We invited artists to propose works through an open call, as part of an EU project called Studiolab that aims to bring art and science together to make new discoveries and offer new perspectives and ways of working creatively. We selected a series of works that critically addressed the topic, some in challenging ways, and others that employed novel methods in collaboration with scientists. The exhibition will show many different artistic angles with very critical views and it will also show us some things we have not yet seen.
For example, the artist Sonja Bäumel (AT/NL) is doing a residency here and is interested in the bacteria that live with us. In each human body there is something like two kilograms of bacteria. A massive amount of genetic information living in our bodies and each has its own independent genome, we are not only living with our own DNA but also with the bacteria’s. There’s a special kind of sensing that takes place in bacteria called quorum sensing. She is working with Dr Manuel Selg, a biologist at FH Wels. He is a consultant for the Biolab at the Ars Electronica Center. They put the focus on quorum sensing where bacteria cells send small pieces of chemical information to each other and communicate. It’s quite a new topic in science and biology and they try to make use of this feature and to make bacteria that glow a little bit when this sensing takes place. She has done full body imprints, lies down in the jelly and the bacteria from her body goes on to the jelly and then grows. The bacteria are put on a medium where they love to grow; they are kept warm and wet.
The first experiments were followed by a project where she visualizes the bacteria of human hands from people with different backgrounds and working environments. She wants to see how the bacteria from people of different backgrounds look like, not the genetic difference but the bacterial difference. Where they live, how they live, what they have just done, did they just go for a run, did they just have sex, did they do something else, do they working in a factory, do they work with animals? For this quite interesting project she builds a new organism that can glow just for this artwork. We have another perspective: How do artists use these current forms of technology to examine and understand nature, it’s a duality of science and art.
A slight deviation in focus but another topic near and dear to my heart & research: art + science collaborations.