BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences – Tina Suntres

Chia on form

The objective of this project was to show how plants could be used as an optimal bioart medium. There are many reasons why this is so. Plants are vital – producing the necessary oxygen and nutrients for animal life to flourish on earth. Utilizing plants instead of tissues in bioart reduces the need for many of the animal byproducts used in labs. They can be grown into many shapes and they do not need to be disposed of as a biohazard after the piece is displayed. Plants are often overlooked during debates that question the ethics of utilizing living materials in art because they are not conscious.

Exhibiting chia in the form of a person helped anthropomorphize it into something that could be perceived as living and breathing so people could relate to it. It took the chia a week to grow on paper towels, similar to the length of time that is required to grow skin grafts. The chia sheets were then pinned onto a human form. The form is exhibited along with photographs, one of which shows the chia BIOman with a tomato. The intention is to bring the concept full circle and as such it represents how we are what we eat, with plants being the main source of nutrients.

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