Jens Hauser - Bio Art: Taxonomy of an Etymological Monster

UCLA Art|Sci center Free Flow Lecture:

October 18, 2005, 6:00 pm   » 

Bio Art - Taxonomy of an Etymological Monster

Jens Hauser (D/F), born 1969, independent art curator, writer, cultural journalist and film maker

Bio Art is a proliferating and mutant term. Biology's ascent to the status of 'hottest' physical science has been accompanied by, on the one hand, the inflationary use of biological metaphors in the scholarly disciplines that study culture and, on the other, a wide range of biotech procedures that are simultaneously providing artists with the themes for their work and the expressive media with which to realize them. As this has transpired, the evolution of the term "Bio Art" has somewhat resembled the recent hyperbolic career path of the gene-hype launched by techno-industrial special interest groups in the 1990s that, in the wake of its zenith in conjunction with the media frenzy surrounding the Human Genome Project, has been slowly subsiding in the last few years: Bio Art has not unfolded and developed in accordance with prescribed master codes of a determinant post-avant-garde manifesto; instead, it has been subject to a process of social drift and diverse influences from its aesthetic environment.

Four central tendencies can be observed:

* Bio Art is increasingly re-materializing itself. The former fascination with the "code of life" is receding and making way for a phenomenological confrontation with wetwork.

* Instead of representational objects, graphic depictions or simulations, transformational processes with performance characteristics are now the center of attention.

* Bio Art is increasingly attracting the interest of performance artists, or of those specializing in Body Art; there exist structural relationships connecting the two fields.

* Bio Art does not permit itself to be nailed down with a hard and fast definition of the procedures or materials that it must employ. Even if we can consider the "manipulation of the mechanisms of life" as its medium, this assumes a very wide variety of forms both with respect to discourse and technique.

Jens Hauser (D/F), born 1969, is a Paris based art curator, writer, cultural journalist and film maker. He has organised a huge show on biotechnological art at the National Arts and Culture Centre Le Lieu Unique Nantes/France, including eleven artists employing biotechnology as a means of expression, and published L'Art Biotech' (2003). His forthcoming exhibitions deal with the paradigm of "skin as a technological interface". He is teaching at universities and art schools internationally and is a PhD candidate in media studies at Ruhr University Bochum. Hauser has written and given conferences about the interaction of film culture and video games and on contemporary music. He is the director of creative radio pieces, sound environments and documentary films which have been shown in festivals and as video installations in museums. He is also regularly contributing to the european cultural channel ARTE since 1992, and is currently involved in two long-term film projects about bioart.




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