Whose Technology? Dreams of Reason - a week-long event at UC Berkeley (13/5/2005)

Whose Technology?
Dreams of Reason

a week-long event at UC Berkeley

May 16-20, The Street
Hosted by Ignacio Chapela

Art, Science and Public Light
Around and About the Bioengineering Building

Got art, got science?
Got a question about biotech?
Care about the transformation of
nature in your name?

Ignacio Chapela and The Pulse of Science invite

Despite furious back-pedaling by the biotech industry and its supporters in the ag-biotech field, the transformation of life forges ahead under such guises as “Stem Cell Research”, “Reproductive Choice”, “Biodefense”and the perennial “War on Drugs”.

Much of this happens today under cover of military and academic license. A shroud of secrecy provides cover for our corporations as they reach deeper into the fabric of life, ever more widely into public landscapes, while the public remains in the dark about the meaning and purpose of the multi-billion dollar biotechnology enterprise.

The Bay Area is held up to the world as the exhibition grounds for the dream of a biotechnologized future. Here the grafting of military, industrial and academic technique grows under the lavish nourishment of a generous California public. We shall give berth to the 6 billion dollar initiative voted last November as Proposition 71, and will become the ground for planting the multi-billion dollar Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Biomedical Research Institute (QB3), the Synthetic Biology Corporate Consortium, the Molecular Forge, and other publicly-funded incubators of someone’s dream – in their own words, we are to become “The Field of Dreams” for biotechnology. And for this Bay Area field of dreams, a flagship is now reaching completion, appropriately located at the Mining Circle of the Berkeley UC campus. Twelve floors of prime public-academic space dedicated to the manipulation of life in the Bioengineering Building, whence the biotechnologist’s dreams will issue forth future beings into our real, reproducing life.

A few of us do not share in this dream. We wonder if this is not reason asleep, or the nightmare of reason foretold by Walter Benjamin’s angel. A few among us find the biotechnologist’s grandiose plans closer to folly than sound design. Some of us believe that other dreams are possible, dreams that grow with the inclusion of multiple voices and histories - and we wonder where our support could be better used. We note the words of an eminent promotor of the biotech dream: “In the end, nothing [of these dreams] will happen unless Western governments and charities foot the bill”.

We - public amateurs - wish to take the opportunity afforded by the still-transparent hull of the Bioengineering Building to reflect on our role in the transgenic future of the world. Today, this building is covered in monotone canvas which belies the reality of what will come to pass inside its finished skin. Against the backdrop of this embodiment of the Biotech Dream, we want to circulate art, science and public light to awaken ourselves to our participation in it, if nothing else simply by also being live carriers of DNA.

At the start and close of every day during the week of Monday, May 16 – Friday, May 20, we will circulate our meaning about the Bionegineering Building, 7 - 8 am and 8 - 9 pm. With the onset of darkness, starting at 9 pm, we will congregate for performances and thoughts across the street.

A roster of speakers is being developed.

Volunteers are needed. Please contact [email protected], or [email protected].

Info develops at


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