Accepted Paper:

The Art of Extended Bodies: Cells, Microbes, and Future Visions of (Post)Human Bodies   


Nora S. Vaage (University of Bergen)

Paper short abstract:

The proposed paper will discuss the concept of the "extended body" in relation to artworks featuring human cells and microbes propagated external to the body, particularly considering how such artworks play upon ideas of what it means to be human, and what it might mean in the future.

Paper long abstract:

How far can we extend our biological bodies in meaningful ways? What potential is contained in the use of human bodily components outside of the human body? And what difference does it make, conceptually, whether the part chosen for extension is human or belongs to our microbiome? In taking human cells or microbes from known human individuals and using them for new purposes, such as crossing them with other species or for food consumption, some artists today are exploring these issues in embodied form. The paper discusses two such artworks: Eduardo Kac's Natural History of the Enigma (2003/08), featuring a hybrid petunia containing the artist's DNA, and Maya Smrekar's Maya YogHurt (2012), which used genetically modified yeast containing the artist's enzyme to produce lactic acid, from which yoghurt was created. Both in process, concept and aesthetics, these artworks are very different, and as such may serve to explore the various ways in which the concept of the extended body may be perceived.

Panel T019
Science and Technology through Critical Art Practice