Wars within living organisms.
Track chairs Laura Beloff (IT-University Copenhagen), Nora Vaage, Clarissa Ribeiro (CrossLab)
The idea that living things can be viewed as machines has a long history, stretching back to antiquity. In the 20th century, technological and social developments such as the rise of cybernetics meant biological organisms and the natural environment could be viewed as feedback mechanisms and regulatory systems.
Traces of this development are present in our language. Bioengineering, bio-inspired robotics, genetic code, and computational evolution are approaches within the sciences that strongly connect life with computers and other machinery. Our conceptions of how living organisms work are visible in the machines we construct, and vice versa – successful machinery supports our perception of living systems and understanding of the wondrous capabilities what life forms may have.
At the same time, there has been an increase in the developments in artificial life, artificial intelligence, but also in synthetic and artificial biology. These fields directly reference the idea of constructing living organisms, or life-like creatures – solely created by humans.
With the title living machines, we reference a wide range of approaches between the biological and the technological. We are especially interested in issues and projects that investigate the ways biological/living entities are being infiltrated by technologically driven thinking and approaches.
Questions we would like to explore with this topic include (but are not limited to):
- What does the idea of living machines mean, in our time?
- What kinds of constellations and experiments are done in the arts and in the sciences that address the division, or merger, of living / non-living and technological/biological?
- What kinds of power relations are inherent in the perception of life as machinery?
- What other critical perspectives can be highlighted, and which conflicts can be found, explored and possibly resolved?
- How can we (re)consider the relationship between artificial and biological life (e.g. in biomimicry, cyborgs, human-machine interactions)?
- What types of visions of living machines can be invoked in future societies? And what kinds of conflicts do these visions raise?