Tyler Fox at LocoMotoArt

“Living matter is far from being pure indetermination or pure passivity. Neither is it a blind tendency; it is, rather, a vehicle of informed energy”. – Gilbert Simondon, Du Mode d’existence des objects techniques. 1958

I’m entering  the dark space. I can hear the sound of the hardwood flooring beneath my feet. I’m walking slowly. It is my body that is primal now as I can hardly distinguish anything in this darkness; my eyes are resting…

Walking a bit further I detect some objects in front of me. Are there containers? Or jars? I see light, subtle light in the jars. It’s bioluminescence.

Biolesce, an interactive installation by digital and bio artist, PhD candidate and researcher Tyler Fox, was included in Patterns, a new media and installation art group exhibition organized by LocoMotoArt collective this past August featuring local and international artists. By physically agitating living organisms using physical computing – motors, servos, and pumps connected with Arduino – the installation creates a unique experience with the viewer; represented by algae response – bioluminescence. Moving through several stations, one experiences the artwork by means of heart-rate sensor that trigger the motors attached to the jars. This computationally induced effect is not self-evident and is a representation of the natural environment: when mechanically stimulated by movement, such as a wave, bioluminescence occur and azure light can be seen in coming through the water.

Exploring the scientific paradigm with regard to living organisms, Tyler Fox is looking for new trajectories in human-computer interaction. These new trajectories go far beyond the “technological fascination” as it was very well defined by Andrea Sosa in her essay “BioArt – Gaia Art”. It is always worth speculating on the role of the artist in creating new levels and connections to approach the paradigm Art – Science – Technology. Biolesce is a posthuman approach to the critical terrain of computer-mediated art, science and biology. It invokes experiences and settings to reflect on the materiality of the piece: sense of experiencing the environment while not facilitating and forcing the interaction and, as Fox states, “not going too far, pushing the boundaries or over-exhausting the algae.” This, as the artist explains, was one of the key challenges and ethical issue he was pursuing while working on the piece. He interrogates the space between the art and biology while using computation as mediator. Eventually, Biolesce is a declaration of the body and bio.

In Aesthetics of Digital Art Katja Kwastek opens up a fundamental discussion about how the physical relationship between the artwork and the observer can be a departure point for emotional and cognitive experiences (Kwastek, p.56). She emphasizes the focus of the process aesthetics as opposed to aesthetics of response, which triggers systematic processes and social relations, emotional and cognitive processes (p.61). A genuine understanding of experience corresponds to the openness of experiences where the focus from the object is shifted to the aesthetics of the artwork as a whole, while technology acting as mediator.

Thinking of the pioneers of bioart such as Eduardo Kac and renowned artists like Oron Catts and his contribution to the field of life grown tissue technology, I reflect on the primacy of experience. Through digital interfaces it is possible to mediate experiences of natural phenomena that are not accessible for human perception.  Facilitating the setting and situations for interacting with the living organisms which is not possible in the natural environment, Biolesce unveils new layers human-computer and process aesthetics interaction within the bioart domain.



Images courtesy of the artist.

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