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Senior, A (2014)
Languages: English
Types: Article
Australia-based art collective Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A) use the tools of biotechnology as artistic media to create "Semi- Living" sculptures. These sculptures are exhibited, eaten, and killed in various public contexts and, therefore, raise important ethical questions about the existence of life outside of the body. Departing from dominant concerns within the academy about the ethics of producing biological art, the essay instead focuses on the overlooked ethics of its reception. It addresses the ethics of spectatorship in TC&A's work by arguing three main points: first, its documentary images reference, play with, and are haunted by religious iconography; second, examining the messianic resonances in TC&A's work illuminates an ethics of spectatorship that is closely related to the Derridean ethical experience of otherness; and third, focusing on TC&A's documentary images addresses the potential of bioart documentation to generate affect and engage in ethical relations.
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    • 22 Damien Casey, “Sacrifice, Piss Christ and Liberal Excess,” Law, Text, Culture 5 (2000): 20. For more on this exhibition, see Anthony Fisher and Hayden Ramsay, “The Bishop, the Artist, the Curator and the Crucifix,” Quadrant 41, no. 12 (1997): 48-53, available at http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.library. uq.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=040833082231726;res=IELLCC (accessed 1 March 2014).
    • 23 Catts and Zurr, “The Art of the Semi-Living and Partial Life,” 9.
    • 24 Although it is beyond the scope of this essay, the theoretical model applied here helps to articulate the diferent ethical demands of the Semi-Living other of TC&A's artistic practice in comparison with the other in an animal rights or environmental ethics context. In these areas, the other is known and already determinable-for example, as animal (not human) and victim (not perpetrator)-whereas the frame of reference for tissue-cultured sculptures that appear in an artistic context is not already limited by a dominant or fixed discourse.
    • 25 See, for example, Steve Baker, The Postmodern Animal (London: Reaktion Books, 2000); David Williams, “The Right Horse, the Animal Eye: Bartabas and Théaˆtre Zingaro,” Performance Research 5, no. 2 (2000): 35-36; and Parker-Starbuck, “Becoming-Animate,” 668.
    • 26 Ridout, “Animal Labour in the Theatrical Economy,” 65.
    • 27 Ibid.
    • 28 For a reading of the political resonances of TC&A's work that are available in the installation context, see Dixon, “Creating the Semi-Living,” 411-25.
    • 29 Gigliotti, “Leonardo's Choice,” 22-34; Jeremy Rifkin, “Dazzled by Science,” Guardian, 14 January 2003, 17. For more, see Mitchell, Bioart and the Vitality of Media, 73-74.
    • 30 Broadhurst, Digital Practices, 161-84; Gabriella Giannachi, Virtual Theatres: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2004), 81-89, and The Politics of New Media Theatre: Life ® ™ (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2007), 115-21; and Matthew Causey, “The Ethics and Anxiety of Being with Monsters and Machines.”
    • 31 Tagny Duf, “Going Viral: Live Performance and Documentation in the Science Laboratory,” Performance Research 14, no. 4 (2009): 38 (emphasis in original).
    • 32 Unfortunately, there is not enough space here to critique other forms of documentation in TC&A's work. I therefore accept at face value some of the artists' writings. I mainly use statements that provide the reader with the context within which Catts and Zurr frame these works, and have verified factual evidence through ongoing correspondence with the artists. For a critical reflection on TC&A's artists' documentary writing on the Semi-Living, see Adele Senior, “Towards a (Semi-)Discourse of the Semi-Living: The Undecidability of Life Exposed to Death,” Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research 5, no. 2 (2007): 97-112.
    • 38 Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, and Guy Ben-Ary, “Pig Wings” (2002), available at http://www.symbiotica. uwa.edu.au/activities/exhibitions/biofeel (accessed 17 September 2013).
    • 39 Ibid.
    • 40 Paul Brodwin, Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, Anxieties, Ethics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 5.
    • 41 For a detailed background on the Pig Wings project, see Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts, “Big Pigs, Small Wings: On Genohype and Artistic Autonomy,” Culture Machine 7 (2005), available at http://www. culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/viewArticle/30/37 (accessed 6 February 2014).
    • 42 Ibid.
    • 43 Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts, “The Aesthetics of Parts: Humans and Other Animals Are 'Becoming' Each Other” (2007), available at http://www.tca.uwa.edu.au/pig/parts.html (accessed 17 September 2013).
