Pluripotent Selves and the Performance of Stem Cells
Guy Ben-Ary’s installation cellf, utilizes induced pluripotent stem cell technologies to reverse-engineer his own skin cells into embryonic stem which are then re-differentiating down a neural pathway. In cellF Ben-Ary is regenerated as a hybrid living/non-living entity capable of interacting with other musicians in real time and space.Yet recent research into the embryonic stem cell state of pluripotency challenges us to rethink Ben-Ary’s self as not so very different from his living/non-living pluralized cellF.Pluripotency in hES cells is induced and maintained by viral DNA, inserted over time into our genome by retroviruses classified as not-quite-living. This means that the identifying marker for our ability to regenerate many times and selves is inextricably tied to the work of non-living entities. Therefore we may consider the entanglement of pluripotent stem cell and non-living catalyst as necessary for both the endless renewal of life and the distribution of life beyond itself.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Publication date: June 1, 2019
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