Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6: Biotechnology and Art

This week, I learned how art and science can come together through biotechnology in some very beautiful, yet also very scary ways. Professor Vesna discusses the topic of ways we harness the processes of life itself: reproduction and metabolism (even on a cellular scale), when manipulated by humans through biotechnology, is a very controversial topic that causes ethical concerns. For example, professor Vesna discusses the process of micro-injection. Using biotechnology, scientists and artists were able to genetically engineer a green fluorescent protein and combine it with the genetics of animals, so that the pets would glow on certain parts of their bodies. 
This topic is also discussed in Defining LIfe: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications. While a glowing pet would certainly be entertaining, exciting, and seemingly innovative, many ethical concerns arise. For example, if released into the wild, this pet could disrupt the natural gene pool and possibly cause unforeseen damage to a species. This process of changing genetics also imposes our human culture on natural processes. Do we as humans have the right to disrupt natural evolutionary processes through bioengineering? I think that we as humans are part of natural evolution, but we should not tamper with genetics as if it were something to be taken lightly.
There is another way to look at biotechnology and art, however. In Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology? It was discussed that Professor Vesna represents an appropriation of Big Bio when it comes to biotechnology and art. There has been an impressive growth of bio-art over the last decade, and those scientists who want to express themselves through biology are eager to collaborate with scientists and learn as much as they can about biology. This could be positive for our society and bridge the Two Cultures gap between the art and science divide. Moreover, these artists wish to use biological art to provoke, transgress, or re-design our understandings of life. Through these art forms, we may come to new revelations about how our world works, and we may come to new understandings about the wonder of how living organisms operate. By bridging the gap between math and science, we may even come to greater understandings of each other, person to person. 

Sources: Levy, Ellen K.. “Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications.” DESMA 9. Web. 8 May 2016 Kelty, Chris. “Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology?”. Web. 8 May 2016 "Primary Menu." Chris Combs. Web. 09 May 2016. "On the Fast Track: Do the Evolution! - The Isha Blog." The Isha Blog. 2016. Web. 09 May 2016. The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Web. 09 May 2016. Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures I.” N.p., . web. 8 May 2016 Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures II.” N.p., . web. 8 May 2016 Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures IV.” N.p., . web. 8 May 2016

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kamila,
    I was very interested in your post after reading more about micro-injection. It is crazy to think that scientists are now able to create anything with biotechnology. I liked your example of glowing pets and how this may seem like a cool pet to have but unfortunately is dangerous to animals and the environment. I also liked how you mentioned how the positive success of Bio Art can help the gap between science and art. Thanks for a great post!