Suratómica Network | New Media Class - UdK Berlín
QUEER FORMS OF LIFE
Queer/Weird/Indeterminate forms of life is a research-creation context to explore the possibilities of the emerging understandings of life by complexity sciences, biology, philosophy of biology, new media, and many others in art/ knowledge creation/worlding.
It has been created in the context of the 2nd cycle of the Suratómica Network named At the Edge of Chaos and Natalia Rivera’s master project for the New Media Class at the UDK in Berlin. A Creation Group with the same name collaboratively explored the idea in 2021 and during the social outbreak in Colombia that initiated in April of the same year, the network’s context Other politics of the living was derived.
The dialogues initiated with the question: ¿How could we think of / comprehend / experience / create an indeterminate form of life?
Project initiated in 11.2020
Queer forms of life. L-Systems by Natalia Rivera (2021)
QUEER FORMS OF LIFE
CREATION GROUP - SuraTÓMICA Network
What are those strange forms of life that arise from the interaction between the arts, biology and technology? - The development methodology of this group is collaborative research, with the purpose of recognising, mapping and collecting life forms other than organic life as we know it up to now. It is an open question about what we define as "the living" and its possibilities of being created from the arts, as proposed by the researchers Iliana Hernández, Raúl Niño and Carlos Eduardo Maldonado.
Queer/weird/Indeterminate forms of life explores the current question about the definition of life, regarding non-organic life, virus, AI, synthetic biology and many other fields. The project looks for a context where to articulate weirdness with the definition of life as a complex system, understanding the queer concept as an equivalent of indeterminacy. The initial phase aims to explore the current and emerging media to study life, model it, create simulations and materialize it.
Through an open collaborative group, framed in the Suratómica's Creation Groups, this research is part of my Creation Project at the Master in Visual Communication - New Media Class, at the UdK Berlin University of Arts.
THE QUEER FORMS OF LIFE TO EMERGE
Organicist ideas come from the understanding of nature as a living organism itself. From the beginning of Biology as a discipline, it has been built as a philosophical perspective. It has brought to us the pos- sibility to stop understanding nature as a resource for humans, a foundational idea of western civilization, or later on as a machine, from the modern epoch, avoiding mechanistic and reductionist views on life (Maldonado, 2021b). Our biosphere is “symbiosis as seen from space” (Margulis, 1999).
We look today for other theories that allow us to understand life as a process and dilute the difference between living and non-living entities. As Francisco Varela (2001) says, through our science, we make a huge effort to imagine a dead (physicalist) universe and how life emerges from it, when on the contrary, life precedes existence. It can be understood that life is the process that allows existence.
In the context of the Queer Forms of Life Creation Group (Suratómica, 2021a), in our creative processes with Mutante, and in various dialogues woven with activist, care, and resistance communities, wonderful ideas are emerging about this other context to think, create and relate to each other, humans and other life forms. Other politics of the living (Otras políticas de lo vivo) initiated as a conversation frame within that Creation Group (Suratómica, 2021b). The dialogue, in the context of the social outbreak in Colombia that began in April 2021, about the definitions of life and the responsibility over the forms of life to be discovered or created expanded itself through a co-creation context for the Suratómica network in collaboration with the Enjambre interzone (2021a) and, later on, as a Creation - Art and Science encounter (2021b).
In Other politics of the living it was thought about what the Living is, and about it, the political implications of assigning a definition to life. About a worldview that is still hierarchical today and that, establishing a scale between the living and the non-living, generates again the idea that what is considered alive is more important, more deserving of care, than what we do not consider as well so far. And in addition, the question was explored about how to think/create other forms of life, outside the form of knowledge that discovers to dominate, to colonize, and, in that path, that corresponds to the current scientific-capitalist structure, to exploit and make a profit.
In the conversation spaces, Luis Williams-Fallas, daniela brill, Juan Die- go Rivera, Carlos Acosta, Lina Orejuela, and many other participants, brought amazing ideas and questions to the table. How to understand what is the Living; how to understand and generate responsibility for what is not yet existent, what we still do not know, without imposing power on them; how to do it when even our relations with what we know now continue to be one of domination. What is the responsibi- lity of care about the new possibilities that we as artists/ scientists/... create? If we create a new and weird form of life, what is our relation of care with it?
