Wishful thinking

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2 Citations (Scopus)


In my research, I have used synthetic biology techniques to understand more deeply the implications of biotechnology as a form of art practice - of thinking through making. In doing so, I have become increasingly aware that, whilst synthetic biology makes many promises for the future of humanity, it does so from within a capitalist system that does not fully account for the environmental impact of technological advances. The core of my research resides in artistic practice situated within a UK genetics laboratory, where I develop experience in molecular biology and synthetic biology in order to store a thought physically within the body of the living organism, Escherichia coli (E. coli), deliberately following scientific protocols in order to explore the affect of working with the living organism as medium. Through the creation of a cypher that maps phonemes to codons, I translated a thought (the question, 'what will happen if I store this thought safe within you?') into DNA and stored it within E. coli, which I have been growing in the laboratory for over a year, to observe how my intervention has impacted the organisms and affected myself as an artist using biotechnology. I have brought this research to a public audience via an evolving series of exhibitions, Pithos (Mackenzie 2016), Viral Experiments (Mackenzie 2017), Genocentric (Mackenzie 2017) and, more recently, a workshop series titled Transformation (Mackenzie 2017). In the longer term I plan to store the thought within my own cells, not those of a laboratory organism, in a project titled Wishful Thinking or Velleity with(out) Volition, as a post-anthropocentric reflection on the imposition of will inherent in humanity as a species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-193
Number of pages13
JournalTechnoetic Arts
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Bioart
  • Critical post-humanism
  • Post-anthropocentrism
  • Synthetic biology
  • Transgenic
  • Vital materialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

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