Ursula Damm, a professor at the University of Weimar and one of the prize-winning artists in VIDA 15.0 with her project Chromatographic Ballads (created in collaboration with Martin Schneider) has joined forces with Dr. Roland Eils from the University of Heidelberg to for the project Not invented by nature, which focuses on the application of synthetic biology to art. According to its creators, discoveries in the field of synthetic biology “bear an enormous potential for the understanding of the living world and the development of processes and products for medicine and technology. The societal changes originating from such advances, however, are neither anticipated nor reflected in scientific approaches to this issue.” The experimental bioart project managed by Damm and Eils therefore aims to introduce a group of artists to the methodology of synthetic biology so that in their work they can offer a critical assessment of the social and cultural aspects of this emerging discipline.
The artists chosen, Howard Boland, Joanna Hoffmann-Dietrich, Ji Hyun Park and Miguel Santos, spent the month of September visiting the experimental laboratory of the DKFZ Heidelberg Life Science Lab in Heidelberg (Germany), where they learned to work with techniques such as the handling of bacteria and mammalian cells and DNA cloning. After developing analytical techniques and meeting teams of scientists from the laboratory, the artists then developed their exhibits, which will be presented at a group exhibition at the BioQuant Center in Heidelberg. The exhibition will take place within the framework of the international symposium Synthetic Biology – from understanding to application, to be held from 9th to 11th December 2013.