Jenifer Wightman, Jennifer Willet, Kathy High, Felipe Shibuya, Tarah Rhoda, Alan Tod, André Sier, Carla Rebelo, Jude Abuh-Zaineh, Maria Francisca Abreu-Afonso, Maria Manuela Lopes and Paulo Bernardino Bastos, Ricardo Guerreiro Campos, Felipe Shibuya and Pedro Miguel Cruz, Nigel Helyer, Ron Koder.
“As we gaze into the mirror it (nature) holds up for us, we too easily imagine that what we behold is Nature when in fact we see the reflection of our own unexamined longings and desires.”
William Cronon, The Trouble with Wilderness, 1995
What is nature and the evolution of living beings is an inevitable issue for Us, in the search for the answer to this and other questions around Nature and its variations we find what we are and how we stand between all organisms and in the world. How to acknowledge and produce the concepts we need to think about the complexities of the living system we live in, the world and the challenges we face today? How to think the natural and who we are within this nature without losing the specificity of humanity? This year the FACTT festival focuses on the search for knowledge, issues and strategies from biology, art, philosophy, physics, geology, design and other disciplines to explore who we are and how we can position ourselves in today’s world.
Marta de Menezes, 2018
Through this Festival of Art and Science, the Arte Institute intends to clarify the importance and intersection of these two areas, in several different countries. In doing so, the goal is to promote the interdisciplinary dialogue and reflection through debates and exhibitions, and to identify and analyze the various ways in which both areas are currently interconnected. Furthermore, it aims to bring an educational component to science and art in Portugal by making it available to the general public. After Lisbon, the festival will travel to New York, Mexico and Toronto.
Alan Todd – FOREST IS ART: EMBASSYForest Art Embassy is a space where the forest negogiates beauty with man and is in competition with the aesthetic standards of the art academy. ‘FOREST IS ART’ is the base line for this new art and new economy. It produces forest,gardens, photographs, films, Land-art, bio-art pieces, installations, stories and collective performances, all seen as artefacts for forest lobby and FOREST ART.
As a diplomatic journey this soil is set up as an artistic installation piece in the Bio Art Lab table of SVA. To be allowed in the lab, this forest soil was asked to be cleaned from any pests. This Maryland forest soil contained around 30 little insects that has to be expulsed out of the lab with a specific protocol to keep them alive. Only some warms have been allowed to stay in the lab in a specific display container. Indeed worms can be useful to make soil so they might have a skill to be used for. This could be a very metaphor of how humans deal with borders and nationality.
Main vegetal in the piece all from American Est coast: Quercus Alba, Quercus Rubra, New York Aster, American Dogwood Cornus Florida, Ironweed. Vernonia Fasciculata, BeBalm Monarda Didyma, Coneflower Echinacea Purpurea, Buckeye Aesculus Pavia, Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia Hirta, Milkweed Asclepia Syriaca. (Only source of food for Monarchs Caterpillars)
Alan Tod is the artistic identity of Julien Isore french painter and director. After a Master in Law in comparative intellectual property in UK and France, Julien Isore works for seven years in the television business as director and story editor. In 2005 he opens his first painting studio in Paris and starts the international campaign for LOVE (2007-2012) where he experiemented total art. (www.artforlove.fr). In 2007 he inters the school of fine art of Lisbon( CIEBA) as independant researcher in comparative anatomy in collaboration with the school of medecine of Lisbon and with the school of sociology of ‘imaginaire’ of La Sorbonne and the CNRS edition.
Dave Shao – SYNTHETIC REGENERATION
Plastic is a synthetic material, which becomes a necessity in the modern society. The plasticity of plastic generates huge convenience for human being. Moreover, the characteristics of plastic(low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water) lead to the massive production and usage amount of plastic products. Plastic has created incredible social and economic impact on the modern world, at the same time, it also becomes one of the biggest challenges in human history. The difficulty of degradation and high volume of use caused serious pollution to the natural environment. Indeed, the connection between artificial and natural is a key element that constructs social development, which is also a subject matter with significant potential.
Dave Shao is a post-media artist from Macao. He mainly focuses on multimedia/digital installation that explore and experiment the relationship between time, sound, space and dimension. Reflecting concept and reality through visual language.
Hannah Fitzgerald – F126
“Man is the measure of all things.” Protagoras, 490-420 B.C.E.
