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Cindy Lin

visceral zones: snails-and-i

I study epiphragms. Epiphragms are dried mucus or calcium-carbonate structures covering the apertures or openings of snails. They protect snails from dryness and sometimes, digestion from their bird predators. I study these structures to examine and question the dependencies humans have with other non-humans. More importantly, I study them to survive. I have observed and shadowed several snails; from the keong emas (Golden Snail) or Apple Snail along the struggling rice fields of Yogyakarta to the Helix pomatia that have been terribly misunderstood as a French delicacy. I have felt, sensed, watched and listened to these slimy companions in my installations. Similar to Anna Tsing (2015), I believe in a kind of collaborative survival, and a survival which pays attention to non-humans’ intricate adaptations and effect we have on one another.

In my recent work – human epiphragm prototype ver 1.0, I followed three species of snails across Paris. These snails taught me to probe futures where extremities become consistent. As chances of snail-and-I encounters became frequent, I decided to make sculptural versions of human epiphragms based on images collected from a do-it-yourself (DIY) webcam microscope. I design these 3D-printed human epipghrams to render visible the experiences of non-humans surviving with the harshest. To live amongst the cataclysmic destruction engendered by human capitalists, snails might know best.

“visceral zones” demonstrates that to create visceral scientific experiences is to first, acknowledge the potential futures DIYbiology hardware practice offers and second, to practise design with an anthropomorphic sensibility. I will continue this work with other snail companions in Detroit and Yogyakarta, two cities confronted by rapid and sometimes, unwarranted revitalization efforts and urbanization that makes science-making an even more alienating experience.

Media Used: Digital media/photograph

Cindy Lin is a researcher, bio-enthusiast and artist dedicated to the critical understanding and intervention of and around shared technological and scientific spaces in marginal sites of innovation. As a PhD student at the School of Information, University of Michigan, Cindy conducts multi-sited ethnographic work on the politics, organization, and material engagements of DIY maker and hacker culture in Indonesia and the American Midwest. She also develops physical prototypes and writings on how humans can respond to the Anthropocene by designing with hope and an anthropomorphic reflexivity.

She is co-editor of an independent semi-academic Southeast Asian Studies journal in 2013, “Subjectivities” and has also recently initiated “Sewon FoodLab”, a transnational collaboration with geeks from Indonesia to critically think, experiment and discuss about consumable matter.