Conquering Life?: At the frontiers of art, philosophy and the life sciences
Vivo Arts Course. The Arts and Genomics Centre. University of Leiden. April-June, 2009.
Key Concepts and Questions:
We are now living in an era in which “the mechanisms of power are addressed to the body, to life, to what causes it to proliferate, to what reinforces the species, its stamina, its ability to dominate, or its capacity for being used.” (Foucault: 1979)
What does it mean when life itself becomes a technology?
What is the importance of the image in the history of questions about the origins and definition and management of life?
How are artists using the materials and methods of the life sciences to engage with the ethical and political dimensions of contemporary biotechnology?
How does a hands-on engagement with the life sciences change the way in which we think about life?
How can these changing perceptions and modes of engagement with life be expressed in an artistic context?
What are some of the challenges facing artists making work in this domain?
The course is structured around a combination of wet laboratory exercises class discussions, and presentations by invited speakers. The first class will be opened with an introduction by Rob Zwijneberg, the Director of TAGC.
Laboratory exercises will involve working with some key model organisms, such as E. coli, yeast and zebra fish and engaging with some technologies and techniques used in the life sciences, such as basic microscopy, PCR, electrophoresis gels and recombinant DNA. These will be cut and pasted with some more common and garden biological technologies such as brewing beer and baking bread into a tasty feast to feed the intellect and stimulate the senses.