Evolutionary Biology, Gender and Technology

Featuring Professor Dr Hanna Kokko (Evolutionary Biologist, University of Zurich) and Dr. Patricia J Reis (Media Artist)

Together this scientist and artist present and create a very lively discussion  about the relational aspect of these topics

Hosted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ZURICH

Hohlstrasse 110, 8010 Zürich

044 297 21 21

Afterwards there will be Lebanese snacks and Drinks hosted by LASERZURICH

Contact for questions
Jill Scott 079 524 92 11

The Leonardo Art, Science, Evening Rendezvous (LASER), a series of artists and scientists’ discourses.

Why did sexual reproduction and different sexes evolve? What diversity of sexual reproduction do we see in nature and how is evolution being affected by the technical world humans have created? How stable are boundaries between the sexes in animals, and why are we any different? Does gender matter? This special LASER talks features presentations by Professor Dr Hanna Kokko (Evolutionary Biologist, University of Zurich) and Dr. Patricia J Reis (Senior Lecturer Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Austria). After the talks there will be an interesting discussion lead by Dr. Jasmin Winkler (Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich) and Prof Dr. Jill Scott ( Professor Emerata Cultural Studies, ZHdK)

Professor Dr Hanna Kokko

Most of us have heard one or another version of an argument that deviations from traditional gender roles are ‘unnatural’. Producers of such arguments have probably not spent very much time observing the astonishing diversity of ways that reproduction can be arranged in nature. There are sex changers, hermaphrodites, sperm cells that hijack eggs and kick out all the genetic material from the female (so that the offspring develops as a clone of the father), asexuals, hybrids, sexual cannibalism, offspring killing their mother for food, dwarf males permanently attached to the female… you name it. Sexual relations in nature are not always ‘nice’ – there can be vigorous disagreements of whether a mating should happen or not – but they are always fascinating.

Hanna Kokko is a Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Zurich. She is an elected fellow of two national academies worldwide: the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences (F.A.A). She is the recipient of the 2010 Per Brinck Oikos award, a prize awarded annually for a world-leading ecologist. This was in recognition of her efforts to make ecologists understand the importance of evolution and evolutionary biologists to consider the population dynamic feedback inherent in evolutionary processes, as well as her longstanding interest in making mathematical and theoretical work more palatable to empirically oriented biologists. She is the author of a textbook ‘Modelling for field biologists and other interesting people’, an example of her ‘friendly’ approach to this field. Hanna works on sexual selection, intraspecific conflict and related topics, including conservation consequences of such conflict. She has a particular interest in understanding why evolution does not always lead to outcomes that are ‘good’ for populations, including our own — which may explain why it is so hard to live sustainably on this planet.

Dr. Patricia J Reis

Patrícia J. Reis will be discussing the topic of technology and interactivity as an artistic strategy to create and amplify haptic, sensual and erotic experiences. In that framework she will present her project Untherneath the skin another skin (2016), an interactive installation composed by a series of objects represented at a human scale. The objects encloses audio-visual-tactile feedback and are offered to the viewer as an organic genderless body. The artist invites the audience to physical embrace it, at the same time having to perform unusual body positions that might suggest a certain eroticism. The sensuous and erotic connotation is emphasized by the embedded vibration motors, that in turn, confer them an alive dynamic facet. The presentation based on her work will speculate on future machines that might offer an evolutionary replacement for human skin contact and new possibilities for human-object satisfaction.

Patrícia J. Reis (b. 1981, Lisbon, PT) is an installation artist based in Vienna (AUT) whose practice encompasses different formats and media to examine our relationship with modern technology. Through an ongoing investigation that destabilize the boundaries between science, technology, magic and spiritual believes, she explores questions “How do we believe in machines?” and “How technology is shaping us bodily?”. In her complex installations she often appeals to the visitor’s sensoriality in an intimate and sensual way, encourage them to become active participants. Seeking to subvert visuality as a primarily mode of experience, she plays with technology as a mean to expand and stimulate corporeal perceptions in the viewer. Reis studied Painting (ESAD, Superior School of Art and Desing, Caldas da Rainha PT, 2004), Media Art (Master program at the Lusófona University, Lisbon, PT, 2011), and she holds a Ph.D. in Art (University of Évora, PT, 2016). Currently she holds a position as a Senior Artist and Lecturer at the Digital Art Department of the Universität für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Austria, and she also lectures at the Kunstuniversität Linz, Austria.