“Living Biotechnical Lives: Noise, Parasites, and Relational Practices” presented by Søndergaard and Beloff


Session Title:

  • Ecologies and Biotechnical Relationships

Presentation Title:

  • Living Biotechnical Lives: Noise, Parasites, and Relational Practices




  • Life in the era of biotechnology opens up opportunities but also brings challenges related to our values ​​and questions on how we want to see coexistence on our planet inhabited by many species.

    The parasite is our case study and an interesting concept that we inherit from biology, but which is also addressed in humanism and philosophy. As humans, we commonly understand a parasite as a negative concept that suggests that someone or something benefits at our expense. However, French philosopher Michel Serres has thought differently about the parasite. According to him, the parasite is based on relations between different entities and that there is often noise in these relationships. Michel Serres refers to biologist Henri Atlan, who has argued that noise forces the system to reorganize in a way that incorporates noise as a part of the complex system. The idea of ​​noise included as a part of the system is quite far from today’s thought-processes with the development of bio/technology that typically aims at noiseless, error-free and aesthetically attractive results.

    Therefore, although parasites are often associated with terms such as inhospitable, undesirable and disgusting, and they are seen to be located outside of art and technology, in this paper we argue that the concept of parasitical is tightly intertwined into our contemporary biotechnical lives.  The article relates the parasitic thinking by Michel Serres to an artistic mediation of the biological parasite, a tick.