From Wetware Art to Greenness Studies

From Wetware Art to Greenness Studies

Jens Hauser / Germany
University of Copenhagen

After unraveling the terms "life" and "nature", both supposedly non-technological terms, the concepts of "green" and "nature" must also be uncoupled. Research on biomediality has shown that contemporary art forms that use biotechnologies as a starting point highlight – paradoxically – both their “liveliness” and authenticity, on the one hand, and their explicit technique and artificiality, on the other. . We find a similar problem with the culturally ubiquitous trope of the greenery: Liveliness and greenness are linked through “biofacticity,” the idea of biological artifacts that both grow and are, in fact, technically built from the ground up.

In this milieu, the archeological word "green," symbolically associated with "natural" and used to overcompensate for what humans feel they have lost, will be regarded as the most anthropocentric of all colors, in its inherent ambiguity between the supposed natural and artificial. As "green" has become a ubiquitous trope across a wide range of disciplines, and its meanings have migrated across different knowledge cultures, inherent contradictions have emerged. Far from having a universal meaning, "green" marks a dramatic knowledge gap, prone to systematic misunderstanding: engineers label green technologies as ecologically benign, while climate researchers point to greening the earth as the alarming effect. of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. "Green growth" seeks to reconcile ecologically and economically sustainable development, while in philosophy "prismatic ecology" rejects the use of green to represent binary ideas of the non-human world as an idealized nature. More concept than color, "green" is frequently reduced to a mere metaphor stripped of its material, epistemological and historical referents.

There has been little reflection on - and much abuse of - "green" in its migration through different knowledge cultures. The resulting confusion is increasingly hampering interdisciplinary dialogue between the humanities and natural sciences, rather than enabling an urgent and necessary dialogue in light of anthropogenic effects on climate and biodiversity: researchers, policy makers, and citizens lack a common terminology to address real world problems, meanwhile there are greenhouse effects of greenwashing at a distance. This interdisciplinary work presents a novel art, media studies, science and technology studies, and natural sciences-based approach to investigate the unique role of greenery in human understanding as color, perception, medium, material biological organism, semantic construction, and ideology. .

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