These questions have constantly surrounded the bioart space since its beginnings. By thinking of the matter of the living as a particular and/ or more important matter, huge ethical questions have been raised around its practices. Some of these questions have even led to meta- phors again in which humans have the abilities of gods. We give these biotechnologies extraordinary categories, and we fear them for that too. With good foundations, these questions have opened extensive discussions that have contributed to curing, in a way, those broken relations with nature and with ourselves, due to supremacist, extractivist, colonizing, etc. ideas. The inquiries being made in bioart are so important that it is necessary to extend them to what is considered the non-living, and in this case to the QFL, to the hybrid forms of life. We need to think then about other politics of the living and the non-living, which could indeed be alive.
The concept of queerness, as indeterminacy, allows us to dilute those taxonomical, yet hierarchical relations mentioned above. It explores the encountering ideas of indeterminacy emerging from quantum phy- sics and those from gender studies. From the physics field, as Karen Barad presents it, we understand that we can not know what nature is, not because of our lack of abilities, but because nature doesn’t know itself, because the nature of nature is indeterminate (Barad, 2012). On the other hand Queer theories, widely expanded from gender to terri- tory, to interspecies, to knowledge creation, bring us big freedom for this re-invention of nature. Binarisms and frontiers are no longer that strong and bio artists, such as Quimera Rosa with Trans*plant (2016), or Špela Petrič with Phytoteratology (2016), have amazing ways to approach and embrace this indeterminacy of the living, that open the space for the creation of new/other forms of life, the diversification of life.
Taken from Queer Forms of Life - Interconnected Nature by Natalia Rivera
Barad, K. (2012). What Is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice. DOCUMENTA (13). documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH. kassel.
Maldonado, C. (2021b) What is organicism? [Video] Newspaper From below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE8NRHEPAe0
Margulis, L. (1999) Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution. Basic Books.
Petric, Š. (2016) Phytoteratology [Bioart]. https://www.spelapetric.org/#/phytoteratology/
Chimera Rosa (2016) Trans*plant [Bioart]. https://quimerarosa.net/transplant/
Suratomic (2021a) Strange forms of life. Creation Group proposed by Natalia Rivera. https://www.suratomica.com/gruposdecreacion
Suratomic (2021b) Other politics of the living [Video] Suratomic Space. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExslI4y7WXY).
Suratomic & Swarm (2021a) Other politics of the living.Context of co-creation. https://www.suratomica.com/contextopdlv
Suratomic & Swarm (2021b) Other politics of the living. XII Meeting of Creation - Art and Science. [Video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX-Z3XvnTgs
Varela, F (2001) Francisco Varela (Neurobiologist) - The Beauty-Of-Thinking-2001 [Video] Humanist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-VydyPdhhg
OTHER POLITICS OF THE LIVING
Creation context - Suratómica Network
Other politics of the living emerges from the conversations and questions about the political issues of establishing a definition of "the living", which were developed in the Queer Forms of Life Creation Group. Conversations about the life forms to be discovered, the ones that might emerge, and the ones we will create, but also about the ones we know, and different ways of understanding and interacting with them.
It is, in turn, considering how other ways of knowing/comprehending could emerge, that approach the unknown, the im/probable, the indeterminate, with a different perspective from that of colonizing, exploiting, or dominating. Considering that thinking about queer forms of life, as they could be, is also rethinking our place in/as nature, and how our organizational, creative, collaborative, and research practices can be expanded to other spaces of the society, in a context that today, to resist, can find there not one but multiple possibilities.
As part of the At the Edge of Chaos cycle and in collaboration with the Enjambre Interzone, this context addresses complexity sciences, astrobiology, microbiology, metagenomics, living networks, bioinformatics, biological hypercomputing, bioart, among others, with an anarchist approach, present both in the processes of knowledge creation and in the ways in which we organize ourselves to carry them out.
