Category: Art and Biology

Dr. Charissa N. Terranova Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

Charissa N. Terranova is publishing the essay, “François Morellet’s Social Feedback Loop: From Gestalt to the Cybernetic” in the catalogue for the extensive Op- and Kinetic Art exhibition Vertigo opening in May 2019 at the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art) in Vienna.

Terranova is also coeditor with Meredith Tromble of the Bloomsbury Publishing book series Biotechne: Interthinking Art, Science, and Design. For those interested in submitting a related manuscript, please see description below and send inquiries to terranova@utdallas.edu.

 Biotechne: Interthinking Art, Science and Design

Bloomsbury Publishing Book Series

Charissa N. Terranova and Meredith Tromble, Editors

Biotechne: Interthinking Art, Science and Design publishes books about the history, theory and practice of art and design as they comingle with the natural sciences. The word “biotechne” brings together the Greek word bios, meaning life, the living, or citizen-life, and techne, meaning art, skill, or craft. This word names explorations into hybrid combinations of the living and nonliving, organic and artificial as they manifest between art-and-design studios, scientific laboratories, natural habitats, the museum and gallery worlds, performance spaces, medical practices, and the political realm. “Interthinking,” a neologism invented by art-and-science visionary György Kepes, describes knowledge informed by ecological, systemic, and cybernetic connections, all pivotal concepts for the Anthropocene. Interthinking identifies the active engagement between fields central to the Biotechne series. 

Biotechne welcomes art and design subjects from any time period, antiquity to the present, that speak directly to these contemporary concerns. By identifying significant intersections of art and science, and tracking rigorous paths through the transdisciplinary information jungle, Biotechne appeals to audiences of both experts and lay readers from the arts, humanities and sciences. It focuses on inventive, cross-pollinating works about the arts and humanities and their engagement with sciences such as astrobiology, astronomy, biophysics, chemistry, embryology, environmental ecology, evolutionary theory, genetics, information theory, marine biology, microbiology, physics, physiology, zoology and more. Biotechne opens new creative fields of design-based function and analysis that better complement our rapidly evolving world, taking the arts and humanities into new areas of problem solving and critical commentary, while substantiating the role of aesthetic insight within the natural sciences.  

 

György Kepes’s Vision + Values Series and the Origins of Cybernetic Art

This past October, Charissa N. Terranova led a dialogue between six internationally renowned scholars of modern and contemporary art history about artist and impresario György Kepes. Titled György Kepes’s Vision + Values Series and the Origins of Cybernetic Art, the public gathering took place at the Nasher Sculpture Center. 

Kepes was a renaissance man and shapeshifter of modernism. A pioneer of new media art and heir of the Bauhaus, Kepes pushed modernist experimentalism into new realms. He incorporated science and technology as a means to rethink the avant-garde through cybernetics, both organic and mechanical. Prior to an almost thirty-year career as professor at MIT 1947-1974, he lived in North Texas, making lifelong connections here and leaving a trail of fascinating art and design projects. 

The event was supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Edith O’Donnell Institute for Art History, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

György Kepes’s Vision + Values Series and the Origins of Cybernetic Art

Dr. Charissa N. Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

Publishing

Charissa N. Terranova will be publishing her next monograph, Biology in the British Bauhaus: Morphogenic Modernism in Art, Science, and Design, on Bloomsbury Press. Forthcoming in 2019, the book studies a culture of creative interaction across fields in twentieth-century Britain that began in the German Bauhaus during the 1920s. With the emigration of figures from the Bauhaus to London during the 1930s, a new field of creative action unfolded according to the logic of biological emergence. Emergent form, like embryos, takes shape through integrative levels, with greater complexity and unique form arising from lower levels but irreducible to them. The precepts of modern German design took hold among a group of embryologists, geneticists, crystallographers, and physicists creating a panoply of pioneering exhibitions, publications, laboratory experiments, and art and design projects across the twentieth century. Terranova shows how such collaborations created extraordinary outcomes in the arts, humanities, and sciences alike.

Forthcoming on Bloomsbury Press 2019, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Formsis an anthology coedited by Ellen K. Levy and Charissa N. Terranova about the Scottish zoologist-mathematician D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. With essays by fourteen international scholars of art, science, and design, the book situates Thompson within both scientific and cultural domains that are themselves interwoven. It pursues largely overlooked dimensions of evolutionary theory and form generation, including the roles of aesthetics, agency, and relationships of parts to wholes.

 

Symposia

Charissa N. Terranova leads a dialogue between six internationally renowned scholars of modern and contemporary art history about artist and impresario György Kepes. Titled György Kepes’s Vision + Values Series and the Origins of Cybernetic Art, this gathering is open to the public and takes place 10 am – 12 pm Saturday October 13 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Audience participation is encouraged.

Kepes was a renaissance man and shapeshifter of modernism. A pioneer of new media art and heir of the Bauhaus, Kepes pushed modernist experimentalism into new realms. He incorporated science and technology as a means to rethink the avant-garde through cybernetics, both organic and mechanical. Prior to an almost thirty-year career as professor at MIT 1947-1974, he lived in North Texas, making lifelong connections here and leaving a trail of fascinating art and design projects. Join us and engage in a discussion about the life of Kepes, a second-generation Bauhaus figure, who spent a year in North Texas before embarking on his career at MIT. This event is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Edith O’Donnell Institute for Art History, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

 

Lecture

Charissa N. Terranova has been invited, along with Pomona College Professor of French Claire Nettleton, to give a talk at Being Human, a symposium in London sponsored by publishing house Palgrave-Macmillan and the University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy on Tuesday, November 20, 2018. Terranova and Nettleton will give a presentation titled Viral Culture: How CRISPR Gene-Editing and the Microbiome Transform Humanity and the Humanities.

 

Conference

Dr. Charissa N. Terranova is co-chairing with Pomona College Professor Claire Nettleton Culturing Bacteria: How Microbes Reconfigure Mind, Art, and the Humanities, a double panel of eight scholars at the annual meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts November 14-18, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario. Scholars from the arts, humanities, and natural sciences will present work on the new materialist politics that has arrived in the form of microbiota. Scientific data about bacteria in the air, ocean, and on and in bodies of all living matter reveal that humans are ecologically integrated in a multiverse of humming life. Recent studies have shown that ratio between human and bacterial cells within the human body to be 1:1. We are thus as human as we are bacterial. This panel explores the ways in which bacteria are commensal to all life, recasting minds outside of bodies, art beyond the realm of the gallery, and the humanities in terms of the inhumanities.

Dr. Charissa Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

The anthology D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Forms, coedited by Dr. Charissa N. Terranova Ellen K. Levy, has been contracted by Bloomsbury Press.

In November 2017, Terranova gave the talk, “Bacteriophiles Unite! The Protean Identity Politics of Bacteria within Bioart” at the annual meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts in Tempe, Arizona. The paper was part of the panel Other Signals: Communication among Forms of Embodiment, chaired by Meredith Tromble.

In October 2017, Terranova went to the UK for research and to give a conference talk and three invited lectures. The conference talk was titled, “Space, Time, Visualization: D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Joseph Plateau, and the History of Art-Sci Imaging,” at the Centenary Celebration of D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s On Growth and Form, University of Dundee, in Scotland. Other talks included “Fearless Polymathy: The Morphogenic Modernism of British Art-Science-Design,” at LASER, Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Science, and Technology, in London and “Modeling Expanded Evolution: The Work of D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Stuart Kauffman, and Gemma Anderson,” at a workshop on D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson that was co-sponsored by the Lorentz Center and University of Amsterdam, Leiden, NL.