University of Tasmania
whole_KingAliciaKathleen2009_thesis.pdf (19.01 MB)

Transformations of the flesh : rupturing embodiment through biological technology

Download (19.01 MB)
posted on 2023-05-26, 19:26 authored by King, AK
This doctoral project encompasses an investigation of embodiment1 in relation to ideas about human transfiguration and self perception through art practice. The research addressed ways in which objects can participate in and add debate to the relationship between biomedical interventions, human embodiment and self perception. These have been addressed through examination of transfiguration and hybridization of human and animal form, extension and commodification of bodily materials, and ethical issues that arise. An artistic investigation of embodiment, in relation to ideas concerning human transfiguration and self perception has resulted. The project draws upon an international movement by artists to deal with new perceptions of life and subjectivity through new and diverse applications of biological technologies. Focus is upon the aspects of these technologies which are generally not addressed by the scientific field; issues of psychological, conceptual and cultural significance. Examples of attitudes towards the human body and biological technologies in recent history, for example J. Huxley's The Tissue Culture King, provide a background to contemporary issues in the field. Ideas about the formulation of subjectivity in relation to physical form are grounded in the writings of Lacan and Caillois. The significance of human tissues and their ability to represent complex ideas about human identity, and the ethical issues raised by bodily commodification are expressed by Waldby, Andrews, and Nelkin. The research and it outcomes are located alongside contemporary artists in the field such as Motohiko Odani, Ken Rinaldo, TC&A, and O'Reilly who address the conceptual field through approaches ranging from science fantasy to visceral biotech and performance works. Findings are presented in a body of cross media works involving three streams spanning traditional modes of making from non-biological object based forms; biological artworks involving tissue culturing bodily materials; and performance works made through direct experience with biotechnology. The project has concluded that first hand engagement with biotech processes and bodily materials achieved critical engagement with the research ideas. First hand explorations in biotech practices have the ability to open alternative experiences and representations of the body, outside of those which are dictated by dominant culture. The presentation of bodily materials outside of their usual location within the fixed body, as in artworks created in the second and third streams of investigation, have the ability to open new experiences and readings of embodiment, and its relationship to evolving biological technologies.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2009 the author Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager