BFA Fine Arts Department Chair Suzanne Anker was invited to lecture at the recent “Science, Technology and Ethics” conference at Harvard University. Her talk, on the topic of “Science, Art and Bio-Art,” can be read in its entirety below:
Questions concerning the role of technology and its impact on our lives continues its ascendency in our literally “plugged-in” world. In this wired world of coded connections, zeros and ones exert a daunting pictorial presence. From glamour glossies to public relations pictorial wars, digital images endlessly spiral, circumnavigating the globe. As “signs in action” what compelling narratives do they distinctly embed? In media-driven societies engaged in and dependent on symbolic pictorializations, how do these representations operate as part of a mutating cultural imaginary? We can consider the term cultural imaginary as an overarching term defined as “those vast networks interlinking discursive themes, images, motifs and narrative forms that are publicly available at a given culture at any one time, and articulate its its psychic and social dimensions.” So states cultural critic Graham Dawson.
Constituting a semblance of a “collective data base” the cultural imaginary traverses contested territories associated with either verifiable axioms or fanciful storytelling. These visualizing models, employed by artists, scientists, designers, corporate advisors, journalists and politicians, clarify, mislead, aggrandize, stimulate or document. In short, they are representations embedded in social structures, policy decisions, and commercial ventures. As aesthetic devices, they perform their semiotic function of activating thought and emotion through their powers of communication and circumscribed belief.
Conventional discussions with regard to the visual arts in relation to science and technology has taken a spirited turn. Set in accelerating motion by the decoding of the Human Genome in 2000, many visual art exhibitions, residencies exploring this intersections and other art/sci collaborations are active throughout the world. Current discourses in visual art are also expanding beyond the nomenclature of formal analysis, Marxist and Feminist interpretation, post-structural theory and alike. Added to this mix, art as a form of knowledge production, as it is being explored at many academic institutions, particularly in Europe.
Art practice has become a set of shifting dialogues which are being explored in terms of several platforms for re-visioning the world.
1) Art as Speculative Research is a platform in which art practice reaches beyond the gallery or museum to develop interactive, social and biological artworks. These include sophisticated interactive technological apparatus, changes in working conditions and labor relationships which come about by changes in consumer demands for technological hardware.
2) Art as a form of Practice-based research, generating Ph.d’s in studio art. Linda Candy’s Guide to practice-based research cites the “creative artifact as the basis of a contribution to new knowledge.” Here art practice becomes a generator of epistemic objects.
3) Philosopher Nicole Karyfylis and the Bio-fact. For philosopher Karyfylis, the neologism, “bio-fact” is a hermeneutic concept, which allows one to inquire into the differences between “nature” and “technology” in the domain of the living.” Arguing that these differences do, in fact, still hold true today, as they did for Aristotle, but “the distinctions have become much more hidden than before.” For Karyfylis, a critical point becomes the invisibility or what she terms the “veil of ignorance” associated with manipulated life-forms. These transformed bodies whether in the form of GMO food or laboratory animals conceal their changes in DNA status.
I will now turn our attention to a series of projects that intersect the visual arts with scientific concepts. For the artist, as opposed to the scientist, scientific theories and iconography is repurposed into signs of cultural meaning. In the early twenty-first century, scientific images, like popular culture icons, are increasingly entering the public realm. This migratory manifestation of the visual has, for scholar W.J.T. Mitchell, created a “social field” of images, which underscores the “pictorial turn across disciplines.” If one can assume that visual representations embody world concepts, it is remarkable to compare the images from a non-technoscientific world to one embroiled in instrumentalized vision. Both images correspond to differing world views.
Correspondance of Form: Marking the Invisible
New Imaging Technologies/Reprotech
In conclusion, as the accelerating dynamic of migratory practices hybridizes existing disciplines, will new representational spaces forge alternative paradigms linking the visual with the empirical sciences? And in what ways will this assemblage provide inventive forms of inquiry?
To watch a video of a recent lecture Anker gave at UCLA, click here.
Image: Photo of Suzanne Anker by Nil Arieli (BFA 2012 Photography).
