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Bernhard Nussbaumer und Daniel Huber

DATE:      April 20th 2009, 10.00 – 11.30 
PLACE:    Interface Culture Lab, Sonnensteinstr.11-13, 2nd floor
Lecturer:  Jens Hauser
Title:         "Liminality, Pervasiveness and ‘skinned’ Interfaces
                 An Approach to Art involving live/life (bio)technology"

With biology's ascent to the status of hottest physical science, the quasi-eternal question of how art and life relate to each other induces new cultural responses when artists are provided with a wide range of biotech procedures providing them with new expressive media. After the exploration of global interconnectedness induced by the digital era, and with the increasing consciousness of the concrete (side) effects of our indeed beloved technologies, cultural practitioners located at this threshold create art that is pervasive both at the macro and micro level.

Bio (tech) Art has become a process-based art of transformation in vivo or in vitro that manipulates biological materials at discrete levels and creates displays that allow audiences to partake of them emotionally and cognitively. Such art which materially explores biomedia potentially creates an oscillation between presence effects and meaning effects’ (Gumbrecht) in which the signifier and the signified overlap. Biomedia in art refer synecdochally to a whole and constitute a material part of this whole ‘represented’ by the fragment, so that we may speak both of epistemological metaphors and of ontological metonyms. What this gives rise to is a realm of emotional tension and interference between various possible modes of perception: when experiencing Bio(tech) Art we may switch back and forth between the symbolic realm of art, and the "real life" of the processes that are being put on display and that is being suggested by organic presence.

In this context, we may begin to revise our understanding of ‘interface’ to go beyond the common limited notion of a data-transmitting connection between analogue and digital entities which relate to one another through shared, language-like protocols. When discussing the materiality of mediating instances, what or whom to interface with is significant. More than the purely technical modality of such interconnecting systems, this dynamic liminality becomes interesting as a transformative instance.


Jens Hauser is a Paris based art curator, writer, cultural journalist and video maker who’s work focuses on the interactions between art and technology, trans-genre and contextual aesthetics. He is currently a Research Associate at the Institute for Media Studies at Ruhr University, Bochum, and has been a guest lecturer at various international institutions. Hauser has organized L’Art Biotech (2003), a show on biotechnological art at the National Arts and Culture Centre Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, Still, Living (2007) at the Biennale of Electronic Arts in Perth, sk-interfaces (2008) at FACT, as part of the programme of Liverpool's year as the European Capital of Culture, and co-curated the Article Biennale in Stavanger (also European Capital of Culture 2008). In 2005 Hauser received the Fund for Arts Research Grant from the American Center Foundation. Hauser is also a director of creative radio pieces, sound environments and documentary films. In 1992 he was a founding collaborator of the European cultural television channel ARTE and regularly contributes to its programmes.