Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta

Faster, Higher, Stronger
Event Hours: 28/09/2023 (12:30)
Location: Conference Room [C]
Mary Maggic
Keywords: Fitness, Fermentation, Bodies, Non-human, Performance

FASTER, HIGHER, STRONGER is an interactive installation where humans and non-humans train together to achieve the impossible fantasy of post-natural optimization. Appropriating the official motto of the Olympics, “Faster, higher, stronger, together” the installation includes a human-powered rowing machine that supplies energy to a bioreactor kept on constant rotation. Like the official Olympic motto, the bioreactor is appropriated from industrial designs of maximizing the production of microbial cellulose from SCOBY, symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast that are found in kombucha - a fermented liquid known as, “the wellness drink of the 21st century.” Increasing profitability, the mass production of microbial cellulose serves several human applications in biomedicine, cosmetics, and material sciences.

As human muscles burn from the lactic acid buildup of continuous repetitive use, the SCOBY thrives in a similar acidic environment when it converts alcoholic compounds into acetic acids during the fermentation process of making kombucha. This installation draws similar parallels of thriving and surviving in sour spaces. Under the ideal yet artificial conditions of the industrial bioreactor, the SCOBY aggregates into large, fleshy masses while humans training on the rowing machine builds their own muscle mass. 

Through the cross-species performance of fitness and technological enhancement, FASTER, HIGHER, STRONGER reflects on how we are already living in a simulation of post-natural capitalist aesthetics, and whether labor, care, alienation, and kinship can all coexist in simultaneous harmonious tension. After all, the biannual Olympic games strive for this very same unity across diverse cultures and nations, through the strict calculation of normative bodies and the competitive performance of sports.

Let the training begin.

Mary Maggic
Mary Maggic (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is a nonbinary artist and researcher working within the fuzzy intersections of body and gender politics and capitalist ecological alienations. Since 2015, Maggic frequently uses biohacking as a xeno-feminist practice of care that serves to demystify invisible lines of molecular biopower. After completing their Masters at MIT Media Lab (Design Fiction) in 2017, their project “Open Source Estrogen” was awarded Honorary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in Hybrid Arts, and in 2019 they completed a 10-month Fulbright residency in Yogyakarta, Indonesia investigating the relationship between Javanese mysticism and the plastic pollution crisis. Maggic is a recipient of the 2022 Knight Arts + Tech Fellowship, and they are a current member of the online network Hackteria: Open Source Biological Art, the laboratory theater collective Aliens in Green, and the Asian feminist collective Mai Ling.


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