Featuring: CAE Defense Fund,
Science and philosophy see the flux of sensation and the chaos of events and seek or put an abiding and nascent order in, above, or behind things great and small. But bodies know that the universe is a dance floor. In fact exploratory and teleological movements arise out of the dance movements of all animal life. Alphonso Lingis. 1996. 'Hands detach themselves'
Communicating Corporeal Experience = Theatre & Bio-terrorism?
The theatre is a place where we can witness the living organism unfold and transform in many amazing ways: we plunder, pirate and retransmit stories, eternally, over and over : in a continuous [glitchy] loop that is both revolting and profound. New technologies of perception are constantly unfolding new worlds of sublimity and threat, worlds which challenge us to reconfigure the limits of ourselves and to shape the meaning of the new spaces we find ourselves in. In the past when ocular instruments extended human sight into Galileo's heavens and Robert Hooke's microscopic cellular regimes, they installed new explanatory spaces for the universe, spaces which reorganised the meaning of the cosmos and the actors in it. But is this a concern for biological Terrorism Task Forces?...In the complete world, not this commodified world divided into convenient categories by thought, there can be no absolute divisions, either between life and death or anything else.
Orthodox media broadcasting, as we know all-too-well usually has an agenda other than 'true' distribution of knowledge and information - when the very notion of truth has never been more fluid or more obscure. Even more depressing is the fact that politics today is no longer about having a position or a point of view, or even any sign of a policy, but about image. So people change 'operating systems', they look to free, independent and tactical media, that is transmitted and received via the ether [internet sites & documentation, urls, mail lists, blogs, free radio...] for information on what is happening between and to human beings on planet earth. But that is not to say that mainstream implied social rules and protocols do not permeate the people involved in circulating ideas on net.culture, anti-globalisation movements either. However, more and more, there are laws preventing publication of scientific research, laws preventing the sharing of knowledge, an overabundance of patents and agreements that strip the human of all freedoms, including ownership, privacy, sharing, and understanding how the human being and living matter work. Specifically at this moment, artists especially in the USA are vulnerable the PATRIOT Act which has made freedom of speech questionable.
Looking back, this is a result of the conflict between the Christian church and the new experimental science of Newtown, Galileo, Descartes, when science was confined to material objects and measurable forces. Anything having to do with purpose, value, morality, subjectivity, psyche, or even spirit, was the domain of religion and art, hence, scientists kept clear. Inner experiences, subtle perceptions and even spiritual values were not considered amenable to scientific study and come therefore to be regarded as inferior forms of reality; "subjective" as we say. This encouraged a purely mechanistic and myopically detached attitude towards the natural world. This strange course of events has resulted in the tremendously distorted situation in the world today, since our own experience, as well as common sense, tells us that the subjective realm of the imagination and value is equally as important as the realm of material objects How this relates to 2004 is explored in the CULT OF THE NEW EVE a project by Critical Art Ensemble, or Flesh Machine.
The revival of animistic, neopagan and shamanic beliefs and practices, including the sacramental use of hallucinogenic or ethnogenic plants, represent a reunification of science other more ethno-medical plant use, which have been divorced since the rise of mechanistic science in the seventeenth century. Greater-than-human values should again become the primary motivation for scientists. It should be obvious that this direction for science would be a lot healthier for all of us, than it is now, primarily towards generating weaponry or profit. You may wonder where I am leading with this but I would like to point out that good historical knowledge can effect how issues like these are conceived of by artists.
According to the subpoenas, the FBI initially was seeking charges under Section 175 of the US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, expanded by the recent USA PATRIOT Act. This newly modified accessing law prohibits the possession of "any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system" without the justification of "prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose."
Check out the USA PATRIOT Act expansion from the 1989 law.
A federal grand jury began to investigate Buffalo artist and professor Steve Kurtz. Kurtz a collaborator with the Critical Art Ensemble, a group of performance artists, tactile media practitioners, who sometimes use human DNA and bacterial growths such as E.coli in their art exhibits to circulate knowledge about transgenic production and distribution, genetically modified plants. They investigate how artificial biological traits of adaptability structures are turning into ones of susceptibility, they establish model for contestational biology in an imaginative engaging theatre of live public experimentation.
