Opening speech of the TransNatural exhibition

Mail clients are the new Galapagos islands. The  struggle-for-life between spambots and spamfilters demonstrates again Darwins’ intuition, and this time we are there to watch it happen…

There is no reason to assume that people in, say, 50 years, will still have to stick to this body plan, or one like it.
And if the convergence between nanotech, biotech, and infotech really builds a head of steam, some of us may live to plant a tree in their garden that is capable of growing a juicy chicken leg one day,  and a paperthin rollable widescreen television the next.

But all that is NOT the point.

The point is that worried mothers learned to believe, online, that surveillance nanochips were mixed into the  H1N1 vaccination, and THAT is the reason they didn’t want their kids to get an injection. (note: there may be other good reasons to not go for that injection, but this is a stupid one) The point is that many people guiltily believed that the tsunami of Christmas 2004 was natures’ revenge on the humans that are thrashing the planet. The point is that economy and ecology should always have been two versions of the same story – but somehow they are caught up in a fatal zero-sum game.

The TransNatural project, of which this exhibition is the first move, tries to explore elements of a new narrative about the relation between nature and techology, and also tries to adress some practical means that would justify such a narrative.
The idea TransNatural wants to lightly step over the (continously percieved and performed) essential anatagonism, deeply rooted in mythology, between nature and technology. TransNatural is an exploration of possibilites towards reconciliation, in objects, images, poetics, processes and technologies.

The TransNatural, in this sense, is a space we haven’t really entered yet. We’re sidetracked by dystopian variants (Grey Goo, genetically enhanced supersoldiers going rogue, not to mention Frankenstein) But along the dystopian track we end up with the same old classical battle between good (nature) and evil (technology… ok it’s cool as well, but hardly ever harmless) And we have to get rid of that story if we want to make it with our biosphere, because the problem is: if nature wins, humans loose everything. (think of 2012 the movie,  and WaterWorld) But if technology wins, humans loose everything too. (the Matrix, Ray Kurzweills Singularity)

So, what is and what isn’t TransNatural ?
Bio-art itself isn’t, but Eduardo Zac (how made Alba, the fluorescent rabbit) is. Adam Zaretsky isn’t, with his attempts at two headed zebra-fish. Tobie Kerridges Biojewellery is, Guerilla Gardening isn’t (that’s still a war after all) Hundertwasser isn’t. But Cradle-to-Cradle and Grave-to-Cradle is. And Rachel Armstrongs’ Living Architecture is.
The Cyborg isnt -Robocop, the Borg,  half human meat, half stainless steel, and always war between the two halves.  But the Nexus 6 from Blade Runner is.

Yes, nature was always complete, but also it is never finished. This could be naïve utopism if it wasn’t also a pragmatic need.

TransNatural is meant as a probing gesture of reconciliation.

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer – 19 02 2010