Distinguished Speaker 3 – Jens Hauser

Artistic Biomedia and the Production of Authenticity

Public Lecture + Reception
Friday, January 20, 2012
4 – 6pm

How and why are biomedia employed in the field of (media) art? Whilst the technosciences themselves have increasingly become potent producers of aesthetic visualizations, do artists just want to make rival use of the epistemic power of the image? Or do they rather use wetware at the molecular or cellular level in order to short-circuit semiotic procedures of representation by staging and voluntarily emphasizing the very authenticity of their biological subjects, objects, processes or systems? The artistic use of biomedia as means of expression takes advantage of the high degree of non-fictitious believability, truthfulness and manifest corporality of their status as real biological entities, potentially living or stemming from life, and thus resembling the viewers of this art themselves. But while their real, apparent, or at least potential a/liveness first prompts the viewer’s feeling of immediacy, the underlying mediality and technological constructedness of these displays is more slowly, cryptically revealed and addressed. Therefore, the apparent visual and diegetic core of biotechnological artworks needs to be carefully analyzed, beyond a purely image-based hermeneutic approach, on the basis of the artistic media themselves with their respective phenomenological impacts and their epistemic nexuses. Features that once unfolded primarily as artistic images are today being remediated, dispersed and fragmented into a confusing multitude of media. Here, mediation and technologies are no longer employed merely to achieve an aesthetic effect. They are themselves fully-integrated elements of the aesthetic idiom. Indeed, biomedia’s potential to produce, destabilize and deconstruct authenticity can be seen in the light of two complementary and well-established mechanisms in art history: Illusionism, which can be considered the simulation of an authentic presence that appears even to share a physical space with the viewer, and indexicality, on the other hand, which acknowledges that cultural products per se obey sign modalities and hence induce degrees of representation. Jens Hauser will develop these concepts through the media archeological lens of art examples, from Still Life Painting, the imprint and perspective ralentie in garden architecture to contemporary wetware art.

Curating “Art as Research”?

Thursday, January 19, 2012
4 – 5pm

The current talk of “art as research” may not only be a strategy to provide artists with practice-based PhDs and pave the way to academic positions, but indicate that after the linguistic, the pictorial and the performative turn now an epistemological turn has emerged that describes the interdisciplinary interest in the modalities of knowledge production, more than in knowledge translated into art itself. Linking artistic to academic research can produce epistemic art forms beyond mere aesthetic representation of scientific concepts. This may occur especially when artists employ or subvert techno-scientific apparatuses and experimental systems by pointing to the blind spots and to embedded cultural metaphors in research practices. But does the act of curating art then become an epistemological practice itself? The seminar will present case studies from recent exhibitions, including art works in the light of “synthetic biology” and “genetic fingerprinting.”

Location for both events:
Hexagram Resource Centre, Concordia University, Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex, Room 11.705, 1515 Saint Catherine St. W., Montreal QC


Hauser is a Paris-based curator, author and arts and culture critic. With a background in Media Studies and Science Journalism, he focuses on the interactions between art and technology, as well as on trans-genre and contextual aesthetics. He has curated exhibitions such as L’Art Biotech (Nantes, 2003), Still, Living (Perth, 2007), sk-interfaces (Liverpool, 2008/Luxembourg, 2009), the Article Biennale (Stavanger, 2008), Transbiotics (Riga 2010), Fingerprints… (Berlin, 2011) and Synth-ethic (Wien, 2011). Hauser organizes interdisciplinary conferences and guest lectures at universities and international art academies. In his current research at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, he investigates the biomediality and wetware paradigms. Hauser is also a founding collaborator of the European culture channel ARTE and has produced numerous radio features. His recent publications include sk-interfaces. Exploding Borders – Creating Membranes in Art, Technology and Society. (Liverpool University Press, 2008) and Fingerprints… Paul Vanouse. Index–Imprint–Trace (argobooks, 2011).

image: SYNTH-ETHIC exhibition, NHM Vienna, photographed by Arman Rastegar

Cette publication est également disponible en : Français (French)