Emergent: coping with complex phenomena

Principal Investigator: Roberta Buiani
Funder: SSHRC Insight Development Grant
Project DescriptionEmergent is a research creation project investigating ways in which we can better comprehend and eventually cope with new "categories of the living"- those newly emerging or newly created life forms that won’t fit or will exceed the categories defined by traditional taxonomies.

New life forms can reside in artificial environments and take the form of digital entities; they can be synthetic bacteria and other organisms manipulated in the lab; or entities undergoing serious mutations due to pollution and other anthropogenic causes, yet they survive and even thrive. Attempts to fit these new categories into preexisting containers cast doubts on the ability of individual disciplines to seize their complex formations and their porous boundaries.

The “digital creatures”, “genetically manipulated organisms”, and “environmental mutants” described above form three thematic guidelines leading to the question of: how is the emergence of these new life forms challenging traditional research methods and existing disciplinary containers? and how can research based on artistic practice and on collaboration across science and the arts help producing new ones?