Science Fiction provides an overarching framework for Monster and Kynic, two exhibitions that explore notions of scientific reality and its mutations within popular consciousness and media. Science Fiction brings together Erica Seccombe and Benjamin Forster, two artists who employ bona fide scientific methodologies for work that examines the tensions between science and its suspect appearances in popular culture. Both to some extent work in the “god” zone, albeit with tongues in cheek, using science to suggest the construction of creatures that exist outside the “natural world” and thus have the potential to wreak havoc upon humanity. They draw upon the familiar, common garden organisms and the family pet to produce alien objects and ideas. Their works critique and even mock the idea of artists being scientists and vice versa; blending empirical method with fantastic imagination their work reflects a divergent yet electrifying relationship between science and art.
Benjamin Forster’s attempt to fuse the blood cells of artist Billy Apple with that of a canine, to produce a viable human-canine hybridoma, or an immortal cell that contains both human and canine DNA, is a project that has its roots in the ancient Greek philosophy of Cynicism. In their quest to lead virtuous lives at one with nature, original Cynics such as Antisthenes (445-365 BC) and Diogenes of Sinope (404-323 BC) inhabited the streets; like dogs. The original derivation of cynic was kynikos or dog like. Although Forster’s experiment has significant ethical implications his intention is pure. It is less to conceive a mythical lycanthrope (werewolf) in a petri dish and more to produce an allegorical totem that reflects an “ideal position” for contemporary artists and scientists in the tradition of ancient forbears who saw the creative benefits of nonconformity. For six long months Forster worked in the laboratories of SymbioticA, at the University of Western Australia where he became intensely immersed in the science of cross species hybridisation.
Adapted from catalogue essay by David Broker
Benjamin Forster Knowledge Intermediate You (Considering Serres), 2013, deconstructed LCD screen, DVD, light bulb; photo Brenton McGeachie