David Kremers ::: Biography

THE DELBRUCK PARADOX VERSION 3.0

we are the first generation of artists to face the problem not of mortality, but of immortality. with recent advances in biotechnology and computer science for extending life, artists of the 21st century are faced with both a leveling of artistic significance, and an expanding period of time for historical context. civilization will need to create from this dilemma a less mechanical world view than our previous industrial revolution has encouraged.

introduction
no one dies anymore. since the advent of photography, the dead have stayed on with us. marilyn monroe may well be leading a better life today as an ageless screen legend in artificial space than she would have enjoyed as an aged recovering alcoholic in real time.

this is because the landscape, our picture of reality, has expanded by new tools like the internet and the human genome project. we have moved away from describing objects in a discrete space to seeing systems in a relational space. today we live in two worlds, the retinal world we experience through perception, and the conceptual world we experience through understanding. both of these worlds are based on knowledge and models that are incomplete, and may be wrong. but thanks to a lack of dogma, they can be constantly improved and updated. of course this is one of the main reasons humans feel so uncertain. not only do we see the world around us in a constant state of change and flux, we know it is too. humans have yet to discover a fluid way of looking at things that allows us to feel as if we are surfing this wave of change rather than being pummeled by it. but in order to make the quantum leaps in technology that we know are just over the horizon, we have to discover this new point of view. technology becomes more like gardening than manufacturing, and like gardening, the harvest will be out of our direct control. to interface with these developments humans will have to rely less on quantitative analysis and predictive models. to harvest the richer qualities of complex living systems, humans will have to develop new methods to understand factors that cannot be measured easily, if they can be measured at all.

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: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (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): http://www.yantskaz.ru. 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

we are rapidly moving from a civilization based on the manipulation of more or less inanimate objects to a civilization based on the generation of more or less living organisms.




Technology becomes more like gardening than manufacturing, and like gardening, the harvest will be out of our direct control.

...the most important misconception about dna is that all the info is in the double helix. it is not. very little of it is. VERY LITTLE...the dna is part of a process that includes many iterations...the developing organism takes in information from its environment. germs tell the immune system how to develop. sensory input tells the nervous system how to develop. sunlight tells the pigmentation how to distribute itself. steve potter

dna is more than just software. it is software which grows the wetware in which it lives. every second 25 million cells divide in our bodies. our bodies are made up of 300 trillion cells. early organisms were composed of distinct cells which were potentially autonomous and self sufficient. by evolving into a system of interdependence and cooperation, higher organisms can adapt to new environments without having to develop new organization. only genes are free to experiment with new patterns of behavior. homo sapiens are the only species to differ, our behavior patterns are determined culturally rather than solely genetically.

max delbruck, founder of molecular biology, thought it paradoxical that the same matter as the matter of physics could behave fully in accordance with the laws of physics, and yet could not be accounted for by those same laws of physics. the answer, delbruck felt, lay not in the continued snipping away of dna fragments into common particles, but in the recognition that by immersing oneself in a swamp of living tissue one would be able to observe new paradoxes and new laws of nature rising to the surface.

...a moral point of view too often serves as a substitute for understanding in technological matters. marshall mcluhan




Science may be the last remaining taboo in art.

the moral discussion of genetics is being used as an emotional substitute for a genuine understanding of technology. if you clone a human being you don't get a frankenstein assembly of parts. you get a baby. we should be talking about how to provide for and raise babies, not monsters. the world can no longer be seen as being good v bad. the new situation is more like nature: one organism's good v another organism's good.

method and materials
we began at caltech applying this same experimental outlook to painting in 1992. with a few simple laboratory protocols a suite of paintings can be grown from single celled organisms, e.coli bacteria, genetically altered to produce both naturally occurring colored enzymes, or protein combinations reacting to genetic trace dyes. the works are completely transparent during painting, a sensation rather like painting on ice with melting snow. after a period of 16 - 18 hrs, the growth is arrested by the removal of moisture from the acrylic sheet. when air is sealed out with a synthetic resin, the work enters a period of stasis.

