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Can we reimagine life and ecology from the virocentric perspective?⁣

Viruses are not considered alive. They cannot metabolize or reproduce on their own, yet viruses are ecological actors of the most important sort. They participate in the planet’s most crucial food webs, turning over almost half of the ocean’s microscopic life daily. Viruses have been identified as regulators of planetary biogeochemistry, controlling carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles on which all life depends. ⁣

The importance of the “non-living” virus as a biological and ecological agent suggests the need for a different view of life, one that distinguishes “life” in general from individual living things. The ecological virus thus becomes a philosophically interesting entity that can give insight into the conceptual understanding of agents, activities such as cooperation at the ecosystem scale, and even life itself.⁣
Source: The Ecological Virus, Maureen A. O’Malley⁣

Image: Violence Boiling Over, Anicka Yi Studio⁣

@anickayi_studio #animacy #melchen #virocentric #virome #ecologicalvirus

The immune brain is a distributed intelligence that negotiates self and non-self.⁣

How do we define intelligence outside of the cranial paradigm? The immune system is a fascinating, distributed, mobile, circulating system that learns and teaches at the level of the cell. It has memory, some of which lasts our entire life, some of which has to be refreshed every twenty years, every twelve years, a booster shot every six years.⁣

Through our lifetimes, we become hosts, dependent on xenobiota that we invite into our bodies and cultivate and grow as part of a self that is not yet ourselves, a not-self that we cohabit with and are completely dependent upon. The immune brain remembers what is friend, what should be tolerated, what can be learned from and incorporated and not rejected.⁣

Source: Questioning the Cranial Paradigm, Caroline Jones⁣

Video: Trailer for Biography Fragrance, Anicka Yi Studio⁣

@anickayi_studio #carolinejones #immunebrain #gutbrain #xenobiota #cranialparadigm #immunology

Gut bacteria are participating in consciousness.⁣

E. chromi is an early collaboration between artists, designers and scientists in the emerging field of synthetic biology. In 2009, seven Cambridge University undergraduates spent the summer genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a variety of coloured pigments, visible to the naked eye.⁣

The Scatalog is a speculative project, imagining the E.chromi bacteria used for cheap, personalised disease monitoring. Engineered bacteria, ingested in yoghurt, would colonise our gut, keeping watch for the chemical markers of diseases. If disease is detected, the bacteria produce an easy-to-read warning by colouring your poo.⁣

Image: E-chromi - The Scatalog, Daisy Ginsberg @daisyginsberg⁣

@anickayi_studio #gutbrain #scatalog #echromi #syntheticbiology #daisyginsberg


March 28, 2020

What new growth is possible when the ceaseless beat of industrial production is silenced?⁣⁣

Sun-seeking animals have resorted to nocturnal lifestyles to avoid humans. Profound shifts in the behavior patterns of so many species disturb ecological dynamics that have evolved over generations. Will organisms reclaim daylit territory as curves flatten, smog settles, and gears grind to a halt? Schizophrenic Circadian rhythms find a logic of letting-go outside of the factory model. Time slows, sleep is lost, and sleep returns.⁣⁣

Source: The Influence of Human Disturbance on Wildlife Nocturnality, Science Magazine⁣⁣

@anickayi_studio #degrowth #decelerate #circadianrhythm #nocturnallife #humandisturbance

Every living thing exists in complex ecological equilibrium with the microbes it meets and the microbes it harbors.

Viruses, which may well constitute the most abundant biological entities on Earth, remain largely unknown. In particular, mutualistic viruses, those that increase host fitness and have accompanied us for a long time, have remained largely “invisible” and almost entirely neglected.

Only recently have we begun to grasp the ecological and immunological importance of our own “virobiota” (all the viruses that live in or on a host) and the “virome” (the genes of the virobiota). Viruses play a crucial and underestimated role in the overall microbiome. A large portion of human DNA comes from ancient viral co-evolution and many benign and mutualistic viruses live on and within the human body.

