This artistic research project focuses on current bio-scientific breakthroughs: the Human Microbiome, the related shift from Genomics to Metagenomics and the subsequent evolving perception of what our body is made of. If fifty percent of cells that constitute our body are not human but microbial, how do we have to re-imagine the human and where could this new knowledge lead?
We became interested in how a biological concept developed by scientists, health politicians, policy makers and different public, could be critically challenged using close dialogue between art, design and historical epistemology, and how artists could translate abstract research into a more tangible and immediate experience. The idea behind this unconventional confrontation is that all these areas – art/design, philosophy and laboratory science – question and shape the relational and context-dependent aspects of human existence.
Fifty percent human intends to develop engaging critical languages, which carefully balance imagination and the extraordinary with factual rational knowledge. This, by focusing on human-microbe communication, human-microbe interaction and the great diversity of the human body’s ecosystem, mainly by using artistic, fictional and philosophical research tools. We will re-imagine and refashion our skin as a whole environment through wondrous artefacts which themselves may also demonstrate the possible impact of artistic experimentation on the democratization of complex scientific research. The different outcomes including interdisciplinary platform meetings, lab visits and an exhibition may very well encourage greater diversity in the methods used to imagine alternative futures.
Ten percent human is supported by the ‘Creative Industries Fund NL‘, by the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts) and by the Wageningen University. It runs from October 2015 until autumn 2016.