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  • Symbiogenic Experience and the Emergent ArtsCybernetics, Art and Existential Phenomenology
  • Carlos Castellanos

This dissertation is an exploration of the ways in which certain forms of interactive art may elicit experiences of co-evolution within an increasingly technologized environment. These “emergent arts,” the author argues, facilitate or amplify a construction of a reality that is (inter)active, dynamic, heterogeneous and always already emerging, constituted by dynamic relationships rather than objective facts. This ontological vision resonates with constructivist and phenomenological theories of reality as well as neocybernetic notions of “observer-participants” and “enactive perception.” The term “co-evolution”—often taken to allude to Darwinian biological processes of interaction between two or more species—is recast to refer here to processes of emergence, self-organization and autopoiesis. New approaches to understanding and studying technologically based artworks are proffered that attend to how these artworks are contributing to a new range of experiences that more adeptly attune us to our techno-ecological context—experiences that the author refers to as “symbiogenic.” The research combines both theory and practice, combining artworks, scholarly writing and subjective accounts in order to build the foundations of a theoretical framework for identifying and analyzing these experiences. By examining these artworks and experiences via the interlocking frames of cybernetics, phenomenological philosophy, posthumanism and interactive/new media art, this dissertation articulates the movement toward a framework that provides insights into how interactive art may engender shifts in perceptual experience, enabling us to view ourselves as connected to and implicated in an infinitely complex world.

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Carlos Castellanos, Biopoiesis, stannous chloride solution, custom electronics, 2011–2013.

(© Carlos Castellanos)

Carlos Castellanos
Carlos Castellanos: <>. PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, Canada, 2014.


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