Week 6: Biotechnological Art/Jasmine Huynh


I really liked this week’s lectures because it was so interesting to learn about how biotechnology can be turned into art. Professor Vesna mentioned and showed many examples of “biotech projects” that were made into art. I particularly remember the DNA Expressions website that she showed us. I liked it because this art is created through a process that I normally complete in the research lab that I volunteer in. This process is called gel electrophoresis, and is normally used to see what type of genes an organism has. The different bands represent the different base pairs of the DNA, and they tell you how many of those base pairs are present.  I am very familiar with seeing the pictures of these bands in the lab, but I was very surprised to find out that people actually wanted to buy these bands as art! It was very rewarding, and surprising, to see that the two distinct cultures, which we so often mention, have found some common ground. This is a great example of how science can be art.

I found another artwork project called “Tissue Culture & Art Project.” This is the link for their website:

http://www.tca.uwa.edu.au/

This is a project headed by three main individuals: Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr and Guy Ben-Ary. These team is from Western Australia. I think the most interesting aspect of this team’s work is the fact that they all stem from a biology, not art or design, background. They are yet another example of how the two cultures, art and science, need not be thought of entirely distinct entities. All three of these individuals previously worked in the biological field and have found a way to fuse the two passions of their lives. They make their art using a combination of tissue culture and tissue engineering. Tissue culture is the process by which you grow living tissue in an artificially-created niche for the tissue, outside of its regular bodily habitat. Tissue engineering is the process by which tissues are modified to either enhance or change their functions.

One of their projects that I particularly enjoyed was the Artificial Womb project. More information about the project can be found here:

http://www.tca.uwa.edu.au/ars/main_frames.html

This project aimed to create an artificial womb that simulates a growing fetus inside an actual mother’s body. They also created a “time-based doll” which emerges based on a particular date. They also have another related project which is called the “spunky dolls.” (Found on the same page as the artificial womb) These dolls are made out of tissue (living tissue) and they have an online component as well. The public can click on links on the website to “share their worries with the dolls” or “view other people’s worries.” I like these dolls because it allows the public to interact with the artists’ work.

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