70% of chicken, the UK’s favourite meat, is currently produced in an unethical and unsustainable manner. The welfare provided in intensive farming systems is insufficient and always will be. At the Centre for Unconscious Farming, welfare is eliminated. Chickens have their brain stem separated from their neocortex and are unconscious throughout the growing period. Their homeostatic functions continue but they are oblivious.

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Japanese love hotels go out of their way to satisfy the most outlandish fetish: some rooms offer the feeling of being inside a subway carriage, a class room, or a Hello Kitty SM room, others locks you into an alien abduction nightmare (/dream).

Ai Hasegawa, second year student in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in London, proposes to close loving couples into an even more extraordinary fantasy.
Her Extreme Environment Love Hotel simulates impossible places to go such as an earth of three hundred million years ago, or the surface of Jupiter by manipulating invisible but ever-present environmental factors, for example atmospheric conditions and gravity

“People who are comfortable with eating meat, should be equally comfortable with killing animals.”

Because he is interested in the ethics and dilemmas of eating meat, John O’Shea is looking into schemes to achieve a more compassionate meat consumption. Since 2008, the artist has been working on Meat Licence Proposal. Under this law proposal, citizens willing to buy or consume a certain type of meat would need to obtain a licence to do so first. The only way to acquire the licence is to slaughter the animal yourself

With HORTUS, the architects from ecoLogicStudio are inviting the public to become cyber-gardeners and “invent new protocols of urban biogardening.”

There’s a bright green carpet on the floor and hundreds of intravenous-style bags are suspended above our heads. The bags are in fact photo-bioreactors and they form a ‘greenhouse’ that hosts nine different species of algae, from chlorella to algae found in London’s canals. Visitors can blow into flexible plastic tubes, fostering the growth of the algae with their carbon dioxide and activating the oxygen production

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Jurema Action Plant is a machine which interfaces a sensitive plant (Mimosa Pudica). Its aim is to empower plants by enabling them to use similar technologies as humans use. It is also explores new ways of communication and co-relation between humans, living organism and a machine. Plants don’t have nerves, wires or cables but much like humans, animals and machines, they have an electrical signal traveling inside their cells

Ever wondered how to turn a simple webcam into a microscope, safely cultivate GFP bacteria, hack DVD burners to make your own nano and bio experiments, or how to use other cheap, easy to come by material in order to build an hydrometer (instrument to measure the relative density of a liquid), an incubator or even a bat detector? Then you should check out the DIY pages on Hackteria’s wiki or enroll in one of their workshops

To understand how mysterious jumping fish can survive in a puddle with trucks driving through it, Mateusz Herczka recreated a South American puddle in an unheated Belgian space. The huge cube of glass and metal contains a reconstruction of a puddle found in the middle of a road in Guyana, with a truck wheel rolling through it. His work is documented in an exhibition which recently opened in Antwerp

To enter garden installation EXOTE, part of Kris Verdonck – EXHIBITION #1, visitors have to wear protecting clothes. They can then walks on the bark soil between plants and parrots, just like a nature explorer. The terrestrial plants, crustraceans, insects, fish, amphibians, birds and other organisms they encounter are all “Invasive Alien Species”, they thrive outside their natural distribution area and threaten biological diversity

A few weeks ago, i was in The Netherlands to see the result of the first competition. You might remember that i had interviewed the 3 winning artists/designers just as they were about to start developing their projects (The Miscroscopic Opera, 2.6g 329m/s, aka the ‘bulletproof skin’ and System Synthetics) so i was curious to see whether the final pieces lived up to their (and my!) expectations

In a bold self-experiment aimed at blurring the boundaries between species, Marion Laval-Jeantet was injected with horse blood plasma. Over the course of several months, the artist prepared her body by gradually introducing into her bloodstream horse immunoglobulins, the glycoproteins that circulate in the blood serum, and which, for example, can function as antibodies in immune response. The artist called the process “mithridatization”, after Mithridates VI of Pontus who cultivated an immunity to poisons by regularly ingesting sub-lethal doses of the same

Shaped like flying saucers, the Nanodrizas are floating autonomous robots which measure, in real time, the environmental conditions of polluted water surfaces. The data collected is then transmitted for interpretation and analysis. Once the level and nature of pollution has been identified, the nanodrizas directly intervene by emitting synthesized sound and releasing bacterial and enzymatic remedies in the eco-system that, ultimately, should regulate the quality of the water

The project is based on two opposing inspirations; research trips to learn about intentional communities like the Amish, who carefully select technologies for their community, and an extrapolation of current scientific research which embraces technological alteration of nature. The outcome of the project is a fantastical caravan, a nomadic module of illusionary freedom, which explores our belief in technological progress

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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