Roy Ascott ::: Biography


If, as I believe, the purpose of a writing about art is to open a doorway to the future, the metaphor could not be more apt than when it is applied to the field of interactive art. In the course of this paper I hope to show you how art has moved from its preoccupation with being a window onto the world, to becoming a doorway into another reality, an opening through which the viewer can pass to engage in a new kind of relationship with the artist in the creative process. This new kind of relationship involves interactivity and transformation: interactivity between people and computational systems, and the consequent transformation of images, structures and ideas within those systems and within the viewer's consciousness. I describe the approach to interactivity in art as constituting a five-fold path of connectivity, immersion, interaction, transformation, and emergence. It involves the creation of new worlds, in whose construction the viewer can become actively involved. It is the world of cyberspace, telematic networks, of telepresence, virtual reality and the technology of artificial life. It is life at the edge of the Net, in a space of connectivity, which has no centre. At the edge of the Net we are in a particularly unresolved, ambiguous zone, partly virtual, partly material. It is the interspace between these two conditions, which engages the imagination of many artists today, and particularly exercises architects and engineers faced with accommodating the Internet society within a post-biological environment. And it is with the coming together of the silicon dry world of interactive media with the wet biology of living systems, that the emergence of a new substrate and vehicle for art can be detected, which I identify as moistmedia, and which may lead to the evolution of a moist art. Moistmedia involves bits, atoms, neurons and genes (the big B.A.N.G) co-existing in new configurations of form and meaning.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

Artists working now in cyberspace and eventually with moistmedia contribute to this perspective by creating worlds in whose construction and definition the viewer can be actively involved, and in which perception can be restructured and amplified. The point I wish to make also, in this context, is that many artists in the field I am discussing, value the philosophical aspect of their work, and its appeal to the mind, rather more than its visual or aesthetic qualities alone.

It is with the coming together of the silicon dry world of interactive media with the wet biology of living systems, that the emergence of a new substrate and vehicle for art can be detected, which may lead to the evolution of a moist art.

The roots of Interactive Art date back to at least 1957, when Duchamp, in a University of Texas lecture [2], described the artist as medium, and talked about the viewer interacting with the artwork to bring about meaning. The 1960s saw innumerable events, happenings and actions involving some degree of interaction, described for example in Frank Popper's Art - Action and Participation [3], or Lucy Lippard's Six Years: the dematerialisation of the art object. [4] The interest in art and technology, cybernetics and systems theory of the time led to experiments with computers and communications, and eventually to digital and telematic art. The term "interactive art" was coined, or at least given public currency, in 1989, the year in which the journal Kunstforum [5], and the Festival Ars Electronica [6], introduced it definitively into the canon of Western art.
For my part, I proposed a Cybernetic Art Matrix in Behaviourist art and the cybernetic vision [7] in 1964, which saw in worldwide communication a necessary conduit for art as it became increasingly process-based, fluid and transformational. At the end of the 1970s the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, funded me to stage the first international telematic art project, Terminal Art, linking artists in two continents. At the same time Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created their historic Hole in Space [8], a real time communication satellite hook up between people on the street in New York, and those in LA. La Plissure du Texte: a planetary Fairy Tale [9] was the title of a project involving "dispersed authorship" which I created for Frank Popper's Electra at the Musee d'art moderne in Paris 1983. Here artists at 14 nodes around the world took on the identity of fairy tale personae, and across the networks created a non-linear narrative. The planetary perspective was celebrated in Planetary Network: Laboratory Ubiqua which I organised as an International Commissioner for the 1986 Venice Biennale, along with Don Foresta, and Tom Sherman. I put a more mixed reality technology at work in Aspects of Gaia: digital pathways across the whole earth [10] for the 1989 festival of Ars Electronica.

Roy Ascott with Mathias Fuchs (communications), Peter Appleton (sound), Miles Visman & Robert Pepperell (programming). Aspects of Gaia: digital pathways across the whole earth, Ars Electronica 1989.

