Biomateria: Biotextile Craft
presented by WhiteFeather — Bio/Transdiciplinary Artist
The intelligence of the body and the senses, particularly the sense of touch, speaks not only on an immediate digital level in terms of ‘hand’ and technology, but on a subtler cellular level as well. In researching and conceptualizing the haptic activity of human and mammalian cell cultures in vivo, WhiteFeather has come to understand, imagine and experiment with artistic translations of that communication.
This paper will discuss the research and creative work undertaken during three years of tissue culture research and artistic production during three different laboratory-based residencies, including: a 15-week residency at SymbioticA International Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia, at the Pelling Lab for Biophysical Manipulation at uOttawa, Canada and at Fluxmedia Lab(s) at Concordia University, Canada. This work, situated within the framework of Feminist Materialism, analyzes the “craft” practice of tissue engineering as a form of haptic epistemology—that is, an embodied enactment/mimicry/redesign through creative and scientific means of the inherent haptic intelligence of the body and its biological systems of growth, repair and regeneration.
This paper will discuss work(s) that seek to generate an artistic and aesthetic knowledge base not limited to theoretical categorization but rather stemming from and centred on the labour of physical laboratory experiments and direct contact with semi-living mammalian microorganisms. Moving away from a focus on discourse/language and yet playing with the polysemic nature of human ‘culture’ and cell ‘culture’, an analysis of cultural information exchange through touch will be core to the discussion.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER WHITEFEATHER:
WhiteFeather is a Canadian artist/researcher, educator and writer currently based in Montreal. WhiteFeather has been professionally engaged in a craft-based bioart practice for over 14 years via material investigations of the functional, artistic and technological potential of bodily matter. Her work has ranged widely, from the utilization of human hair in traditional textile techniques, to rogue taxidermy soft sculptures of found flesh and bone, to digital/ pop culture representations of the body absent in the technological world.
Her current focus, spanning the last three years and encompassing four different laboratory-based artist research residencies, is on biotextile experimentation and creation of new, aestheticized vital specimens through hands-on tissue engineering. As well, hacking laboratory apparatuses as part of the materiality of the work.
WhiteFeather is a multiple-award winner and grant recipient, with an MFA in Fibres and Material Practices from Concordia University. She has shown and performed work in solo, group and collaborative exhibitions in Canada, the US and Australia, given artist talks internationally and been featured in international magazines, newspapers, hardcover art books and television spotlights. WhiteFeather saw her work go viral in 2012 with 5+ million hits in 3 days, via reddit front page.