Ectogeneses. Plant-Human Monsters by Špela Petrič is part of the project “A propos du Chthulucène” proposed by Maria Ptqk for the Jeu de Paume virtual space.
Ectogenesis explores hybridisation between humans and plants through experimentation with hormones, the messenger molecules that reveal the common evolutionary ancestry of animals and plants. Starting with a piece of arabidopsis tissue (Arabidopsis thaliana), Petrič creates a series of in vitro “plant embryos” whose development she enhances by injecting steroid hormones extracted from her own urine. This procedure modifies the plant’s epigenetic pattern, thus producing a singular, monstrous morphology, monstrous “in the loving sense of the word”, which points towards radical forms of experimental trans-species.
In Ectogenesis, the plant agent, a “gentle green alien”, commonly considered the most primordial form of life, is mixed with the human agent, and their materiality is imbued with cultural and political significance. Since the chemical structure of hormones favours their interaction with other molecules, for Petrič their contextual and adaptive dimension makes them especially suitable interfaces for testing interaction between species, the ability to be “affected” by others in a process that is both material and semiotic.
Špela Petrič´s artistic practice combines natural sciences, new media and performance. She is interested in all aspects of anthropocentrism, the reconstruction and reappropriation of scientific methodology in the context of cultural phenomena, living systems in connection to inanimate systems manifesting life-like properties and terabiology, an ontological view of evolution and teraformative process on Earth. She extends her artistic research with art/sci workshops devoted to informing and sensitizing the interesting public. She is a member of Hackteria.