Sheref Mansy

Sheref Mansy builds artificial chemical systems that mimic features of cellular life. He studied at Ohio State University and worked on origins of life problems as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Sheref was awarded a career development award from the Giovanni Armenise–Harvard foundation, which he used to establish a synthetic biology laboratory in Trento, Italy. He is an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Trento and a 2012 TEDGlobal fellow.

Sascha Pohflepp

Sascha Pohflepp is an artist, designer, and writer, born in 1978 in Cologne, Germany. He holds a degree in media art from the Universität der Künste Berlin and an M.A. in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art in London. He is interested in past and future technologies, notions of art, business, and idealism, what they mean to us, and how they inform which worlds come true and which worlds are discarded. He aims to create social objects in which we can see ourselves differently. For the past five years, he has been contributing to Webby-winning art and technology blog We-Make-Money-Not-Art.com. Most recently, his work has been shown at the Wellcome Trust London, the V&A Museum, and he received a special mention at the 2010 vida award for art and artificial life and was nominated for FutureEverything 2010. In 2010, he spent the summer as a research resident at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.
open post

Project Synopsis

Our increasing understanding of what makes something ‘alive’ ultimately holds the promise of creating life-like machines. The ability to cross from non-living components to life questions some of our cultural notions of what constitutes nature and natural systems. Would a laboratory assembled cell fall outside of what is considered natural, even if it displays the same functional features of contemporary life? If not, how would the inevitable evolution of the organism change how we perceive its status? Perhaps this latter question highlights a crucial difference between life-like machines and classical, mechanical machines. Life evolves. Even if a laboratory built cell were built in a way to be fully understood, this embodied, intentionally engineered life-like system would "naturally" evolve towards greater complexity. In other words, the system begins with a design that is thought to be elegant, transforms as it runs, and gradually reverts to a black box. At this point the life-like machine may still perform its function, perhaps even better, but to understand its inner workings science will be required. We are looking into the implications of creating such machines and the shifting ground beneath the division of the natural and the artificial.

open comments ()

Comment

Post your comment

Post your comment
close comments
open post

Living and life-like machines

Artist Sascha Pohflepp speaks about his research in synthetic biology as part of his ongoing collaboration with Sheref Mansy for Synthetic Aesthetics. Filmed at the Becoming Transnatural symposium and exhibition, (Amsterdam, March 2011), he argues that "Life-like machines have identity," as he opens up discussion about future machines subject to evolutionary pressures.

Sheref Mansy then skyped in from his lab in Trento:

open comments ()

Comment

Post your comment

Post your comment
close comments
open post

Synthetic Aesthetics Salon: Future natures in a culture of synthetic biology

 

Salon
Thursday October 28, 8 pm, with Sascha Pohflepp, Sheref Mansy, Lucy McRae and Koert van Mensvoort. 

  Science and technology are moving closer to adding living organisms to our cultural toolkit. Microbes are already making insulin and soon they may produce the world's fuel supply. Their potential is limited only by our imagination.

 

The emerging field of synthetic biology aims to transform biology as we know it into a discipline of engineering. The top-down BioBricks approach prefers to hack existing organisms. The more research-oriented field of so-called protocells aims to create minimal living machines and may on the way discover the nature of life itself. What both technosciences share is that, if successful, they will profoundly shift or even erase our distinction between nature and culture. After the first truly artificial life form has been created and employed, everything can potentially become technology.

If their main subject is increasingly an object that is made, biologists are becoming creative. What will be the role of the arts in a future where life is a thing to be designed? Will scientists become the poets of the time, or do art, design and architecture need to play a role in this development? Can these possibilities be explored collaboratively?

This Salon will be exploring why our notions of nature and technology may need to change and look closer at work in both art and science. From the body as architecture to the soft systems of the future and scientific research focussing on artificial cells as life-like machines.
syntheticaesthetics.org

Sheref Mansy

Sheref Mansy obtained his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Ohio State University. After a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Jack W. Szostak at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Sheref was awarded a career development award from the Giovanni Armenise-Harvard foundation. He joined the University of Trento as an Assistant Professor of biochemistry in 2009. His research interests are in the development of in vitro reconstructions of life-like systems...
smansy.org

Lucy McRae

Lucy McRae is an Australian artist straddling the worlds of fashion, technology and the body. As a body Architect she invents and builds structures on the skin that re-shape the human silhouette. Trained as a classical ballerina and architect her work inherently fascinates with the human body.
Her provocative and often grotesquely beautiful imagery suggests a new breed; a future human archetype existing in an alternate world
lucymcrae.com

Koert van Mensvoort

Despite the global awareness of our fragile relation with nature and the countless projects initiated to restore the balance, almost no one has asked the question: What is our concept of nature? And how is our relation with nature changing? Koert van Meensvoort is an artist, scientist, designer, inventor, philosopher, doctor and runs the blog www.nextnature.net
koert.com

Sascha Pohflepp

Sascha Pohflepp is an artist, designer and writer. He is interested in past and future technologies, notions of art, business and idealism, what they mean to us and how they inform which worlds come true and which worlds are discarded. He holds a degree in Media Art from the Universität der Künste Berlin and an MA from Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in London. .
pohflepp.com

 

open comments ()

Comment

Post your comment

Post your comment
close comments