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.

September 3, 2008

Joyful Trees

Filed under: artists & works — regine @ 9:26 am

Arbores Laetae – or Joyful Trees – has transformed a former brownfield site as part of the Liverpool Biennial arts festival which officially opens on 20 September.


Designed by New York architects Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, festival bosses say the work gives people a chance to “view nature at its most unnatural”.

The slowly rotating trees, intended to be a playful reinvention of the public park, were largely welcomed by members of the public in their unveiling on Wednesday.

The three rotating trees can found at the heart of 17 hornbeam trees planted in a grid pattern at the corner of Great George Street and Parliament Street, but are not immediately obvious to passing pedestrians or traffic. In place of the familiar movement of shade according to the rotation of the earth around the sun, here shade migrates at an artificial speed, transforming the familiar patterns of the natural world into artificial creations.

Some people find their unfamiliar shading patterns tranquil and others, unsettling, which was the aim, according to designer, Rick Scofidio.

Mr Scofidio told BBC News: “I found that it’s both beautiful, wonderful and a little bit frightening.

“Trees in poems are beautiful objects, but they are also things that tap on your window at night and in many fairy stories are quite evil and dangerous.


Via balkon & garten,

Artist to feed convict to goldfish

Filed under: artists & works,news & oddities — regine @ 1:22 am

Evaristti’s execution bed which goes on view this month in Copenhagen

Evaristti’s execution bed which goes on view this month in Copenhagen

Gene Hathorn, a convict on death row in Texas, has agreed to give his body to the Danish-based artist Marco Evaristti, should his final appeal against execution fail. Evaristti plans to turn Hathorn’s body into a work of art. “My aim is to first deep freeze Gene’s body and then make fish food out of it. Visitors to my exhibition will be able to feed goldfish with it,” Evaristti told The Art Newspaper.

In the last year Evaristti has visited Hathorn several times at his prison in Livingston, Texas. “I wanted to raise awareness of the fact that there are people killed legally in our Western civilisation,” said the artist. “A lawyer put me in contact with Hathorn and after a few meetings I suggested that I use his body and he [said he] wished that I would.” He does not think that his plan is cynical or unethical. “The real problem is legally killing people,” he said.

Evaristti says that US lawyers doubt whether Hathorn’s testament, which makes the artist the heir to his body, is valid. “But we are confident [that we can] solve this issue before Hathorn is executed,” Evaristti said. Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department for Criminal Justice (TDCJ), told The Art Newspaper that a death row prisoner “can select a person to handle the disposition of their remains”. She added that the TDCJ had no interest in who that person may be.

Evaristti is helping to finance Hathorn’s appeal by selling drawings made by the convict in prison. “I don’t think his appeal will work, so if he is executed, we will ship the body to Germany, deep freeze it there and turn it into fish food,” Evaristti told The Art Newspaper.

He said he was already in contact with a company that would be willing to assist him, but declined to identify it. The proposed exhibition will consist of a huge aquarium filled with hundreds of goldfish. Visitors would be able to feed the fish using food made from Hathorn’s body. A venue for the exhibition has yet to be decided.

The exhibition is part of Evaristti’s wider project against capital punishment. In August he presented a clothing collection called “The Last Fashion” to coincide with the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair. Fifteen models wore dresses designed by Evaristti. He says they are for death-row prisoners to wear on their execution day. They will be offered as mail-order items to prisoners on death row in the United States.

“The fashion show will be forgotten in a short time. People went there, looked at it and were amused. But I want [there to be] a lasting impact and therefore I’m using Hathorn’s body,” Evaristti said. He has also designed an execution bed to be shown at the Art Copenhagen art fair this month (19-21 September).

Evaristti came to international attention in 2000 when he placed goldfish in electric blenders filled with water. Visitors to the exhibition at Denmark’s Trapholt Art Museum could choose to press a button, turn on the blenders and kill the fish. In January 2007 he held a dinner party where the main course consisted of meatballs partly made with fat removed by liposuction from his own body. In June last year he was arrested while trying to paint the peak of Mont Blanc red as a protest against “environmental degradation”.

In April we reported plans by German artist Gregor Schneider to show a person dying as part of an exhibition. “My aim is to show the beauty of death,” Schneider told us. He said he would like to stage the exhibition at the Haus Lange Museum in Krefeld, Germany. The museum declined to comment.

September 1, 2008

Tickle the Shitstem

Filed under: artists & works,exhibitions — regine @ 12:43 am

Phoebe Washburn has a new installation on view at the Zach Feuer Gallery in New York until October 4.


From the Press release:

In Tickle the Shitstem, Washburn has developed a system/environment in which production and waste are equally important.  The Shitstem generates its own products along with the inevitable byproducts or waste, and at times, there is little or no distinction between the two.  The installation simply keeps churning, producing and hemorrhaging cyclically unless it is interrupted by a failure.  Products of Tickle the Shitstem include beverages, pencils, colored urchins and t-shirts.

The Shitstem produces t-shirts, dyed sea urchins, pencils, and drinks, available for purchase.

Previously: Feeding plants with Gatorade.

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