Life on Earth has been evolving for at least 3.5 billion years. That happens at various scales: that of the molecule, the cell, the organ, the individual and the ecosystem. Through random events and selection under constraints, life engenders a diversity of living beings that interact with but also transform their respective environments. In recent history, this ‘natural’ exploration of possibilities has been expanded by a range of human techniques and manipulations. Humans have invented novel ways of interacting with living systems and are nowadays capable of intervening directly in evolutionary processes. The evolution of life and the link between human action and the state of the terrestrial biosphere are therefore related questions that can only be tackled in conjunction. Beyond the physical limits imposed on the evolution of living systems, what are the limits that humans can or must set in their interactions with their environment? What influence do norms and values (moral, legal, religious, economic, aesthetic) have on these interactions in fields such as agriculture, animal husbandry or medicine? In the light of the emergence of ever more sophisticated biotechnologies these questions are pressing. There is an urgent need to reflect on the ways in which we, humans, can live with other living beings.
That is why we founded the ‘Life in the Making’ collective — a group that includes natural scientists, scholars in the (environmental) humanities and social sciences as well as artists and artistic researchers. We have very different backgrounds but what unites us is a shared fascination for the newly emerging connections between living and technical systems. The members of the collective seek to develop conceptually creative yet scientifically sound approaches to better apprehend the opportunities and the uncertainties that arise from the unprecedented ways in which humans are entangled with the wider living environment. Our starting point is that this conceptual elaboration cannot be done without exploring the affects, imaginations and representations that play a role in the construction of these entanglements. Our collective plans to organise colloquia, round-table discussions, film-debates, exhibitions and performances. We also plan to publish essays, books and a richly illustrated La vie à l’oeuvre catalogue. We explicitly aim to share our knowledge and approaches with a broad audience, beyond purely academic circles.