Κολέγιο CITY College
Main Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
12 April 2019

The English Studies Department Contemplates the Relationship of Technoscience and Art

The English Studies Department in addition to its interests in Linguistics, Teaching, Translation and Literature also acknowledges the value of culture. While we are aware of the technological and scientific developments and applications that make our daily lives easier, better and have aided humans in understanding and insight as well as the aesthetics of art that motivate meaningful musings, we may not be fully aware of the interrelationship of these three areas. Dr. Lia Yoka’s seminar titled: Technoscience, Art and Theories of Contemporary Culture provides an overview of the relationship between technoscience and art whilst delineating their main characteristics spanning from the 20th to the 21st century.

Dr. Lia Yoka’s seminar 'Technoscience, Art and Theories of Contemporary Culture', at CITY College International Faculty

It might be difficult to see or acknowledge how technoscience inspired works of art and granted them with aesthetic value in addition to communicating messages and critiques through such works. Dr. Yoka points out that art and science are related conceptual categories in which technology intervened in the 20th century and actually posed as the basis for their interrelationship. Science was used as an instrument via which artists then criticized science itself – note Salvador Dali’s painting containing the DNA double helix. Following this influence, however, was that of the impact industrialization, machines and computers thus venturing in the Art of the Machine. Even though technoscience was initially viewed as something negative and capable of dehumanizing – given military applications and the repercussions of two World Wars, during the mid-20th century, machine and computer art theorized the machine and employed machines to produce aesthetic results where the focus was not so much on the machine itself but the cognitive techniques employed. Examples include Jean Tinguely, Charles Csuri, Harold Cohen Aaron (computer art/algorithmic art/generative art), Robert Smithson (land art), Buckminster Fuller (human population growth animated map, 1965) and John McHale – (Pop art). Examples such as Gustav Metzger even introduced the notion of protest art thus demonstrating that critique was still evident alongside matters of aesthetics.

Following this time period, Dr. Yoka notes that the 1980s poses as the revival for computers and bioart where Bioart as a notion is understood as both a process and imagery able to exact inquiry of meaning and critique art as well as technology. In fact all art could be seen as bioart because art cannot be seen as disconnected from the various processes that make up life. Artists are now interested in doing science as art is not considered enough. Examples drawn on include Joe Davis (Microvenus 2000), Eduardo Kac (“glowing” rabbit), Daniel Lee (hybrid visualization), Suzanne Anker and introduce concepts such as the flesh machine and tissue culture. Biological and IT data were now viewed with regard to aesthetics thus motivating one to contemplate on the nature of aesthetics from an alternate perspective.

Of course this leads us to the present and how technoscience and art are viewed now. Focus, as Dr. Yoka explains, falls in areas of biopolitics, conceptual limitations and the need for artists to provide ideas and purpose. There is evident self-critique of both art, science as well as their interrelationship regarding their practices and ideologies. More importantly, matters such as bio-ethics and environmentally and socially conscious projects raise questions towards notions such as boundaries, ethics, intellectual property/copyright as well as aesthetics and value.

Overall, a seminar of this nature motivates one to contemplate how areas considered distinct can actually influence each other, enable each other to develop but also how their interrelationships, concepts and themes raise questions regarding definitions, limitations, ideologies from different perspectives and how that contributes to and shapes the culture we live in.

 

back