The aquatic fern azolla is one of the world’s fastest growing plants and a rich source of nutrients, yet it is virtually unexplored as food. In Super Meal I experiment with azolla-food together with farmers, chefs and scientists and try to get some insight into how we produce our food today and could be producing it in the future
So far, explaining children how babies were made involved storks, cabbages, bees and other fantasies. Science, however, has added new modes of reproductions to the discourse. From in vitro fertilization in the 1970s to today’s research into artificial gametes from stem cells or somatic cells that would allow sperm and eggs to be created from anyone’s cells, regardless of age, gender or sexuality. New Scientist called it male eggs and female sperm at the time.
How will the stories about human reproductions evolve as our methods of reproduction become increasingly more diversified?
Ready-to-use Models, a work-in-progress project developed for Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal, attempts to question the current definitions used to indicate living creatures. Does one denominate a manipulated organism as an object, product, animal or pet? What consequences does this choice of definition entail for our perceptions, feelings and behaviours regarding living creatures?
If you want to see a penguin, you go to the zoo. If you’re curious about dinosaurs, any natural history museum will enlighten you. But what if you want to learn about spider silk-producing goats, anti-malarial mosquitoes, fluorescent zebrafish or the terminator gene? Right now, we can only rely on good old internet. But in June, the Center for PostNatural History will finally open its doors to anyone interested in genetically engineered life forms. This public outreach organization is dedicated to collecting, documenting and exhibiting life forms that have been intentionally altered by people through processes such as selective breeding or genetic engineering
For ‘Cook Me – Black Bile’, designer Tuur Van Balen used leeches and his own blood too cook a recipe for controlling the feeling of melancholy. Synthetic biology and the new interactions it can trigger within our body are proposed as a new form of cooking, guided by one’s personal metabolism
Biomedia artist Paul Vanouse’s latest work, the Suspect Inversion Center, comments on the way genetic evidence is brandished as the ultimate evidence in courtrooms. He set up an operational laboratory at the Ernst Schering Foundation in Berlin where he creates identical “genetic fingerprints” of criminals and celebrities using his own DNA
Over the last two years Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope of the London art collective Somewhere have been working on a research and documentary project focusing on pedigree cat breeding. They followed pedigree cat owners at cat shows, worked with breeders, and interviewed Dr Leslie Lyons, an internationally-respected authority on feline genetics who ratified the world’s first cloned kitten and the first GFP (“glow-in-the-dark”) transgenic kitten
The last edition of STRP attracted almost 30,000 visitors. They came for the concerts and parties of course, but also for the performances, exhibitions, conferences, workshops and associated events that were taking place in the city of Eindhoven. The exhibition was particularly exciting with its mix of no tech and high tech
The exhibition looks at the sub-aspect of fauna and flora in nature. Through the works of some twenty international artists we explore how humankind manipulates nature and how the concept of ‘nature’ constantly changes as a result of this
Designer Maurizio Montalti is teaming up with the Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation in The Netherlands to work on an alternative to fossil fuels. He aims to build a transparent bioreactor in which one fungus breaks down plastic and the other fungus makes bio-ethanol out of it
Another winning project from the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award, 2.6g 329m/s is a project aimed at building a bullet proof skin by providing transgenic human skin with cast-iron spiders’ web. The work expressly asks the question if this technological innovation is socially desirable.
The winning projects of the first Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award were revealed last month: a bullet proof skin, an ecological bioreactor and an opera performed by mutated worms. I’m going to dedicate several posts on the winning projects as well as on the award itself in the coming day. And i’m opening the series with the Microscopic Opera! Matthijs Munnik is going to collaborate with Netherlands Consortium for Systems Biology on an audiovisual installation in which tiny, transparent mutated lab worms are producing sounds and images
4 design proposals were shown at the biennale: Foragers is a reflection on the future of food in an overpopulated planet; Stop and Scan and EM Listeners responds to the UK’s unique tolerance for extreme state intrusion which allows the police to use a lack of privacy laws to create a living laboratory; finally, Afterlife is a domestic product for a time when euthanasia is far more common than it is today
What new needs will arise as the climate of the Earth changes? This project examines a household of the future and ways these needs might be met through symbiotic relationships with modified insects
Cooking Science is the catalogue of a show of the same name which invited the public to look at cooking, gastronomy and nutrition through the scientist’s eyes and see them as a truly cultural activity which brings a wealth of knowledge into play
Techniques to insert genes into plants are within reach of the amateur, and the criminal. Policing Genes speculates that genetic engineering will also find a use outside the law, with innocent-looking garden plants modified to produce narcotics and unlicensed pharmaceuticals. The genetics of the plants in your garden or allotment could become a police matter…
In his presentation for the STRP conference, Matthew Fuller gave a brief but fascinating overview of artworks that make a direct address to the perceptual world of non-human animal species. As you will see quite a few amazing works have been done in this field
In the previous episode, Austin Houldsworth had installed a ‘Fossilisation Machine’ in the Tatton Park estates in England. He was hoping that his rudimentary machine could fast-forward the fossilisation process and petrify a pineapple and pheasant over the Summer only. Two weeks ago, the artist opened the prototype fossilisation machine and checked out the outcome of the experiment
