Talk Title and Abstract: Towards a Scalar Identity Politics: Bacteria and Embodying the Molecular Self
Précis: This talk explores how recent scientific data on bacteria recasts the human as other, humanities as the inhumanities, and art in terms of the molecular self. For every one human cell in the body, there is one bacterial. This makes humans equally homo sapien and homo microbis, human and bacterial. Based on this data, this talk focuses on how bacteria-based bioart opens spaces of dialogue beyond identity politics rooted in textual or cultural practices alone. Within bacteria-based bioart, identity actualizes at varying scales: biologically in terms of evolution according to the fundamental definitions of “life” as well as culturally at the level of gender and race
Bio: Charissa N. Terranova is a writer and educator. Terranova researches complex biological systems from a cultural purview, focusing on the history of evolutionary theory, biology, and biocentrism in art, architecture, and design. She is author of Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (2016) and Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (2014), and coeditor with Meredith Tromble of The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She also edited a two-volume issue of the journal Technoetic Arts on “complexism” (2016).
Terranova is currently coediting with Ellen K. Levy D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Forms, forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press, 2019, and writing a monograph titled Biology in the British Bauhaus: Morphogenic Modernism in Art, Science, and Design. Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies, she lectures and teaches seminars at the University of Texas at Dallas on modern and contemporary art and architectural history and theory, the history of biology in art and architecture, and media and new media art and theory.
Inaugural director and curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency, Terranova regularly curates and writes art criticism. From September 2015 to February 2016, Terranova collaborated with Davidson College Professor of Biology David Wessner in the SciArt Center NYC’s virtual residency program. As part of the residency, Terranova and Wessner co-curated in February 2016 Gut Instinct: Art, Design, and the Microbiome, an on-line exhibition about art, the gut-brain axis, and gastrointestinal microbiome. In the fall of 2015 at Gray Matters Gallery in Dallas, Texas she curated Chirality: Defiant Mirror Images, an exhibition about art and the scientific concept of “chirality,” or non-superimposable mirror images.
Terranova holds an MA (2001) and PhD (2004) in architectural history and theory from Harvard University, an MA (1996) in art history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BA (1992) in art history from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.