BioART: Contemporary Art and the Life SciencesBioART: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences
October 05, 2013 – Feb 02, 2013
!dea Gallery, Ontario Science Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada Exhibition Website: https://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/ScienceNow/IdeaGallery/BioART/
KACIE AUFFRETKACIE AUFFRET
Digital Prints, fox skull
Craniates is a series of images documenting the process of cleaning the skull of a fox. In these photographs I am preparing the skull by cleaning all the extra flesh off the bone. First I remove the eyes, then I cut out the tongue from the bottom of the chin, and finally I rip the jaw apart. Using a scalpel, I remove all extra flesh from the skull and place the skull into a barrel of flesh-eating beetles known as Dermestidae that finish the cleaning in approximately 48 hours. Once the skull is fully clean, I then remove it from the barrel and either bleach the skull or leave it in its natural state.
The motivation behind this performance comes from my interest in hunting, especially in the Windsor- Essex Region. The hunter goes out into the woods for days, in groups or solo, without the guarantee of a kill. If the hunter is lucky, they return with their prized animal. In Craniates, I am exploring the rituals and themes related to hunting from a feminine perspective. My main concern is to address issues relating to gender and hunting. My interest in this subject comes from my desire to explore themes related to hunting.BRYCE CLARKBRYCE CLARK
Dissection of a Toy Frog
Digital Photograph, mixed media
This piece is a diagram of a dissected stuffed animal that has had organs made from actual meat products inserted into it. The organ placement and appearance is based on an actual frog dissection. This piece is meant as a satirical statement on science and its place in contemporary times. Specifically this piece addresses the seriousness with which science is taken as well as the current availability of science to the general public. I use a stuffed animal as a reflection of this perception – that in today’s age science is available to almost every one of all ages, and that it is not seen as a solely an exclusive practice.
The piece mimics an actual frog dissection, a common scientific practice used at all levels of education, to make an obvious and recognizable reference easily relatable to the viewer. It makes the practice whimsical and amusing so as to dumb down the seriousness of science. One’s view of science and scientists can be cold and stoic; this piece shows that science and its practitioners can be entertaining and even comical. In conclusion this piece is a comical reflection of how we view science in current times.LAUREN DIVITOLAUREN DIVITO
Biological specimens with text
It is easy to be afraid of something concrete- blood, dogs, snakes, spiders- because they are physical beings that one can see and touch. Yet, this also makes them much easier to face if one is willing. It is those intangible worries that are inevitable in life that are much more difficult to confront because they are out of one’s control- not as easily avoided as something with substance.
Fear Undone gives my abstract anxieties – death, disease, failing- solid form as tiny text on the wings of bees, an insect that causes me great distress. These processes of seeing the words and having to place them on the specimens allowed me to literally face my fears, both physically and mentally. By reducing the size of the writing so that they can be viewed well only under magnification, I am accepting that although these worries cannot be entirely eradicated, they can be undone, given lesser value, and thus can be controlled.ERICA DOUGLASERICA DOUGLAS
This piece includes four samples of makeup as they are seen under a microscope, including foundation and eye shadow. I wanted to examine the differences between what makeup would really look like as compared to the demonstrations and illustrations of it as seen in advertisements. Foundation especially is always said to have “micro beads” or similar terms, but under the microscope it looks almost alien. My hope is that a viewer wearing makeup might see the piece and re-examine what it is that she or he rubs into her or his skin each day, trusting that it is safe. The photographs of each makeup sample were taken with a digital camera attached to a microscope. I cropped the photographs to be circular as the sample plates on some laboratory slides are. The photographs were cropped and sharpened, but were not otherwise altered.
