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The drizzly identity: A dissolution of the body as a solution of life

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Regenerative medicine requires living cells in order for it to work. The process involves a biologist entering the body, cutting into its flesh and taking away a part of it in order to return with an improvement. In other words, to optimize the body it first needs to be deconstructed. This process is demonstrated in the project ‘Hair in Vitro’. However, the fact that it is difficult to reconcile oneself with such a ‘disfigurement’ testifies to a certain sacredness surrounding the body in western culture, where its wholeness and completeness is still fundamental. Nevertheless, could one argue for the idea of an intimate, individual body; of an identity that is preponderantly distinguished and separated from the other world (especially if a human is to be acknowledged as being immersed in the world); where things reciprocally belong to each other in such a manner that they constitute the same flesh of the world?

The genetic profile of an individual is actually a much more complex assemblage than a profile of just one species. Micro-organisms not only live as components of the body, but also traverse from it into the environment, and vice versa. An exchange of living substances is constantly taking place. The horny layer of the skin is thus something of a vibrant exchange market; it is a region of the dissolution of identity: interiority extends out to exteriority and exteriority goes into interiority. Concepts of interiority and exteriority become senseless here: the body and the environment are intertwined; the body disperses into the milieu, and the milieu spreads onto and into the body. With the deconstruction of the notions of the boundaries of the body and the body as a closed distinguished substance, the idea of the wholeness of the organism has lost a great deal of sense. The body should not just be considered as a multitude, but its notion should denote openness, exchangeability, traversabilty and permeability. Its structure is, in short, rhizomatic – the body is a rhizome.

A body is a temporary locus of a particular organization of life. It is not a closed entity, but rather a drizzling identity. The delimitation of the body is constructed, and therefore where it ends up is drawn arbitrarily. Regenerative medicine derives from the notion of a body as a composition: a dissembling and re-assembling of bodies, as well as a restarting, delaying and slowing down of life processes. A performative installation with growing human organs such as ‘Initiation’ discloses this notion, positioning the observer into the dispersed body. A body dissolved in a milieu – a fertile yard – where human remains are given suitable living conditions for the afterlife; a platform of life where the life that once belonged to the body has emancipated itself. It thus becomes the living other of the body with which the self gets confronted. However, this life is also the body’s own identity.

Keywords: biotechnological art; lived body; performative installation; regenerative body; tissue engineering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Maribor and University of Primorska

Publication date: June 1, 2015

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  • Technoetic Arts focuses upon the juncture between art, technology and the mind. Divisions between academic areas of study, once rigidly fixed, are gradually dissolving due to developments in science and cultural practice. This fusion has had a dramatic effect upon the scope of various disciplines. In particular, the profile of art has radically evolved in our present technological culture
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