Press Release
Fictional Life: Hybridity, Transgenetics, Innovation Boldly Subverting the Imagination and Practice of Art

C-LAB is delighted to present Fictional Life: Hybridity, Transgenetics, Innovation, which will be on view at the 1st- and 2nd-floor galleries of its Art Space II from March 13 to May 23, 2021. The exhibition, curated by Professor Chih-Yung Aaron CHIU from the College of Art of National Tsing Hua University (NTHU), centers on “biotech art,” and engages the audience in various issues, including interdisciplinary imagination of “art–science–technology,” dialectic of ethics in biotechnological development, coexistence between humanity and other species, as well as observation of and reflection on the innovative application of digital technology. Also, the exhibition collaborates with NTHU’s College of Art in the hope of linking the Taiwanese and international academic circles as well as bio art labs in the private sector to highlight the current bio art scene and development in Taiwan’s cultural experiments. Fictional Life was previously scheduled in 2020 and has been transformed into an online program due to the impact of the global pandemic, whereas its physical manifestation has been postponed to this year. It will showcase the works of fifteen artists and art collectives from Taiwan and abroad, along with a series of talks, workshops and special guided tours throughout the run of the exhibition.

Critical Cultural Thinking and the Politics of Ethics Informed by the Combination of Life and Technology

Whereas many people still find the term “biotech art” very strange, its development is in fact closely linked with biotechnology and many issues in contemporary society, such as the successful experiment of sheep cloning, genetically engineered food, artificial surrogacy and the invention of artificial organs. The flourishing development of biotechnology industries has also brought many ethical controversies. Fictional Life, through technical innovation and application in the featured artists’ creative practice, their envisioning and design of the future, and artistic thoughts, leads the audience and event participants to navigate the world of “bio art” interwoven with sci-fi and scientific fantasies and innovations, and enhances people’s awareness of how biotechnology has been intricately associated with ethical and political issues. “Hidden Challenges of Social Design,” which will take place on March 17, invites Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey TANG, curator Chih-Yung Aaron CHIU, and artist LEE Po-Ting from the featured art collective Fablab Dynamic for a talk that introduces related topics about green energy to further prompt reflection on the relationship between humanity and nature while understanding biotech art.

The Art Practice of “Hybridity,” “Transgenetics” and “Innovation”

The theme of Fictional Life revolves around three main topics in innovative biotechnology and the practice of technology art today: “hybridity,” “transgenetics” and “innovation.” The exhibition reveals the post-human imagination characterized by the “hybridity” between the human race and other biological systems through its multifaceted portrayal, discusses issues of bioethics departing from the common practice of “transgenetics” in biotechnology labs, and explores topics about information recognition related to biological features and cultural systems based on the innovation in the field of contemporary digital technology. HUANG Zan-Lun’s David, Annie and Lolita use human bodies as a base for “xenograft” to re-examine issues related to humanity and human nature. Under the impact of the global pandemic, LIN Pei-Ying’s Virophillia builds up new understandings of viruses through virus recipes and performance documentation. Transpossum’s qpHesitation adopts the method of brewing the alcoholic spirits, “Zhuang Yuan Hong (Scholar Red)” and “Nu’er Hong (Daughter Red),” to make the wine “Queer Purple” for constructing a new queer narrative and tradition to compensate for a lack in queer portrayals in the mainstream society. CHIANG Chun-Yi’s The Holobiont Project II: Factors of Soil Formation guides the audience with the olfactory sense and reverses the visually oriented experience of viewing exhibitions while contemplating on human being’s connection with and impact on the ecology. LIN Yueh-Shiar collaborates with the Alzheimer's Laboratory run by Chung Shan Medical University (CSMU). Their cooperative brainchild, The Hot Zone–The Evolving Body and Environment, begins with visualizing images of brains with symptomatic features of Alzheimer’s disease, and further discusses changes that might occur to the human body and cognitive system under the impact of illnesses as well as the distorted connections with the external world. Responding to the exhibition theme and answering C-LAB’s mission as a site to promote interdisciplinary art practice, the curator also invites FabLab Dynamic, the art collective whose practice centers on social design. With their work Circle, they formulate responses to issues related to energy and coexistence with the environment that are gaining more and more importance nowadays. The three works, Happy Feet, Homo Vegetation, Weave Weed, created by three student groups from the BioArt Laboratory in NTHU’s College of Arts, respectively explore the subject of facing diseases, the issue of cyberbullying using plants as a metaphor, and means to form a symbiotic relationship with alien species. The collaborative project initiated by [email protected], CHENG Hsien-Yu and WU I-Yeh is the first project ever to apply the computer visual recognition system to create and organize cultural symbols and vocabularies of body and dance. Biosignal_Cybernation uses electronic signals to manipulate the form of plant samples, which exemplifies how human beings have intervened in nature and responds to the history of plant domestication since the Neolithic agricultural revolution.

Diverse Inspiration among International Art Creations, Subverting Audience’s Imagination and the Future

The exhibition invites four international artists and showcases their works in Taiwan. Paul VANOUSE (US) uses the technology of DNA sampling to create Latent Figure Protocol lightboxes that highlights ethical issues related to the ownership of living organisms while questioning the common notion of genetic destiny. Arne HENDRIKS (NL) brings The Incredible Shrinking Man, which comprises over ten years of ongoing holistic research and seeks to disrupt deeply rooted preconception that greater height promises more advantages by proposing the idea of “shrinking man,” which might better conserve natural resources while achieving a better balance between humanity and the planet Earth. Another Farm (JP) introduces Modified Paradise (Cat), a project that combines textile and traditional craft, using genetically modified silk to fabricate glowing silk fabric. The project aims to integrate innovative, radical technology and long-established traditional craft to re-imagine ethical boundaries as well as the interaction between human beings and nature. Cecilia JONSSON (NL) bases her work Haem on “human placenta,” a transitional organ that nurtures life, and incorporates art, life science and metallurgy to delineate the most fundamental interrelation between the human body and materials on Earth in a non-traditional way.

As a crucial site that facilitates interdisciplinary cultural experiments, C-LAB presents Fictional Life: Hybridity, Transgenetics, Innovation, inviting artists and scientific labs to respond to environmental feedback and reflection on humanity through art. For more information about the exhibition and the program of events, please visit Fictional Life: Hybridity, Trangenetics, Innovation