Vegetal Sensoria

Attractor: Monika Bakke

Accepting the position that ‘to view plants as entirely disposable objects is to do them an injustice’ is becoming one of the new challenges facing us in the twentieth first century. We are now rediscovering plants as a result of the emergence of plant neurobiology generating discussions on ‘plant intelligence’, ‘root brains’, ‘plant memory’ and other phenomena related to plant signaling and communication. Scientific knowledge of plants, however, has also enabled and accelerated their technological use, although plants have been the subjects of biotech since the very beginning of agriculture. At the same time proposals concerning the ‘rights of plants’ and ‘plant dignity’ are being put forth in response to new contexts created by biotechnology that is re-shaping human-plant relations. A growing interest in our ethical approach to plants – their being considered as life forms with an inherent worth, and therefore deserving protection for their own sake – is now gaining visibility in both the humanities and in art practices.

Methodology: The goal of this stream is to gather researchers, artists, designers, architects and others whose work involve plants both on a material and on a discursive level opening up a territory where the complexity of plant lives can be put forward and communicated to a wider public. Projects/proposals of interest to this stream should pose theoretical and practical questions concerning the use of plants as well as indicate and promote change in attitudes towards them. Research with the potential to challenge the mainstream anthropocentric approach to plants, usually based on instrumentalization, colonization, separation, and control, is particularly welcomed. Presentations may also directly or indirectly deal with plant related biotechnologies – implemented either in professional laboratories or in a do-it-yourself mode – and open up the possibilities of a more inclusive postnatural history of human-plant relations.

Biography: Monika Bakke writes on contemporary art and aesthetics, with a particular focus on posthumanist, gender and cross-cultural perspectives. She works in the Philosophy Department at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. The author of two books: Bio-transfigurations: Art and Aesthetics of Posthumanism (2010, in Polish) and Open Body (2000, in Polish), co-author of Pleroma: Art in Search of Fullness (1998), and editor of Australian Aboriginal Aesthetics (2004, in Polish), Going Aerial: Air, Art, Architecture (2006) and The Life od Air: Dwelling, Communicating, Manipulating (2011). Since 2001 she has been an editor of the Polish cultural journal Czas Kultury (Time of Culture).