Cyborg Encounters: Three Art-Science Interactions

Art-Science Interaction, NanoEthics, with Ayşe Melis Okay, Charles John McKinnon Bell, Beyza Dilem Topdal, and Melike Şahinol, 2022.

DOI: 10.1007/s11569-022-00423-0

NanoEthics ︎︎︎

This contribution includes three selected works from an exhibition on Cyborg Encounters. These works deal with hybrid connections of human and non-human species that (might) emerge as a result of enhancement technologies and bio-technological developments. They ofer not only an artistic exploration of contemporary but also futuristic aspects of the subject. Followed by an introduction by Melike Şahinol, Critically Endangered Artwork (by Ayşe Melis Okay) highlights Turkey’s ongoing problems of food poverty and the amount of decreasing agricultural lands. It displays seeds of a promising endemic plant to mitigate these problems using the seeds of the Thermopsis Turcica, a herbaceous perennial endemic plant. Ecomasculinist Pregnancy (by Burak Taşdizen and Charles John McKinnon Bell) follows the design fiction methodology and illustrates a future scenario through a patient’s diary and the medical letters he receives during his pregnancy with an extinct sea-lion. Polluted Homes (by Beyza Dilem Topdal) is a fctional art installation consisting of polychaete species evolved in time under the ecological circumstances prevalent in the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara today. These works show, that manufacturing life has consequences, not only for the human body and its physical appearance, but also, for example, for gender orders, the social structure of society, and even the environment, and thus for (re)shaping (non)living matter and their environments. This Art-Science Collection intends to provide an impetus for debate about the extent to which cyborg encounters should be taken seriously.

Keywords: Cyborg Encounters, Plant Enhancement, Multispecies Ethnography, Ecomasculinist Pregnancy, Polluted Homes, Cyborg Macro-fauna Species

This work is the result of the group exhibition “Cyborg Encounters”, a collective endeavour organized as part of STS Turkey 2019 conference at the end of the seminar “Qualitative Approaches in STS: Cyborgs and Technobodies” led by Melike Şahinol at Özyeğin University Design, Technology, and Society graduate program.

Funding: Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Okay, A.M., Taşdizen, B., McKinnon Bell, C.J. et al. Cyborg Encounters: Three Art-Science Interactions. Nanoethics (2022).

Cyborg Encounters

Group Exhibition, STS Turkey 2019, with Ayşe Melis Okay, Beyza Dilem Topdal, Burak Kaynar, Öykü Sorgun, Pelin Günay, Umut Özöver, and Melike Şahinol, 2019.

STS Turkey 2019︎︎︎

Cyborg Encounters offers an experience of a universe; in between past, present and future constituted of hybrids born from the coupling of humans and nonhumans, beyond species and genders. It lives in the duality of integrated circuits and feelings of monachopsis, defying the order of things. As a placeless local, you will encounter sections from the cyborg universe. In this creation; cyborg is a political, poetic, living or inanimate, digital or mechanical intervention; with or without a body and flesh. In this exhibition, a narrative in which fiction and reality intertwine, cultivates the theories of the cyborg, feminist technoscience, human enhancements, laboratory studies and politics of disability/ability and artifacts.

Siborg Karşılaşmalar, zamanın dışında; ne geçmişte ve gelecekte ne de şimdide, cins ve cinsiyetin ötesinde, insan ve insan-olmayanın birlikteliğinden doğan melezlerden oluşan bir evren deneyimi sunar. Entegre devrelerin ve bir yere ait olmama hislerinin dualitelerinde, şeylerin düzenine kafa tutarak yaşarlar. Yurtsuz bir yerli olarak, siborg alemine ait kesitlerle karşılaşacaksın. Bu yaratımda siborg; etten ve kemikten vücut bulmuş veya bulmamış; politik, şiirsel, canlı veya cansız, dijital ve/veya mekanik bir müdahaledir. Bu sergide, kurgu ve gerçekliğin iç içe geçtiği bir hikaye; siborg teorisi, feminist tekno bilim, insan geliştirme, laboratuvar çalışmaları, engellilik/-ebilirlik ve nesne politikaları ile bezenmiştir.

Exhibition poster by Beyza Dilem Topdal.

Ecomasculinist Pregnancy

Artwork, with Charles John McKinnon Bell, 2019.

Today, I came across a leaflet of this project called Resurrecting Steller Sea-Lion Project. Apparently, this is an ecofeminist project, a collaboration between The National Institute for Explorative Medicine,1 The Center for Ocean Recovery2 and The Campaign for Sustainable Masculinities.3 What caught my interest is the gender aspect to it—I wonder how they combine masculinities with nature. It says on the leaflet that males as well as females could sign up to deliver this extinct marine mammal called the Steller sea-lion. I never thought giving birth would be considered sustainable. To the contrary, I’ve always imagined myself to be an anti-natalist. But maybe that changes when you give birth to an extinct animal… They say the animal will be released into the ocean and collaborate with scientists. That sounds a bit like animal labor to me. Is this really ethical? That’s apparently human-centric. I don’t know. I myself used to hunt fish for sustenance when it was legal so I’m in no position to judge, I guess. Really though, us humans have caused nothing but trouble on the planet. My partner and I have been sympathetic to adopting a child from Europe and are still considering it. Europe has become such an unfortunate place to be in, battling regular heat waves, droughts and climate migrants. Instead of producing more and more humans, probably one of the most detrimental species, why not adopt an already suffering one from a less privileged geography? Obviously that marine mammal rests in peace now, so why bring it back to this planet?

1.  The National Institute for Explorative Medicine is a fictional medical institution in Canada, experimenting in medicine, pushing technology’s limits to its very end.

2. The Center for Ocean Recovery is a fictional marine research center in the west coast of Canada, working on the recovery of the oceans and the biospecies, focusing on marine mammals such as the Steller Sea-Lion.

3. The Campaign for Sustainable Masculinities is a fictional ecofeminist initiative found by vegan+queer activists, academics and scientists, addressing first and foremost the oppression of genders, species and nature-cultures.

“Ecomasculinist Pregnancy”, with Charles John McKinnon Bell, as part of Cyborg Encounters [Siborg Karşılaşmalar]. STS Turkey 2019.