Nanotechnologies and Contemporary Art
The contemporary art proceeds from the premise that a new media phenomenon is in principle devised by the artist as an innovation; i.e. it is assumed that resulting from his activity there originates a reality with a complicated structure of decision space (antinomies, bonds and relationships). Based on this understanding is it rightful to speak of innovativeness or active development of a new media carrier.
In the territory of contemporary art, the process going “from research to formation” of a new medium is supported by the so-called “coevolution” strategies representing a synthetic form of scientific and artistic creative work that embraces not only interpretation but also constructive activity. To find out where the essence of “coevolutionary” development strategies in the nanotechnology field lies, we shall bring in a notion of metabola. By metabola [Greek metabole — change, metamorphosis] we understand an organization type of information physical carrier that mirrors compression of qualitative and quantitative characteristics of a nonorganic structure due to activating, modeling or taking into account metabolic processes’ influence. Thus far, among the examples of such metabolas that incorporate hybrid properties of a silicone world and those of biosystems one can name nanomotors, bacterial engines, quantum biosensors, DNA switches, etc.
It is known that in biology metabolic processes imply interchange of matter, energy and information. When we point out that the main system requirement of nanoart is structural compression of nonorganic matter, we imply thereby a necessity of formation of various forms of the inanimate at the cost of provision of media carrier with the properties of growth, variability, self-preservation and reproductivity. All those properties of metabolas help us to proceed from observation of discrete objects in a discrete area to the description of materialized dynamic systems in the area of relations. In other words, it goes about comprehending the phenomenon of a new media environment existing “on the brink of chaos”, duality and hesitation, when bonds and relationships that make up a unity of the inanimate in assembly are created by way of metabolic processes. The main medium analyzed here is the nonorganic life, and the main issue under study — release of the artistic message existence time at the expense of interest to encoding, conversion and changing of this message carrier itself.
It is evident that on the “nano” level we can no longer be sure of the correctness of subdividing processes into natural and artificial ones. In this mode, the organic merges with the nonorganic, and the material with the nonmaterial, revealing in so doing their technobiological or post-biological character. Therefore, by introducing the notion of metabola — implying metabolization of the non-living, transformability with preservation of severalty, integration on the basis of differentiation — we deliberately emphasize the existing proportions of ambiguity, thus upbuilding a methodology of artistic investigation in probability terms. This is just the way to enable thematization of a new art medium obtained with the help of advanced technologies that have nothing in common with the processes of life except that those technologies have appeared through the methods that life itself avails of.
- Dmitry Bulatov (Russia) Senior curator, National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Kaliningrad branch), Russia
Full text (PDF) p. 87-88