In my project I will explore how biotechnology as a tool of body manipulation and enhancement can redefine the contemporary notion of the human and life in a more ethical and aesthetical way. My argument will address ways in which art that engages with biotechnology as its medium, can give a more tangible because ethically and aesthetically combined understanding of life and the human body. I will focus on selected case studies that work with biotechnology to study ways in which art, can reveal the power of biotechnology to act and produce meaning. This allows me to research how biotechnology can reconstruct and reshape the notion of matter as active and capable of producing meaning.
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This awareness of the more interdisciplinary and reflexive attention to biotechnology and medicine has recently developed into creation of the medical humanities discipline as a training method. Here the aesthetical and ethical perspective is embedded into the medical practice and training. However, the existing policies focus on instrumental use of these tools ascribed to humanities. This means that rather than introducing new problems for analysis, they reinforce the old paradigms (Shapiro 2009) that not only treat technology in representative rather than generative manner but support also methodological division between emotions as belonging to the subject method of the humanities and rationally as objective method of science.
Method and expected outcome
To study ethical challenges of new biotechnologies in a more attentive way I will investigate particular bioart case studies that already work with these technologies which rather than in instrumental way, exercises its imaginary and futuristic possibilities. This implies that these technologies, instead of serving as a tool of expression, will be treated in a relational way. Relationality here means that agency is not exclusively attributed to human beings; rather, agency is transmitted onto the non-human and human bodies in their mutual relation, which amounts to collective and unfixed forms of agency, subjectivity and its experience (Haraway 2007; Grosz 1994).
I will study selected works of bioart in view of how they exercise “living matter” through these technologies by questioning: the fixed notion of the body (Case study1); inscribed to technology sense of progress (Case study 2); and the notion of agency as belonging only to human (Case study 3).
In this way, this project hooks up with the “new material turn” (Dolphijn and van der Tuin, 2012, Bennett 2010, Barad 2007, De Landa 2002) that forces rethinking of the notion life and technology within philosophical, cultural and political studies, in a more egalitarian...