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Vital Forms

Biological Art, Architecture, and the Dependencies of Life

2019
Author:

Jennifer Johung

Vital Forms

Shows how the intersection of biotech, art, and architecture are transforming the world we live in

Examining cutting-edge developments in biotechnological research—including tissue-engineering, stem cell science, regenerative medicine, and more—Vital Forms brings biological art and architecture into critical dialogue. Distinguished by its broad range and Johung’s synthesizing talents, Vital Forms makes powerful observations about how the unfolding dependencies between all kinds of matter are becoming vital to life in our age of biotechnological manipulations.

As living matter becomes more and more the domain of art and architecture, the life sciences are enabling a major cultural and aesthetic transformation. Vital Forms explores how the intersection of biology, art, and architecture has transformed these disciplines, offering heretofore unimagined possibilities.

Using numerous case studies, Jennifer Johung explores how art and architecture are reimagining life on cellular and subcellular levels. In the process, she maps the constantly evolving dependencies that exist between objects, bodies, and environments. From Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr’s Tissue Culture and Art Project, which developed “semi-living worry dolls,” to Patricia Piccinini’s imagined Still Life with Stem Cells, each chapter pairs a branch of contemporary biological inquiry with the artists who are revolutionizing it.

Examining cutting-edge developments in biotechnological research—including tissue-engineering, stem cell science, regenerative medicine, and more—Vital Forms brings biological art and architecture into critical dialogue. Distinguished by its broad range and Johung’s synthesizing talents, Vital Forms makes powerful observations about how the unfolding dependencies between all kinds of matter are becoming vital to life in our age of biotechnological manipulations.

Vital Forms

Jennifer Johung is associate professor of contemporary art and architectural history at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is author of Replacing Home: From Primordial Hut to Digital Network in Contemporary Art (Minnesota, 2012) and coeditor of Landscapes of Mobility: Culture, Politics, and Placemaking.

Vital Forms

Contents
Introduction: Vital Dependencies
1. Vital Synthesis: Art, Design, and Synthetic Biology
2. Vital Maintenance: The Tissue Culture and Art Project, and Infrastructures of Care
3. Vital Contexts: Morphology, Mutability, and Sabin+Jones LabStudio
4. Vital Ecologies: Protocells and Hylozoic Ground
5. Vital Regeneration: The Promise and Potentiality of Stem Cells
Epilogue: Vital Times
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index