In one sense, we recognise that all art is interactive now, whether the work consists in the static field of a painting or a dynamic system in cyberspace. In every case, artistic experience and meaning is the product of a negotiation between the viewer and the viewed, rather than the one-way transmission of content. In the case of computer-mediated Interactive Art, some would argue that silicon-based, computer mediated interactivity has reached its peak, if not actual maturity. Others talk of its decline, arguing that the impact on art practice of technology, especially digital and communications technology, has been to reduce art in many cases to a form of craft in which polished technique or skilful programming, leading to dazzling special effects, have come to replace the creation of meaning and values. A resonance with the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris is invoked. There was then the same process of dumbing down from art to craft, in which the authoring of technique took primacy over the authoring of ideas, with a pandering to a luxury market, partially obscured by a veneer of social conscience. That view is refuted in my experience, by a great deal of the conceptually based, open-ended and evolutive work I see in juries of the annual Ars Electronica Festival, the Interactive Media Festival in Los Angeles, and the Intercommunication Centre Biennale in Tokyo. Here interactivity stretches far beyond the screen to complex intelligent environments, and robotic structures. It is refuted by collaborations of artists in the Net, which will also, I suspect, lead to further artistic development as wireless applications bring the telematic interface into to the very clothes that we wear, into our bodies, and eventually to the chip in the brain. …that only a few decades ago was considered to be pure science fiction.
But we should not forget the initial shock of interactivity. The liberation and elation felt by the viewer's ability to influence, if not totally control, the evolution of a work of art, a narrative fiction, a line of thought, through the magic of interactive media, online and off, in cyberspace and bionic space, with all the accoutrements of hyperlinks and cybernetic loops, simply at the touch of a button or a wave of the hand. But the shock is wearing off. There is interactivity on every desktop now, and soon it will come, if not to your own kitchen and living room, then to a home near you. Interactivity has turned the corner and is becoming a part of your life, your house, your entertainment centre, your car, and not least, your job. Computing is ubiquitous, and intelligence is seeping out of the human brain into every manmade object, tool and environment. But for the fact that the Net is all edge (as I have said, there is no centre) we could anticipate art effectively being driven out of cyberspace by the colonising thrust of an aggressive e-commerce. Instead many artists are being absorbed within web-based corporations and much artistic creativity is being expended on the capitalist machine. This should not surprise us since internet start-up companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, seem to be becoming the primary vehicle for creative imagination if not for artistic thought. Though of course, as in art historically, relatively few start-ups survive.
Attention is now turning towards nanotechnology and the convergence of digital media and molecular technology, which I call moistmedia (dry silicon with wet molecules, or pixels and particles). I showed my MOIST MANIFESTO at Graz in 2000:

Roy Ascott. The Moistmedia Manifesto. Installation, gr2000az. Graz, Austria, 2000.

MOIST SPACE is where dry pixels and wet molecules converge
MOIST ART is digitally dry, biologically wet, and spiritually numinous
MOIST REALITY combines Virtual Reality with Vegetal Reality
MOIST MEDIA comprises bits, atoms, neurons, and genes
MOIST TECHNOLOGY is interactive and psychoactive
MOIST LIFE embraces digital identity and biological being
MOIST MIND is technoetic multiconsciousness
MOISTWARE erodes the boundary between hardware and wetware
MOIST MANUFACTURE is tele-biotic, neuro-constructive, nano-robotic
MOIST ENGINEERING embraces ontology
MOIST DESIGN is bottom-up, seeded and emergent
MOIST COMMS are bio-telematic and psi-bernetic
MOIST ART is at the edge of the Net

Roy Ascott. The Moistmedia Manifesto. Installation. gr2000az. Graz, Austria, 2000

While the desire to enter these realms is quite strong in many artists, access to the necessary laboratories is difficult and funding virtually non existent. It was the same thirty years ago when artists could see the potential of digital media but could not get their hands on the machines; slowly they infiltrated into computer laboratories and in to corporate systems. Much of our work at that time was due to the subvention of the commercial network I.P.Sharp in Toronto and the support of Jacques Vallee's Infomedia Corporation in San Bruno, California. Similarly now, those artists who see the potential for their art in moistmedia - Alife, molecular biology, and nanotechnology - must cross the difficult barrier of gaining access to laboratories and biotechnology research centres. Most notably successful in this regard is Eduardo Kac (whose florescent rabbit Alba has captured many headlines world wide) and the tissue culture art of Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, and the group SymbioticA at the Art & Science Collaborative Research Laboratory in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia, along with such young artists such as Ken Rinaldo [11], Adam Zaretsky [12], and Amy Youngs [13]. Catts, Zurr, Rinaldo, Zaretsky and Young were shown in what was one of the first international exhibitions of bio-art: Biofeel at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in Western Australia in 2002. [14] Tissue culture art [15] researches the use of tissue culture and tissue engineering as a medium of artistic construction. Tissue engineering can be seen as the way to produce bio-artificial organs for the body, and, if applied to the production of semi-living objects (a combination of living tissue and artificial support) can be used to create living sculpture. In 1999 Eduardo Kac produced Genesis [16] - a transgenic artwork whose key element is an "artist's gene," i.e., a synthetic gene that does not exist in nature, invented by the artist. The Genesis gene was incorporated into bacteria, which were shown in the gallery. Participants on the Web could turn on an ultraviolet light in the gallery, causing real, biological mutations in the bacteria. This work, although less dramatic than the creation of his living florescent rabbit, it heralds the new pre-occupation with molecular process that in my mind will increasingly preoccupy artists over the coming years.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

