DEAF94 Symposium

Symposium about the future of the body at DEAF94 (1994).

DEAF94 Symposium

DEAF94 Symposium

Nov 1994
09:00 to 17:00
location: Lantaren/Venster, Gouvernestraat 133

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)

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