organism: making art with living systems

The idea of making art with living systems is not new; you might even consider a garden or a goldfish pond to be biological art. What is new is the degree of control over biological systems and materials contemporary technology offers us. Topics on the organism weblog include technical, practical, aesthetic, and ethical issues related to making art with living systems. Artists, scientists, engineers, students, and anyone else with an interest in this area are invited to contribute.

August 26, 2007

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 1:01 am

Becoming Animal: Contemporary Art in the Animal Kingdom

In an age when scientists say they can no longer specify the exact difference between human and animal, living and dead, many contemporary artists have chosen to use animals in their work — as the ultimate “other,” as metaphor, as reflection. The attempt to discover what is animal, not surprisingly, leads to a greater understanding of what it means to be human. In Becoming Animal, 13 internationally known artists investigate the shifting boundaries between animal and human. Their explorations may be a barometer of things to come.

Artists include: Jane Alexander, Rachel Berwich, Brian Conley, Mark Dion, Sam Easterson, Kathy High, Natalie Jeremijenko and Phil Taylor, Nicholas Lampert, Michael Oatman, Motohiko Odani, Patricia Piccinini, Ann-Sofi Siden

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 1:00 am

The Living Screen

From: “Guy Ben-Ary”:

BioKino (Tanja Visosevic, Guy Ben-Ary, Bruce Murphy) presents the world premier of “The Living Screen” (see attached invitation)

The Living Screen is a primitive Bio-Kino toy, designed to travel the side show alleys of art.
Peer thru the bio-projector and experience the astounding 1/2 millimetre projection,
as it transforms with the living canvas. Take savage pleasure in how the screen made from blood Splatters the dead back to life. Delight in primeval horror, as the cellular dentata lurches towards you for a bite. OR look awry, as the Monstrous Other, gazes back into your eye. Starring Barbara Creed & Lloyd Kaufman

“The Living Screen” is a research and development project exploring what occurs when we cinematically engage with a living screen. It employs film theory to bring into question ones spectatorship and engagement with a Bio-Kino. The screens are cultured from different tissues (this time a cornea, blood & skin) and Nano-Movies are projected over these living canvases, via a Bio-Projector (The projection is 500 microns in size).

The screens will transform, react and change over time and eventually die. This is the confrontation that the spectator must face. Confrontation rules the cinema of attractions” (Tom Gunning) in both the form of its films and their mode of exhibition. The directness of this act of display allows an emphasis of the thrill itself the immediate reaction of the viewer. How will the spectator reacts when it gazes into the Monstrous Other.

Fairgrounds and vaudeville houses were where early cinema found its audiences. It was also a form of safe house for the Other. With Bio-Art proliferating throughout the world, the art galleries of today are no less a freak show, as is The Living Screen…

Opening night is the 20th July @ John Curtin Gallery, Perth, Western Australia.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:58 am

Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics

Gene(sis) is a major traveling exhibition that showcases powerful new artwork created in direct response to recent developments in human genomics.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:56 am

Ecce Homology

Vast amounts of genomic data are created as part of the genome sequencing efforts ongoing globally. This high-throughput data production enables a shift from hypothesis driven to discovery based science. With this shift comes the need to create ways of extracting information and creating knowledge from ever-increasing amounts of data in world-wide databases. In parallel to this trend is an increasing need to address ever more complex questions and problems that face us globally in the 21st Century.

Ecce Homology is an artwork that offers a unique and alternative approach to visualizing and interacting with large amounts of genomic data It also demonstrates the potential for novelty that collaboration between he arts and sciences can create and the possibility for the arts to nurture discovery in the sciences.

Ecce Homology presents genomic data through a novel visualization composed of calligraphic forms, or pictographs, representing the protein products encoded by genes. The pictographs are created by using genomic and protein data to drive a virtual calligraphic brush.

Genes from human beings and the rice plant that comprise the metabolic pathways for cellular respiration (the process by which carbohydrate is broken down into carbon dioxide in order to release the energy necessary for life) have been used to create the pictographs for the installation.The pictographs are therefore a metaphor for the cycling of energy and carbon and the underlying unity of life as reflected in biological processes.