MFA Interaction Design & BFA DesignSVA’s Jake Barton and Paula Scher Win National Design Awards
MFA Illustration as Visual EssayMarina Abramovic Shares Portrait by SVA Student Chemin Hsiao
MFA Interaction DesignSVA Student Featured in 'Wired' for Kleiner Perkins Design Fellowship
BFA AdvertisingSVA Students Sweep 2013 One Show Young Ones College Competition
MFA Computer Art & MFA Social Documentary FilmSVA Alumni Rachel Loube and John Mattiuzzi Win Student Academy Awards
BFA Film and VideoInterview with SVA Alumnus Marianne Vitale on Artspace
MFA Illustration as Visual EssayPost Grad Life Illustrated: SVA Alumni Launch Brushwick Studio
MFA Design; BFA Design; and BFA AdvertisingQ&A with SVA's Gail Anderson in 'Design Week'
BFA PhotographyPhotos by SVA Alumnus Ilona Szwarc on Time.com
MFA Interaction DesignLiz Danzico and MFA Interaction Design Students Featured in 'Autoweek'
BFA Film and Video & BFA AnimationSVA’s 2013 Dusty Film and Animation Festival Award Winners
MFA DesignDigital Arts Interviews SVA's Jessica Walsh
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA Alumnus Joana Avillez Illustrates 2013 Met Gala for 'Vogue'
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA Alumnus Pacifico Silano Finalist for 2013 Aperture Portfolio Prize
MFA Interaction DesignThe Art of Instagram: An Interview with the Creators of Coastermatic
MFA Computer ArtAnimation Video by SVA Student Daniel Sierra Featured on Gizmodo
MFA Products of Design & MFA Interaction DesignSVA Students Featured in 'Fast Company' for Nautilus Bowl
BFA CartooningSpring 2013 Issue of SVA's 'Ink' Now Available
MFA Visual NarrativeSVA’s Leonard S. Marcus Moderates Talk for ‘Picture This!’ Series
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA Alumnus Ilana Rein's Film on 'Battlestar Galactica' Fandom Cove...
BFA CartooningSVA Alumnus Gerard Way Featured in 'USA Today'
BFA Film and VideoSVA Dustys 2013: Q&A with the Director of ‘Animosity’
BFA PhotographyPhotos by SVA's Sid Kaplan Featured in 'The New York Times'
SVA PortfoliosSVA Portfolios: Five Most Discussed Projects of April 2013
MFA 2012 Computer Art; MFA Social Documentary Film; and BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual EffectsSVA Leads 40th Annual Student Academy Awards Finalists
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA's Charles Traub on Ulysses S. Grant for 'The New York Times'
SVA Career DevelopmentCareer Opportunities: Pixar Visits SVA
BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual EffectsVimeo Staff Pick: 'Stranded' by SVA Students Donia Liechti and Vick...
BFA Film and Video & BFA DesignPSA Created by SVA Students Airing on ‘The Suze Orman Show’
MPS Fashion PhotographyPhotos by SVA Student Richard Gerst Featured on GQ
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA Student Andrea Tsurumi Wins MoCCA Award for Excellence
BFA Film and VideoSVA Dustys 2013: Q&A with the Director of ‘Rumspringa’
MFA Art Criticism and WritingDavid Levi Strauss on the 'Role of the Photograph' in the Boston Bo...
MPS Live Action Short FilmQ&A with Advertising Hall of Fame Inductee Bob Giraldi
MFA Design CriticismCitizen Science: SVA's Akiko Busch on WNYC
BFA PhotographyMural by SVA Alumnus Nao Uda to Debut on Bowery
BFA Advertising and BFA DesignPreview Trailer: SVA Motion Graphics Portfolio Screening 2013
BFA Film, Video and AnimationSneak Peek at the Upcoming Dusty Film & Animation Festival
BFA Interior DesignDesign Life: An Interview with SVA Alumnus Ambar Margarida
MFA Social Documentary FilmSVA Alumnus Alexa Karolinski Interview by 'The Paris Review'
BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects'Space Bound' Animated Short by SVA Students Featured on io9
MFA Interaction DesignInterview with SVA Alumnus David Bellona on 'Sparksheet'
BFA Illustration and Cartooning'The New York Times' Remembers Carmine Infantino
MPS Digital Photography, MFA Illustration as Visual Essay, and BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation & Visual EffectsWhat’s In Store: New Yorkers, Incarceration Illustrated and Compute...
BFA Film, Video and AnimationSVA Alumnus Atsushi Funahashi Featured in 'The Japan Times'
MFA Fine Arts, BFA Photography & BFA Fine ArtsSVA at the 2013 Affordable Art Fair
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA's Elinor Carucci Photographs Anthony Weiner for 'The NY Times M...
BFA Advertising and DesignSVA Wins Fourth Consecutive ADC ‘School of the Year’ Award
SVA Career DevelopmentRecap: SVA Career Fair 2013
SVA Arts AbroadSummer Plans: Exploring Art History in Southern France
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA Alumnus Hyewon Yum Wins Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award