Within Cells Intertwined
(Degree work 2021)
Listasafn Reykjavíkur-Reykjavík Art Museum

Technology has already taken humans to uncharted territory. Changes and possibilities within regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, and cell culture are evolving beyond our understanding. Within Cells Intertwined is the MA degree work of Guðný Sara Birgisdóttir. The work explores this biopower, how technology affects the materiality of different bodies, for example, the bodies of farm animals. How might the speculative future present animals when we no longer need their whole bodies, just their cells for growing meat? There seems to be no way of separating bodies and technology in today’s climate. Whether it is an AI collar giving endless health information from a farm animal’s neck to a farmer ́s computer, a smartwatch on a human wrist, or an AI farmbot growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, giving a better performance than an actual farmer.

Humans strive to achieve the right balance and to use appropriate technology in agriculture. Cultured meat is an emerging technology that might offer an alternative. By using cell culture, one cow cell can produce ten tons of meat, which means the entire population of the world could be fed with only 150 cows. Not only is cell culture a way to ensure future food security but it also saves the lives of farm animals. The use of resources such as land and water is also greatly decreased by this technique. But how much should we rely on this technology over traditional farming? Do we already know the long-term consequences? How do technology and post-naturalism affect the materiality of different bodies and relations?

Are you a techno-pessimist or a techno-optimist, or striving to find the balance? The audience is to speculate on the future of cell culture, the environment, and its possibilities, as well as its effect on human-animal relations and our relations with technology.