Open Fields 2016, RIXC Center for New Media and Culture, Riga, Latvia


Presentation of artwork and delivering keynote on “Microbial Money”, for Open Fields Exhibition and Conference, organised by RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga, Latvia. Hosted at Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka.

Presentation abstract:

Microbial Money: Alternative Narratives for Economic Sustainability

With recent advances in synthetic biology, the possibility of designing and hacking life forms is becoming closer to everyday life. Driven by an engineering approach to biology, the future banker could be envisioned as a ‘financier of life’, creating and controlling living currencies from a library of standardised and replicable parts.

Biological materials may no longer exist as mere drivers of biotechnology industry, but become part of the economic machinery itself: Genes could become currencies through its encryption as forms of ‘DNA-wallets’ and ‘gene coins’, whilst single-cell micro- organisms could also become living chassis to physically contain, store and spread value as a financial hardware.

‘Microbial Money’ is a thematic keynote exploring possible implementation of synthetic biology and its associated biological components in the context of economic sustainability. It is not a proposal that sets out to provide elegant solutions towards current economic challenges, but a set of speculations on its social and cultural implications.

Using past and on-going projects that are grounded in scientific research, the keynote aims to offer questions on how the alternative biological economic model may play out in society: Could micro-organisms living inside our bodies become de-centralised currencies for payment, how could bacteria be hacked to provide stock market predictions, and what are the potential ramifications that may emerge as a result?

One of the slides from the talk: ‘Reviving the Drachma’ (2016)
Conference and exhibition review article featuring 'Microbial Money' project was published in RealTime Arts, by Sophea Lerner. 
Link to article here.