Al Teleki started the Roundtable session presenting the blueprint for his semester project 'Vocabulum trans-naturae'. This is a sort of descriptive bestiary of a synthetic and self-sustained future garden; a futuristic scenario where new species generated by synthetic biology are gathered together and interact with themselves and with the human visitors. By doing this, he focuses on the power and limitations of synthetic biology as a new recast of the genetic engineering, and the social impact it might have in the future. He mentions Daedalus, or Science and the Future (Haldane) and the Book of Imaginary Beings (Borges) as two referential works. The presentation showed different approaches in generating new creatures, ranging from ancient mythology, breeding techniques, body modifications till the modern use of transgenics. He presented a compilation of transgenic and bio art works and used these to open a discussion about ethics and genetically modified organisms not only within the art practice but mainly in their role and the repercussions in our society.
After that, Julia Rublow presented her leporello work; an outcome of a research process where nature, landscape, energy and the human being are strongly interlaced. She recalled Jean-Jacques Russeau and the societal engagement that alienates the single human from nature, whilst she personally proposes gardens and natural spaces as a tool to escape from civilization and to reencounter itself with nature. The work makes reference to the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and his concepts of community and freedom, which will also be used to shape her next project. New scientific research on syncope (fainting) and on consciousness (focusing on Edmund Husserls philosophy) will be determinant in the work.
Sergio Valenzuela led us to the topic of art and science and to their field of action, their methods and their output. He proposes a comparative point of view as a new personal approach. Even if in the field of arts the knowledge that artists produce is constantly evaluated, it isnt subjected to the rigid parameters which are prevalent in the case of judging scientific data. He sees an analogy in the way both artists and scientists use some methods, experiments and communicate their results (the first via publications and the second via exhibitions). Both also use visualization tools to show data, but in addition to that, Sergio talked about scientists using the format of the scientific text and his use of the body (his body). He presented a poem from Elizabeth Carothers Herron to make us reflect on the precise speech and introduced his new research topic and upcoming project, in which he will analyse and experiment the possibilities of the body as a text and the text as a body.
The last presentation of the session was run by Ondřej Merta, who brought up some very interesting ontological questions about being an artist and the commitment to constantly produce artworks. A reflective speech focused on whether there is a presumed necessity of splitting personal life from professional life becomes a big question for any artist, and in addition, for everyone. The dilemma artistic or work commitments can be translated to a problem of lack of time or a question of priorities.