UNDER THE VIRAL SHADOW
Networks in the Age of Technoscience and Infection
Anna Dumitriu | Alex May | Benjamin Bacon | Gene Kogan | Sarah Grant | Vivian Xu
Art Laboratory Berlin
Prinzenallee 34, 13359 Berlin
Dates and Opening Hours
28th August – 10th October 2021
Thu – Sun, 2 – 6 pm or upon appointment
9 October 2021, online with livestream
Keynote: Roberta Buiani (University of Toronto)
The word virus has several meanings. In life and health sciences, it is an entity at the boundary of life that must “infect” cells in order to reproduce. Viruses are a major cause of disease in humans, but can also cure (through phage therapy). In addition, viruses have played an important role in human evolution. Since the 1980s, computer programs designed to “infect” and often replicate other programs and computers have also been called viruses, originally a biomorphic metaphor. Computer viruses are part of the history of cybernetics and its use of biological models in the development of software technology. Finally, in a social context – and our society depends more than ever on social media – we use “going viral” when an idea (meme) or product spreads exponentially.
Our digital technologies were developed after World War II, in part through interdisciplinary collaborations such as the Macy Conferences (1946-53), where cybernetics specifically selected biological models to develop computers and proposals for “artificial intelligence.” More recently, artists working with “hacker ethos and skills” have critically examined and produced new developments in computer science, biotechnology, and life sciences. In doing so, they aim to create ethical and aesthetic territory for discussions relevant to our world in the 21st century.