Issue

4.3 / Pluripotency

October 22 2012

Introduction

October 23, 2012. The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to the discovery that mature tissue cells don’t have to be confined to specialized states; they can be reprogrammed into an immature stage known as pluripotent stem cells, which in turn can be converted into any type of tissue cell in the body. It is a discovery that has opened up a vast field of research in treating diseases from cancer to diabetes. Imagine an Alzheimer's patient whose skin cells have been used to regenerate brain cells: Would the trace of physical contact also be transferred into these new neural pathways, so that tactile memory might be retained? Or would memory be completely erased, and healing becomes a process of beginning again? Conflictual themes of replication, regeneration, and diversification pervade this issue, from Irit Rogoff’s assertion, noted in Christina Linden’s essay, that the different strands of our identities are at odds with each other, to Stan Allen’s concept of the unifying potential of field conditions around diverse elements. Memory is poignantly grasped at, in (re)collection and recast as a perpetual, open-ended inquiry at the Wattis. But recurring throughout is consideration of the material form we ascribe to identities or concepts and the agency they possess as a result. Enjoy – PM.

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