Thinking within Ecosystems: Collective Cell Consciousness

Cesar & Lois is thinking in conceptual terms about what a human being means, at a time when the relationship between humanity and nonhuman nature has become so disruptive. In a pragmatic rethinking of an anthropocentric ontology, by exploring what they are calling “collective cell consciousness,” Cesar & Lois seeks to understand the communication systems across human and nonhuman entities. Network consciousness is based on the idea of the emergence of a complex system that integrates inter-actors. The collective envisions an integrated cellular and technological network that would accommodate cross-network communications, with multilateral decision-making and distributed control. Such a network would connect human and non-human nodes as well as biological and non-biological beings in hybrid ecosystemic linkages.                   

The nonhuman manifests not only in the form of the microbiome that inhabits the human body but also via the technological interfaces that extend from and ultimately interfere with those bodies through complex and progressive social development. Through this residency, Cesar & Lois hopes to spur a discussion about the microbiological component of consciousness and how this can impact and inform the way that we think and the ways in which logic is encoded within our technologies. To achieve this, Cesar & Lois will examine the communication of these microorganisms within and across microbiomes, in human bodies and the broader ecosystem. The artists will consider how to read and write information across these networks and, also, how to establish connections between those and artificial intelligence-based systems.

Cesar & Lois Bio

Cesar & Lois posits systems that integrate microbiological, technological and human networks, such as fungi that tweet and AI based on microbio-logic. The duo studies organic growth models with the objective of learning from overlapping patterns of human-based knowledge and microbiological growth algorithms. Cesar & Lois includes California-based artist Lucy HG Solomon, a professor of media design at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), and Brazilian artist and theorist, Cesar Baio, a professor of art, technology and multimedia at Campinas State University (UNICAMP). Their work challenges current ecological trajectories while criticizing the societal structures that have given rise to the nationalist politics of both Brazil and the United States. Cesar & Lois exhibit in traditional and nontraditional contexts, including Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Recognized for bringing together microbiological and artificial intelligences, Cesar & Lois received Lumen Prize’s BCS Artificial Intelligence Award in 2018 and are finalists for the Global Digital Art Prize in Singapore in 2019.