page 17 of "The
page 35 of "The
year ago, I was part of a trip, which included MFA students and
a few daring faculty going to Montreal for a conference on art
and biotechnology (Art & Biotechnology). The weekend's
sessions explored emergent systems, DNA, social engineering, tissue
culturing, swarms of robots, and other topics. We were completely
absorbed by these ideas, but Roy Ascott's lecture on nanotechnology
was the most jarring to us. His presentation of “biophotonics”,
light in living bodies, seemed more like fantasy than science.
The questions that his lecture raised about the promises of future
technologies told me that nanotechnology would introduce some very
interesting questions. What would designing from the atom on upwards
do to our perception of technology? How would this atomic building
technology affect the landscape of Gaia? There was a story somewhere
in all of this.
During our long drive home, we reflected on the challenges that biotech topics presented to artists. Our definition of “nature” really seemed to be crumbling. How would we create representations of this? My mind wandered, and I dreamt about bio-architectures permeated with communication infrastructures, the environment as organism and the organism as environment. Looking out the window, I contemplated the semantic boundaries of organisms. My dreams were interrupted by the pitching of our van on a windy day. I noticed clouds of black dots hovering over the road and the horizon that defied the strong gusts of wind. They were airborne schools of fish, they were swarms of organic robots, no, they were flocks of birds. I had found an example of one of Gaia's emergent processes whose boundaries were hard to define. The organism of the flock was a shifting architecture of smaller organisms. The simple behavior of each bird contributes to the overall shape and movement of the flock, which exhibits its own behavior. In my story, I would accentuate this view of the flock as organism.