Saturday, January 9, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] critical making and CRISPR gene splicing technologies


I would be interested in the thoughts of those involved in the
critical making movement of how to address the sudden breakthroughs in
genome editing.
called CRISPR, here is a concrete example where making needs to be
critical but clearly the scientific community itself prefers to defer
the ethical and cultural issues to others to think about- dont we need
critical making embedded in science itself ? In a previous post to
this list i referred to the thinking going on by philosphers such as
Seb Franklin, Bernard Stiegler, Sloterdijk among others on how to
develop new strategies to address new ethical and cultural frameworks.

There is growing international activity looking at taboos in culture
and science, and how art-science practices can take critical and pro
active approaches to understanding the new ethical frameworks we need
to create.

Artists in the art/sci/tech community are in the forefront of this
questioning- the Trust Me, I am an Artist european consortium has been staging a series of
performances, podcasts and blogs around the topics raised.

An area needing urgent attention from our community practice is the
cultural, social and ethical issues arising around the breakthroughs
in gene splicing, CRISPR, which open avenues for detailed modification
of humans. A recent international summit was held in Washington DC.
(To my knowledge no artists were invited)

And the issues are discussed in the latest issue of Science Magazine:

The statement issued after the summit:

the recommendations are broadly disappointing and recommend:

"We therefore call upon the national academies that co-hosted the
summit – the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and U.S. National
Academy of Medicine; the Royal Society; and the Chinese Academy of
Sciences – to take the lead in creating an ongoing international forum
to discuss potential clinical uses of gene editing; help inform
decisions by national policymakers and others; formulate
recommendations and guidelines; and promote coordination among

The forum should be inclusive among nations and engage a wide range of
perspectives and expertise – including from biomedical scientists,
social scientists, ethicists, health care providers, patients and
their families, people with disabilities, policymakers, regulators,
research funders, faith leaders, public interest advocates, industry
representatives, and members of the general public."
So basically the science is going ahead and the scientists divert
their responsibility by asking for the creation of inter-national
discussion forum and do not assume their own responsibility.

The art science technology community should agressively look at how
these issues can be examined before the science makes applications
inevitable. What kind of world do we want to live in ? What kind of
'human' kind to we want to transmit to future generations. CRISPR gene
splicing technologies will be leading to an avalanche of applications
and these issues have barely been discussed at the highest levels.
Perhaps we need the equivalent of a COP 21 strategy forcing all
nations to take positions.

A conference is being held in Corfu later this spring- which may be of
interest to those involved in these issues looking at " the nature of
the forbidden and the liminal as expressed in science and art "
& Science", 20-21 May 2016, Ionian University, Corfu

Call for papers and artwork presentations for the International Conference:


Friday 20th & Saturday 21th May 2016, Ionian University, Corfu

Audiovisual Arts Festival Official Website:

Audiovisual Arts Festival 2016 Call for Papers:

Online Submissions to the 2016 Conference:

Deadline CFP: February 29, 2016

The Department of Audio and Visual Arts of the Ionian University
organizes a two-day interdisciplinary conference with theoretical and
artwork presentations under the theme of "Taboo - Transgression -
Transcendence", focusing on questions about the nature of the
forbidden and the liminal as expressed in science and art.

Since the beginning of time, taboo has traced the edges of experience.
As with Icarus, whose excitement made him forget the restrictions of
his man-made wings leading to his fall towards death, humans have
always been regulated by a set of rules defining the borders of
knowledge and experimentation. What constitutes the limits of the
accepted, however, has to be read within the ethical horizons of a
specific time frame. It is not uncommon that what seems outrageously
transgressive in one moment, can eventually transcend to a commonplace

Limits are continuously put to test as contemporary scientific
experimentation pushes forward our idea of the world, in quest for
answers but also for solutions allowing us to overcome the problems
present in our lives. Progress in fields such as the human genome
editing, the creation of cyborgs and any human-like artificial
intelligence, are only few examples presently generating double-edged
questions on the nature of humanity. One could easily recall Dr.
Frankenstein, whose ambition to solve the mystery of life and death
ends up revealing the threshold of control between creator and
creation. As we experience a gradual, but substantial, de-centering
from the humanistic values, scientific experimentation bears potential
turmoil; its advances are essentially stretching the borders of our
experience of the world and ourselves, mostly revealing the fragility
of social values.

However, isn't this also the essential role of Art? More than ever
before, isn't this the point where science intrinsically meet with the
arts? Arts apply critical questions to our certainties, and it is not
a coincidence that in the last decades so many artists have focused on
the human body as their primary medium for investigation. In the
merging of science and art opens a space for creative transformation.
Art's playfully transgressive nature offers creative bypasses to the
scientific grammar and expands the dialogue with its openness to a
multiplicity towards the new. Nevertheless, art - albeit its originary
affinity with the taboo - is never completely liberated from moral
considerations. Deeply involved into this lively discourse on the
nature of the taboo, art becomes the very domain of contemporary
experimentation with transgression, in order to provoke and sparkle
discourse, catalyzing possible forms of transcendence. Can this
relation bear a force of liberating? Is there such a thing as
incentive prohibitions and who/what defines the borders of accepted
identities and ideologies? Immersing into the impure realm of limits
and liminalities, one might trace the mental structures filtering our
experience of the world, ultimately opening space for creative
transformations through the mixing of art and science.

Submissions are welcome both from scientific fields acquainted to
audio & visual technology and/or new media theory as well as from the
diverse fields of artistic expression related with scientific issues.
Suggested, but not exclusive topics, are those associated, from an
artistic, scientific or ethical perspective, with:

Art as subversion and art as transcendence

Dirt, disgust and the polluted

The body machine and the animal body

Animal rights in Art and Science

Taboos in technological applications and transcendence in art creation

Tradition, experimental use of technology and contemporary aesthetics

Internet, new dimensions of "touching" and control

Post gender, transgressive identities and social models

Transgression, subculture and ritual

Trance culture, psychotropic substances and socialization

Attraction, eroticism and techno-reproduction

Dogmas' transformations and dissolutions in present times

Educational environments and new practices of space transcendence

Plastic surgery and bοdy modification-body alteration

Gene editing, mutation and eugenics

Psycho-pharmacology, somatechnology and post-humanism

Human-like machines, uncanny valley and sex technology

Nanotechnology, skin and other dimensions of the body

Neurophysiology and cybernetic art

Art and neuroscience

Roger Malina

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