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Transformations of the flesh : rupturing embodiment through biological technology


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King, AK 2009 , 'Transformations of the flesh : rupturing embodiment through biological technology', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This doctoral project encompasses an investigation of embodiment1 in relation to
ideas about human transfiguration and self perception through art practice.
The research addressed ways in which objects can participate in and add debate
to the relationship between biomedical interventions, human embodiment and
self perception. These have been addressed through examination of
transfiguration and hybridization of human and animal form, extension and
commodification of bodily materials, and ethical issues that arise. An artistic
investigation of embodiment, in relation to ideas concerning human
transfiguration and self perception has resulted.
The project draws upon an international movement by artists to deal with new
perceptions of life and subjectivity through new and diverse applications of
biological technologies. Focus is upon the aspects of these technologies which
are generally not addressed by the scientific field; issues of psychological,
conceptual and cultural significance.
Examples of attitudes towards the human body and biological technologies in
recent history, for example J. Huxley's The Tissue Culture King, provide a
background to contemporary issues in the field. Ideas about the formulation of
subjectivity in relation to physical form are grounded in the writings of Lacan and
Caillois. The significance of human tissues and their ability to represent complex
ideas about human identity, and the ethical issues raised by bodily
commodification are expressed by Waldby, Andrews, and Nelkin. The research
and it outcomes are located alongside contemporary artists in the field such as
Motohiko Odani, Ken Rinaldo, TC&A, and O'Reilly who address the conceptual
field through approaches ranging from science fantasy to visceral biotech and
performance works.
Findings are presented in a body of cross media works involving three streams
spanning traditional modes of making from non-biological object based forms;
biological artworks involving tissue culturing bodily materials; and performance
works made through direct experience with biotechnology.
The project has concluded that first hand engagement with biotech processes
and bodily materials achieved critical engagement with the research ideas. First
hand explorations in biotech practices have the ability to open alternative
experiences and representations of the body, outside of those which are dictated
by dominant culture.
The presentation of bodily materials outside of their usual location within the
fixed body, as in artworks created in the second and third streams of
investigation, have the ability to open new experiences and readings of
embodiment, and its relationship to evolving biological technologies.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:King, AK
Keywords: Biotechnology in art, Self-perception in art
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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