This project comes from a very simple question: Can we start to see the connotation of viruses differently, especially those that causes infectious diseases? The reason why such question is being asked has a very strong historical and scientific background. In biological definition, viruses, unlike bacteria, are not consider as ‘living’. It is due to the fact that viruses themselves do not equip with essential components that can facilitate their replication. In other words, viruses cannot replicate themselves. They are doomed to be the ‘parasites’ on living creatures, and human is one of them. When viruses borrow our cells as their replication factories, our body system become unstable, our body immune system reacts, and at the macro scale we get sick. Though the interaction is much more sophisticated than how we commonly understand.
The biological world is vast and evolving. We as one of the biological habitants that share the same basic building blocks with other living and semi-living things, we are born to be included in the cycle of evolutions. We share the same genetic codes with viruses, and for their semi-living status, we have not yet develop a medicine to cure them but only merely stop them from further replicating. At the same time, not all viruses are pathogens. New discoveries of beneficial viruses are starting to reveal, some are even crucial for our survival. The amount of viruses surrounding us also vastly outnumber what we have known now. To make it short, human and viruses depends on the existence of each other. Evolution is a non-stoping competition and collaboration.
How viruses are considered may not have been a topic of focus in the past, but the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has caused many to realize that humans hold a very intricate connection to viruses. Virophilia was originally intended as a dinner performance that invites people to sit together around a table to share a meal, where the artist would guide the participants to consume food that contains viruses. However, because of the infectious nature of COVID-19, we are now unable to bring everyone together to eat at the same table, and the artist is also unable to be here in person due to the current international travel restrictions. Consequently, we are “forced” to adjust Virophilia into an online quarantine edition. The “virus meal” will be delivered to the participants, and from her home, the artist will provide instructions to the participants on how to experience the food in an unconventional way. Everyone will have to meet on an online chat platform and collectively try to understand viruses from a distance and through a method that are the most appropriate for the time we are in right now.
About the Artist
LIN Pei-Ying is an artist / designer from Taiwan and currently based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Her main focus is on the combination of science and human society through artistic methods, and is particularly interested in building a common discussion ground for different cultural perspective regarding elements that constructs our individual perception of the world. Recently she has been focusing on manipulating the boundary of invisible/visible, living/non-living and finding ways to build tools and methods that facilitate such explorations. She has won the Honorary Mention in Hybrid Arts Category of Ars Electronica 2015, Professional Runner Up in Speculative Concepts of Core 77 Awards 2015, BioArt and Design Award 2016, and the first group of Taiwanese artists of residence in the program of Accelerate@CERN. Her project PSX Consultancy is a permanent collection of Museum of Architecture and Design, Slovenia.