Eduardo Kac & Avital Ronell

Life Extreme

For thousands of years hybrid inter-species creatures have populated our imagination. Today, 20 years or so after the appearance of the first trans-genetic animal, they are created daily in laboratories. What used to be a myth has now become a reality. At the junction of art and science, Life Extreme intends to present new living beings created by man, beings no longer produced solely by “nature”. This is not a book-essay but a “poetic” proposition, a guide to the most astonishing new lives that have appeared at the beginning of the 21st Century.

For this book, artist Eduardo Kac, pioneer of “bio-art” and internationally recognized for his “transgenic works” (like the fluorescent green GFP Bunny), has chosen to meet the philosopher Avital Ronell, a well-known figure on the American new philosophy scene, to have exchanges on these very controversial questions inspired by scientific actuality in the biotechnological field, challenging the limits of what’s human; its boundaries, its possibilities and questioning the fundamental distinction between the natural and artificial, nature and technology, and the human and the machine.

Kac and Ronell are both concerned with the emergence of new cultural practices. In Life Extreme they collaborate at the intersection of a natural history of creatures made by humans; the living evolution and private life of creatures real but rarely seen. While the oldest living creature indexed in Life Extreme dates back to the 17th Century, many others were created in the 21st Century. Gathered here for the first time, these plants and unique animals narrate a different history of life on planet Earth.

This title is part of the Dis Voir, Encounters series.

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