The federal investigation of Kurtz, began after the death of his wife. On May 13, FBI agents in biohazard suits seized the artists work, the items reportedly included laboratory equipment, computers and bacterial cultures. The Erie County Health Department closed down the home after the FBI search and reopened it May 17, after the recovered items were evaluated in a state laboratory. Kurtz's attorney said the items in the home were similar to those a high school student might use in science class.
At least Nine colleagues of Steve Kurtz were subpoenaed to appear before a Federal Grand Jury on June 15th: Adele Henderson, Chair of the Art Department at UB; Andrew Johnson, Professor of Art at UB; Paul Vanouse, Professor of Art at UB; Steven Barnes, FSU; Dorian Burr, Beverly Schlee, Claire Pentecost and Beatriz da Costa, Professor of Art at UCI; who apparently told The News that the FBI appears to be trying to link Kurtz to bioterrorism. One of the last people subpoenaed by the FPI, Julie Perini, an interdisciplinary artist working on a tactical media project, called 'The Church of Julie Perini' which critically addresses President Bush's establishment of the Office of Faith-Based Organizations and Community Initiatives. July 8th Professor Steve Kurtz was charged by a federal grand jury in Buffalo, not with bioterrorism, as listed on the Joint Terrorism Task Force's original search warrant and subpoenas, but with "petty larceny," in the words of Kurtz attorney Paul Cambria. Heavily surveiled not unlike a petty criminal, required to reporting to a probation officer weekly, subject to random visits and inspections by the officer to his home and to his personal body fluids and unable to leave the country with out full justification. The next court date is July 28--Ferrell's arraignment, which will include a discussion of the trial.
In other words, Kurtz and other members of CAE, practice the method of radical empiricism-basing their quest for sharing knowledge on their own experience, and world view and not excluding it because it didn't fit with prevailing theories, practices, nor subsume theirselves to the erosion of civil liberties by the Patriot Act of the US government.
Even CAE's publishing company Autonomedia have been served a subpoena and are yet to go on trial. Autonomedia is a publisher from New York well known for its socio-political movement of meanings, a mid-sized publication of books on old and new media from writers such as Hakim Bey, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault. University of California at San Diego Professor of Design Engineering Natalie Jeremijenko noted that now"... They're going to have to indict the entire scientific community." Who else will now be targeted - all people with interesting ideas that are looking to communicate corporal and interpersonal experiences that have hitherto been ill defined, culturally marginalized or over shadowed? Once again people who work with provoking and political issues in imaginative ways is under threat. This sends into high relief the inherent conflict between networked ways of circulating information through these 'other' types of knowledge distribution systems by the act of making performance and art that threatens the rising intensity of authoritarian culture, and central command-and-control system of the Scientific Institution and the US Government. The outpouring of support for CAE is indeed overwhelming and rightly so. This is a direct attack upon the freedom of speech, where Protests In Solidarity have been happening around The [western] World; San Francisco, Vienna, Amsterdam, London, Paris.
The work of CAE is only the beginning of imaginatively, challenging the mechanisms of domination, not only in the US, but their work liberates ways of engaging with science-up to new definitions and possibilities for acessing information with their public theatre models. The Queen of communicating through deeply poetic and visceral language Kathy Acker writes that "culture is one way by which a community attempts to bring its past up out of senselessness and to find in dream and imagination possibilities for action. When culture isn't this, there's something wrong in the community, the society". The "traditional" hierarchical understanding about what science is, and what technology is, indeed is something that always has to be negotiated. Indeed technology augments the organism of the body, it is a conduit in order to reflect emotion. On the level of creative, technical and scientific knowledge, this is a big issue. Actively engaging daily rituals and activities with a sense of subversive curiosity and imagination is paramount to this whole 'fiasco'. Looking for the limits, collapsing them is how as humans we understand themselves and the world.
This type of performance making and distribution of knowledge; interlacing various strands, opening things up, does not come without conflict & misunderstanding, and in this case legal involvement - BUT IT MUST CONTINUE. The worst limit of all is the evil habit of implied Laws and protocols, especially for artists who constantly play with time and space and the landscape of the imagination in distributing information. When what can't be represented is abreacted into a violent act it goes deep down inside where eventually everything self destructs - organs self-awareness and life itself. As the saying goes 'don't hate the media: be the media', take heed and fight for the realm of the imagination, HACK western science in safe, yet poetic ways.
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