Indeed it is the nature of reality rather than the reality of nature that causes the shift in the focus of art, whether analogue or digital, from a concern with representation or expression of (given) reality towards the construction of new worlds, and parallel realities.
To exemplify the range of practices involved in interactive art, I can do no more than point you in the direction of those who in my estimation are creating generic strands in this emergent field and whose work is most intimately known to me by virtue of their presence in my research group CAiiA-STAR [17]: Victoria Vesna [18], Jill Scott [19], Eduardo Kac [20], Char Davies [21], Bill Seaman [22], Miroslaw Rogala [23], Thekla Schiphorst [24], Joseph Nechvatal [25], Donna Cox [26], Gretchen Schiller [27].

Top: The Art & Science Collaborative Research Laboratory in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia (Perth). Bottom: Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr (and the group SymbioticA). Tissue culture and art - the Wet Palette of Tissue Engineering.

It is through the new language that interactive art produces that we can begin to evaluate it. This language will include a range of semiotic structures, signs, texts, forms of behaviour. For the artist simply to re-iterate and maintain established language uncritically, is to renounce the idea that we can rethink ourselves and our world, and to accede to the notion that in matters of reality our minds are made up for us. As Richard Rorty says in Contingency, irony and solidarity [28]: "To create one's mind is to create one's own language, rather than to let the length of one's mind be set by language other human beings have left behind." Rorty is a pragmatist who sees that artistic vision and fecundity of metaphor are central to the creation of reality, by denying the passive acceptance of canonical descriptions of the world. It is the artist's role to exhume those dead metaphors which we have internalised, and whose ghosts may have ascended to the illusory realm of truth, and finally lay them to rest. The sanctity of representation in Western Art was assured by its fidelity to a consensus reality, a consensus institutionally retained and re-enforced over centuries. Rorty points out [29] that it was Nietzsche who first explicitly suggested we drop the whole idea of "knowing the truth." His definition of truth as a mobile army of metaphors amounted to saying that the whole idea of representing reality by means of language, and thus the idea of finding a single context for all human lives, should be abandoned.
In the post-modern context, the interactive artist is ready to call upon any system, organic or technological that empowers the construction of reality. She is prepared to look anywhere, into any discipline, scientific or spiritual, any view of the world, however banal or arcane, any culture, immediate or distant, in order to find those processes which engender creativity. There is no metalanguage or metasystem which places one discipline above all others. This liberated trans disciplinarity informs artistic research at all levels. This calls for a general disposition of openness and optimism towards knowledge and towards the world at large, the condition in telematic culture which I describe as telenoia [30] - the celebration of connectivity and open-ended collaboration - to replace the paranoia, the anxiety, the alienation, the compartmentalisation of knowledge, and the social segregation and loneliness of the old industrial age.

Victoria Vesna. Virtual Concrete. Internet installation (fragment), 1995.

One of the grand metaphors so long in use that it has effectively acquired the status of truth is that of "Nature." Time prohibits a proper examination of the term, something more fully explored in my text Back to Nature II, first published as "Zuruck zur (kunstlichen) Natur," in Kultur und Technik im 21Jahrhundert [31], in 1993. My thesis is that Nature, which can be shown to be our dialectical invention in any case, is no longer relevant to our evolution. Long honoured since the late middle Ages by artists who invested enormous imaginative skill in its depiction, the metaphor has reached the end of its shelf life and is no longer useful in the post-biological culture, which we are creating. The velocity of technological change makes Nature far too slow, and epigenetic human development much more attractive, a perspective which informs a number of contemporary artists, most visibly perhaps, Stelarc [32], whose work with the prosthesis of body parts and telepresence in the Net is exemplary. This may be why artists using new media are more interested in the constructive process than in purely expressive activity. They wish to build realities rather than reflect "given" or authorised reality. In this respect they are perhaps not far from the shaman who uses an entirely different, but equally efficatious technology, that of the plant. As Western artists themselves become more interested in entheogens, we may see an interesting juxtaposition arise of what I refer to as the three VRs:

Validated Reality, which uses reactive mechanical technology, and is prosaic and Newtonian.
Virtual Reality, which uses interactive digital technology, and is telematic and immersive
Vegetal Reality, which uses psychoactive plant technology, and is entheogenic and spiritual.

