Synthetic Biology is an emerging area of research, which applies engineering principles to biology in order to design and fabricate new biological systems that do not exist in the natural world. It promises new drugs and materials for medical applications, and new routes to make biofuels and chemicals. It could have profound implications for the way we perceive and use living things.
Synthesis: synthetic biology in art & society is an intensive exchange laboratory for artists, scientists and other disciplines to collaboratively explore synthetic biology's ideas and techniques, and its social and cultural implications.Participants were selected through an international open call.
The Synthesis exchange laboratory is being devised and led artist-designers Oron Catts and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg with Professor John Ward and colleagues at UCL. The exchange process is intended to explore and challenge the notions of synthetic biology, the level of control and manipulation of living systems, the application of engineering logic, and the social and cultural dimensions of synthetic biology; with the hope to inspire proposals for future projects from all participants. Other contributors to the laboratory include scientists Alastair Elfick, University of Edinburgh, and Ferman Federici, University of Cambridge, historian and philosopher Joe Cain, UCL, designer Tuur Van Balen and artist Andy Gracie.
Artist Melanie Jackson is being commissioned to make an artist's film from her engagement with the laboratory process and investigations of synthetic biology.
Exchange lab participants are:
Melanie Jackson, artist, UK
Laura Cinti, artist, UK
Brendan Clarke, philosopher & historian, UK
Irilenia Nobelli, bioinformatics, UK
Tom Bailey, theatre practitioner, UK
Veronika Valk, curator, Estonia/Australia
Niccolo Casas, architect, Italy
Eliza Dominguez Huttinger, systems & synthetic biologist, UK
Anne Brodie, artist, UK
Thiago Soveral, architect, Brazil/UK
Helen Bullard, artist, UK
Joy Yueyue Zhang, social scientist, UK/China
Jennet Thomas, artist, UK
Nathan Cohen, artist, UK
JD Talasek, curator, USA
Sneha Solanki, artist, UK
Katy Connor, artist, UK
Orkan Telhan, artist-designer, USA
Matt Johnson, industrial designer, UK
Amanda Parkes, designer, USA
Synthesis is organised by The Arts Catalyst with UCL and Synthetic Aesthetics. It is funded by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, with support from The Arts Catalyst (Arts Council England funded), the SynBion network (funded by BBSRC and EPSRC), SymbioticA (The University of Western Australia) and Synthetic Aesthetics (funded by EPSRC and the National Science Foundation).
Further labs are intended in Edinburgh, Stanford, US, and Perth, Australia.