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Natural Aesthetics: Digital Art and Philosophy in the Era of Technologized Biomimicry

The arts and technology are coming together in exciting ways in contemporary society. New experimental media such as biology, data, and technology are leading artists, scientists, and other individuals to new realms of knowledge discovery and creative expression. Philosophy, concerned with aesthetics and epistemology (the study of knowledge), provides an interesting lens for understanding current activity in a range of contexts where art, technology, and biology are linked. These contexts include GenerativeArt, BioArt, Biomimicry, Synthetic Biology, and CrowdArt.

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Natural Aesthetics:
Digital Art and Philosophy in
the Era of Technologized
Biomimicry
Melanie Swan
Technology Philosopher
MS Futures Group
+1-650-681-9482
m@MelanieSwan.com
August 7, 2013 – UC Berkeley
Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga
What is Digital Art?
2
Probably not what comes to mind!
Digital Art is anything involving
Computers and Art
3
The Legible City: Jeffrey Shaw
4
http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/the-legible-city/
Video: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/the-legible-city/video/1/
The Legible City by Jeffrey Shaw (1988-1991)
Boundary Functions: Scott Snibbe
Boundary Functions by Scott Snibbe (1998)
http://www.snibbe.com/projects/interactive/boundaryfunctions/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ax4pgtHQDg
5
What is Digital Art?
6
Interactivity, Co-Creation, Ephemerality
Ad

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Natural Aesthetics: Digital Art and Philosophy in the Era of Technologized Biomimicry

  • 1. Natural Aesthetics: Digital Art and Philosophy in the Era of Technologized Biomimicry Melanie Swan Technology Philosopher MS Futures Group +1-650-681-9482 m@MelanieSwan.com August 7, 2013 – UC Berkeley Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga
  • 2. What is Digital Art? 2 Probably not what comes to mind!
  • 3. Digital Art is anything involving Computers and Art 3
  • 4. The Legible City: Jeffrey Shaw 4 http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/the-legible-city/ Video: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/the-legible-city/video/1/ The Legible City by Jeffrey Shaw (1988-1991)
  • 5. Boundary Functions: Scott Snibbe Boundary Functions by Scott Snibbe (1998) http://www.snibbe.com/projects/interactive/boundaryfunctions/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ax4pgtHQDg 5
  • 6. What is Digital Art? 6 Interactivity, Co-Creation, Ephemerality
  • 10. What is Digital Art? 10
  • 11. 11 What is Digital Art? Tactical Media, Hactivism, Electronic Civil Disobedience Graffiti Research Lab and Stiktu augmented reality social graffiti app from Layar
  • 12. What is (early) Digital Art? 12 Hypertext, hypermedia, net.art, web art
  • 13. What is (regular) Art? 13 Art is whatever the ‘artworld’ (e.g.; art schools, museums, critics, artists) considers to be art – Danto 1964
  • 14. 14 Why Digital Art and Philosophy? Philosophy Concerned with: Understanding Art, economics, politics Concerned with: Experience Concepts Qualitative Quantitative Science and technology Concerned with: Characterization and Innovation Abstraction Figuration Enumeration Deleuzean Concepts: rhizome, body without organs, molar, molecular, smooth, striated, figural, machinic, faciality, deterritorialization, haecceity, nomadology, the diagram, desiring-production Three disciplines for analyzing reality, "separate melodic lines in constant interplay with one another” – Deleuze, Negotiations 1997
  • 15. Concepts in Natural Aesthetics 15 • Digital Art and Natural Aesthetics: anything involving technology, art, and biology • Philosophical concepts – Reality and Authenticity – Discipline portability – Form and function – De Novo creation – Individual and Society
  • 16. 16 Is this image of something real? What kind of real? Real life? Artificial Life? Synthetic Biology? Computer-generated image? Distinguishing ‘What is Real’ Proliferation in the categories of realism What does it mean that it is impossible to tell?