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: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (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): http://www.yantskaz.ru. 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 second suite mirrored early embryonic development common to all mammals. in the earliest embryonic stages of our development we look just the same as each other, or mice, or even whales. though the paintings appear to the untutored eye as colorful abstractions, the titles gastrulation, paraxial mesoderm, visceral arches, etc, give a hint that these are paintings of recognizable patterns. they are, in fact, not abstractions at all, but traditional portraits painted from an untraditional perspective.


We should be talking about how to provide for and raise babies, not monsters.

later a third suite of diptychs were grown where each panel is a clone of its partner. mounted perpendicular to the wall plane, the light passing through the plates creates a continuous chain of reflected and refracted progeny. created from identical genetic code, given identical initial conditions, and grown together in the same environment, these clones like are like identical human twins. from afar they appear to be identical, but upon close inspection reveal a multitude of minute differing details. grown as large scale models of possible synthetic organ replacement, the idea is that if we have a piece of our dna, and a high resolution map of our existing organ we should be able to slowly and carefully nurture cells into the same functioning pattern. we already possess large scale high resolution 4d maps of chemical relationships accurate to the femtosecond. we call them gardens.

results
...made of the very stuff of life, these bizarre abstractions don't depict or represent life as much as they take part in its cycles. david pagel

high technology, like computer software, biotechnology, or my art, is based on instruction sets, or algorithms. the only way to know the outcome of such an instruction set is to run it. and each time the algorithm is run in a different set of environmental circumstances it will result in a different outcome.

the results, as delbruck might have predicted, are both revealing and paradoxical. science may be the last remaining taboo in art. many viewers report going to art to 'get away' from science and technology, while others have such weak science backgrounds they assume that anything dealing with science must have some mathematics involved and they will never be able to understand the art. contemporary science and contemporary art have many aspects in common; no longer can either be understood through simple observation, yet with a little education whole new worlds of experience open up before us.


The future will be no more 'natural' than 'artificial.'

even viewers without a priori knowledge of the media, and who cannot recognize the subject matter, comment that 'something is different here,' responding with a consuming curiosity to seek an answer. the other odd result, even for the artist, is that the imagery is so alive the mind seems unable to complete a topography of the piece. memory proves unreliable as sudden appearances of new phenomena reveal themselves to be preexisting conditions every time the painting is compared with transparencies taken at the moment of stasis.

ideas are forms of life. the artifacts humans create, be we painters or bankers, are mere temporal bodies for these life forms. our artifacts must be conducive to prolonging their own survival. thus the trade of any living artifact requires an approach to benefit that artifact... we must ask the question what does this artifact want? where does it need to live?

discussion
the artist paradigm is now 150 years out of date. being an artist today is like trying to be the fastest athlete on the planet without a coach and without a team to play on. imagine being a molecular biologist before an audience viewing biology from the level of mendel's experiments with peas.

what kind of work does an artist produce under the burden of knowing his work will be with us for all time? current technology renders matthew barney as immortal as michelangelo. with a greatly expanded lifespan, any heroic artist will now outlive her achievement. what avocation is meaningful when faced with the prospect of another century in practice? or the prospect of continually renewed youthful bodily functions for the foreseeable future? what value then is material success? or a place in history? why bother to have children?




We must ask the question what does this artifact want? Where does it need to live?

following the example of delbruck, it appears reasonable that the future will be no more 'natural' than 'artificial.' instead, the way we now create artificial objects will become more organic, and abstract conceptual thought will become integrated into everyday perception. many preconceived misconceptions are bound to fall away, leaving us with a civilization less humanocentric than the present western tradition. we must do away with our protein chauvinism if we expect to infect the world with art.

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: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (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): http://www.yantskaz.ru. 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 next level in human evolution is not so much a physical change as an intellectual change. the scary thing is that it appears to be a change we are expected to take part in the design of. it is the cultural equivalent of a singularity.

davidkremers
conceptual artist at caltech
2002




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COLOPHON

CONTENTS:

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.
VIII. P.S.

Dmitry Prigov. Speaking of Unutterable.

Wet art gallery

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