Hybrid Worlds: Nano_Biotech + Art
MFA Fine Arts
Prof. Victoria Vesna
• Dissolving Surfaces approaches micro and macro
relations, from biological to virtual to architectural
worlds. The initial sources materials are images of
microscopic views of the insides of living organisms.
These landscapes are then reconfigured within virtual
realms. From molecules to pixels, the structure of the
image is dissolved through expansion, revealing the
insides of the digital surface. These biomorphed virtual
worlds then take physical form through architecture,
proposing a dematerialization of the constructed world.
• The initial sources that I have been working from are internal views of
the venom glands of wasps. The graphic mutation that these images
undergo is not biological but computational. There is a coded
translation or simulation, from the structure of the biological to the
structure of the digital as graphic information. The digital manipulation
of the image is in turn, executed through a microscopic zooming,
where its pixels are then expanded thousands of times their initial
size. In this way there is an analogy between the origin of the images
and their virtual end, through the way that they are mediated and
engendered. The final step consists in converting the images into
three dimensional architectural space. The constructed environment
then becomes this virtual molecular transformation, blurring
oppositions between naturally and artificially constructed worlds.
• “No more mirror of being and appearances, of the real and its concept; no more imaginary
coextensivity; rather, genetic miniaturization is the dimension of simulation. The real is produced
from miniaturized units, from matrices, memory banks and command models - and with these it can
be reproduced an indefinite number of times.” Jean Baudrillard
• In Simulacra and Simulations, Jean Baudrillard speaks of simulation as producing a hyperreal
order. This simulation does not mimic an external preexisting reality but rather it models and
engenders the real, through itself. The Simulacrum precedes the real. In any case, the distance
between the two has collapsed. This collapsing of distance can also be seen as erasing the
boundaries between the representational and the concrete and, between the natural and the
artificial. This is because we live in a world where they overlap and permeate each other. This is
the world of nuclear manipulation, genetics, bioengineering and virtual reality.
• The artist Anthony Aziz has addressed these issues of collapsing distance: "Reality (Nature)
and Metaphor generate each other, then supersede each other to be created anew" (http://
www.viewingspace.com/genetics_culture/pages_genetics_culture/gc_w02/gc_w02_aziz%2Bcucher.htm). In this sense it is not
about which precedes which (culture/nature, reality/representation) but rather a mutual
reshaping of the other. By this mutual reshaping the division of such categories is dissolved not
just metaphorically, as an abstraction, but physically and subatomically. Anthony Aziz
collaborated with Sammy Cucher in a series of works which began in 2003, titled Synaptic Bliss.
This series is particularly relevant to this project (Dissolving Surfaces) as it deals with
microscopic life, micro/macro relations, the body and the environment, and the organic and the
artificial. This is done through what they call a “digital consciousness”, engaging with scale,
space and architecture.
• Aziz + Cucher, Synaptic Bliss, http://www.azizcucher.net/synaptic.php
Project Proposal 1
• Working form microscopic images of
• The initial source images belong to the Biologist Félix
Castellanos, who authorized me to use them in my work. He
never viewed them as art, but rather as documentation material
for his own scientific research. The images are taken from the
insides of the venom glands of wasps.
Project Proposal 2
• I began exploring these images and manipulating them through the
Project Proposal 3
• Stretching The Pixel
• After beginning to work with images of molecular structures, it
occurred to me to start working with the digital structure of the image
at its molecular level, that is, at the level of the pixel.
• I do this through the computer, zooming into the grid where every
individual pixel becomes visible. This reveals the inside of the image,
that which lies beneath or beyond the surface yet never leaves it.
Each pixel within the grid is codified by combinations of zeros and
ones. When the graphic depiction of a pixel on the screen is
expanded and stretched thousands of times, the initial pixel is no
longer one but now contains thousands in itself. This means that the
machine must interpret the missing information for the transformation
to occur. The hard edges of the once structural and basic component
are now dissolved and become soft and organic. The grid loses its
rigidity and is now a permeated dissolution of the initial configuration.
Project Proposal 4
• Whatever the original source image was, and independently of its origin, it is now
untraceable, undecipherable, the outcome of a graphic mutation. The relation to the
initial image lies in its mediation and transformation, not in its actual content or
Project Proposal 5
• Into Architectural Space
• The dissolved structure of the virtual image will then be translated into the structure
of physical space. The images will be printed through different methods. Sizes and
formats will depend on the specificity of the site or sites of their installation. The aim
is that the image will become the architecture and vice versa. This semester I used
my studio to try out some prototypes of these ideas. I see these conceptual
exercises as having the potential to develop into different scales, spaces and
Project Proposal 6
Project Proposal 7
• Collapsing Distance emerges from the architecture of life at the
molecular level, to the architecture of the image at the level of the
pixel into three dimensional architectural space. This proposal acts as
a conceptual framework from which to expand. This project will
continue developing, permeating structures, dissolving surfaces and
dematerializing architecture. The specific initial source materials may
change as well the work´s means of execution and final display, as it
adapts and becomes specific to different sites. This is something that I
will continue to explore.
• Additionally, having worked from the biological, to the virtual, to the
constructed environment, a reversal of such relations is also
conceivable, as well as any possible alternation of their combinations.
• Aziz + Cucher (2010). Genetics and Culture. Recuperated 5-12-2010.
• Aziz + Cucher (2010). Synaptic Bliss. Recuperated 5-12-2010. (http://
• Baudrillard, Jean (2002). Simulacra and Simulations, in: Mirzoeff,
Nicholas editor (2002). The Visual Culture Reader, Second Edition,
London and New York: Routledge.
• Coldwell, Paul (2010). Profesor Paul Coldwell, Current Reaserch –
Artist Statement. Recuperated 3-25-2010. (http//
• Dietrich, Frank (2010) The Computer: A Tool for Thought-Experiments
Recuperated 3-25-2010. (http://dam.org/essays/dietrich02.htm)
• Foucault, Michael (2002) Of Other Spaces, in: Mirzoeff, Nicholas
editor (2002). The Visual Culture Reader, Second Edition, London and
New York: Routledge.
• Krauss, Rosalind (2010). Sculpture in the Expanded Field.
Recuperated 3-25-2010 (http://www.situations.org.uk/_uploaded_pdfs/
• Mirzoeff, Nicholas editor (2002). The Visual Culture Reader, Second
Edition, London and and New York: Routledge.
• Saunders, Gill y Rosie, Miles (2006). Prints Now, Directions and
Definitions, London: V&A Publications. Stangos,
• Zapett, Adriana, (1998) Arte Digital, México: Colección Punto de