The Nanodatabody is a practical study developed during The Force/ Magnitudes Nanotechnologies Workshop, by Dr. Thomas Becker and The Posthumanities: New Adventures in Interdisciplinarity by Dr. Colin Milburn at Curtin University, Perth in 2010. It aimed to explore the relationships between posthuman and postbiological discourse, through developing a range of practical outcomes that could be merged together into a single representational space in order to compare nano scale formal composition and topological differentiations between a range of scanned samples, or sharing the common aspect of being ‘highly codified’.
In conjunction with the John Curtin Gallery art in the age of nanotechnology exhibition and the strange futures: collaborations that make nano-artsymposium, Collaborative Research in Art, Science and Humanity co-hosted a hands-on workshop at the Curtin University Department of Chemistry Scanning Probe Microscopy Facility.
This joint venture between the Nanochemistry Research Institute and Collaborative Research in Art, Science and Humanity introduced artists and scientists to the visual technology of nano including the Atomic Force Microscope. The workshop investigated the nano world, exploring the limits of our understanding of the physical world and of what nano futures may hold.
For the workshop project, which resulted in a navigable 3D Unity environment, a range of samples that are codified by nature (not necessarily in the literal sense). Samples included ovaries (provided by the lab) sperm (from the artist), precious gems including diamond, ruby and sapphire, a range of silicon surfaces commonly used in digital hardware manufacture , and also reproductive organs from plants (flowers), and several blood samples.
While this may seem a rather arbitrary list of selected materials, the goal was to deliberately take a wide, but rather basic range of samples that are commonly thought of in the context of the increasingly convergent code systems that constitute modern life and consciousness and explore formal composition in relation to topological difference, in order to explore and challenge the ways in which we view and engage with such systems . The core premise for the production of the work was a loose response to several articles and lectures by Roy Ascott on Syncretic Dialogues ( with a rather naive reference also to Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of Deterritorialisation and Reterritorialisation). The work aimed specifically to be an exploration of how nanotechnologies offer entirely new perspectives on humanity and industrial processes through accessing worlds beyond us due to their scale, but now visible through a range of computer vision technologies and representational methods for articulating nano spaces.
The title, Nanodatabody relates to the concept of digital data bodies and the rather complex connections and relationships that exist between them and the biological entities that are continually creating and contributing to them. Computer vision and the hardware technologies that facilitate them form a very effective new art medium, as they allow us to see beyond our natural range of vision. This allows us to make investigations at a highly detailed and precise level, by literally zooming right into the subjects we choose to explore. The resulting visualizations are digitally produced from data obtained through mapping an an electrical charge that bounces across scanned surfaces at an atomic level.
“The proposal for nanotechnology to reshape nature atom by atom stimulates interesting debates as to what may be thought to constitute human life, since at an atomic level, the space of the body can be seen as having no boundaries.” (Paul Thomas 2010).
Nanodatbody aimed to further understand the hybrid nature pf material and non-material spaces in relation to the body, particularly how we codify such spaces, gather and interpret data about them and most importantly, represent and bring context and meaning to them.
Through representing data about nano scale spaces in simulated environments, viewer immersion can be enhanced, through the creation of a unified topology that merges the wide range of independent codified elements, into a single terrain based virtual environment, focused purely on formal conventions of surface and how this then relates/challenges common perceptions of codification, hybridisation of living and digital systems and identity.