PUBLIC TALK: A Theatre of Individuation: Theorising BioArt Encounters after Gilbert Simondon
|A Theatre of Individuation: Theorising BioArt Encounters after Gilbert Simondon : Public talk with Andrew Lapworth
Characterised by interdisciplinary practices at the intersections of arts, sciences, and biotechnologies, the emergent artistic genre of "bioart" is increasingly lauded within the social science literature as a crucial arena through which question and unsettle deep-rooted cultural perceptions of life and the individual, the concept of the self, and the position of the human in relation to other (more-than-human) bodies and the environment (Born and Barry, 2010; Dixon, 2009; Hauser, 2006). It is this understanding of the capacity of bioart to effect ontological change that I want to develop further in this paper through a theorisation of art-encounters as "ontogenetic events" that materially produce, rather than merely represent, subjects and worlds. To address this ontogenetic potential of bioart, the paper turns to Gilbert Simondon's philosophy of individuation, and the conceptual terrain he develops to rethink being from the standpoint of its becoming. First, I explore how a philosophy of individuation pushes our contemporary understandings of the subject through an attentiveness to its emergence from material and affective processes that both precede and go beyond it, as well as its susceptibility to immanent disruption through the shock of encounter. Secondly, I argue that Simondon opens up the possibility of theorising this evental potential of bioart by emphasising the preindividual affective forces and processes of the art-encounter, and the disorienting transformations in being these bring about. By rendering sensible and reworking molecular, material, and technological agencies implicated in the constitution of the subject, bioart can be understood to open a space of experimentation with modes of expression and experience in their very coming-into-presence. I unpack these arguments empirically through an engagement with the bioartistic practices of the Tissue Culture and Art Project, whose "semi-living" bioart, I argue, stages a disruption of pernicious contemporary habits in favour of new and creative capacities for thinking, perceiving, and relating to the nonhuman.
Andrew Lapworth completed his undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Bristol, writing his undergraduate dissertation on the relation between the cinematic image, temporality, and subjectivity in post-Franco Spanish cinema through the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. After living and working in Paris for a year, Lapworth successfully received an ESRC 1+3 studentship and returned to the School of Geographical Sciences in 2009 to undertake the MSc in Society and Space. It was during this year that Lapworth developed an interest in spaces and practices of ‘art-science’, and wrote his thesis on the non-representational politics of contemporary bioart. Following his Masters year he enrolled as a PhD candidate in October 2010, and successfully upgraded in October 2011.
Supervised by Dr. J-D Dewsbury and Dr. Maria Fannin, his current PhD research explores the practices, logics and ethico-political potentials of contemporary ‘laboratories’ of transversal and experimental artistic research (including SymbioticA in Perth, Western Australia, and the Institut fur Raumexperimente in Berlin). Theoretically, Lapworth draws together recent philosophies of ontogenesis, new materialisms & vitalisms, and bioaesthetic theories to explore how material processes, aesthetic conditions and experimental practices in these sites reciprocally imbricate through one another to provide the means for constituting (including conceptually) subjectivity, political possibility, and artistic practice.
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