As humans, we are constantly baffled by our own complexity. We think the divide between people and animals is obvious. In school we learn that we are the pinnacle of evolution, the top of the totem pole, and it is not up for dispute. Many never ponder the alternative. When tragedy suddenly struck in my small hometown of Newtown, Connecticut in the form of a (typically American, exclusively human) mass school shooting, I removed the rose-colored glasses I was gifted by my middle school science teachers and finally questioned; is evolution really all it’s cracked up to be? How can we, as humans, really be the “standard” to which we compare the rest of the animal kingdom when we are so capable of committing atrocities within our own species? And if people’s allegiance to predator vs. prey can be swayed at the mere mention of money, status, and/or power, how does that better our species’ likelihood of survival? If humans truly are so far above all other creatures, then maybe we just aren’t using our “highly-evolved” brains correctly.
Hannah Fitzgerald is a fourth year Fine Arts student at the School of Visual Arts. @hannah_fits
Keika Okamoto – NEO HUNTER-GATHER
The installation consists of organic, and human-made objects. Covering the ladder is black animal faux fur and artificial skin of semi-transparent dried fungus. Inked black stones, balls of fungi, butterfly feathers in a Petri dish, a computer processed small biomorphic ceramic, metal scraps, a shell are spreading underneath of the ladder. The computer processed ceramics hanging on the wall represent the hybridity entity, like chimera. Having inspired by the history of hunter-gather, the works attempt to explore the past, present and future of human evolution.
Keika Okamoto, born in Japan, is a visual artist interested in what Nature means to us today, and what does it mean to be human in “Modern” world. Especially in terms of technology, sciences, and cultures, as she considers those are particularly well connecting to our self-conceptions, and pulling triggers for us to rethink our lives, philosophies, and ethics for today and future. She is interested in exploring these intersections through making Art.
Kathy High – OKPOOPID: SPEED DATING
OkPoopid is a ridiculous video promo about a new app available to people looking for their own diy fecal transplant solution. Much like its cousin app, OkCupid, OkPoopid participants are searching for the perfect poop partner – be it donor or recipient – to conduct home FMTs. Through a series of improvisational interviews, people get to know each other’s defecation habits. Let’s talk about the quality of our poop. And share the goods!
Kathy High (USA) is an artist/ educator who collaborates with scientists and others, and considers living systems, an ima I sentience, and ethica I dilemmas of biotechnology and med ica I in du stries. High is Professor and Head of the department of the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is NATURE Lab coordinator with community organization, Sanctuary for Independent Media.
Tarah Rhoda – AGAR REMIX
Agar sculptures painted with bacteria (E. coli k-12) that was genetically modified to express GFP, a fluorescent protein naturally found in a jellyfish.
While the green fluorescent protein was derived from a single species of jellyfish, its application as a scientific tool has illuminated our greater understanding of life’s processes. By allowing us to literally shine a light on gene expression and cell behavior, we can observe the invisible molecular mechanisms that govern the biological world around us. Agar, a simple gelatinous substrate that hosts our efforts to collage life by mixing, matching, and propagating the characteristics of different organisms, is the canvas of the laboratory.
Tarah Rhoda received her BFA in 2010 from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and also studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. She is currently based in Brooklyn and is the manager of the SVA Bio Art laboratory, where she researches the intersection of art, science, and technology.
Andre Sier – HALF-PLANT
Half-Plant is a bio-electronic hybrid from the Neon Paleolitikos era within the series wolfanddotcom. Partly micro-electronic processes, partly microbiologicaI voltages, it is an interactive bio-electronic work operated by smartphone which broadcasts a Wi Fi Access Point (NeonPaleolit ikos network) that a I lows whomever connects and navigates to half-plant com(192 168 12 1 8000) to control an interface which allows to mix the different genetic processes which compose the hybrid, combinations of electronic and biological micro-fluctuations. The raw spectra from the electronic and biological processes is transformed in electronic and biological DNA which on their turn are combined through genetic algorithms in order to make a bio-electronic being. By using the remote interface, the audience may operate as a DJ, collectively and autonomously, controlling the volumes, the genetic algorithms, mutation percentages, the reading speeds of the DNA of each electronic, biological and bio-electronic components, exposing its data as sound which is fed-back to the Half-Plant as stimulus.
Andre Sier is an electronic artist with training in sciences, painting, sculpture, music and a degree in philosophy. In the past 20 years has produced works in code, 3D, video, sound, electronics, drawing, sculpture, videogames, shown at over 27 individual national and international exhibitions.
Carla Rebelo – BECOMING
“Becoming” is a sculptural project that refers to the adaptation of the species to new environments,
operated by their capacity of transformation towards the evolution and survival of this same species. When transforming, will this “body” have the ability to maintain the memory of its previous “identity.” And what kind of memory will it be?
