[ISEA2011] Paper: Andre Brodyk – ‘aitiai’ concerning genetic art


This paper translates elements of an ancient theory of causation and explanation namely, Aristotle’s concept of ‘aitiai’ to illustrate a novel interpretation in new media Genetic art and theory. I argue that the causal properties underlying the concept of aitiai are characteristically pending action requisites and are therefore analogous to the causal properties of proto-animation. My underlying concept of proto-animation developed previously as a new ideology of Genetic art theory without this classic referent is explained in this new context.

This particular form of biotech art and this ideology emanating from it involves an intersection of art, genetic science and technologies located specifically at the genetic level. The peculiar condition explicated by art modelled on genetics involves so-called ‘non-coding’ molecular material in a predicament, which I argue is essentially a proto-animated material-form-space within genomes.

In his concept of aitiai, Aristotle advocated that there are four factors, which can be used to explain matter and form relationships more completely. He gave each a performative role by designating them specific causes. The composite condition of these four causes is collectively called aitiai. Aristotle’s account of matter and form interrelationships, which he referred to as ‘Hylomorphism’, is developed as part of this overarching context and this is also intrinsic to the nature of the proto-animate expressed here.

Furthermore, Aristotle advocated that the aitiai causes apply to and operate between the components of all generated compounds, natural or artificial. It is as a consequence of this atomistic or molecular disposition that it is arguably an apt frame of reference for a molecular and genomic art context. That is one involving what are both natural and artifactual bio-molecular compounds considered in a contemporary genetic technology mediated environment.

Conceptually the work draws upon an interpretation of the ancient philosopher’s cause theory to advocate a novel pending condition of matter/ form understanding. From this perspective, the aitiai is perceived in a pending, proto-animated causal state.

This idea is translated across to the novel concept of a recondite proto-animate condition operating inside the genomic matter/form matrix of living organisms. It can be expressed tangibly as Genetic art materiality.

  • Dr. Andre Brodyk is a Biotech (Genetic) artist, researcher and educator with a PhD in Fine art from the University of New South Wales, Australia (2009). Currently, Dr Brodyk is 2D Art Convenor, Fine Art, Faculty of Education & Arts at The University of Newcastle (UoN).His practice-based research interests center on the transformation, translation and interpretation of various forms of ‘non-coding’, transgenic DNA & RNA molecular materials as agencies of pending states of existence. He was the first Australian artist to make and exhibit transgenic art (July 2002 BEAP, PICA). He was the first artist to create (2006 UoN) and exhibit synthetic DNA made from intronic materials in living art works, (2008, ‘Stendhal’s Syndrome: Art & Medical Technology’, George Petelin Gallery, QLD).  In 2010 the artist created the first transgenic art plant specifically transformed with introns using Arabidopsis Thaliania, (UQ). Dr Brodyk was one of the earliest artists in residence at SymbioticA (2001&2002). In addition he has held visiting artist or artist-in-residency positions within various other molecular biology labs since 2001 until the present. This includes The Smurfit Institute of Genetics Trinity College Dublin, The School of Environmental and Life Sciences, The University of Newcastle, (UoN). School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland (UQ), Institute for Molecular Biosciences UQ. The artist has presented his practice-based research outcomes through publications and conferences and in curated invitational exhibitions on Biotech art. These include, 2011 ‘The Multispecies Salon IV’ , CUNY , New York, 2011 ‘Visceral The Living Art Experiment’, Science Gallery,  Dublin. 2010‘ The Multispecies Salon 111’ Barristers Gallery, New Orleans, 2009 ‘Biotech Art-Revisited’, Experimental Art Foundation (EAF), Adelaide, 2008 ‘The Multispecies Salon’, PLAySpace Gallery, San Francisco, 2004Art of the Biotech Era’ in  (EAF), Intersections” art health science and medical technology”, Sydney College of the Arts Gallery, 2003, ‘Genomes The Linkage to Life’, XIX International Congress of Genetics Conference, Melbourne Convention Centre, and 2002 ‘Biofeel’, BEAP 02, PICA, Perth. 

Full text (PDF) p. 262-268