ERIKA DUCHENEERIKA DUCHENE
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Ink, bleached animal skulls, wood mount boards
This piece is part of a series highlighting the element of death that is presented within children’s stories and fairy tales. The use of an actual skull brings the character within the story into the realm of the real and into the foreground of what is being visualized. To add to this component I added an ink illustration of the depiction of the character, as well as the other components of the story across the skull’s surfaces, personifying the character. The skulls are mounted to oversized imitation trophy mount boards to increase the glorification of the character presented by the skull component. The boards are leaned against the wall rather than being properly hung like a true hunter’s trophy would be. The story itself is burned into the boards to further engage the viewer and to add a depth of understanding and insight into the particular story. By burning the story into it and improperly hanging the board it emphasizes an element of imperfection. It’s all about the flaws within the otherwise flawless.CHELSEA GREENWELLCHELSEA GREENWELL
Luteum Papilio; Reverence
Plexiglass, agar, bacteria, fungi, dragonfly, digital prints, light box
My work looks at the influence humans have upon the natural world and questions how we perceive our relationship to it and how we interact with it. In Lutum Papilio, I am both inspired by and interrogate the actions of bioartist Marta de Menezes in her project Nature? in which she describes having “created live butterflies where their wing patterns were modified for artistic purposes.” With Lutum Papilio I sculpted butterflies out of clay to replicate the Bicyclus anynana and Heliconious melpomene species used in de Menezes’ work. These were then cast out of plastic with a vacuum sealer to replicate a Petri dish environment. After being sterilized, they received a layer of agar upon which mold formed due not only to the specific placement of bacteria, a constructed interference, but also the human interaction of handling these butterflies.
In Reverence, a piece that physically represents my thoughts on the homage we owe to our relationship with nature, I stained sections of the wings of a found dragonfly with various cell biology staining dyes, replicating the manipulation of light through stained glass. Stained glass is a way we control or enhance light, a natural phenomenon, for aesthetic means. I am asking if this is a reflection of how we, as human kind, perceive our relationship to nature.
 Marta de Menezes’ artist statement for Nature? http://martademenezes.com/portfolio/projects/ASHLEIGH GUNTERASHLEIGH GUNTER
Rocks, Milk Paint, Digital Photography
My artwork has grown out of an interest in the environment, and takes a critical view of the environmental issues local to the Windsor, Ontario area. I work in several mediums, which include photography, painting and drawing – both traditional and digital, and by combining these I am able to create an organic mixture with an eclectic feeling.
I work very much in the moment, letting the materials guide me. Using natural items in my art over a traditional canvas and paint, results in a much more unpredictable outcome and requires a lot more improvisation. The combination of photography and the painting of natural materials allow me to create an earthy flow from the predictable to unpredictable.AMANDA LAFLAMMEAMANDA LAFLAMME
Beauty and the Yeast
Bread, Plexiglass, Wood
This piece was created using the historical and biotechnological process of mixing flour, water, salt, and yeast to create a mass of dough. Through fermentation, live organisms interacting within the dough created alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, which caused the dough to rise before and during baking. After baking and slicing the bread, the artist used a laser engraver to toast the words of the story into each slice. The story and the bread itself are representations of feminist issues such as the stereotyping of the female sex and gender, the empowerment of women, the contributions of women to our culture as well as the field of science, and the missed connections between these issues.
Traditionally science was male dominated yet women have been unrecognized scientists for centuries and bread making is just one example of that as baking has been seen as ‘women’s work’ yet bread making is biotechnology. Once upon a time women were legally banned from universities and ownership of property including businesses. Thus men first created women’s limitations and then used women’s perceived lack of growth and independence as proof that women were incompetent. Still today, women face economic limitations due to our patriarchal society although it is changing slowly. This representation of the link between bread making and biotechnology in the form of art symbolizes women’s resiliency and resourcefulness. What men have done with riches, women have done with their scraps.BRANDON LEMIREBRANDON LEMIRE
Open reduction internal plantation
In my work I explore different states of vulnerably in relation to man and the environment. I am interested in the discourse between the biology of nature and human anatomy. My time spent working in the operating room as a surgical technologist has given me a great appreciation for what the human body endures in order to survive traumatic events and life altering illnesses.
These experiences can be related to the unsterile world outside of the hospital setting in how we as humans interact with the planet. I believe it to be possible that humans are in fact an illness or a traumatic event, imposing our will on the earth. Humans can be categorized as parasites that are slowly devouring the planet that supplies them with sustenance.
