“Alien Agencies: Liveness and Nonhuman Performativity” presented by Salter


Session Title:

  • Enunciations of Nonhuman Performativity

Presentation Title:

  • Alien Agencies: Liveness and Nonhuman Performativity




  • In 1939, the Austrian trained architect / scenographer Frederick Kiesler authored an essay entitled “On Biotechnique and Correalism: A Definition and Test of a New Approach to Building Design” in which he posed the question “at what point does inanimate matter pass over and become alive?” Kiesler was referring to a 1912 experiment by the Nobel Prize winning surgeon Alexis Carrel in which cells from the heart of a developing baby chick were removed by Rockefeller Institute researchers and healthily grown and sustained inside the technically constructed environment of a test tube culture for over 34 years. As Kiesler wrote, “The experiment confirms the view that, while life only comes from life, it is also dependent on its technological environment” (Kiesler 1939).

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