Springer Verlag, Austria, English, ISBN-13: 978-3211781609
The laboratory as an atelier: this seems to be one of the paradigms of art and science. “Art” and “science” are two terms that have been juxtaposed way too often, sometimes describing either “creative” science or art only citing scientific elements. This book is far away from these misunderstandings. The work restricts its field of research to three areas (genetic engineering, robotics, and artificial life) maintaining a meritorious consistency. These areas cover entities that can be considered as “alive” both by our senses and cultural categories, but Reichle is not filling pages with speculation. Instead she connects artworks and practices, carefully chronicling (including symbolic anecdotes) amalgams she thinks have been worthwhile in the last few decades. And she has been successful in assembling a substantial body of work. The book is a useful and rich reference point for this barely defined cultural field, where playing with “life” and technology has often meant visible manipulation of “organic” fluids and materials, and the invisible manipulation of the “digital”. Although the author ends her text with a questionable statement (we’d be prepared “for the emergence of biocybernetic humanity”) she tracks a useful, though admittedly only one of the possible paths to explore this disputed art territory. Finally it’s worth noting that there’s also a sort of book within a book: the illustrations section is 165 pages long, collecting famous and less known artworks.