Art as Performative Philosophy of Technology
Pernille Leth-Espensen (Aarhus University)
Paper short abstract:
In recent years an increasing number of artists are creating artworks with technologies from the natural sciences. This paper will address these artworks from a postphenomenological perspective and discuss how they interpret scientific representations, technologies, processes and metaphors.
Paper long abstract:
In recent years an increasing number of artists are creating artworks with technologies from the natural sciences. The artist Paul Vanouse, for instance, makes the result of gel electrophoresis resemble a world map, and in the artwork MEART by SymbioticA Research Group, rat neurons are cultivated in a Petri dish with electrodes in it, and the neural activity is sent over the internet and transformed by a robotic arm into a drawing on paper. These works of art share an interest in investigating scientific instruments and processes. What might be the motivation for this artistic exploration? The philosopher of technology Don Ihde argues that since the major part of contemporary natural science is concerned with phenomena that are small, invisible, inside a body, or out in space, and so forth, almost all science today is technoscience. In continuation hereof it is argued that the natural sciences are hermeneutic, as scientific instruments interpret the phenomena they represent. Phenomena are 'made readable' through instruments. Furthermore, the philosopher of technology Peter-Paul Verbeek emphasizes that technologies and scientific representations are not neutral; they have ethical implications as they affect our conception of our bodies, of nature, and society, and ultimately they also affect our actions. Given the accelerating scientific and technological development, it is not strange that artists find it interesting to investigate the implications of the use of technologies employed in science. This paper will therefore discuss how a range of artists interprets various scientific representations, technologies, processes and metaphors.
Science has always been technoscience