“Mammalian synthetic biology has significantly advanced the design of gene switches that are responsive to traceless cues such as light, gas and radio waves, complex gene circuits, including oscillators, cancer-killing gene classifiers and programmable biocomputers, as well as prosthetic gene networks that provide treatment strategies for gouty arthritis, diabetes and obesity. Akin to synthetic biology promoting prosthetic gene networks for the treatment of metabolic disorders, cybernetics advances the design of functional man–machine interfaces in which brain–computer interfaces (BCI) process brain waves to control electromechanical prostheses, such as bionic extremities and even wheel chairs. The advent of synthetic optogenetic devices that use power-controlled, light-adjustable therapeutic interventions18 will enable the merging of synthetic biology with cybernetics to allow brain waves to remotely control the transgene expression and cellular behaviour in a wireless manner.”
“Under the impression of today’s global crisis and the rise of ecological thinking, confronted with smart, ubiquitous technosystems and the impression of interconnectedness, there appears a new urge to excavate the remnants of the past. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.
The nine contributions ask how these debates and affective states survive and live on in today’s discussions of media ecologies, environmentalism, object-oriented philosophies, computer simulations, performative art, and communication technologies. In this sense, they take the renaissance of systems thinking in the late 20th and early 21st Century as an effect of various system crisis and explore new media technologies as stabilizing ‘cures’ against the dystopian future scenarios that emerged after World War II. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.”
“In 1968 artists and musicians like Stephen Antonakos, Terry Riley, Charles Ross and Robert Whitman realised installations producing light and sound events for the exhibition “The Magic Theatre”. James Seawright constructed “Electronic Peristyle” 37: an uncommon work for an uncommon exhibition. He installed “power supplies” in a base under a sphere. The sphere was made of transparent plastic and contained 12 photocells. A “cylindrical metal box” with 12 “light beam projectors” was mounted underneath the “plastic sphere”. The electronics in this vertical structure with round segments “was either digital (the earliest family of Motorola RTL logic chips)” or it contained “conventional analog transistor circuits.” These electronics controlled the generation of sounds by “electronic synthesizer modules”. These modules were developed by Robert Moog. He integrated his analog equipment in Seawright´s installation.”