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.

October 27, 2008

Rat-brained Robotics

Filed under: exhibitions,news & oddities — douglas @ 3:23 pm

rat neurons

Gordon is a very special robot. Controlled by a dish full of rats’ brain cells, he’s helping scientists to understand how our brains work. Antenna explores the science behind Gordon, what he might tell us about the brain, and what his creation could mean for the future of robotics…

Gordon is on display in the Antenna gallery from 16 October 2008 for at least six weeks.

October 13, 2008

Biological Agents: Artistic Engagements in our Growing Bio-Culture

Filed under: exhibitions — regine @ 2:53 am

UIC’s Gallery 400 is pleased to present Biological Agents, a group exhibition curated by Christa Donner and Andrew Yang.

cvbThe complexities of contemporary life fundamentally challenge the way we understand ourselves as biological entities within larger ecosystems. Biological Agents focuses on the work of Brandon Ballengée, Caitlin Berrigan, and Natalie Jeremijenko: three artists who engage the intimate participation of organisms and the public to investigate what it means to be human, to be animal, and to have personal and social agency. In addition, the show’s Knowledge Virus Research Station offers visitors a diverse collection of small-press zines, view-master reels and web projects disseminating information on biological topics from a variety of creative perspectives.

Featured Artists:

Brandon Ballengée’s MALAMP project explores the mysterious malformations and global decline of amphibians through ecology, aesthetics, and participatory practice.  Collaborating with biologists and local citizens, his photographs and installations create a both a visual and material dialogue on the effects of environmental change on native ecologies.

Caitlin Berrigan
uses her Viral Confections and Viral Shelter projects to create intimate, virally-structured space within the gallery where visitors are invited to consume edible chocolates shaped into the molecular structure of the hepatitis C virus.  A carrier of the virus herself, Berrigan will share her handmade chocolates with visitors during the opening reception in exchange for personal dialogue, igniting public discussion and fostering awareness around this prevalent and under-recognized disease.

Natalie Jeremijenko’s site-specific installations and collaborative projects engage the interfaces of animal/human life in urban ecosystems.  Her Environmental Health Clinic proposes animal-collaborative prescriptions that both provoke and provide closer examination of environmental quality in contemporary urban-nature.  For Biological Agents she fosters interaction with tadpoles, migrating coyotes, and local pigeons as a means to assess and intervene in the health of our shared ecologies.

Related Events:

Wednesday, October 22, 6:00pm, Gallery 400 Lecture Room
Screening of Critical Art Ensemble’s Marching Plague and Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Strange Culture, exploring Critical Art Ensemble member Steve Kurtz’s bio-art (and alleged “bioweapons”) case. Accompanied by discussion about the work and the case with CAE collaborator Claire Pentecost, Associate Professor, SAIC.

Panel Discussion, Date and Location TBA
Lori Andrews, Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT; Hannah Higgins, UIC Associate Professor of Art History; and Andrew Yang, SAIC, exhibition co-curator and biologist. Moderated by Lennard Davis, UIC Project Biocultures and Professor of English, Disability Studies and Medical Education.

Gallery 400 events are FREE.

Biological Agents: Artistic Engagements in our Growing Bio-Culture
October 14 – November 22, 2008
Opening Reception: October 15, 2008, 5-8pm

Gallery 400
University of Illinois at Chicago
Art and Design Hall, First Floor
400 S. Peoria Street (at Van Buren Street)

October 12, 2008

Submersed Songs

Filed under: artists & works — regine @ 3:03 am

Submersed Songs

Submersed Songs is a sound-installation that promotes an interference of four carp fish in a glass tank, over the sound output of mp3 players (iPod’s and others) of the visitors. The animals’ movements and the proximity among them work as a parameter for modifying and juxtaposing the audience’s music tracks in real time. With this idea, new sound landscapes are created, not only from the interaction among the fish, but also from unveiling the intimate music archives, which are “submersed” underneath the mp3 player devices.

The visitor can connect his audio device to the interface, and chose a song of his preference. It is also possible for the user to record the track in the system in order to let the song be modified during the next visitor’s interactions. The visitor will as well listen to the previous visitors’ songs, as the system juxtaposes the previous visitors’ tracks with the current visitor’s song. Accordingly, the piece will be always meshing up two different songs.

The two tracks are submitted to different modification processes, both building a real time continuity between the swimming of the carp fish and the levels of distortion, which can vary from an intense reverberation to a simulation of the hearing underwater.

A work by Vivian Caccuri.

October 9, 2008

Agar Plate of Fluorescent Bacteria Colonies

Filed under: artists & works — douglas @ 12:17 pm

fluorescent beach scene

John Chalmers sent in a link to this image from Roger Y. Tsien’s lab at UCSD. Tsien just won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on fluorescent proteins.

Midori-San blogging houseplant

Filed under: news & oddities — douglas @ 12:08 pm

Blogging houseplant

If houseplants could blog, what would they say? To find out, Kamakura-based IT company KAYAC Co., Ltd. has developed a sophisticated botanical interface system that lets plants post their thoughts online. A succulent Sweetheart Hoya (Hoya kerii) named “Midori-san” is now using the system to blog daily from its home at bowls Donburi Cafe in Kamakura.
(via makezine)

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