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Corrie Van Sice: The Mechanism of Life – After Stéphane Leduc (2013)

GLOBALE: Exo-Evolution – Artist Talks


Oron Catts, Corrie Van Sice, and Ionat Zurr: The Mechanism of Life – After St.phane Leduc (2013)

In The Mechanism of Life, published in 1911, French biologist Stéphane Leduc drew on a series of experiments in order to prove that life was merely a chemical process. Leduc attempted to challenge vitalism, the theory that life’s phenomena are dependent on a principle distinct from purely chemical or physical forces. With the recent advent of synthetic biology, we are experiencing a resurgence of similar ideas from a century ago, including the concept of creating the cell, the most basic unit of life, out of non-living materials. The result is the so-called “protocell.” Echoing the simplest protocell protocols conceived by Leduc, Mechanism of Life reenacts Leduc’s experiments, using a custom-made rapid prototyping printer to create protocells. The work seems to be paving the way towards being able to print actual life. But the printed protocells seem to represent an unstable and temporary natural form, surviving for a few moments before succumbing to entropy and dissolving into a murky liquid.

Video Documentary:

ZKM | Institute for Visual Media

Camera: Rabea Rahmig, Jonas Pickel
Editing: Jonas Pickel

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