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.
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Sheref Mansy - TED Fellow

Congratulations to Synthetic Aesthetics Resident Sheref Mansy for becoming a TED Fellow in the TEDGlobal 2012 class! Sheref spoke at TEDGlobal Fellows session about his work: 

Synthetic biology can do many amazing things – provide fuel, feed us, but the general public fears genetically modified life. Typically you start with life and modify its behaviour by modifying its genetic content. So he is trying to build cells with nonliving components – constructing lifelike technologies using artificial structures that mimic life, intentionally incorporating features that are useful but don’t replicate or evolve, instead living for a finite period and die. Communication is key – artificial cells can already detect the presence of natural cells, but the goal is to get artificial cells to be able to emit a chemical signal in response, which will close the loop.

 

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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:

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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

 

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At the Mansy Lab, Amy Spencer is developing protocolls with micro-fluidics to manufacture vesicles, using oils and water. Fluorescent dye is added to help with visualisation under the microscope.

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“Evolution has to become an experimental science, which must first be controlled and studied, then conducted and finally shaped to the use of man." Hugo de Vries, 1904
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