[ISEA2020] Paper: Clarissa Ribeiro — Inhaling Consciousness: Ecological Sentience at Molecular Level


Keywords: Bioart, horizontal gene transfer (HGT), microbiome, aboveground trees microbiome, threatened species, memory, consciousness as emergence, panpsychist philosophy, molmedia, transobject, neo-concrete movement, bolide

The paper presents and discusses the work “Inhaling consciousness” investigating the bioart potential to activate an ecological consciousness in the audience exploring the neologism molmedia introduced by the author. The work was recently installed in Porto, Portugal, as part of the Consciousness Reframed 2019 juried exhibition “Sentient States: bio-Mind and Techno-Nature”. Considering Portugal is a major cork-grower, the work explored possible integrations and information exchange between above-ground cork oaks microbiome and the human digestive system one. Exploring sentience from a cross‐scale perspective, the artwork encapsulates influences from Brazilian Neo‐Concrete Movement (1960‐1970) such as the concept of a transobject – the intention of incorporating an ordinary object into an idea, making it part of the genesis of the work without losing its previous structure. The apparatus is adapted from a medical inhalation breathing system – a reservoir bag having a cork oak bark excerpt inside, from which a tube is attached to a nebulizer and another tube to a breathing mask, having a particles sensor system (Arduino, sharp dust sensor, LCD 16×2) attached to the bag near the mask’s tube. The work invites to reflect on the impact this dialogue that happens at molecular level can have in shaping behavioral patterns in humans. For ISEA2020 in Montreal, a variation of the artwork is considered, addressing local ecological issues from a panpsychic perspective, replacing the cork oak by the Coffee-tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) – a relic of processes and environments driven by extinct large mammals and a threatened species in Canada. Facing the restriction imposed by COVID19 pandemic, leading to an online version of ISEA2020, an alternative version was developed, exploring the above ground trees microbiome from the city the artist is based at moment in Brazil.

  • Clarissa Ribeiro, OI.SE.AU Office for Sentient Architecture. University of Fortaleza / CrossLAB, Fortaleza, Brazil. Ph.D. in Arts (ECA USP – University of Sao Paulo, Brazil / Planetary Collegium, University of Plymouth, UK), Former Fulbright Post-Doctoral Scholar in Arts (UCLA, Art|Sci Center and Lab/James Gimzewski Lab, Los Angeles), M.Arch. (IA USP – University of Sao Paulo), B.Arch, member of the UCLA Art|Sci Collective, chair of the first Leonardo/ISAST LASER talks to be hosted in Brazil/Latin America, directs the CrossLab research group and art collective and the LIP – Lab for Innovation and Prototyping at the University of Fortaleza. As an independent artist, working in collaboration with artists, scientists, research groups and art collectives in her home country and abroad, she has been producing and exhibiting internationally experimental interactive installations exploring cross-scale information and communication dynamics. In a broader spectrum, her artistic and re-search interests converge in the exploration of consciousness and the self, creativity, and affection as an emergence from local and non-local communication phenomena in macro, micro, molecular and subatomic scales. oiseau.space