In touch with life : investigating epistemic practices in the life sciences from a hands-on perspective On Bio Art, Descartes as a hands-on practitioner, molecular genetics laboratories and microbiological cleanrooms

J.B. Boulboullé

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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Bio-artists don’t use paint to make paintings, but they cultivate living images of animal cells. They make performances with model organisms and interactive installations with genetically modified bacteria. This not only raises ethical questions, but also aesthetic questions: bio-artists explore the newest technologies to shape life and in doing so they conduct ‘hands-on’ research into the peculiar way that life sciences put us in touch with life. This dissertation returns to the starting point of the modern epistemology when René Descartes singlehandedly personally experimented on human bodies and there found the basis for his famous Meditations (1641). This research studied how contemporary artistic practices can give us insight in epistemic issues about the relation between contemplation and manipulation since the rise of the new experimental science in the 17th century.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Zwijnenberg, R., Supervisor, External person
Award date20 Dec 2012
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • bio-artists
  • technology
  • life sciences
  • philosophy

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