Non/living Matter, Bioscientific Imaginaries and Feminist Techno-ecologies of Bioart

Australian Feminist Studies 32 (94):377-394 (2017)
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Abstract
Bioart is a form of hybrid artistico-scientific practices in contemporary art that involve the use of bio-materials (such as living cells, tissues, organisms) and scientific techniques, protocols, and tools. Bioart-works embody vulnerability (intrinsic to all beings) and depend on (bio)technologies that allow these creations to come into being, endure and flourish but also discipline them. This article focuses on ‘semi-living’ sculptures by The Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A). TC&A’s artworks consist of bioengineered mammal tissues grown over biopolymer scaffoldings of different shapes and require sterile conditions of a bioreactor and constant care in order to survive. The article explores how bioart-works are always already intertwined with multiple (bio)technologies and techniques of care and labour, forming specific feminist technoecologies that challenge conventional bioscientific and cultural imaginaries of embodiment and the relation between physis and techné. TC&A’s sculptures expose life as the non/living: the processual enmeshment of the organic and inorganic, living and non-living, and growth and decay. The article argues that thinking with and through the feminist technoecologies of bioart mobilises philosophical inventiveness: not only does it problematise the entwinement of technology and biomatter and of culture and nature, but it also prompts us to rethink the ontology of life.
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