Roundup: Hybrid Talks XV “Nature – Material – Culture”

The XV Hybrid Talks were curated by Jannis Hülsen and Stefan Schwabe. The two designers have always been fascinated with new ways of creating material goods and how this affects our culture. For "Nature – Material – Culture: Practice and understanding of biotechnology” they decided to bring together technical, cultural, design, economic and political perspectives on this topic:

Rupert Mutzel introduced the technical part of biotechnology based on three basic concepts, which can be use to create synthetic life forms: biobricks, synthetic genes and genomes as well as directed evolution.

Martin Müllerinvestigates the discourse of synthetic biology as a cultural phenomenon, or to put it more precisely, as a phenomenon of “technoscience culture”. Synthetic biology, he argues, can be understood as an element of a larger technoscientific epistemology and agenda to “make worlds and design new hybrid objects”. He critizes how the protagonists of synthetic biology “colonize” and narrow down our imagination of possible future worlds by notorious promise making. The question, is how current technoscience discourse sets the conditions for the desirability of a “synthetic biology future”.

The biological designer Amy Congdon called more designers in the lab to follow her example and to start the beginning of the future of new textiles. Right now she's trying to grow leather in the lab – we're very curious about the results!

The curators of the event, Jannis Hülsen and Stefan Schwabe, are joining Amy in her endeavors and are experimenting in their lab with the help of bacteria on cellulose, a material that has been used in other fields like medicine to replace body parts, for example blood vessels.

Patrick Diekhoff provided the bio-economic perspective: He defined bio-economy as the opportunity to decouple economic growth from the use of resources. Main drivers for bio-economic research are based on current global trends as the growth of population / life expectancy, urbanization / development of mega cities, material consumption and climate change / pollution.

The XV Hybrid Talks came to a close with a vivid panel discussion pertaining to questions how these developments will influence natural sciences, agriculture, economy and our perception of nature, material and culture.

Did you miss the XV Hybrid Talks?Listen to them on here.