Formally this project has the configuration of an sculpture/installation with a concrete physical body, but with the capacity to transform itself depending on the place and conditions where it is exposed, incorporating characteristics of that same space and environment. It is a piece with both a mutable and chameleonic body. Each time the piece is exposed it can adopt a new shape/ configuration also interacting with the surrounding space. It is a sculpture formed by several separate pieces that constitute a whole, but can connect themselves creating different bodies. The mirror material with which the sculpture is made allows it to incorporate exterior elements alternating its nature, enlarging it or reducing it according to the elements it mirrors or the colours and textures it reflects. In this sense it is a piece that, somehow, is always site-specific, since it always interacts with the environment where it is exposed.
Carla Rebelo is an artist with a degree in Sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of
Lisbon. With a background in Textiles and Scenography, these are the three areas that define her artistic practice expressed in sculpture, installation, drawing and artist books. Conceptually her work deals with issues of individual, historical and cultural memory.
Jenifer Wightman – ADDENDUM
Addendum (to the Gutenberg Bible) is a one page letterpress broadside that updates the story of Genesis using scientific images and bibliographic reference. In July 2014, I began hand-deliviering editions to stewards of existing 49-remaining Gutenberg Bibles. To date, 41 have been delivered, scroll right to see Collections. While the story of Genesis is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis of creation given the available information, we have learned much since the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press. The printing press, for me, is the beginning of contemporary science as it was the broad distribution of ideas that led to a true evolution of shared thinking. This Addendum to the Gutenberg Bible is founded in the tradition of story telling and all the ways language playfully re/considers the world around us.
Trained as a Toxicologist, Jenifer Wightman is a research scientist specializing in greenhouse gas inventories and life cycle analysis of agriculture, forestry, waste, and bioenergy systems at Cornell University, funded by DoE, USDA, NYS DA&M, and NYSERDA. Her art practice began in 2002 and employs scientific tropes to incite curiosity of biological phenomena and inform an ecological rationality. Her art has been commissioned by NYC parks, featured at the Lincoln Center, BAM, and Imagine Science Festival, and is held in collections such as the Morgan Library, Library of Congress, Gutenberg Museum, Bodmer Museum, and the Danish Royal Library.
Jennifer Willet – BAROQUE BIOLOGY (PAPER THEATRE)
Baroque Biology is a new series of 5 quirky pieces of modified lab equipment designed in response of more typical laboratory aesthetics projecting Western notions of objectivity – cold, sterile, masculine, steel, plastic, glass. These objects are counterintuitive, they imagine biotechnology as integrated into everyday life, life of the family and child, a life including imagination and play. Baroque Biology is gaudy and fantastical – somewhat like Marry Poppins (Disney, 1964) but with darker undertones as in Juliet of the Spirits (Fellini, 1965) within a laboratory setting.
Jennifer Willet, Associate Professor in the School of Creative Arts at The University of Windsor (Canada) is an internationally successful artist and curator in the emerging field of bioart. Her work resides at the intersection of art and science, and explores notions of representation, the body, ecologies, and interspecies interrelations in the biotechnological field. In 2009 she opened a bioart research and teaching lab INCUBATOR: Hybrid Laboratory at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Ecology, the first biological art lab in Canada. In 2018, Willet and INCUBATOR Lab launched a state-of-the-art BSL2 theatre/laboratory facility where audiences can view live multimedia bioartperformances through a glass wall.
Jude Abuh-Zaineh – LILWATAN
Lilwatan (to the homeland), uses cultured bacterial growths that have been documented in petri dishes as source material. The Images are digitally manipulated to be seen through a kaleidoscopic lens and displayed on older television screens. This work references my middle-eastern background against the narrative of living as a displaced refugee and longing to return to the “homeland” as echoed in the accompanying soundtrack “Sanarjaou Yawman” (We Will Return) by Fairouz. This song is of great cultural and historical significance, even adopted by Palestinians as their own anthem, and dedicated to those scattered across the globe and displaced from their home and native land. Displacement and place-making become the driving element when placing these bacteria sources that wouldn’t typically find themselves in a petri dish, but continue to thrive in the new environment they’ve adapted to.
Jude Abu-Zaineh is an MFA candidate at the University of Windsor (Canada) and works as a research assistant at INCUBATOR Lab. Although trained in more formal elements of art, her current practice explores the use of biotechnology with an interest in dissecting the meanings of culture, displacement, diaspora, and belonging; particularly in drawing parallels between middle-eastern and western culture using food and the intersection of art and science.