04.05.2021 - Today
QUEER FORMS OF LIFE:
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE LIVING
Theoretical proposal about the creation of hybrid organisms or biocomputers as queer forms of life.
Artistic creative processes with biological computers, understood as Queer forms of life or symbiotic bio-digital organisms, both emerge from and at the same time shape the biocentric turn in the development of these digital technologies. Biological computing, developed with living organisms or biologically derived molecules, is an emergent media that requires a new/ other understanding of our relations with the biological entities included in the information processing and storage, and the biocomputer as a living organism itself. Together with them, the artistic creation, or even wider, the shared aesthetic experience of metabolization, generates a new/other form of life that dilutes many taxonomical borders and, while embracing the uncontrollable nature of the living, becomes evidence of bio-centered digital technologies. Some ideas about the possibilities of biological computers as co-creative / co- metabolizing / co-evolutionary media are explored in this text with a media theory approach that intertwines with speculative fabulation (Haraway, 2016) in its way.
In an early stage, the discourses and experiments surrounding biocomputing show clearly how the development of this media is given from a strong anthropocentric, still extractivist, understanding and relation to nature. The motivations, aims, narratives, and methodologies seek for the continuation of human-controlled technology creation, even when other entities, traditionally understood as living ones, are directly involved as components of it. From that utilitarian perspective, biological organisms appear more capable of complex information processing (human-interesting one), and more efficient in terms of energy consumption or their ability to self-replicate and repair, among many other characteristics.
However, an other comprehension of the aesthetics, biologically based (Maldonado, 2021a), radically transforms the kind of relations we would be able to create with these computers. It brings a relevant new/other understanding that situates the narratives and creative processes with biocomputers in a life-enabling wide range of possibilities. While the shared experience among living organisms is an aesthetical one, the matter of the inter-living-entities co- creation becomes life itself. On this path, artistic projects such as Myconnect (2013) by Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj, Anil Podgornik, and Tadej Droljc, and Biocomputer Music (2015) or Biocomputer Rhythms (2016) by Eduardo Miranda are early expressions of this interspecies co-creation through digital media.
Queer forms of life explore the emergence of these new hybrid entities through the sharing of our digital technologies with other living organisms. Our digital technologies offered to other living organisms, in the same way that other living organisms’ technologies, such as fermentation, for instance, are shared/interconnected with us. These collaborative creation processes with them require new common languages and methodologies, and relocate the artistic creation from a visual or tangible piece, as an outcome, to the creation of the media or symbiotic bio-digital organism itself.
Haraway, D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
Maldonado, C. (2021a) Aesthetics and complexity. Elements for a critical state of the art. Editorial Suratomic.
Miranda, E. (2015) Biocomputer music [Biocomputer and music performance]. http://neuromusic.soc.plymouth.ac.uk
Miranda, E. (2016) Biocomputer Rhythms [Biocomputer and music performance].http://neuromusic.soc.plymouth.ac.uk
Spacal, S. et al. (2013) Myconnect [Installation]. https://www.agapea.si/en/projects/myconnect
Proposed by Natalia Rivera
Co-created with Mutante
THIS PROJECT HAS BEEN CREATED UP TO NOW IN DIVERSE DIALOGUES WITH:
Juan Diego Rivera, Carlos Acosta, daniela brill estrada, Luis Williams-Fallas, Manuel Orellana, Margarita González, Carlos Maldonado, Juan Manuel Anzola, Iliana Hernández, Raúl Niño. Queer forms of life (Formas extrañas de vida) Creation Group [Suratómica], Complexity and aesthetics (Complejidad y estética) Creation Group [Suratómica]. Microcosmos Creation Group [Suratómica], Other [tiny] forms of life (Otras [pequeñas] formas de vida) Creation Group. CorpoGen laboratory. Enjambre Interzone. Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä, Luiz Zanotello, Dr. Prof. Susanne Hauser. New Media Class UDK WS20-SS22
Project connected to the Suratómica Network
Cycle At the edge of chaos | Context Other politics of the Living
New Media Class WS20-SS22. Berlin University of the Arts UdK