Hybrids, Chimeras, Aberrant Nuptials:
New Modes of Cohabitation in Bioart
The essay examines different cases of bioart, which, by combining biological materials and technological processes, present new forms of biological assemblages. For example, such collectives as Tissue Culture and Art Project and Art Orienté Objet, artists Eduardo Kac, ORLAN, Maja Smrekar and Robertina Šebjanič invent new forms of hybridization and symbiotic forms of cohabitation. The essay will question what is so specific in bioart and in what respect does it differ from scientific research conducted in laboratories, or from
some biological phenomena found in the natural world. My hypothesis is that bioart introduces a specific mode of bio-performativity and creates a unique moment of bio-presence: it does not represent but presents and produces new material bodies, which are living and decaying in our presence. The essay will seek to discuss the specific time in which these Semi-Living objects perform their existence: this time, which is “the time of the now”, can be called (in Giorgio Agamben’s terms) kairos and contrasted with our habitual chronological time.
Kairos is a messianic time, a contraction of time (similar to time in specific laboratory conditions), which helps to imagine new ways of organizing living materials. In this sense, bio-presence and bio-performativity can be seen as a resistance to the habitual arrangement of space and time and its biopolitical implications
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