Real Vegan Cheese and the Artistic Critique of Biotechnology

Engaging Science, Technology, and Society

View Publication Info
 
 
Field Value
 
Title Real Vegan Cheese and the Artistic Critique of Biotechnology
 
Creator Wilbanks, Rebecca
 
Subject
DIYbio; hacking; synthetic biology; design fiction; scientific authority; public engagement
 
Description Drawing on the case study of Real Vegan Cheese (RVC), a synthetic biology project housed in a community lab or “biohackerspace,” I argue that biohacking performs an “artistic critique” of the bioeconomy. Following Boltanski and Chiapello’s use of the term, the “artistic critique” pits values of autonomy and creativity against a view of capitalist production as standardized and alienating, represented (in the case of biotechnology) by Monsanto’s monoculture GMOs. In this way, biohacking is depicted as liberating biotechnology from the constraints of corporate and academic institutions. Through the use of design fiction and a playful aesthetic, projects such as RVC demonstrate a more legitimate––with respect to the values of the artistic critique––mode of production for a new generation of biotechnology products, one that is portrayed as driven primarily by ethical and aesthetic values rather than the profit motive. This analysis highlights the role that aesthetic and affective strategies play in advancing particular sociotechnical visions, and the way that biohacking projects operate in symbiosis with incumbent institutions even as they define themselves in opposition to them. Finally, it suggests that biohacking has certain limitations when considered as a form of public engagement with science.
 
Publisher The Society for Social Studies of Science
 
Contributor
 
Date 2017-04-02
 
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion
Peer-reviewed Article

 
Format application/pdf
 
Identifier http://estsjournal.org/article/view/53
10.17351/ests2017.53
 
Source Engaging Science, Technology, and Society; Vol 3 (2017); 180-205
2413-8053
 
Language eng
 
Relation http://estsjournal.org/article/view/53/86
 
Coverage


 
Rights Copyright (c) 2017 Rebecca Wilbanks
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0
 

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