“We need to explore potential risks, consequences and the possible negative implications of building a world where animals become factories, human bodies produce raw materials and everyday objects are potentially alive” — Critical Designer, Anthony Dunne
Through selective breeding humans have been altering the path of plant and animal evolution for millennia, but with genetic engineering and nanotechnology we now possess powerful tools fast track evolution, altering the structures and functions of living organisms. Transhumanists trumpet how these new technologies will wipe out aging, cure diseases and allow us to produce products in a clean and efficient manner, but are these utopian futures too good to be true?
Like any new technology, human and animal enhancements bring up a host of social, ethical, and environmental consequences such as nano-pollution and the potential of whole new classes of “non-enhanced” humans who will be seen by the super-transhumans by “disabled” because they do not possess designer genes and technological prostheses. Meanwhile our anthropocentric inclinations could turn animals into economic “inputs” as they gain new “utilitarian functions” as with the case of the “spider goat”, which through possessing spider genes produces silk proteins in its milk, which can be turned into thread. The only thing we can predict with any certainty about this future is that it is destined to be weird.
Artist and design researcher Paul Gong, from the artist collective “Ouroboros Organic Organisms of O” will present some potential future outcomes of animal and human enhancements with his projects: “The Cow of Tomorrow”, “Human Hyena” and “The Unnatural Nature” and professor Shi Donglu will present his ideas on nanoscience and its impacts on nature and life. There have been several recent scientific breakthroughs in areas of genetic engineering, simulated brain, artificial intelligence, nano and biotechnology and synthetic biology. These discoveries have not only enabled us to alter the genetic structures for therapeutic purposes, but also allowed us to design new biological systems. Then one of the profound questions is: “who will have control and access to the products of synthetic biology?”
About the event
Body Shop: Exploring the Augmentation of Human and Animal Bodies
Speakers: Paul Gong and Shi Donglui, moderated by Rebecca Catching
Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 2-3:30
Venue: OCAT Shanghai
Address: 30 Wen’an Lu, Jing’an District, Shanghai
Ouroboros: Organic Organism of O (Artist Collective), part-time tutor of the Department of Industrial Design, Media and Visual Communication Design at Chang Gung University.
Born 1988, Nebraska, USA, Paul Gong holds a BA in Industrial Design from the Chang Gung University in Taipei, Taiwan, and an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art in London, United Kingdom.
He sees design is a research method and thinking tool to explore different possibilities, to criticise the past and the present, and to speculate the future. Design should stimulate debate, imagination, and explore the aesthetics of the representation for possible futures. His work attempts to evoke new discussion of the relationships between human, animal, nature, and emerging technologies. He imagines the possibilities of unknown future by combine existing and emerging technologies and biotechnologies, with organisms that evolved or are designed to fulfil human desires and needs, potentially with not only positive but also negative implications.
His work has been exhibited at MAS, Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp, Taiwan Design Museum, Taipei, USC 5D Institute in Los Angeles, Future Gallery in Palo Alto, London, and Guangzhou.
Dr. Donglu Shi http://homepages.uc.edu/~shid/
Professor of the Materials Science and Engineering at University of Cincinnati.
Donglu Shi received his M. S. (in Physics) in 1983 and Ph. D. (in Engineering) in 1986 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Between 1987 and 1995, he was a staff scientist and principal investigator at the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory. In 1995, Donglu Shi joined the faculty in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at University of Cincinnati. He is currently the program chair of the Materials Science and Engineering at University of Cincinnati.
Donglu Shi’s main interests include nanostructure design, nano biomedicine, nanophotonics, and magnetism. His most recent works pioneer several novel approaches in developing multifunctional nano carrier systems for early cancer diagnosis and therapy. Based on the new designs of nanostructures, these methods have enabled successful cell targeting for tumor diagnosis and treatment, multimodal optical imaging using quantum dots, photothermal and magnetic hyperthermia therapies of cancer, and drug/gene delivery by intelligent triggering mechanisms. Donglu Shi has also been interested in nanoart by developing artistic images of nanomaterials in collaboration with visual artists.