Living biotechnical lives: noise, parasites, and relational practices

Morten Søndergaard, Laura Beloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Life in the era of biotechnology opens up opportunities but also poses challenges related to our values ​​and questions regarding the way we want to see coexistence on our planet, which is inhabited by many species.

The parasite is our case study and an interesting concept that we inherit from biology but which is also addressed in humanism and philosophy. As humans, we commonly understand the concept of a parasite as a negative one that suggests someone or something which benefits at our expense. However, French philosopher Michel Serres had a different view of the parasite. According to him, the parasite is based on relationships between different entities, and there is often noise in these relationships. Serres refers to biologist Henri Atlan, who has argued that said noise forces the system to reorganize itself in a way that incorporates the noise into the complex system. The idea of ​​noise as an integrated part of the system is quite far from today’s thought processes with the development of bio/technology that typically aims to be noiseless and error-free and have aesthetically attractive results.

Therefore, although parasites are often associated with terms such as inhospitable, undesirable, and disgusting and are seen to be located outside of art and technology, in this paper, we argue that the concept of something parasitical is tightly intertwined with our contemporary biotechnical lives. The article relates Serres’ parasitic thinking to an artistic mediation of the biological parasite: the tick.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • parasite
  • Serres
  • biology
  • technology
  • noise
  • ticks
  • relations
  • biotechnology
  • evolution


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