TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta
In his paramount work on Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information, French philosopher Gilbert Simondon offered a description of reality as an integrated expression of processes and regimes of individuation (physical, vital, psycho-collective, and technical). His influential perspective, however, does not admit the idea of inter- or syn-individuation, which refers to all the assemblages occurring among different individuation regimes; these would be the cases of ontological hybridization between, say, human beings and plants, crystals and animals, technical entities and social groups. By seemingly extending and legitimizing the old mission of biological taxonomy, Simondon precludes many chances for speculation that today have gained more and more relevance.
Contemporary art and artistic research can be regarded as privileged fields of experimentation when it comes to syn-individuation. The paper supports this thesis by analyzing the works of two contemporary artists: Neri Oxman and Pierre Huyghe. Oxman experiments with anisotropic composites and synthetically engineered microorganisms to craft objects that are defined by their interactions, thus eliciting creative collaborations and indiscernibility zones between human, living, and inorganic. Huyghe’s art further extends the mutational zone to the artificial. In Variants (2021-ongoing), for example, Huyghe created a multipolar ontological field by integrating the local ecosystem with a real-time simulation governed by an AI and mediated by technical interfaces such as sensors and intelligent cameras. Occasionally, the simulation materializes into post-natural entities, which can be regarded as full-fledged alien objects.
The paper aims to show that by building on Simondon’s philosophy, it is possible to outline a “Xenoaesthetics” that accounts for these phenomena of artistic hybridization and ontological transgression. In conclusion, it will be highlighted how a Xenoaesthetics could also inspire a new ecological sensibility, not based on conservation and re-naturalization but on experimentation and post-naturalization.
Gregorio Tenti is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Turin and a Research Fellow at the a.r.t.e.s. Research Lab of the University of Cologne. His research interests include history of German aesthetics (Romanticism and Idealism), 20th-century French aesthetics, and environmental philosophy. He is currently working on a project devoted to Bracha L. Ettinger's Notebooks in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Castello di Rivoli. He is the author of Estetica e morfologia in Gilbert Simondon ("Aesthetics and Morphology in Gilbert Simondon", Mimesis 2020) and L'estetica di Schleiermacher ("Scheleiermacher's Aesthetics", ETS 2023).