A Memorial for the Still Living. Premiered at John Hansard Gallery in Southampton. Upcoming show at the Horniman Museum in London.

Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience. MIT Press; Leonardo Book Series. ed., Beatriz da Costa & Kavita Philip.

Invisible Earthlings Workshop. [as part of "Species We Live With"]

Pigeonblog [documentation & ephemera] on view at Sweeney Art Gallery in Riverside, CA.

The Place of Art in the Age of Biotechnological Reproducibility. (pdf) [Review of Tactical Biopolitics in "BioSocieties."]

Processes, Issues AIR: Toward Reticular Politics. (pdf) [Full fledged article about Preemptive Media's and my work in "Australian Humanities Review."]

Interview with Beatriz da Costa. (pdf) [by Alessandro Ludovico, "Neural Magazine."]

Preemptive Media Preemptive Media is a collaborative operating at the nexus of art, activism and technology.

Beatriz da Costa is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. She works at the intersection of art, politics, engineering and the life sciences.

back to projects

Installation at UCLA 2009

Invisible Earthlings is an investigation into the possibilities of relating between humans and members of the lived non-human worlds that we are least likely to recognize as social actors within urban environments: microbes. Microbes, partially defined by their small size and the fact that they are commonly not visible to the human eye, quite literally escape our view and awareness of their existence. Although most people have some vague notion about the importance of microbes in our ecosystems, microbes commonly only receive our attention when they are perceived to cause problems; ʻproblemsʼ in this case defined as either harmful to human, plant and animal health, or material goods. But what type of activities are the numerous relatives of these so-called "harmful microbes" performing while we are walking by, stepping right on top of them or are busily shopping for "mold resistant" building materials? What type of organisms are present, what types were present once but no longer, and why? Where did they come from, what do we know about them, what type of roles have and are they performing in different historical and geographical settings?

Flash files as being displayed on handhelds at UCLA (7 total)

Our interest and willingness to engage with non-human living organisms is usually restricted to higher level species - animals and plants we associate with affectual modes of encounter. A lot of people will hold dearly to the occasional visit of a songbird on their window frame or public park bench, but few of us are thinking about the labor performed by microbes on the street gutter right in front of us. How can a revived "environmentalism" function if we deny it the existence of billions of actors? As is the case with most fiercely debated topics, current discussions hosted under the umbrella of "environmentalism" are often informed by a curious mixture of underlying "rational" ideologies and emotional associations and projections. It is this latter aspect though, the experience and association based modes of affectual interspecies relationships, that is of concern in this project. Be it within the frameworks of conservation, management, (bio-) diversity, (animal-) rights, (environmental-) justice, and its resulting policies, our stances within these debates are very much based on the relationships we consciously or unconsciously form with the lived environment.

Installation at Fafa Gallery, Helsinki 2008

Invisible Earthlings existed in a number of different forms. For the iteration shown at UCLA, I collected microbial samples from my own back yard, and went through a series of microbiological techniques (visual and chemical) in order to identify the specimens found. For the version shown in Helsinki, I performed the same activity, but this time in collaboration with students at Kuvataideakatemia in form of a workshop. In both cases, results and findings were exhibited and shared with the public. Additional facts and histories of human "use," "awareness," and "handling" of these organisms was provided as well. Penicillium for example, was found on many occasions, and while most people know that penicillin was originally derived from a strain of the penicillium mold, fewer might realize that one of its relatives is lively and active in the production of camembert ... .

Workshop at Kuvataideakatemia 2008