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