Maria Francisca Abreu-Afonso – SE EU TE PROCURO E NÃO TE ENCONTRO
We are always looking for answers. We seem to look for answers about ourselves — as human beings — always outside of ourselves. We look into the world, looking for ourselves. However, we seem to forget that this world that we see, as we search for ourselves, depends on what we can see and of our subjective interpretation. In reality, this world doesn’t correspond to what the world is. It is a virtuality, based on what we see and think. We are hostages of time and space. Susceptible to the visibility and invisibility of the world: what it shows us and what it hides from us. Victims of mutability — of the world itself, but also of the devices with which we see and search.
Se eu te procuro e não te encontro, (é porque estás diferente do que eras) challenges the concepts of big—small, of inside/outside. We could look at these circles in a black backdrop as astronomic objects, when in fact they’re microorganisms that live (oh but so close,) in our own skin. It isn’t something colossal, but rather something absolutely minuscule. Very much so that we could almost forget. The millions of organisms that compose each image are our beginning. As if they told a story, the photographies say: In the beginning, was the microorganism. Se eu te procuro e não te encontro, (é porque estás diferente do que eras) searches for answers about ourselves not faraway, but close. Very close. So close we could almost forget.
Maria Francisca de Abreu-Afonso was born in August 1994 in Lisbon. She lives in Lisbon and while studying she dedicated herself to music, dance, theatre and illustration. She’s currently doing her masters in Multimedia Art, with a specialization in Photography, in the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon.
Marta De Menezes – ANTI-MARTA: SELF AND NON-SELF
The immune system can be seen as a sixth sense that identifies and discriminates our composition and the outside world. Anti-Marta extends on previous work where the artist questioned the limits and understanding of her identity. This artwork is a development of “Immortality for Two”, where the artist and her partner immortalized cell lines from each other.
In “Anti-Marta” a skin transplant was exchanged between Marta and her partner Luis (with an autologousgraft as control). Anti-Marta can be seen as a pact, where the inevitable rejection of the transplant contrasts with the live- long acquisition of a new form of recognition of one another afforded by the emergence of antibodies. The artwork also pays homage to the groundbreaking work of Jon van Rood, founder of Eurotransplant, that used these type of skin transplants amongst lab members and other volunteers in order to discover what underlies histocompatibility and transplant rejection. Van Rood died in Leiden in July 2017.
Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist that has been exploring the intersection between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies can be used as new art medium for over 20 years. Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is currently the artistic director of Ectopia, an experimental art laboratory in Lisbon, and Director of Cultivamos Cultura in the South of Portugal.
Maria Manuela Lopes and Paulo Bernardino Bastos – METAPHORICAL EVOLUTION
Between all species and us lies a seemingly unbridgeable gap that we acknowledge by defining categories. We are similar to chimpanzees and that has been recognized even in an age of belief in the divine creation. Biology does not attempt to optimize designs, but relies on permutations of extant technology to create new products (species), which then exploit environmental niches. This work explores traces of our rise from animal status celebrating interspecies communication and collaboration, discovery and consciousness of our fragility and possible fall. The digital age brought new ways of non-explicit forms of collaboration, distributed, large scale and non- centred such as the Internet, collaborative information filtering, or open source software development. Humans are becoming increasingly involved in, and know the benefits of, collaborations that don’t require an understanding of the other participants’ agenda or intention. By conceptualizing collaborations with other species, we are forced to question our self-proclaimed centred position in the world, a position that has lead to immense destruction of the planet, as manifested by pollution, climate change and mass extinction of species. If in one hand evolutionary theory has been providing useful metaphors for analysing political and institutional change, on the other, metaphor may be said the language of choice for creative changes in scientific narrative framework. Time, space complexity and extended communication enhance self stability creating selection and balance between system and surroundings.
Maria Manuela Lopes graduated in Fine Arts from FBAUP, with a Masters from Goldsmiths College London, and PhD from the University for the Creative Arts, UK. Her present practice is inter and transdisciplinary and relies on concepts of memory, identity, and consciousness informed by contemporary research in the biological sciences and associated medical practices.
Paulo Bernardino Bastos has a doctorate (Ph.D.) in ART STUDIES and, at present, is the director of the Post-Graduate Program (Master) in “Contemporary Artistic Creation”, in the Department of Communication and Art at the University of Aveiro (Portugal), where also teaches. Bastos studied sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Art (Porto), Portugal, and received his MA-Sculpture from Royal College of Art, London. As an artist Bastos’ explores, as a means of expression, traditional techniques framed by the disciplines of drawing and sculpture. Attempting to articulate a field of research between theory and practice he develops his universe of research looking at images produced by the various technological mediations. He has been participating in several international events as lecturer and as artist.
