From Bauhaus to Biohaus: Biology and Cybernetics in Modern and Contemporary Art, Architecture, and Design

This course is a graduate seminar focusing on the history of biology in art and design. It traces biocentrism – a
biology-based philosophy of the oneness of art and science – from the late nineteenth century to the present
within the greater world of art. It focuses on the work of nineteenth-century naturalists Ernst Haeckel and Raoul Francé, twentieth-century Bauhauslers Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, mid twentieth-century cybernetic thinkers and designers Roy Ascott, Gordon Pask, and Cedric Price, and contemporary bioartists and architects designing with synthetic biology. The class brings to the fore the lesser known pedagogy of biofunctionalism within the Bauhaus, comparing it to New Objectivity Bauhaus functionalism. Readings trace the diasporic spread of this Bauhaus biofunctionalism across the United States in the twentieth century onto an international stage in order to locate its transformed presence in contemporary bioart and bioarchitecture, both of which use living material as a “medium.” The course covers architectural modernism, General Systems Theory, cybernetics, mid-century utopian biotopic architecture, genetics within art and design, and contemporary bioart and bioarchitecture.

Charissa N. Terranova

PDF: HUAS6312_Bauhaus_Biohaus_Syllabus.pdf

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