Ideas of telerobotics, telepresence, of being both here and there at the same time, the self multiplied and dispersed - a kind of creative schizophrenia - is fundamental to life in the Net. The further extension of this phenomenological development lies in the realm of quantum teleportation. On 11 December 1997 it was reported in Nature that quantum teleportation has been demonstrated in laboratories at Innsbruck [33], Rome and at Cal Tech. According to Furusawa, reported in the journal Science in October of 1998, "The quantum state of one entity could be teletransported to another entity."

Stelarc. First Ping performance at Artspace (10th April, 1996, 8.00pm) as part of the Digital Aesthetics Conference (Sydney, Australia).

Many of these ideas, variously developed by artists and technologists alike, prioritise the mind, and consciousness as the focus of study, while seeing a new kind of materialism and embodiment in the world. I referred earlier to moistmedia, the convergence of the wired and the wet, the telematic and biological. There are two aspects of this convergence, which I would like to examine here. One involves issues governing the relationship of consciousness to technology which I shall refer to as technoetics (noetic from the Greek nous); the other concerns the implications of molecular, cellular, structural and computational biology and nano engineering for art. As art becomes more and more invested in moistmedia the issue of sentience and consciousness will increasingly come to the fore.
To many, it may seem rather perverse to suggest that technology, particularly computer technology, has brought consciousness into particular focus in art today. It may be difficult to see how technology, apparently cold and alienating, could do anything to advance the subtlety of feeling and vision that art has always demanded. Historians, however, will know that technology, whether in the form of engineering, chemistry, optics, or pharmacology, has always mediated the vision and aspirations of artists in all parts of the world and at all times. And observers of contemporary culture will confirm that, despite the seeming paradox, artists today are finding in digital technology and telematic media new ways to make consciousness both the subject and object of their work. Their use of interactive media enables the viewer to participate in a shared space of consciousness and to actively participate in the construction and transformation of artistic meaning. The work of Char Davis uses immersive VR to enable the user to traverse new fields of experience leading to a sense of disembodied consciousness. The interface is of particular interest here, involving as it does the breathing in and out of the viewer to enable a sense of ascent/descent in the virtual environment. Ulrike Gabriel of Frankfurt employs consciousness in quite another way. In Terrain Robots randomly moving about an arena are energised by light, which is generated when the mind of the observer is calm (or when two users cooperate to create a calm field of consciousness between them). As the robots become more energised and more animated the mind of the observer also becomes agitated thereby restricting the flow of energy to the robot, whereupon further control of consciousness has to be exercised to bring the robots back to life. [34]
The provenance of technoetics in art is not hard to find Throughout the course of this century, there has been a tradition in art of valuing concepts in their own right, even to the exclusion of direct visual reference to the external world at its surface level of appearance. Duchamp's work, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, even, is the icon of the whole movement, bringing together in a set of wholly unfamiliar and densely layered metaphors, the marriage of metaphysics and the mechanical world. To make the invisible visible is a familiar ambition of artists, an ambition by no means restricted to conceptual art alone. Artists a different as the coolly cerebral Mondrian, the buoyantly dynamic Boccioni and the esoteric Kandinsky, sought to express the spiritual in Art or "the invisible which moves and lives beneath the gross forms" as Boccioni put it. In quite different ways, artists such as these created works attempting to transcend their materiality, and the materialist view of human nature, to express or evoke other planes of experience and awareness. At the same time there is a strand of art practice, emanating from Russia, which eschews representation and self-expression entirely in favour of construction, a strand, which winds its way right through the twentieth century. These conceptual and constructive tendencies exert a huge influence on the strategies of artists in the field of interactive art… A third element in the lineage of attitudes and approaches, which have led to the technoetic aesthetic, is art dealing with identity. The existential and ontological dimensions of 20th century art are perhaps too well known for me to detail them here. The expression of self, the identity of self, the presence of self are issues which differentiate 20th century art perhaps more than anything else from the art of previous eras. This triad of concerns, concept, construction and consciousness, underwritten by technological innovations in our perception of invisible forces and fields, prepared the ground for the technoetic aesthetic. This perception, developed further by advanced technology, becomes in our era what I call cyberception [35] - a bionic faculty in the human repertoire, involving an amplification of conceptual and perceptual processes, in which also the connectivity of telematic networks plays a formative role.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