Within the installation, human genes are presented on the vertical axis and genes from the rice plant are presented on the horizontal axis of a 40-foot wide by 12-foot tall projection. A full-body computer vision interface enables multiple visitors to interact with the installation and select human genes to undergo BLAST analysis.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:56 am

Wonderful: Visions of the Near Future

Wonderful: Visions of the Near Future is a major new project comprising a national touring exhibition, new commissions, live work, education CDROM, conference, publication and interpretative film. Wonderful emerges from the discussions and realisations of artists and scientists working collaboratively. The interrelated project strands explore the languages and assumptions of art and science and look at what happens when these research interests fuse. Rather than addressing science fiction dis/utopias, this project presents visions of the future as it may be in five, ten or thirty years. Wonderful investigates science within a broad cultural and philosophical framework, inviting visitors to consider their own attitudes to ethical issues emerging from current developments in technology and scientific research.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:54 am

NEURoTICA: bio** – CCCB – Barcelona, Spain Friday 24th November, 2006 at 7.00 pm

/[Contemporary man] is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by “powers” that are beyond his control. His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food and, above all, a large array of neuroses./ (Jung, 1964:82).

*Neurotica* is a research project that examines the anxieties of contemporary society, generated by the rapid advances made in science and technology, and looks at the way individuals and the community is coping with these innovations and their offshoots. The project has been designed and initiated by Capsula, an investigation group based in Barcelona, Spain, launched by Monica Bello Bugallo and Ulla Taipale that generates cultural products exploring the interrelations between arts, science and nature.

The first phase of Neurotica is exploring societys perception of biotechnology and the hopes and fears associated with it. The project will be launched by a conference presented at CCCB, Center of Contemporanean Culture of Barcelona on 24th November 2006. During the event Californian based artist and inventor Natalie Jeremijenko will
present her views on these issues, followed by the interventions and comments of Dr. Alfonso Valencia, a biologist and head of The Spanish National Center of Biotechnology and Dr. Fabio Tropea, sociologist and language

The conference is part of NOW – Meetings in the present continuous a project that reflects on the present on the basis of the scientific, technological, artistic, social and spiritual transformations taking place at the start of the 21st century. It aims to bring together local and international agents promoting a change of paradigm in current society.
for contact information:

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:52 am


The Experimental Art Foundation presents as part of the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts 2004 ART OF THE BIOTECH ERA.

Leading national and international artists and theorists exhibit works exploring biotechnology and genomics and discuss the influence of this techno-scientific change of society, the ethical implications of genetic engineering and the concept of aesthetics in biotech arts.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:51 am

Animate (in)Animate

The Exploratorium presents Animate (in)Animate: Engineering at the Threshold of Life, a symposium exploring how new technologies are blurring the boundaries between the natural and the artificial.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:48 am

Plant art exhibit: Garden Improvement

Glyndor Gallery and Grounds | June 11 – August 27, 2006 Bronx, New York

To many visitors Wave Hill is a utopian garden, a place to seek ideas and inspiration for their own homes. Garden Improvement offers an alternate view of the relationship between people and nature by looking at how a garden is made more inhabitable, personal, and domesticated. The exhibition will include idiosyncratic, humble, do-it-yourself ideas born from artists’ spirit of invention, rather than by design. Artists include Joan Bankemper, Karen Rich Beall, Jimbo Blachly & Lytle Shaw, Laure Drogoul, Charles Goldman, Paula Hayes, Marguerite Kahrl & Paul Ruff, Catarina Leitao, Cassandra Lozano, Philip Ross, Rachel Selekman, Austin Thomas and Andy Yoder.

I’m a big fan of Philip Ross‘s, fungus sculpture and self-contained survival capsules for plants, and he has two lovely pieces in this diverse and inspiring show.

Filed under: exhibitions — organism @ 12:47 am

Biology and Art: Two Worlds or One?

Apr 14, 2007 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
New York Academy of Sciences

This conference will explore the nature of the science-art interface, the inspiration this interface provides to scientists and artists alike, and the impact of these interactions on art, research, and other human endeavors. More specifically, the conference will focus on how biological objects – whether viruses, animals, plants, cells, or organelles – become an inspiration for certain artists’ work, and how scientists – ever so particular about accuracy and specificity – respond to such artistic representations.

The Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye, creator of the Cloaca Project, will give the keynote lecture. The rest of the day will be organized as a series of four conversations between artists and scientists. For each conversation, an artist will appear with a scientist who works with the biological objects that inspire that artist. Short talks and extensive discussions will provide a forum where ideas generated in these two very different spheres of creative endeavors – science and art – are expressed, elaborated and deliberated.

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