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country_without_men

call Resonances 2019

The challenges of generating, storing, sharing, selling, analysing, using, misusing, hacking, etc., large data sets of all kinds. Where and how are Big Data transforming our society, our lives and even our very self for the better and the worse?
Who are we going to be in the future when Big Data have enabled scientists, engineers, doctors, experts to transform our societies, our commons, our bodies, our work, our relations, our environment, the very fundaments of our lives and our selves?

a lab of unexpected re-combinations and serendipities where algorithms, in an epistemological twist, uncover small patterns, which need at once concepts and tools that are brand new or still need to be invented
We want to tackle this huge subject from the angle of identity. What do Big Data do to our sense of Self and consciousness? How do they change our relationship with humans and non/humans, with society and nature?
The world cannot be understood only by crunching numbers. We need to interpret it, and explore its new horizons. A new alphabet of images is arising out of the terabytes of data exchanged each minute.

The call stipulates: Big Data as a multi-dimensional space shot through with rich imaginary lodes of science and bias, art and society, a lab of unexpected re-combinations and serendipities where algorithms, in an epistemological twist, uncover small patterns, which need at once concepts and tools that are brand new or still need to be invented, and an intervention by human intuition and culture. 

Tackle this huge subject from the angle of identity. What do Big Data do to our sense of Self and consciousness? How do they change our relationship with humans and non/humans, with society and nature?

Big Data transforming our society, our lives and even our very self for the better and the worse? Who are we going to be in the future when Big Data have enabled scientists, engineers, doctors, experts to transform our societies, our commons, our bodies, our work, our relations, our environment, the very fundaments of our lives and our selves?


abstract: a country without men

A Country Without Men. Women are the Future.
Online we buy sperm, with synthetic biology we design our babies.

A Country without Men is a critical, speculative project.
What is the future of our offspring in times of Big Data and Synthetic Biology? The project poses questions and raises awareness via artistic research built upon a scientific basis. It’s a game of probabilities.

For most of the past decade I have been working with bees and I have been growing, hacking, digitizing, building, and thinking about alternative beehives for urban areas. I based my ideas for this new project upon the structure of a bee colony's matriarchal society, where the queen, once in her lifetime, mates with ± 12 drones and then stores their sperm in her spermotheca to make use of it during 5 years to fertilize up to 2000 eggs a day. All these fertilized eggs become worker bees. They are all female, and they are all half-sisters. A bee colony is a female society where the male drones are only good for courting the young queens, and if they are lucky, mate with one if they are smarter and faster than their competitors. After this act, they die.

The thinking about a similar matriarchal structure for our future human society is at the basis of this research project. With the digital era in full swing, rules of kinship, courtship and family structures are completely changed from 100 years ago. There were in former times individual, direct and very personal experiences at the basis of a love affair and family structure, dating & love in our contemporary society seems to be evolving towards a complete digital, online experience. Social media, avatars, online dating, online sex. Combine these facts with the growing attention for and knowledge of biotechnology and synthetic biology, and 'designer babies' are not that far away anymore. We are talking about alternative models of reproduction, scanning novel biotechnological possibilities and thereby raising ethical (Can humans design evolution?) and biological (What if the choice for specific qualities cause proliferation?) questions. How will a matriarchal society influence our identity?

Methodology for art/science research:
Build a database of Men -or better: a database of their inner and outer qualities. The DNA of every man in the catalogue is sequenced. All men's cognitive and physiognomical qualities are described and related to their DNA. Then it's just a CRISPR-cas9 away to combine them into your ideal baby! The more sperm data is available, the more possibilities for the perfect match.'The buyer' selects some criteria from the database and an AI algorithm starts a search in the 'available data'and makes some propositions which are visualized in a 'custom-designed baby'.

  • datamining of men, face recognition (social media, newssites, entertainment websites, advertising, fashion industry,…)
  • building a database and categories
  • AI algorithms extract specific physiognomies (tall/short, colour of skin, eyes, nose, mouth, ….)
  • analysis & description of the fenotypes
  • (fake) DNA sequencing - I can write an open call for participation …
  • (synthetic) biology - pairing the qualities with specific sequences in the DNA
  • make 'top ten' propositions to 'buyers' via randomizing algorithms
  • visualizing possible designer babies via randomizing algorithms

research risks & costs

  • collect data ⇒ privacy rules check
  • store massive amount of data ⇒ where?
  • mine useful information / data analysis ⇒ computer scientist, AI
  • (synthetic) biologist, evolutionary biologist
  • to avoid problems with privacy rights, the faces of the Men in the database can be processed with a graphical treatment

artwork presentations:
work part 1: installation with research elements

  • laboratory with construction for hooking-up different experiments, new objects & prototypes (e.g. spermatheca, extensions to the body), in vitro tubes, …
  • online databases and (medical imagery video) animation of designer babies
  • DIY-kits for DNA sequencing

work part 2:

  • Big Data Tapestry with made with novel materials (algae, bacteria, …)
  • women's work is never done
  • reference towards technology of first computers (punch cards), jaquard, Ada Lovelace, …
  • transmitting information, then and now
  • visualizations of DNA sequences, Genealogy of the Matriarchal Society

research: XX XY

Some research at a glance - will go in scientific depth later:

Levende wezens zijn apparaten die geschapen zijn door onze genen.

Sequence of the human gnome: 30.000 genes
Genen en modifiers (samenwerkende genen/ redundantie) - Als we niet de functie van “slechts” 30000 genen hoeven te begrijpen maar de 30000 maal 30000 = 900 miljoen manieren waarop twee genen met elkaar kunnen samenwerken dan zijn we nog wel een tijdje zoet.

Genen = kleinste eenheden van erfelijke informatie (Mendel)
DNA = moleculaire structuur van de genen

Een gen is in de biologie een discrete eenheid van erfelijk materiaal, waarmee organismen erfelijke eigenschappen doorgeven aan hun nageslacht. Genen zijn onderdeel van chromosomen en bestaan uit stukken DNA. Alle genen samen bepalen het functioneren van de cellen waaruit het organisme is opgebouwd.
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gen
zie ook chromosomen (gen = deel DNA molecule waaruit de chromosoom bestaat)

De manier waarop mutaties in genen zich vertalen naar veranderingen in het fenotype (je uiterlijk, gedrag enz.) was een belangrijke vraag voor de vroege evolutiebiologen. Omdat evolutie afhankelijk is van willekeurige mutaties in willekeurige genen, is het niet mogelijk van tevoren te voorspellen hoe een nieuwe mutatie het organisme als geheel zal veranderen.
https://www.nemokennislink.nl/publicaties/30-punt-000-genen-en-wat-nu/

synthetic biology

nature ⇔ culture
biology ⇔ machinery
komt samen in cybernetics
⇒ living machines (hybrid machine or machines that reproduce, evolve and adapt?)
⇒ synthetic biology (top down: cut & paste and change where necessary or bottom up: create protocells, gaining new knowledge)

design ⇔ art
synthetic biology ⇔ evolution
predifined functions ⇔ no directionality, mutations
predictable ⇔ unpredictable

synthetic aesthetics p.263

synthetic biology is mostly “directed evolution” ⇒ creating living machines that will be hybrids; throw-away after one term of use.

country_without_men.txt · Last modified: 2018/04/06 22:11 by ami