Barbara Revelli

Where Art meets Life Sciences

Friday evening I attended a lecture organized by the Waag Society and hosted by Artis in the beautiful Flamingo room.
Adam Zaretsky is a bio-artist and since years is working on the ethical and esthetics issues rising from the interaction between art and biology.


AdamZaretsky -Humper-Discoverer, 2000 - Photo from the Daniel Langlois Foundation Adam Zaretsky

Adam gave a short introduction on all sorts of VivoArts existing at the moment and he brought up a question on the esthetic in food production mainly when is genetically manipulated.
What is the estetics in the transgenic process? The life of a art piece is in general limited by its exposure to the public; however if art is living, mainly if it is in the human body itself, how can we put an end to it?

Together with Huub de Groot, Professor of Biophysical Organic Chemistry at Leiden University, Adam Zaretsky is bringing art and its ethical prospective in the biology research process. Huub talks about 'Societal anxiety and scientific integrity' or in other words how the artistic creation can support the scientists in communicating and discussing with the general public the ethical dilemmas related to their innovative researches.

An extract from Adam Zaretsky's website about 'Why Biotechnology and the Arts?'

For artists (and the public in general), laboratories are the most intimidating and foreign sites of bio-interface. We are also in the center of a wave of biological fetishism, which is likely to unfold into spurts of unbelievable difference in the coming years. Assuming we have not annihilated ourselves in aggressive tech-war maneuvers, there is a good chance that our kindred ten to twenty generations from now will be appear to be of non-human origin. For this reason, these places and the headspaces of their inhabitants need to be anthropologically explored before intelligent commentary can be made.

VivoArts studies focus on recent advances in the Life Sciences, both in theory and practice. We focus on molecular biology, tissue culture, genomics, and developmental biology. We visit laboratories. We also discuss the social implications and prophesize the future applications of these new potentials. Readings and discussions are directed to cultural issues such as gene patenting, population diversity, new reproductive technologies, nature/culture boundaries and more. In particular, the ethics of living art and/or science production are debated.