Visual and Material Culture: Course

Biology Lab for Art and Design

Bar Shai Nurit, Semester 1, Sunday, 12:30-16:00
The idea that we can engineer and manipulate life itself is not that far fetched these days. More than any other point in history, biotechnology is growing rapidly, creating and shaping the revolution of biological materials. At the same time, the growing scarcity and overuse of our natural resources are prompting us to reexamine alternative methods of developing renewable and degradable biological resources. Motivated by creativity, originality and environmental responsibility, artists and designers have begun to tinker with biological systems and integrate the flora and fauna in their works. Through their creative practices, they advocate the potential to replace fossil fuels and animal slaughter, to revolutionize medical and scientific research, and influence and touch on every aspect of our daily lives. From household products, furniture and clothing, the food that we eat and the materials that we produce and use, to social, legal and ethical questions. While providing new assumptions of familiar concepts about life and death, natural and artificial, or the human body and its environment. Students in this course are invited to rethink living matter, the growth and structure of materials through living systems, and ask whether lab-grown products could replace industrial manufacturing in the future? And what are our moral and social responsibilities as designers and artists, who take part, and sometimes even lead these significant processes. This course provides a conceptual overview and background of the work and research of scientists, designers, artists and professionals, who practice BioArt and BioDesign, as well as hands-on experimentation. Students are required to practice lab techniques, learn how to grow and design with biological materials and develop a new and original project that would realize and reflect on the understanding of the field and the material learned in class. In addition, students will also be required to do research, document, and summarize their work processes in a "laboratory notebook", weekly assignments and in class presentations. No prior experience or background is required in biology.