Thursday, July 29, 2010

Timothy Morton on Alba

Here's Timothy Morton on Eduardo Kac's fluorescent rabbit:

"Is the horror of this art simply the shock value derived from the clichéd Frankenstein interpretation--that science has overstepped the bounds of human propriety [see clip below]? Or is it the revelation that if you can do that to a rabbit, then there wasn't that much of a rabbit in the first place? If you really could put duck genes in rabbit genes and rabbit genes in duck genes, it would give a new spin to Joseph Jastrow's duck-rabbit illusion [reproduced below]. You really would be able to see a duck or a rabbit at the same time, because you never really saw a duck or a rabbit in the first place. There are less ducks and rabbits not in number but in essence. We're faced with the extraordinary fact of increasing detail and vanishing fullness. The ecological thought makes our world vaster and more insubstantial at the same time." (The Ecological Thought, 36-7)

Morton is speaking at CalArts on Thusday, October 7th.

Here's the image that Michael Bryant refers to in the third comment on this post:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This should be of interest to some of you:

The folks from Fallen Fruit will come speak in Tom Leeser's course on Monday, October 4th.

Some new events

This just in from Philip Ross, who is one of the speakers for our November 9th course cluster conference at MOCA, and will be one of the visiting speakers in Tom Leeser's course as well:

"i will be down in LA a few days before your november 9th conference, curating an event at the hammer museum called 'enormous microscopic evening' that is part of my CRITTER salon. this will take place on november 6th and will bring together numerous scientists, technologists and amateurs to show off their instruments. the day before the event i will be organizing a workshop at machine project, with rich pell teaching folks how to make web cam based microscopes and myself demonstrating how to recreate the original leeuwenhoek device. i will send you more on all of this as we get our press machine in order."

For more info, see our events page.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On the 24700 blog

The flyer (below) was designed by Yogi Proctor, currently a student in the MA in Aesthetics and Politics program (

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is all biology art?

If I were a bioartist, I’d put a regular rabbit in a museum. Eduardo Kac’s Alba supposedly qualifies as bioart because it’s a rabbit that has had a gene from a jellyfish implanted in its DNA. If we take Alba as our example, bioart is an artifice constructed by an artist using biological material. But that seems to suggest that the rabbit in itself was not yet bioart, in other words that there exists a realm of biology that would somehow not yet be affected (infected?) by art, and (by extension) by technology (from the Greek word “technè”, “art”).

However, Kac’s rabbit could already be considered an example of bioart before Kac’s intervention: its genetic material is a complex mix of the genetic material of two other rabbits. What goes in as a carrot on one end of the rabbit comes out looking like something entirely different on the other end. Surely digestion also is an example of bioart? Surely Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca factory ( qualifies? In a short essay called “In Praise of Profanation”, Giorgio Agamben recalls Italo Calvino’s statement that “feces are a human production just like any other, only there has never been a history of them”…

This seems to lead to the conclusion that there is no biology that exists separately from art. Does that mean that all biology is art? What would be the consequences of this for our understanding of biology and art?