When we blog about the intersection between biotech and art, we’re usually covering shows in Europe brought to our attention by the crew at WMMNA.
But this art show is relatively close to us, in Massachusetts’ own Montserrat College of Art. The show is called “It’s Alive!” (the tagline is apparently available, now that Boston’s Museum of Science has dropped it), and will explore the beauty and ugliness of biology in life:
From a tomato that rots as mechanized needles repeatedly plunge into it at viewers’ discretion, to butterflies whose wing patterns appear to have morphed into the backgrounds of the average American family’s living room decor, all of the artwork on display is, was, or appears to be, alive.
The Montserrat Gallery will thus transform into a laboratory, with a range of “experiments” in progress, in an effort to raise viewer awareness and understanding of the often-controversial issues that surround cutting-edge research in biotechnology: a drawing that consists of living, bioluminescent bacteria by geneticist and artist, Dr. Hunter O’Reilly, will be on display in a small darkroom; Jennifer Willet and Shawn Bailey will have prototypes of unusual cancerous cysts, or teratoma, which are being studied as examples of spontaneous cloning; Kevin Jones’ Pseudo Tree, a synthetic robotic tree, will examine current discussions in biotechnology centered on cloning, mutations and genetic engineering.
MIT’s Technology Review has more:
”Genpets” has a bleak vision of where biotechnology is headed. The Genpets are pitched as living ”bioengineered buddies” that can be companion pets, and are lined on the wall in plastic cases like packaged toys. Their barely discernible breaths are apparently maintained by whatever they are being fed through lighted IV lines. Among Genpets’ personality traits offered: ”serene,” ”spiritual” and ”adventurous.”
Creator Adam Brandejs said the Genpets were not created to fool anyone, but make a comment on where he thinks biotechnology is headed.
”What’s the most likely place we’re going to take new technology?” he said. ”It will probably just be used for profit, like the Genpets.”
The message of artist Steve Hollinger’s piece ”Heart” is not as stark. In Hollinger’s heart, light power helps circulate blue liquid through thin glass tubes, giving the appearance of a functioning heart. It is a reminder that science’s attempt to re-create the heart’s functions is not just a ”nuts and bolts” operation, Hollinger said.
The show started last week and runs until April 7.
More from Montserrat College of Art…