Natalie Bookchin

Street Action on the Superhighway

Date 4/16/01

Affiliation Artist, CalArts, Valencia


Bookchin's work addresses computer games, corporate sponsors, virtual pets and the Internet. She will present The Intruder, a hybrid art project that merges computer games and literature in a game translation of a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. She will discuss a work currently in development, a two-part project that addresses the politically volatile subjects of genetics and biotechnology. This work in not a quiet artistic contemplation of ethical issues in genetic research while for-profit scientists and their corporate backers get on with their business.

BioTaylorism utilizes the language of corporate promotional material to deliver a deadpan and detailed narrative heralding the applications of Frederick Taylor's principles of modern industrial organization to bioengineering. The second part of the project is an on-line virtual pet game in which the pet is a human worker and the player is a manager. The game takes place in a virtual workplace, where you must earn points to feed, replenish and manipulate your pet. As in anyvirtual pet environment, you will need to visit and supervise your pet. Overwork can cause production levels to drop and will require rejuvenation or modification, costing you valuable points. Poor management can lead to a decline in performance and an abuse of rejuvenators which can lead to inefficiency, job demotion, job or insurance loss, hunger, and an untimely death. If you don't have enough points - for example in the case of a pet that has not been given a job or health insurance as a result of the genetic screening test - or if you simply want to earn more points, you can leave the workplace and temporarily enter another game environment. There, you can play a "knowledge game" or can venture into the thrills and challenges of real life actions and participate in a variety of on or off line games, thus earning mega-points for your pet.


Natalie Bookchin is an artist who lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the faculty at California Institute of the Arts. In 1999-2000 she organized <>, an eight month series of lectures and workshops at CalArts, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and Laboratorio Cinematek in Tijuana, Mèxico. She has been a part of the collective RTMark and has collaborated on projects with artists including Alexei Shulgin, Heath Bunting, Jin Lee and Lev Manovich. She exhibits her work and lectures regularly in Europe and the US. Her projects have been featured in national and international journals including the New York Times, ArtForum, Interactive Weekly, El Pais, the BBC on line as well as a handful of books on digital art and culture. In 1999-2000 she received grants for project development from Creative Capital, Creative Time, Walker Art Center/Jerome Foundation, MECAD/the Media Center of Art and Design in Barcelona, the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Daniel Langlois Foundation.

-- As of 4/16/01