Shen Cong: Synthetic Life and Art Body

2024.05.25 Saturday 19:00


Cathay SHALA, No.870 Huaihai Middle Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

Speaker: Shen Cong

Language: Chinese

In 2010, biotechnologist Craig Venter's team achieved the first complete synthesis of a mycoplasma DNA sequence, which is considered a milestone event in synthetic biology. The topic of synthetic life was rebooted, and the Marvel Universe began to take center stage in pop culture at the same time, sweeping away the haze of "bioterrorism" represented by Alien around the turn of the millennium, and an informational life to be coded became a new "reality" to be joyfully embraced.  When the universal metaphor of "biological life" is combined with engineering, programming, and design, how is the "life-non-life" relationship reconstructed? Media theorist Eugene Thacker raised the topic of biomediation, in which life itself is seen as a medium, the physical body recedes, and ancient humanism can no longer lay the foundation of humanity. In the era of the fall of the gods, the question of how to coexist between the human and the non-human has become a problem, and how to bridge the speed gap between lagging bioethics and accelerated biotechnology? I will combine art practice and bioethics research to reflect on synthetic life and art body under today's technological/cultural conditions.

About the Speaker: Shen Cong

Shen Cong Researcher, artist, and activist. Focuses on the history and ethics of synthetic biology, biomedia, and  philosophy of technology. In 2022, initiated the first art group in China to participate in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, serving as an instructor. This initiative aimed to bridge the gap between theoretical and ethical practice through life science experimental projects. Recently, plans to collaborate with HHUAWEN DAO to launch a knowledge-Practice space dedicated to exploring coding issues in the information age. Holds a Bachelor's degree from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and is currently pursuing a Master's degree at Tsinghua University's Department of History of Science.

About the Vortex

VORTEX, launched by the MACA in Shanghai in 2022, is an art and cultural salon in the form of lecture performances occurring once or twice every month. The programme calls for non-institutionalised artistic and academic production in which contemporary art practitioners and scholars get to explore cross-disciplinarily the issues of the macro or micro, the global or local, the collective or individual. VORTEX, hence, is where you spin in the whirlpool of spontaneous whims and intuitive approaches represented by individual research and enquiries. Being present here at VORTEX, you are experiencing versatile forms of lecture performances that experiment with new mechanisms and methodologies.

The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.