New Abstract / Adventure: Biopolymer Aesthetics and Empathetic Materialism—Another World is Possible


This paper discusses affective methodologies within a practice-based PhD research project using plant-based and bacterial biopolymers (bioplastics) for painting, site-responsive intervention, and collaborative video. Biopolymers have long material histories with a range of material qualities and affects that inform adventurous working methods. These methods and associated affects could be said to produce a biopolymer aesthetics and an empathetic materialism forms of onto-aesthetics involving what Elizabeth Grosz (2017) and Félix Guattari (2000) respectively term an onto-ethics and an ethico-aesthetics. In this paper, new materialisms are used to understand the pedagogical qualities of worlding through the artworks of the author, where biopolymer aesthetics generate adventure and bewilderment—aligning with Jack Halberstam’s (2020) idea of an aesthetics of bewilderment.