Last Saturday i finally dragged myself out of the armchair and visited the ‘Park of Living Art’ in Turin. Although the ‘interactive’ displays i saw in some of the rooms were appalling, I’ll be forever grateful to the place for bringing to Turin exciting artists: Michel Blazy, Andrea Caretto and Raffaella Spagna and now Brandon Ballengee
Large amounts of sugar are excreted on a daily basis by type-two diabetic patients especially amongst the upper end of our aging population. Is it plausible to suggest that we start utilizing our water purification systems in order to harvest the biological resources that our elderly already process in abundance? In James Gilpin’s scenario, sugar heavy urine excreted by patients with diabetes would be used for the fermentation of high-end single malt whisky for export
The latest project from New Zealand-based artists SWAMP is the Tardigotchi, a toy which houses two pets: a living organism called tardigrade and an alife avatar with a partially autonomous behaviour
Herbologies/Foraging Networks is a series of workshops, seminars and expeditions that explores the connection between traditional knowledge of herbs, edible and medicinal plants and media networked culture. The result of the Helsinki chapter of H/FN is a surprising fusion of hydroponic technologies, vodka-making workshop, fermentation sermon, DNA isolation experiments and lecture on subjects as diverse as biopiracy and honey beekeeping in Brussels
Is science the new art? Starting from this provocative question, art historian Ingeborg Reichle examines in her book responses of contemporary artists when faced with recent scientific and technological advances
Austin Houldsworthhas installed a 3 tonnes and 4m-tall ‘Fossilisation Machine’ in Tatton Park, a historic estate in Cheshire, England. With Two Million & 1AD, the artist is trying to create a fossil using rudimentary, human-designed machines that would substitute and speed-up the natural processes. Houldsworth’s project starts with the attempt to petrify both a Tatton-grown pineapple and pheasant, and conclude when it is a human that ends up fossilised
The Phantom Recorder system projects a cold and damp sensation onto the skin surface, triggering the brain to hallucinate a phantom. As the phantom movement stimulates the peripheral nerves, its activity is captured by the neural implant and external wireless machinery
Two new projects by Tuur Van Balen. The first one involves manipulating the metabolism of pigeons and turning them from urban nuisance to winged dispensers of a soap-like substance. The second one harnesses Synthetic Biology’s potential to turn us into our own doctors and pharmacists
Vegetation and microorganisms live symbiotically inside the body of this robot. The robot draws water from a contaminated river, decomposes its elements, helps to create energy to feed its brain circuits and the surplus is then used to create life, enabling plants to fulfill their own life cycle
The “Tropospheric Laboratory” allows insights into cloud cores and other matter of the apogee. The installation narrates the synthesis of clouds and shows varying conditions and combinations of art and science in the absence of weight. The “laboratory” is the gravimetric document of “Cloud Core Scanner” – an experiment and artistic project by Agnes Meyer-Brandis, carried out on board a German Aerospace Center research plane
R&Sie(n)’s investigative approach to architecture focuses on developing technological experiments–cartographic distortions and territorial mutations–in order to explore the bond between building, context, and human relations. Each building is a process, a dynamic device with the tenacity of a parasite that uses every means offered by architecture to perform an ecologically useful function.
Among Daisy Ginsberg’s latest activities are a residency at SymbioticA, a collaboration with James King and Cambridge University’s iGEM 2009 grand-prizewinning team and then there’s Synthetic Aesthetics. The project investigates shared territory between design and synthetic biology, invites exchange of existing skills and approaches, and enables the development of new forms of craft and collaboration
This project for a “genetically engineered sound garden” seeks to find new ways of imagining the nature of tomorrow where engineered species of plants, insects and animals interact within a composed ecosystem and create new forms of musical performance
The ‘Herbologies/Foraging Networks’ programme of events, focused in Helsinki (Finland) and Kurzeme region of Latvia, explores the cultural traditions and knowledge of herbs, edible and medicinal plants, within the contemporary context of online networks, open information-sharing, biological and hydroponic technologies
The VivoArts School for Transgenic Aesthetics Ltd., Adam Zaretsky and Waag Society’s temporary research and education institute on Art and Life Sciences, will be focusing this month on body art
What does it mean to work with living, semi-living or formely living beings? What’s the meaning of tissue culture for artistic purposes versus health application? Or the development of a new weapon? What are the dilemmas that come with tissue culture technology?
Notes i wrote down during a talk that Oron Catts gave to kick off the TIssue Culture workshop. His presentation, which put our wet lab into a historical narrative, was titled ‘An alternative timeline for regenerative medicine – A biased history’
I discovered this one during a talk that Oron Catts from Symbiotica was giving at the VivoArts School for Transgenic Aesthetics Ltd in Amsterdam. His lecture was entitled “An alternative timeline for regenerative medicine – A biased history”
Waag Society and Adam Zaretsky’s series of workshops and lectures are back in Amsterdam and this time the focus will be biology and bacterial transformation
Let’s get this straight first: the Earth is hollow and other societies live in there. Andy brought us to the cave in order to be closer to them
The second edition of Biorama was a workshop and symposium (set inside a cave) that explored the biology of the underground through the notion of umwelt developed by biologist Jakob von Uexküll and its influence on the development of biosemiotics by Thomas Sebeok.
The artists brought together for this show reveal an imagery that has been inspired by the current mutations in our environment. They deal with diverse matters such as Chernobyl, global warming and the rise in oil rates. At times close to science-fiction, these artists imagine new stories which pay witness to the curiosity and fears derived from this changing reality