While the Covid pandemic has made people more aware that non-human agency has a large impact on human lives, artists and performers increasingly address microscopic actors that indeed have macroscopic effects. This new publication with the international journal Performance Research, edited by Medical Museion guest researcher Jens Hauser in collaboration with performance artist Lucie Strecker, gives an overview of a large scope of generally overlooked agencies.
How do bacteria, viruses, extra-terrestrial organic matter, enzymes, pheromones, cultured neurons or systems of high-speed algorithmic finance ‘perform’? This issue with the participation of 26 interdisciplinary contributors aims to scrutinize both the epistemological and aesthetic potential of the notion of ‘microperformativity’. The concept denotes a current trend in theories of performativity and performative artistic practices to destabilize human scales (both spatial and temporal) as the dominant plane of reference and to emphasize biological and technological micro-agencies that relate the invisibility of the microscopic to the incomprehensibility of the macroscopic. Investigations into microperformativity redefine what art, philosophy and the technosciences actually consider a ‘body’ today, in times when performance art shifts towards generalized and pervasive performativity in art. Microperformative positions enquire how artistic methods can engage critically with technologies that exploit life on a microscopic and molecular level to merge bio- and digital media, including for global capitalization. How can performative art and discourses inform these processes to think biopolitics and necropolitics in relation to the dystopia of economy and the utopia of ecology alike? This issue contains contributions on biotechnological performances, physiological processes and micro-gestures, traditional rituals and techniques of craft, on microperformativity seen through the lens of the natural sciences, as well as in economics in times of algorithmic finance and high frequency trading. It also discusses works shown in Medical Museion’s ‘Mind the Gut’ exhibition, by Thomas Feuerstein (on show at Medical Museion in 2018), performances by Danish choreographer Tina Tarpgaard, as well as immobile performances by Yann Marussich, live created protocells and bacteria-based art work curated by Jens Hauser for the Click Festival in Helsingør between 2016 and 2018.
The publication can be ordered via the Centre for Performance Research Bookshop. It can also be accessed online as a digital version (some chapters are open access, other require an academic account).