Nigel Helyer – GENEMUSIK
The GeneMusiK project had its origins in 2003 during a three month Artist in Residence hosted by the SymbioticA lab at the University of Western Australia. At that time I worked in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with Dr Gary Cass on the conceptual and biological framework of a system that would allow music to be encoded into DNA sequences. This genetic material would subsequently be re-mixed within the plasmid DNA of bacteria and eventually be re-sequenced as altered DNA sequences that would represent equally altered musical notation.
Nigel Helyer (a.k.a. Dr Sonique) is an Australian based Sculptor and Sound Artist with an international reputation for his large-scale sonic installations, environmental sculpture works and new media projects. His practice is actively inter-disciplinary linking creative practice with scientific research and development. Recent activities include; the development of a‘Virtual Audio Reality’ system in collaboration with Lake Technology (Sydney) and the ongoing ‘AudioNomad’ research project in location sensitive Environmental Audio at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales.
Pedro Miguel Cruz and Felipe Shibuya – DENDROCHRONOLOGY OF IMMIGRANTS AND NATURAL
-BORNS IN THE UNITED STATES
Immigrants are central to the identity of the United States, the population of which has grown in number and diversity as a function of new arrivals from around the globe. This work is a visualization project leveraging arboreal visual metaphors to explore the contribution of immigrants to the country’s population. Immigrants and native-born persons are represented and differentiated as cells in trees, with layered annual rings capturing patterns of population growth. These rings register, in their shape and color, certain environmental conditions. In order to mimic the natural process by which growth rings are formed (the science of which is called dendrochronology), this project devises a computational system that generates tree rings as if cells were data-units.
Pedro M. Cruz is a data visualization designer who explores new metaphoric and figurative ways to visualize information. He is Assistant Professor in information visualization at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. He holds a PhD in Information Science and Technology from the University of Coimbra in Portugal. He was a researcher at MIT Senseable City Lab in Cambridge and Singapore. Prior to that, he collaborated regularly with design studio FBA in Coimbra where he learned about design. His work was featured in several exhibitions around the world such as the London Design Biennale, the Ibero-American Biennale of Design, CES, MoMA’s Talk to Me, and SIGGRAPH, as well as in magazines such as Fast Company, Wired, National Geographic and in specialized books. Felipe Shibuya was born in 1986, in São Paulo, Brazil. He studied Ecology and Conservation at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, where he obtained his Ph.D. In his scientific research, he always highlights the visuality of nature, such as the colors of feathers and the shapes of birds’ nests. Currently, he lives in Boston (U.S.) where he works with ornithology and at the intersection between biology and art.
Ricardo Guerreiro Campos – TWIN
TWIN is a pictorial and performative project in a process in which a game is established between the memory of the images (the body, the drawing and the archive), as a materialised presence of the past and the possibility of purging a body that finds and reconciles with itself. Through the creation of a game device, in which the pieces are the reflection of the images’ memory, the spectator is invited to create a labyrinth with them; intervening in the path traveled by two pedestrian bodies that circulate, sometimes in the direction of convergence, sometimes in the sense of divergence. Each pawn-body will contain the precipitated DNA of one of two twin brothers, and will materialise the playful character of a game in which its ideas have been inherited from other games. This possibility of summoning childhood through play, and the manipulation of pieces that create new images taking into account the way they are arranged, experiment a new direction for the evolution of two bodies that shared the same womb in different pockets, accentuating the differences as well as genetic and identity singularities of each other.
Ricardo Guerreiro Campos is a visual artist and performer. He studied Painting in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Lisbon and regularly exhibits at individual and collective public displays. He also collaborates with many artistic collectives as a set designer and performer. In recent years, he has developed a series of pictorial and performative experiments around memory, image and childhood. He is a teacher, trainer and cultural mediator in different intervention and research projects.
Suzanne Anker – BIOTA
(Porcelain ceramic, silver leaf, rapid prototype sculpture)
Sponges, like brains, are all individual and unique, varying in kind and complexity. They are ancient forms of life, arising hundreds of millions of years ago as one of the first multicellular animals. Although these ancient multicellular organisms lack nervous systems, they possess all of the building blocks to produce such a system. Although we don’t look or act like sea sponges we share seventy percent of their genes. Such similarity makes them a valuable model organism in neuroscientific studies and reinforces the tenants of evolution’s wondrous forms.
Suzanne Anker is a visual artist and theorist working at the intersection of art and the biological sciences. She works in a variety of mediums ranging from digital sculpture and installation to large-scale photography to plants grown by LED lights. Chairing SVA’s BFA Fine Arts Department in New York City since 2005, Ms. Anker continues to interweave traditional and experimental media in her department’s new digital initiative and the SVA Bio Art Lab.