How can we find performances of desire and designs of pleasures in the economics of nanotech? In the interview with Sandra Oehy, Johanna Bruckner talks about her project Molecular Sex & Synthetic Love that she developed for the web residency call »Engineering Care« by Solitude & ZKM, curated by Daphne Dragona. A project that aims at queering normative world views of intimate relations and individual-driven forms of care.
Sandra Oehy: Johanna, your body of work consists of a complex of forms of practices, in which the production of one work often leads – in some form or another – directly into the next, in which traditional work frames are shot, unblast, and intertwined. Always working with the body of performers and spatial settings, most of your previous work projects are usually not put into the category of what is commonly called »digital art,« though some of its subjects matters have been a constant in of your research practice. So, let’s start with the simplest of all questions: What brought you to apply to the unique (as patented) web residency program by Solitude & ZKM? Were there any incentives as part of the offered setting that made it particularly appealing to you, perhaps regarding a potential extension of your modes of production?
Johanna Bruckner: »Engineering Care« clearly relates to the themes that I have recently been working on. These are for example a critical reflection on how the world, human and nonhuman existence, is increasingly produced in chemical laboratories. That means, nanotechnologies and synthetic biology play a central role in creating the realities that we move in. Bacteria produce our existence through code, while erasing labor forces around the globe. This includes the production of our sexual bodies, the performance of desire and the design of pleasures. Our future is one of sex/design. Through our interaction with technology, molecular research has discovered that the future of sex determination involves an array of sexual variations and practices rather than a binary structure. I find it of utmost importance to find languages in the arts that politicize our access and our use of technologies and the fabrication of our world by nanotech. And how these determine our existence as social beings in the world.
Algorithms increasingly penetrate the micro- and nanostructures of our physical, artificial and sexual bodies, to provide data sets for the economic and political engineering of the world. To politicize these processes I have been inventing speculative sex robots in my artwork. These aim at queering our understanding of intimacy and desire. I use the concept »queer« here as one that describes the transgression of pleasure principles, and boundaries, beyond the binary system that our interaction with technologies brings about. I refer to the ways our social and digital performances are shaped as multiplicities and monstrous masses. As those impulsive poetic forces that result from the entanglements between technology, body, nonhuman existence, and atmosphere. I refer to the queerness of material itself. Reading quantum physics, the material condition is generated by self-touch within matter. That means particles regenerate themselves by reproducing and destroying each other through mutual contact. Observing these micro-agencies of particles assembling within matter, we may speak of micro-revolutionary crystallizations that are shaped in interaction with its electromagnetic environment, and ourselves.
»To care, I believe, means to establish formats and infrastructures of online encounters that give voice to those narratives that have given a presence in today’s regulated internet.«
Corporate authorities, political stakeholders, and governments have for decades left »care« to one’s individual responsibility, to reproduce the body as the technology of creative responsibility toward regulating life. Against the transformation of the world, my web project Molecular Sex & Synthetic Love proposes to think about sex robots as BOTS OF TECHNO-SEX. These bots perform means of care that I have called techno-care. For me, this term means the ability to use technology as a support system to mutually respond, while, most importantly, providing the conditions for response-ability on a larger scale. More precisely, techno-care is understood by caring for the sum of the social implications that the technological transformations do on and with our bodies. In my understanding, care is always an action that requires more than a concept of betweens. To care is to be and act from in-between. It involves shaping these agencies that reach beyond a reciprocal relation, to install a multiplicity of relations. Emerging meshworks of affinities may affect micro-political temporalities. To care in a technology-saturated world, can also be directionless and formless, as long as it takes the responsibility to care for many others in polymorphic processes. To care, I believe, means to establish formats and infrastructures of online encounters that give voice to those narratives that have given a presence in today’s regulated internet.