Ana María Gómez López pushes the boundaries of artistic inquiry through self-experimentation, challenging concepts such as the human-nature divide. Ocular germination allows Ana María to transform her body into an ecosystem, merging the human and botanical realms. Self-experimentation, often sidelined in contemporary research, becomes a conduit for profound insights into our existence. By dissolving traditional boundaries between body and nature, she defies anthropocentrism and stimulates alternative anatomical configurations. Ana María’s journey to self-discovery echoes through her experiments, inviting us to reconsider what it truly means to be human, sparking thought and inspiration across disciplines.
Which wall does your research break?
Breaking the wall of self-experimentation. Self-experimentation is single-subject research where a person carries out processes within and through their body to gather information on a specific phenomenon, assess a prototype, or otherwise test a hypothesis, remedy, or procedure. Although a common practice until the first half of the 20th century, self-experimentation is currently not a widely endorsed form of research in many clinical and/or scientific settings despite its role in developing key life-saving treatments. In my artistic practice, self-experimentation is validated as a form of knowledge production and a consummate vantage point for embodied research, one that dovetails with technological innovation while also fostering new considerations of what it means to be human.
What inspired or motivated you to work on your current research or project?
At its core, ocular germination is an experiment with (and of) one’s self to transform the eye into a site of corporeal integration with a botanical element. By placing a seed within the organ of vision, my aim was to dissolve normative conventions of physical boundaries of the body and externalized ideas of nature, creating the conditions from which to foster a sense of integrative subjectivity.
In what ways does society benefit from your research?
The primary impact of ocular germination and additional self-experiments that foster more-than-human awareness is to help decenter anthropocentric frames of reference. By turning the human body into a material substrate for the development of a vegetal organism, self-experimentation becomes a means to foster alternative anatomical configurations, reorient of physiological priorities, and transform preconceptions of viable operations for our bodies. All of this can help us reimagine what it means to be human in the first place—a significant question that extends to multiple forms of applied contemporary research regarding technological implants, robotics computing, and molecular biology, just to name a few.
Looking ahead, what are your hopes or aspirations for the future based on your research or project?
My aspiration is to continue carrying out similar long-form self-experiments with my body to facilitate generative ecological connections with non-human agents. Additional examples include the merging of my intestinal microbiome into rainforest leaf litter and the formation of a buccal pearl culture. These corporeal interventions decenter human physiological precedence to support the existence of external life forms—a premise for connecting via self-experimentation to further efforts by artists, scientists, and other practitioners alike that create distinct bodily exchanges with non-human biological organisms.