  • 17. Distinguishability of Computer Art 17 • Is it “art” or “not art” if we can tell it was computer-made? • ‘Repticity’ – representational authenticity
  • 18. Concepts in Natural Aesthetics 18 • Digital Art and Natural Aesthetics: anything involving technology, art, and biology • Philosophical concepts – Reality and Authenticity – Discipline portability – Form and function – De Novo creation – Individual and Society
  • 19. What is BioArt? 19 • Artists using biology as an expressive medium • Artwork created using live tissue, bacteria, or other living organisms together with scientific processes – Requires collaboration of artists and biologists • Term coined in 2000 by Eduardo Kac, an American artist born in Brazil Petri Dish Paintings
  • 20. Notable BioArtworks 20 • Earmouse (1997) – Human ear grown on the back of a mouse (science turned into art) • GFP (green-fluorescent protein) Art – Bunny (2000) – GlowCats (2011) • Lawn Chair sculpture (2002) – Denise King, Carnivorous Contraptions, Chlorophilia show
  • 21. The Algae Opera (2012) Digital Design Weekend, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 21 • Interactive performance and audience consumption piece • Opera singer produces Co2 to feed algae to feed the audience • BioArt as commentary on agricultural futures (produced by Agri)
  • 22. Tissue Engineered BioArt 22 • Semi-Living Worry Dolls (Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr 2002 SymbioticA artistic lab) • hymNext Designer Hymen Series (Julia Reodica 2006) • BioArt conceptual issues – Is the commentary strengthened by ‘real biology’ as the medium? – New medium requires new commentary • BioArt exhibition issues – Maintaining wet bioart in-gallery – Technique-sharing with local biologists; collaboration between artists and biologists (e.g; BioArt Initiative RPI) – Living-matter transport (e.g.; UK Human Tissue Authority), compliance (e.g.; Steve Kurtz)
  • 23. 23 http://www.siembieda.com/burg.html Group data project: Human systems (heart, lungs) representation of commercial building energy consumption (San Jose, CA 2010) B.U.R.G. (Building User Response Gizmos)
  • 24. Concepts in Natural Aesthetics 24 • Digital Art and Natural Aesthetics: anything involving technology, art, and biology • Philosophical concepts – Reality and Authenticity – Discipline portability – Form and function – De Novo creation – Individual and Society
  • 25. Best Science Pictures of the Year 25 Neuro-synaptic Computer Chip 3D CT Scan of Clam and Whelk Shell MRI of Human Brain White Matter • National Geographic coverage – 2012 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge – 2009 BioScapes Microscope Imaging Contest Water Flea Crown of Thorns
  • 27. 27 Framsticks (2010) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9WVF6c8E7c Tentacular - Evolved Virtual Creatures (2007) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pm2n_ped-TA Form and Function: Artificial Life (A-Life) • A field of study and an associated art form – Examines systems related to the evolution of life • Art or Science? – Depends on practitioner and intention Practitioner Intent: Science
  • 29. What is Generative Art? 29 • Art created with the use of an autonomous system – Computing or mechanical system employed – System independently determines features • Minimum conditions for a set of marks to function as an image? Depends on intent Generative Art - Computers, Data, and Humanity | Off Book | PBS (2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0OK1GiI83s Condensation Cube (Hans Haacke 1963) Evolved Noise (Karl Sims 2012) 77 Million Paintings (Brian Eno 2007) AARON, the AI Painter (Harold Cohen, 1995)
  • 31. Macroscale Biomimicry 31 Himalayas Water Tower Winner Evolo 2012 Skyscraper Competition http://www.evolo.us/competition/himalaya-water-tower/
  • 32. Biomimicry for Natural Dwelling 32 Living Treehouses (Fab Tree Hab) – (Mitchell Joachim 2003) Tree Circus
  • 33. Theory of Place: “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” (Heidegger 1951) 33 • Feeling at home, placeness, dwelling, belonging • Central theme of dwelling1 – Not conventional shelter or lodging – Human implacement, being ‘in’ place • Dwelling makes becoming possible, instantiates – The placeness of place – Meaningfulness of our being 1Liu F. On Place-ness of Place: ‘Dwelling.’ The Sustainability Collection. http://ijs.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.41/prod.461
  • 34. Dwelling: The City 34 • Living in cities: – Over 50% worldwide population in 2008 – 5 billion in 2030 (estimated) http://www.unfpa.org/pds/urbanization.htm
  • 35. Masdar Energy City of the Future 35
  • 36. Reconfiguration of Space: Vertical Farms 36http://www.evolo.us/architecture/vertical-farm-in-san-diego/, http://www.verticalfarm.com/