Historically, we have had little option but to keep the worlds of our double consciousness in separate and distinct categories, such as the real, the imagined, and the spiritual. The advent of the Artificial Life sciences, in which I include both dry (pixel) and moist (molecular) artificial organisms, and the whole prospectus of nanotechnology (still largely theoretical), points to the possibility of eroding the boundaries between states of mind, between conception and construction, between the internalisation and the realization of our desires, dreams and needs of our everyday existence. Let me give you an example, which can be found in our cyberception of matter at the atomic level. Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM [36]) not only enables us to view matter at this level, but to image individual, single atoms. However the real significance of this process does not end there. Not only can we select and focus on individual atoms, but also we can, at the same time, manipulate them one by one, atom by atom, to construct from the bottom up atomic structures of our own choosing. Nanotechnology [37] could eventually allow the creation of self-replicating mechanical devices that build products on the nanometric scale (billionth of a meter), or atom by atom, molecule by molecule. Lined up end to end, hundreds of thousands of nanomachines would fit across the width of a fifty pence coin.

Peter Anders. Architectural Designs for Roy Ascott’s Planetary Collegium, 2002.

Artificial life technology (Alife [38]) is concerned with investigating ways in which living systems can be generated and evolve, such that not only biological systems but also any series of complex non-linear self-organising interactions may ultimately arise. It is an ambition mirrored in the artist's fascination with complexity, with algorithmic process, and bottom up design. Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignoneau exemplify this field, and provide for me the defining work of interactive art in the 1990s, in their installation A-Volve [39], successfully integrating of Alife principles into a work of great beauty and elegance. The best definition of Alife may be that provided by Chris Langton who was responsible for naming the field, and for convening the first Alife workshop at Santa Fe in 1987 "Natural life emerges out of the organized interaction of a great number of non living molecules, with no global controller responsible for the behaviour of every part. Rather, every part is a behavor itself, and life is the behavior that emerges from all of the local interactions among individual behavors. It is this bottom-up, distributed, local determination of behavior that Artificial Life employs in its primary methodological approach to the generation of lifelike behaviors." [40]
The application to art of the principles a life and molecular biology, and have nanotechnology as it develops, will lead to a re-materialization of art. The ascendancy of the immaterial in art in the last quarter of the twentieth century, theorised by Jean-Francois Leotard, and Jean Baudrillard is perhaps coming to an end, a case hopefully of "bye, bye Baudrillard!" The importance of telematic networks however will certainly not decline, rather we shall see the progressive embodiment of moistmedia within the Net. The technoetic principle will remain paramount.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

The change in the focus of architecture is not registered at the level of form so much as at the level of behaviour. To give just one simple example, our exaggerated interest in what a building looks like, its mere appearance, will give way by contrast to the concern with how a building sees us and its world, the quality of its gaze. Instead of the emotions that places and objects exert on us, we might consider how we could affect them; how products and structures might respond emotionally to their social environment. Questions of the form and structure of buildings will be overshadowed by ambitions for their dynamism and intelligence, their ability to interact with each other and with us, to communicate, learn and evolve, essentially to anticipate our needs. Engineering will embrace ontology!
The convergence of an architecture based on molecular technology and nano- engineering, allied to artificial consciousness and the networking of the human hypercortex, can bring us to an architecture that has a life of its own, that thinks for itself, that feeds itself, takes care of itself, repairs itself, plans its future, copes with adversity. It will be an architecture that is as much emotional as instrumental, as intuitive as ordered. We shall want to get inside the mind of such architecture and an architecture that can get into our own mind. The building of sentience is the challenge to architecture in the 21st century.
By way of conclusion, I would like rather briefly to summarise the cultural shift, which is underway in interactive art by contrasting current cultural attitudes and practice with those of the previous era.

from /// To
content /// context
object /// process
reception /// negotiation
representation /// construction
hermeneutics /// heuristics
tunnel vision /// bird's eye view
perspective /// immersion
figure-ground /// pattern
iconicity /// bionicity
nature /// artificial life
certainty /// contingency
resolution /// emergence
top-down /// bottom-up
observed reality /// constructed reality
paranoia /// telenoia
autonomous brain /// distributed mind
behaviour of forms /// forms of behaviour

Marcos Novak. ArteCidade, 2001.

