Friday, February 3, 2012

Art, the Irrepeatable, and the violence of writing on life

Eduardo Kac argues that the distinction between science and art is the type of knowledge produced: "While in science the elimination of what is not repeatable produces the field where knowledge is possible, in art the irrepeatable is celebrated as the singularity that enables aesthetic knowledge" (192). Indeed, much of what I have read on BioArt emphasizes this idea that the art is irrepeatable. Now, maybe I"m conflating irrepeatable with non-iterable, but I am interested in thinking about how this art is iterable. Indeed, I want to make the argument that in order for BioArt to truly engage its issues with technoscientific production and biopolitics, it must be disseminated through some form of writing, whether that be text, image, or video. Furthermore, BioArt itself is a kind of writing; we may at first be reluctant to admit this since we generally assume that writing is the 'dead letter' rather than living word. How could we "write" with living material? What is a "living writing," a "life writing." But artists, for example, Adam Zaretsky, speak of their work in terms of the signature. He writes,
the habit of inserting an engineered plasmid into the genome of a cell line or organism is a physical artifact that stems from the mortal desire for lasting signature. These still born scupltures, in accord with the libidinal economy of multi-generational directionality, have been impressed upon for the record alone. Consider their mutations to be a sort of genetic graffiti. 
Genetic graffiti--a transgressive form of writing.

Eduardo Kac writes that the green glow of Alba functions as a kind of "social marker" as opposed to a "biomarker," which has many different meanings depending on the field. I want to look into these meanings and see how this metaphor could be extended to more than just Kac's work.

Kac is extremely aware of the symbolic and semiotic elements of his work, as he has deemed his Alba Flag as a "social marker, a beacon of her absence" and has created a work titled Lagoglyphs, a "rabbitographic form of writing" which is a "visual language that alludes to meaning but resists interpretation, the [series] stands as the counterpoint to the barrage of discourse generated through, with, and around Kac's GFP bunny" (Imaginary Science 66).

I think we should take seriously this idea of writing in BioArt--the marks, cuts, incisions--the violent traces inscribed upon life by these artist-scientists; this can lead us to a powerful understanding, through visualization and material embodiment, to an understanding of the violence of writing and the artistic 'signature'.

No comments:

Post a Comment