    • 44 Ibid.
    • 45 Zurr and Catts, “Big Pigs, Small Wings.”
    • 46 The Master of Flémalle's The Nativity can be viewed online at http://mba.dijon.fr/sites/default/files/ public/scolaire/pdf/fiche_flemalle_2edegre.pdf (accessed 4 March 2014). Flémalle is understood to be the painter Robert Campin. For more on this painting and its iconography, see Georges H. de Loo, “An Authentic Work by Jacques Daret, Painted in 1434,” Burlington Magazine 15 (1909): 202-8.
    • 47 Nancy Grubb, Angels in Art (New York: Artabras, 1995), 13.
    • 48 Oron Catts, “Art, But Not as We Know It,” New Scientist 181, no. 2346 (2004): 44-46.
    • 49 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, available at http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/ (accessed 6 January 2012).
    • 50 Jacques Derrida, “The Villanova Roundtable: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida,” in Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida, ed. John D. Caputo, 1-28 (Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press, 1997), quote on 22.
    • 51 Ibid.
    • 58 Oron Catts, “The Art of the Semi-Living,” in Live: Art and Performance, ed. Adrian Heathfield, 152-59 (New York: Routledge, 2004), esp. 159.
    • 59 Zurr and Catts, “Are the Semi-Living Semi-Good or Semi-Evil?” Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research 1, no. 1 (2003): 58.
    • 60 Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts, “Victimless Utopia or Victimless Hypocrisy?” (2007), unpublished paper, available at http://boo.mi2.hr/~tom/katalog_teorija/tca%20text%20for%20zagreb.doc (accessed 9 January 2014).
    • 61 Zurr and Catts, “The Ethical Claims of Bioart,” 13.
    • 62 Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, “The Ethics of Experiential Engagement with the Manipulation of Life,” in Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience, ed. Beatriz da Costa and Kavita Philip, 125-42 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), esp. 132.
    • 63 Ibid., 132-33.
    • 64 Allison Carruth, “Culturing Food: Bioart and In Vitro Meat,” Parallax 19, no. 1 (2013): 88-100, quote on 93.
    • 65 For more on animal-welfare organizations' and for-profit companies' continued interest in the use of tissue culture to provide an alternative for animal-derived meat products, see Susan McHugh, “Real Artificial: Tissue-cultured Meat, Genetically Modified Farm Animals, and Fictions,” Configurations 18, nos. 1-2 (2010): 181-97.
    • 66 Zurr and Catts, “The Ethical Claims of Bioart,” 13.
    • 71 Adele Senior, “Haunted by Henrietta: The Archive, Immortality, and the Biological Arts,” Contemporary Theatre Review 21, no. 4 (2011): 511-29.
    • 72 Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, “Growing Semi-Living Sculptures: The Tissue Culture & Art Project,” Leonardo 35, no. 4 (2002): 365-70, quote on 368.
    • 73 Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, and Guy Ben-Ary, “Tissue Culture and Art(ificial) Wombs” (2002), available at http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au/activities/exhibitions/biofeel (accessed 17 September 2013).
    • 74 Catts and Zurr, “Growing Semi-Living Sculptures,” 368.
    • 79 Jacques Derrida, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow),” trans. David Wills, Critical Inquiry 28, no. 2 (2002): 369-418, quote on 380.
    • 80 Derrida, The Gift of Death, 57.
    • 81 Thurschwell, “Specters of Nietzsche,” 1201.
    • 82 Derrida, The Gift of Death, 57.
    • 83 Ibid., 60.
    • 84 Ernestine Daubner, “Eduardo Kac and the Art of Spinning a Green Bunny,” CIAC's Electronic Magazine 23 (2005), available at http://magazine.ciac.ca/archives/no_23/en/oeuvre4.htm (accessed 23 September 2013).
    • 85 For further discussion of the complexities of documentation in bioart, see Du,f “Going Viral,” 36-44.
    • 86 Ibid., 37.
    • 87 Philip Auslander, “The Performativity of Performance Documentation,” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 84 (2006): 1-10, quote on 1.
    • 88 Ibid.; Amelia Jones, “'Presence' in Absentia: Experiencing Performance as Documentation,” Art Journal 56 (1997): 11-18; Kathy O'Dell, “Displacing the Haptic: Performance Art, the Photographic Document, and the 1970s,” Performance Research 2 (1997): 85-94.
    • 89 Derrida, The Gift of Death, 60.
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