From a Biosignal to Xenotext: The Affective Dimension of Textuality in Postdigital Art Projects

Ewelina Twardoch-Raś

With reference to the categories of affectivity and intentionality, the Author considers some of the various research perspectives that can be brought to bear upon the category of literariness in biotextual projects. She therefore introduces the concepts of “technotext” (Hayles), “physio-cybertext” and “biopoetry” (Kac), and “partly non-discursive affectivity” (Knudsen and Stage). The author primarily considers the role of non-human actors in constructing biotextual projects; this includes bacteria and other living cells that display the kinds of goal-oriented behavior (or intentionality) that bring about causal changes in biotextual works. Moreover, non-human actors are considered to be a physiological, affective force capable of altering the physical shape of such works. Introducing her own concept of “inside-body actors” (meaning the functioning of the body’s organs, hormones and other biochemical changes in the organism), the Author demonstrates how these “actors” are crucial to the medium. Her article presents three examples of (trans)literary works that were created in a corporal, affective and biological context: The Breathing Wall by Kate Pullinger (with Stefan Schemat and Chris Joseph); Diane Gromala’s BioMorphic Typography (part of a larger scientific and artistic initiative entitled “Design for the Senses”); and Christian Bök’s Xenotext. This last example is one of the most recent works to combine digital text with the biological functioning of microorganisms in a constantly evolving process.
Słowa kluczowe: inside-body actors, intentionality, materiality, biotextuality, affectivity

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