Imagination Laboratory: Making Sense of Bio-Objects in Contemporary Genetic Art.
Article by Holmberg, Tora and Malin Ideland
Public engagement in biotechnology has declined as cloning, genetic engineering and regenerative medicine have become socially and culturally normalized. Zooming in on existing bio-technological debates, this article turns to contemporary genetic art as sites for ethical reflections. Art can be viewed as an ‘imagination laboratory’, a space through which un-framing and rupturing of contemporary rationalities are facilitated, and, in addition, enabling sense-making and offering fantastic connec- tions otherwise not articulated. In this article, the framework of ‘bio-objectification’ is enriched with Bennett’s (2001) notion of enchantment and the importance of wonder and openness to the unusual, in order to highlight alternative matters of concern than articulated through conventional politico-moral discourse. Drawing on a cultural sociological analysis of Eduardo Kac’s Edunia, Lucy Glendinning’s Feather Child, Patricia Piccinini’s Still Life with Stem Cells and Heather Dewey- Hagborg’s Stranger Visions, we discuss how the intermingling of art, science, critics, art historians, science fiction, internet, and physical space, produce a variety of attachments that this article will unpack. The article demonstrates that while some modern boundaries and rationalities are highlighted and challenged through the ‘imagination laboratory’ of the art process, others are left untouched.
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