I think a lot of these projects seem really interesting. Brandon's project regarding the merging of genetics and music really struck me as interesting in the same way that Eduardo Kac's synthetic biology to insert words from the book of Genesis really struck me as an interesting use of biology.
The current state of the United States scientific discourse is dominated by skepticism. The current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is a infamous climate change skeptic, one who has stacked the agency with like minded individuals. For one of the most prominent agencies dedicated to ecological recovery to house influential skeptics is largely considered a step in the wrong direction.
This week, I decided to read the "The Ethics of Experiential Engagement with the Manipulation of Life" by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr. This essay treads heavily on the topic of life from an ethical perspective, the guidelines in which mainstream academia presents biological topics, in the context of art, and as a component of biological and medical research. I chose this essay because it relates to the topics I raised in my midterm, the ethical use of animals in research but goes a bit deeper into the way we view simpler biological components.
I was first introduced to the idea of synthetic meats as a food source in a post from a previous student's blog post. When I first heard about it, I was disgusted. I think much of this has to do with the idea of natural foods being the healthiest options, the idea of something grown in a lab being a good food source is a bit disjointed from our perception of "fresh" and "healthy". This response is most likely deeply rooted in the mainstream culture as one of the main focuses in the media is on GMOs.
This week, our class got the opportunity to experience an artistic piece which melds performance art and science. In this collaboration by Dr. Vesna and Dr Cohen, "Brainstorming", Individuals are allowed to wear helmets containing electrodes which record brain activity. The brain activity is then analyzed to illuminate the helmet a specific colour. Two individuals wear helmets and sit opposite from each other.
I was born in 1993, so my relation to the pig (as a zodiac symbol) is a distant one. Christien Meindertsma's talk on the usefulness of the pig was incredibly interesting to me. I always wondered about the amount of waste produced in the meat industry. By this I mean in the use or lack of use of all the different body parts of an animal. It comforts me to know that pigs are the used in so many products. If you could imagine a world without pigs, would even a quarter of these products exist? Would they be as efficient or useful to us?
My relationship with nature has been on and off throughout my life. Growing up, my dad loved to take me hiking, to beaches, national parks, etc. We sampled a good majority of the national parks in the western United States before I was 14. Unfortunately, being a dorky, ungrateful child, I took all of this for granted. I loved to focus on playing Zelda or Pokemon on my game boy than to look out the window and enjoy the splendor.
In my daily life, I find myself traversing a good chunk of UCLA and Beverly Hills. It never really occurred to me to consider what artifacts I leave behind, rather I spend my time concerned with what I could pick up, from the high traffic seats on the bus, to the average bathroom doorknob. This is why the work of Heather Dewey-Hagborg is troubling to me. The expansion of our knowledge bridging genotype and phenotype has advanced dramatically in the last 20 years alone.
Upon registering for this class, I assumed the scope of the curriculum would be learning about different methods of generating art from biotechnology, rather not a look at the social and political commentary of this medium. Of course, in hindsight, it seems like the two things go hand in hand. Art IS commentary.