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Being Other Than We Are...

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For a number of years, artist Heather Barnett has challenged groups of people to test their capacity for collective action against that of a single celled organism. The experiment, Being Slime Mould, invites a group of humans to operate as a superorganism, taskedwith some fundamental ontological rules of a nonhuman intelligent life form through playful participation.

Being (or becoming) slime mould is of course an impossibility; we can no more become slime mould than we can become badger or bat. The point of the exercise, therefore, is in the trying: the endeavour to put aside human ego and individualism in order to shift perception towards other ways of sensing, knowing and being. Drawing on Barnett’s own artistic practice, and from the fields of ecology, philosophy and speculative design, this paper investigates the motivations and methods of humans to engage philosophically and experientially with the sensory subjectivities of ontological others.
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Keywords: experiential; experiments; nonhuman; ontology; perception; phenomenology; sensory; slime mould

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • PUBLIC is a beautifully designed peer-reviewed journal founded in Toronto as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how theoretical, and critical issues intersect with art and visual culture. Each issue's editors explore a contemporary theme by bringing together a unique assemblage of Canadian and international art projects with writing by scholars, curators, critics, and artists. This, along with book and exhibit reviews, creates an assemblage of artists projects and original writing on prescient contemporary themes in art and culture.
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