited form’

Anthony Gormley – all art is about what it means to be alive

Production and consumption of visual

Much more media coverage in science than art

Media and biology have ben profoundly visual practices

Diagnosis relies on eye and ability to learn from

Richard Sennett – ‘The Craftsman’

Challenge t traditional notion of beauty

Classical aesthetic theory no longer applied

Keats ‘no longer know what beautiful is’

Portrait Gallery – Sir John Sulston – first genetic portrait called ‘A Portrait’


Re-enacted? ‘if alter architecture of body…alter body’s mind’

Gary Schneider -    genetic self portrait -    Columbia Medical School -    XX specimen -    Looking beneath surface of face, redefining portraiture

How no represent personhood or identity|?

Sensibility – emotion, attraction


Oscar Wilde – Life Imitates Art

Ethics and Aesthetics

Artists always loking for new material

Informed resistance vs hysteria

Foucault – task is to refuse what we are not disXXX what we are

T H body is central to explorations on these XX

Larry Miler -    genetic code -    copyright  certificate

ME: Bioart as Bioethics

Will t face continue to be shaped by evol or will we customize

Where does a face begin and end? First face transplant was a replant -    10yr old girl, hair caught in something and ripped face off

2005 face transplant - she feels she’s lost substantial part of identity

1992 Francis Dagony – psych emerges from complex structure interior and exterior ‘threshold’ same in portraiture

upon seeing of first phoo portrait -    ‘shadow of the person’

Kathryn Ikan(?) – ‘Elle’ -    AI and movement sensors -    Art, not interaction, but open, flawed system, whose viewere and art work esthetic own process of enjoyment (NOT SURE THIS IS RIGHT)

Real and Virtual

Intellectual Property – 199-2000 -    Donna McLean applied patent on herself – GB00001800 -    ‘It has taken 30 years of hard labour’