Taking 1989 as the year of its birth, or at least of its naming, we should note that interactive art has hardly reached puberty. It is certainly becoming self-conscious and demanding its place in the adult art world! However, in seeking the legitimacy of its place, I believe it will eventually transform that world, and open doorways into aesthetic and artistic domains that we can hardly imagine at this time.

[1]. von Foerster, H. Observing Systems (New York: Intersystems, 1981).
[2]. Duchamp, M. The Creative Act. (Lecture) (Houston: University of Texas, 1957).
[3]. Popper, F. Art - Action and Participation (London: Studio Vista, 1975).
[4]. Lippard, L. Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object (New York: Praeger, 1973).
[5]. Im Netz der Systeme, Kunstforum, Bd.103, September-Oktober, 1989.
[7]. Ascott, R. "Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision," in: Cybernetica, Journal of the International Association for Cybernetics (Namur), 1966, 9.
[28]. Rorty, R. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
[29]. op.cit.
[30]. Ascott, R. "Telenoia," in: Adrian, R. (ed.) On Line - Kunst im Netz (Graz: Steirischen Kukturinitiative, 1993).
[31]. Ascott, R. "Zuruck zur (kunstlichen) Natur," in: Kaiser, G., Matejovski, D., Fedrowitz, J. (eds.) Kultur und Technik im 21Jahrhundert (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 1993), pp.341-355.
[35]. Ascott, R. "The Architecture of Cyberception," in: Toy, M. (ed.) Architects in Cyberspace (London: Academy Editions, 1995).
[40]. Langton, C. G. (ed.) Artificial Life (New York: Addison-Wesley, 1989).


How to purchase this book



I. LABORATORY: science and technology

Svetlana Borinskaya. Genomics and Biotechnology: Science at the Beginning of the Third Millennium.

Mikhail Gelfand. Computational Genomics: from the Wet Lab to Computer and Back.

Irina Grigorjan, Vsevolod Makeev. Biochips and Industrial Biology.

Valery Shumakov, Alexander Tonevitsky. Xenotransplantation as a Scientific and Ethic Problem.

Abraham Iojrish. Legal Aspects of Gene Engineering.

Pavel Tishchenko. Genomics: New Science in the New Cultural Situation.
II. FORUM: society and genomic culture

Eugene Thacker. Darwin's Waiting Room.

Critical Art Ensemble. The Promissory Rhetoric of Biotechnology in the Public Sphere.

SubRosa. Sex and Gender in the Biotech Century.

Ricardo Dominguez. Nano-Fest Destiny 3.0: Fragments from the Post-Biotech Era.

Birgit Richard. Clones and Doppelgangers. Multiplications and Reproductions of the Self in Film.

Sven Druehl. Chimaera Phylogeny: From Antiquity to the Present.
III. TOPOLOGY: from biopolitics to bioaesthetics

Boris Groys. Art in the Age of Biopolitics.

Stephen Wilson. Art and Science as Cultural Acts.

Melentie Pandilovski. On the Phenomenology of Consciousness, Technology, and Genetic Culture.

Roy Ascott. Interactive Art: Doorway to the Post-Biological Culture.
IV. INTERACTION CODE: artificial life

Mark Bedau. Artificial Life Illuminates Human Hyper-creativity.

Louis Bec. Artificial Life under Tension.

Alan Dorin. Virtual Animals in Virtual Environments.

Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau. The Application of Artificial Life to Interactive Computer Installations.
V. MODERN THEATRE: ars genetica

George Gessert. A History of Art Involving DNA.

Kathleen Rogers. The Imagination of Matter.

Brandon Ballengee. The Origins of Artificial Selection.

Marta de Menezes. The Laboratory as an Art Studio.

Adam Zaretsky. Workhorse Zoo Art and Bioethics Quiz.
VI. IMAGE TECHNOLOGY: ars chimaera

Joe Davis. Monsters, Maps, Signals and Codes.

David Kremers. The Delbruck Paradox. Version 3.0.

Eduardo Kac. GFP Bunny.

Dmitry Bulatov. Ars Chimaera.

Valery Podoroga. Rene Descartes and Ars Chimaera.
VII. METABOLA: tissue culture and art

Ionat Zurr. Complicating Notions of Life - Semi-Living Entities.

Oron Catts. Fragments of Designed Life - the Wet Palette of Tissue Engineering.

Dmitry Prigov. Speaking of Unutterable.

Wet art gallery





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