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Queer forms of life: Digital technologies for the living

Theoretical proposal about the creation of hybrid organisms or biocomputers as queer forms of life.

Delivered: 27.09.22

Author: Natalia Rivera

Professors: Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä, Dr. Prof. Susanne Hauser, Luiz Zanotello

Program: Master in Visual Communication with Focus on New Media. New Media Class, University of the Arts Berlin UdK.

Project connected to the Suratómica Network


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 develop- ment 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 sto- rage, and the biocomputer as a living organism itself. Together with them, the artistic creation, or even wider, the shared aesthetic expe- rience 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 techno- logies. 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, 2020) in its way.

In an early stage, the discourses and experiments surrounding biocom- puting 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 invol- ved 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 con- sumption or their ability to self-replicate and repair, among many other characteristics.

However, an other comprehension of the aesthetics, biologically ba- sed (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 Mu- sic (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 enti- ties 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 lan- guages 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) Estética y complejidad. Elementos para un estado crítico del arte. Editorial Suratómica.

Miranda, E. (2015) Biocomputer music [Biocomputer and music performance].

Miranda, E. (2016) Biocomputer Rhythms [Biocomputer and music performance].

Spačal, S. et al. (2013) Myconnect [Installation].

Read the full text here:

Rivera_Queer Forms of Life_VKMA_SS22_R
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