To comment on this subject I create drawings and juxtapose them with surgical instruments used during a particular surgical procedure and the blood and tissue of the human body that are revealed during the surgery. The outcome is a strategically arranged, three dimensional, mixed media composition that is then photographed.NATALIE NADEAUNATALIE NADEAU
Second hand doilies, Petri dishes, agar, bacteria, fungi, reconstructed lab table
Inheritance is a work compromised of five oversized Petri dishes, hosting bacteria and fungus covered doilies. Each second hand doily is submerged into an agar solution, which is the ‘culture medium’ that encourages bacterial and fungal growth. This process has been active for a number of months.
The crocheted doilies embody a strong and perhaps forgotten sense of domestic and social heritage; embedded in their social fabric are the individuals who once utilized the doilies for their intended purpose, as well as the artisans who purposefully crafted each one with the skills and knowledge learned from the past. By not sanitizing each doily prior to use, bacteria and fungus are able to inherit the thread of each crocheted motif, allowing a possible link to each doily’s historical ancestry. The collision of microorganisms with symmetrical domestic surface treatments reveals the ties between certain formations found in the colonies of bacteria and fungi and traditionally crocheted thread stitches. Each specimen is an investigation into generational lineage, geometric formation and unknown origins.TINA SUNTRESTINA 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.STEPHEN SURLINSTEPHEN SURLIN
Microorganisms, Computer, Speakers, Video Monitors
microcompositions is a musical installation and a collaborative composition, performed in collaboration with some of the microorganisms that live in Windsor’s complex and rare ecosystems.
The video documentation features the steps that lead to the musical composition including gathering the microorganisms from around Windsor and recording their movements under the microscope. A second video presents the musical performance created by the microorganisms in collaboration with Surlin’s object tracking software.AMANDA WHITEAMANDA WHITE
I am revisiting a mutual relationship that exists between mammals and their food plants. To do this, I incorporate the natural seed dispersal actions of a fruit-eating mammal (or frugivore) into the human process of food crop cultivation.
I am growing plants from the seeds of cherry tomatoes that I first purchased from the grocery store, ate, and which then became deposited in my waste. The seeds were subsequently harvested from my waste by hand and grown into fruiting plants. I am continuing the cycle by eating and growing further generations of the same tomatoes. The first generation of plants were grown in-doors over the fall and winter of 2011-2012.
The process of this project illustrates the process of seed scarification -the way in which seeds travel through the digestive system of an animal in order to be broken down and prepared for germination and growth. This is an important process in ecology, as it allows for seed dispersal and plant diversity.
The use of urine and feces as plant fertilizers and compost materials are also common in our farming practices and yet are seen as the work of animals, not humans. The Frugivore project emphasizes our human bodies as animal bodies, with the potential to perform similar tasks and behave symbiotically with other organisms in our environment.
Science, Art and Ecology intersect in the Ontario Science Centre’s !dea Gallery from October 5, 2013 to February 2, 2014 during an innovative exhibition showcasing the work of thirteen Bioart students from the University of Windsor’s Incubator Lab. Founded by Dr. Jennifer Willet in 2009, Incubator is a hybrid laboratory where students research and explore ideas and practices in the leading-edge field of bioart. An art installation in its own right, the exhibition will form a panoramic view of the laboratory as the background for the art works of the students.
The work selected is challenging, thought provoking and presents a diversity of conceptual positions. The exhibition encompasses photography, sculpture, installation, painting and drawing as well as more unconventional art forms. The biological component that, overt or subtle, is contained within each work is similarly wide ranging, from bacteria and fungus encased in resin to plants that will continue to grow during the course of the exhibition.
Special Thanks to:
Ana Klasnja, Pearl Van Geest, Leo Groarke, Kevin Von Appen, Sabrina Greupner, Karen Engel, Mike Darroch, Lauren DiVito, Kacie Auffret, Arturo Herrera, Eric Owen Wood, Michael Cornett, Andy Rauer, Michael Leslie, John McLachlin, Gail Collins, Justin Collins, Julia Bennett, Ken Huxley, Glenn McIntosh, Chris Fenwick, Craig Allen, Tim Cooey.
Sponsors include: University of Windsor, Ontario Science Centre, INTERMINUS Research Group.
Project coordination by Pearl Van Geest.
Laboratory photography and student portraits by Arturo Herrera.
INCUBATOR video by Eric Owen Wood.