Jenna Sutela (1983, Turku, Finland) works with biological and computational systems, including the human microbiome and artificial neural networks to create sculptures, videos and music. Drawing on cutting-edge scientific research and its philosophical implications, Sutela’s work is often processual in nature. In her projects, wetware – a term used to consider organic matter through the lens of computing – hardware and software, are used to explore the world beyond human perception. HMO Nutrix, 2022 is a fountain of synthetic human milk, powered by breast pumps and further animated with biomimetic throat singing. The artist describes the sculpture as a “live milk feed”. The work meditates on feedback mechanisms between human and non-human life forms bonding through body fluids. The fluid in the sculpture includes Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs), potent sugars found in breastmilk that feed babies’ gut bacteria and seem to shape the development of their nervous systems. In the near future, the mind-altering effects of HMOs may be used for bacterial therapies, and when human milk can be grown in a lab, anyone can access the breast-gut-brain axis.
In considering breastfeeding and how our symbiotic microbial culture expands the limits of consciousness, Sutela depicts human bodies as interconnected, interdependent environments through which other organisms and nutrients can move. The artist, therefore, suggests a universal commonality among and between species.
Co-produced with Schering Stiftung Berlin.
Curated by Sarah Johanna Theurer.
HMO Nutrix, 2022 inaugurates the symposium for the exhibition “Fujiko Nakaya. Nebel Leben”. It is further embedded in the event Technobodies – a long weekend of public programs conceived in collaboration with Lenbachhaus and Museum Brandhorst. Technobodies focuses on the impact of new technologies on the visual and sonic arts. Starting from discourses rooted in the 1960s to 1970s, it explores the relationship of human bodies to technologies today.
During the symposium, Jenna Sutela will present a video expanding upon the research that led her to create HMO Nutrix. The image material features poetic depictions of a simulation of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem, which was captured at the University of Copenhagen. The video is a collaboration between Sutela and Diakron/Primer (Copenhagen).