  • 39. De Novo Production of Space 39 • ‘Home’ trope in technology • Organizing physical and virtual space – Physical-world: co-working, co-housing – Online-world: social networks, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram – Virtual-world: video games, ARGs • Virtual placeness – How can we build virtual places for dwelling meaningfully? Dwelling Virtually
  • 40. Concepts in Natural Aesthetics 40 • Digital Art and Natural Aesthetics: anything involving technology, art, and biology • Philosophical concepts – Reality and Authenticity – Discipline portability – Form and function – De Novo creation – Individual and Society
  • 41. 41 Synthetic Biology (SynBio) • Definition: the (re)design and construction of new biological entities such as enzymes, genetic circuits, and cells • Goal: deliver function, safety, and beauty • Metaphysical issues (nature of reality) – ‘What is life?’ – DNA change necessary for a ‘different’ organism? – What are living machines, in themselves? – Ontological classification and naming • Ethics – Practice standards: safety, accountability, documenting work – Unintended consequences, dual-use debate • Epistemology – Limits on biological knowledge-seeking? “This century’s transistor” Source: Swan, M. Synbio Revolution: Biology is the Engineering Medium, 6/26/11 http://futurememes.blogspot.com/2011/06/synbio-revolution-biology-is.html Artificial ligase enzyme Mycoplasma laboratorium
  • 42. 42 Current Opinion in Chemical Biology December 2012 Volume 16 Issues 5–6 Pages 461-622 Mechanisms • Aesthetics • Molecular imaging
  • 43. 43 Synthetic Aesthetics How would you design nature? • Connecting synthetic biology, social science, and art and design1 – Teams: Bioengineers and Synbio Designers • Molecular design aesthetics – When we make new molecules should they be beautiful? Are naturally occurring molecules beautiful? What is an ugly protein? – Is ‘form follows function’ relevant? Can function be beautiful? – What aesthetic criteria to apply? Aesthetics of chirality 1http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/H01912X/1 and http://www.genomicsnetwork.ac.uk/media/Synthetic%20Aesthetics.pdf
  • 44. Concepts in Natural Aesthetics 44 • Digital Art and Natural Aesthetics: anything involving technology, art, and biology • Philosophical concepts – Reality and Authenticity – Discipline portability – Form and function – De Novo creation – Individual and Society
  • 45. Quantified Self (QS) Art 45 Quantify Me (Laurie Frick 2013) Fries by Month (Lauren Manning 2010) Quantified Creativity (Amy Robinson 2013)
  • 46. CrowdArt 46 Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3, 'Water Night' (2012) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3rRaL-Czxw
  • 47. Role of Aesthetics in Science/Tech 47 • Level 1 – Beauty, good design, improved function, interaction design – Examples: Molecular Design Institutes (UCSF, NYU), NJACS Award for Creativity in Molecular Design, "Synthetic Aesthetics” (MIT Press 2014) • Level 2 (Rancière) – Mode of formalization of experience, a human capacity – Emancipation: new experience, building capacity Mary Franck CODAME (Art + Tech)
  • 48. Summary: Philosophical Issues in Natural Aesthetics 48 • ‘What is real?’ – Reality Multiplicity • ‘Repticity’ - Representational Authenticity – InfoViz: representing the unrepresented – Synbio: creating the unrepresented (de novo creation) • Portability: using another discipline’s medium – Artists -> biology; Scientists and engineers -> biology and art; Artists, Scientists, Laypersons -> data • How to dwell meaningfully in new spaces • Pervasive inseparability – Form and function, individuality and society, technology and aesthetics
  • 50. Natural Aesthetics: Digital Art and Philosophy in the Era of Technologized Biomimicry Melanie Swan Philosopher in Residence MS Futures Group +1-650-681-9482 m@MelanieSwan.com June 6, 2013 - Stanford University Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga Thank you!
  • 51. 51 • Is it all right to interfere with natural processes? – Just a better way of ongoing manipulation buy humans (e.g.; plant and animal breeding)? – What constitutes a qualitative change? Nodes: crop-breeding, GMO, SynBio – Order of magnitude issue – how can we think of change at the new paradigm level or order of magnitude level (Kuhnian paradigms) • Different set of concerns in de novo generation? Philosophical Issues in Biological Innovation
  • 52. 52 Unprecedented Crowd Access to the Tools of Creative Production Printing Press Blogger, Twitter, Flickr Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest Scribe Midi Keyboard Garage Band, SoundcloudOrchestra Computer-generated Imagery (CGI) Spore Creature Creator Animation