It’s Alive (and far away)

I was recently wondering where all the bioart projects had gone. The question is addressed to art curators in Europe. There hasn’t been any major exhibition of bioart (that i know of) since 2003, year of L’art Biotech in Nantes. Meanwhile at the Montserrat College of Art in MA, they are running an exhibition called It’s Alive: A Laboratory of Biotech Art.


Some of our old favourite have been enlisted: Jennifer Willet and Shawn Bailey are presenting prototypes of teratoma, cancerous cysts which contains teeth, hair, skin and even cardio vascular systems and which are being studied as examples of spontaneous cloning; Adam Brandejs’ eerie, vacuum-packed Genpets and a re-visited version of Jennifer Hall and Blyth Hazen‘s work Acupuncture for Temporal Fruit.

Acupuncture for Temporal Fruit is comprised of computer-assisted units suspended from the gallery ceiling. Each unit contains a tomato (or tomatoes), electric motors, acupuncture needles, and sonar devices that detect the presence of visitors. When someone triggers the sonar, the electric motors activate the needles which pierce the flesh of the fruit. The closer you move to a tomato, the more aggressively the needles lance it. Over time the fruits change shape, and sport beards of mold.


“The content of this artwork primarily involves issues surrounding the intersections of modern medicine, technology, and ethics. Here, an instrument of healing (acupuncture) is rendered as something sinister, and this calls to mind many of the ironies of contemporary health care. These machines have the look of rational science about them, but also bear a great deal of emotional content surrounding torture, pain, death, and sex. The tomatoes seem like passive objects of research, but they are also metaphors for the body, and seem to bleed as they disintegrate.”

Reviews of the show in Beverly Citizen and Technology Review.