SymbioticA: Why artists seriously play with life

Our relationship to the idea of life is going through some radical shifts. From the sub-molecular to the planetary, the cultural understandings of what life is and what we are doing to it are lagging behind the actualities of scientific and engineering processes. From synthetic biology and regenerative medicine, through neuroengineering and soft robots to geoengineering – life is becoming a technology, a raw material waiting to be engineered, thus providing a new palette of artistic expression in which life is both the subject and object. Within the realms of science and engineering, radical approaches to life, driven by mindsets of control, seem to be taken haphazardly; exposing unintentional ontological breaches, and calling for the urgent need for cultural and artistic scrutiny of the concept of life. This scrutiny is beyond the human, and through direct and experiential engagement.

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