The Sense of Real

Laura Beloff


The categories of bioart and biotech art, and art works emerging within them, have a strong relation to the real – this concerns especially contemporary and historical works that use biological matter and living organisms, and which therefore can be thought to be inherently connected to what we understand as real and our reality. Also, the recent years’ continuously growing interests towards the wide field of art & science & technology points towards the importance of the concept of the real and its presence in art practice. For example, in art projects that use living organisms the situation becomes concretely real with real consequences for the organisms. As well, technologies are becoming increasingly intelligent and remind us more and more of biological organisms through their behaviour, functions and learning abilities. These kinds of developments in science and technology, including the above-mentioned bio-based and technological experimentations by artists are impacting a new kind of sense of nature to emerge. The paper presents a perspective into uncanny sense of nature, which is emerging around us. Instead of aiming at proposing concrete solutions for our increasing amount of problems concerning our environment, the author will speculate on human-impacted transformations of natural environment. It is becoming obvious that the natural world is increasingly based on man-made design, a development that changes our relation and perception of nature, as well as our understanding of the concept of real. The author sees that this development is leading to construction of uncanny nature; a concept based on the M. Mori’s idea of uncanny valley. Where Mori was investigating robots and their human-likeness, the author points towards possible similar sensations concerning man-made biological organisms. The paper will address the real and uncanny nature present in art & science works that are located in a liminal space – in between what has been and what will come next.

The talk will also include recent research and artistic outcomes by the author that investigate relations between biological organisms, and technological + human agency.


Dr. Laura Beloff (DK/FI) is an internationally acclaimed artist and a researcher. Research interests include practice-based investigations into a combination of information, technology and organic matter, which is located in the cross section of art, technology and science. Additionally to research papers, articles and book-chapters, the outcome of her artistic research is in artworks that deal with the merger of the technological and biological matter and intelligence. The research engages with areas such as human enhancement, biosemiotics, biological matter, artificial life (AL) and artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and information technology in connection to art, humans and society. She was Professor at the Art Academy in Oslo 2002-06, Visiting Professor at The University of Applied Arts in Vienna 2009, 2011, a recipient of a prestigious 5-year artists grant by the Finnish State 2007-11, and currently she is Associate Professor and the Head of PhD School at IT University in Copenhagen.

Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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