Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

130. Semiotic Sympoiesis for the Posthuman Commons
Session: Session "NSP13 / Moist"
Speakers: Klaus Spiess and Lucie Strecker

In our project we connect the integration of microbial agency into a new complex ‘common good’ with the shared values of language. Drawing on a posthuman commons we aim for a hybrid language that not only processes formal symbols but interacts with the microbes in the speaker’s mouth. We argue that the metaphors historically used to frame the relationship between microbiomes and speech cannot account for the co-creative material relationship between human speech and posthuman microbial, environmental and biotechnological needs. In our performances we harvest oral microbes from the audience. Via a spectrogram, repetitively spoken phonemes drive pattern pumps, which add pheromones to the microbes, the latter which then are faded out. In the microbes, for some replication cycles an ecological adaptation to the individual phonemes persists, affirming – in our definition – some phonemes and deleting others, thereby changing the alphabetical order of the input word. We propose ‘microbial speech’ as a category beyond semantic meaning, with ecological qualities such as a transcorporeal mattering between words and the body. We aim at a language becoming a biological state in order to protect its own ecology. We consider these collective posthuman forms of relationality, subjectivity and biopolitical praxis as multiple ecologies of belonging. We propose a more ethical mode of microbes existing in common with language, affirming posthumanist transversal relations of all living and non-living matter.

Klaus Spiess
Lucie Strecker

Hosting Institutions

angewandte   inarts