Source: Mutualistic viruses and the heteronomy of life, Thomas Pradeu

Images: Anicka Yi Studio in collaboration with @tdanino, 2015

@anickayi_studio #virome #virobiota #humanvirome #viralDNA #mutualism #symbiosis

Disembodiment is the defining illness of our time - Sissel Tolass⁣

Loss of smell has been reported as a symptom of COVID-19. Though smell is the oldest and deepest of the senses, it is always positioned at the bottom of the sensory hierarchy. Kant dismissed smell from aesthetics, as it was considered too close to the body and its appetites to allow for disinterested judgment. ⁣

Sissel Tolaas, a self-described “nasalnaut,” wants to explore smell and bring it back as a tool of human communication and bodily knowledge. Smells can give us insights into our health, memories, and emotional states. Tolaas’ work includes resurrecting lost scent molecules, cataloguing and inventing new vocabulary for smells, and creating smell and taste portraits from human bacteria.⁣

Image: Cheese made from food writer Michael Pollan's belly button bacteria and Swiss art curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist's nose bacteria, collaboration by @sssl_berlin  and synthetic biologist @xxtinaa@ginkgobioworks 

@anickayi_studio #nasalnaut #olfactoryart #selfmade #syntheticaesthetics #syntheticbiology #humancheese

What are the overlooked consequences of assembled ecosystems?⁣ ⁣⁣

Collages of organic, microbial, and industrial elements emphasize how ecosystems are altered by human patterns of production and consumption. Organisms and materials with different evolutionary trajectories are introduced into new “manufactured” landscapes, often with devastating ecological consequences. This blurriness between natural and synthetic ecologies is opposed to the idea of pure “nature” that is commercialized by and for humans.⁣ ⁣⁣

Image: Lion’s mane sculpture, Wretched Flowers⁣ ⁣⁣

@anickayi_studio @wretched_flowers_ #assembledecosystems #manufacturedlandscapes #syntheticecology 

Bodies and borders leak in multiple and indeterminate directions. ⁣

Viruses can pass through cellular membranes, between organisms, and across oceans, defying ideas of self-contained bodies, species, and territories. The virus deconstructs boundaries between categories, be they ontological, epistemological, ethical or material - it demonstrates the inescapability of the leaks and flows across all such bodies of knowledge and bodies of matter. ⁣

This instability, multiplicity, incalculability, and above all leakiness contradicts the traditional medical model, in which the body is simply the site of objective intervention into the disease. Leaky bodies resist both pathologization and normalization, demanding a holistic concern with the entire person and the systems that constitute them, their (well) being-in-the-world.⁣

Source: Leaky Bodies and Boundaries - Feminism, Postmodernism and (Bio)ethics, Margrit Shildrick⁣

Image: The Flavor Genome, Anicka Yi⁣

@anickayi_studio #leakyboundaries #leakybodies #fluidcircuits #interspeciestransference #bioethics 

Human nature is an interspecies relationship - Anna Tsing⁣⁣

Our studio network lies scattered across the city and across the globe - forced into stillness, isolated, and unable to crystallize in a single space. More than ever, we are thinking of the human and other-than-human webs of interdependence that keep us linked in ways beyond our comprehension. ⁣⁣

Before we even leave the womb, our biology is entangled in multispecies social and physical ecologies, institutions, dogmas, and contexts. We shape and are shaped by our environmental caretaking and consumption. What and how do we become when we become with other living beings? Who gets to live and die, and for whom?⁣⁣

Our becoming is a porous and precarious endeavor - a world of flows where nothing is guaranteed, but everything is possible. ⁣⁣

Image: The Flavor Genome, Anicka Yi⁣⁣

@anickayi_studio #annatsing #multispecieslandscapes #websofinterdependence #livinganddying 
#otherthanhuman #humanbecoming #worldofflows