Metastable biomedia bodies: Paul Vanouse’s Fingerprints
It is a beautifully created little exhibition; a dark room, three projects, all like spotlights into aspects where the biological is becoming media – and as such, part of the epistemic frameworks. These forms of mediated knowing are then of course themselves access points to a plethora of techniques of power, proof and aesthetics. Yet, as has been demonstrated the recent years in various bioart and biomedia-theoretical works, the biological just not is – but is created.
Hence, Paul Vanouse’s Fingerprints, curated by Jens Hauser, is one of such works that is able to extend the notion of “media” to processes deep inside the body, and yet abstract enough to encompass global transactions, economies, regimes of knowing. Exhibited at the Schering Stiftung, Berlin, three pieces (The Suspect Inversion Center, Relative Velocity Inscription Device, and Latent Figure Protocol) are on show. What Vanouse is able to show is the inherent instability, or perhaps metastability if we want to use concepts from Gilbert Simondon, of these constellations of production of “truth”. What kinds of truths? Truths about race, about culpability, about how DNA samples do not just stick to the body, or that the relation is fragile, sustained, maintained exactly by the techniques supposed to “find” them. This is basic stuff that Science and Technology Studies has given us: apparatuses, techniques and frameworks create, never just discover. The truths found are as much in the apparatus as in the body – and hence, more accurately in the various couplings of technologies, biological bodies, and the mentioned abstract frameworks.
It’s mediated, to amusing extents: From the mini-laboratories of Suspect Inversion Center that is an on-going performance aimed to demonstrate the manipulability of DNA samples and images (which involves a “becoming OJ Simpson” of Mr Vanouse’s DNA) to the game-like Relative Velocity Inscription Device where the DNA of four family members are staged to compete against each other in a race form (the pace of their DNA samples moving through the gel electrophoresis that is instrumental part of DNA imaging technologies).
Visible, invisible – or sustaining and stabilizing something that is dynamic in its radical temporality (such as the DNA in our bodies) as imaged is one of the most crucial questions for the interconnection of power/media (to modulate Foucault’s “power/knowledge-pairing). Such media and visual cultures are yet grounded in the wet fleshyness of the body, a further connection or demonstration of the idea of even biological bodies as media – and essential to mediated cultures. In this context, such pieces are to me much interesting than thinking them in terms of their genre of “bioart” – in the way they force us think nature-cultures, body-technologies, transversal links.