An international symposium of scientists, researchers and
artists, revolving around the theme of life sciences: the
gradual infiltration of bio-and neuro-technology between
the dialectic of body and nature. Curator: Florian Rötzer.
The texts of the speakers were published in "Die Zukunft
der Korper" (Kunstforum 132).
"Nowadays, computer scientists, micro biologists, physicists and artists
occupy themselves increasingly with creating entities that look and
behave like living organisms. They eat, grow, evolve, multiply and die.
In other words, they display all characteristics of biological life. And
everything happens spontaneously without interference from the humans
that created them. All this happens in the digital
computer and is called 'artificial life'. Artificial life gives us a
different view on science and on ourselves; from life as it is to life
as it could be. Through computers we hope to crack nature's codes to better understand the complexes we call 'nature'
and 'life' so that we can then shape them ourselves. We take evolution
into our own hands, as it were. Also, by combining hard-, soft-, and
wetware, which should result in machine-creatures, we make attempts to
come to new definitions of life. The hardware robot is supplemented with
software and, who knows, wetware. The idea that biological life
manifests itself through 'software', or the transmission of information
between cells, has a strong relationship with our increasing interest in
complex and dynamic systems which manifest themselves, amongst other
things, in working with computers. Thinking about life and death,
reproduction and evolution, is strongly influenced by working with
computers, a complex dynamic and interactive medium. What, exactly, is 'nature'
or 'life'? What seemed such a simple issue a little while ago is
turning into a fuzzy area where 'designed' life forms populate our
living rooms, be it through display screens or otherwise. Recently, the
British physicist Stephen Hawking caused quite a stir during a
scientific conference by saying that there is life in the computer. He
argued that computer viruses should be considered life forms since they
submit to all the standard definitions of life." (Florian Rötzer)
"Is the romantic bliss of the "natural" passé?
Though many may cast it away in disbelief, the idea still
remains obsessively pervasive in contemporary society. Nothing
is more artificial than the attempt to find natural harmony,
however. It is a fictive of the imagination, a recurrent
theme of never-ending development between nature and the
body. At a point at which the creation of life and evolution
may take place through autonomous robots in the virtual
memory of the computer, a radical shift occurs. Through
the manipulation of genecodes, and finally through the brain
a direct connection can be made to the machine, without
the interference of any sensory periphery. Biosphere 2 (http://www.bio2.edu/Research/res_entry.htm)
may be a model for the new, and extreme design of nature,
a future model for the human being of protheses and implantations.
Plugged into technical systems, the human being is caught
in a bubble -- an artificial bubble of invented naturalness
-- where he leads a tele-life simultaneously. Molecular
genetics and gene technology that arises thereof are starting
to overtake and industrialize biological life. Artificial
life and genetic algorithms simulate evolutionary processes.
The medical sciences are able to intervene ever more into
the processes of the body. Neurology presently does research
on cognitive mechanisms in an attempt to simulate them and
replace certain functions of the brain by biochips or directly
connect them to computersystems. Nature and the body are
ever more a cultural and technological product within close
range of bio-technology and neuro-technology." (Florian Rötzer)