Tara Aitken's blog

Final Project Reactions

Coming into the final week of this class, I am very intrigued by all of the students’ proposals for their Final papers. It is also interesting to see that, even within the topic of biotechnology and art, there is still a vast variety of topics that we are all exploring.

Bioparanoia to Bio-acceptance

This week, I decided to analyze the essay “Bioparanoia and the Culture of Control” from Tactical Biopolitics (Costa and Philip, 2010). This essay focuses on the roots and progression of our current culture obsessed with cleaning our bodies, homes, and society of any germs or pathogens. I find this article interesting because it ties in with several recent natural and health-conscious practices.

Photosynthetic Humans: Unbe-leaf-able?

This week we had the pleasure of seeing each other present our midterm projects. Mona’s project about making photosynthetic humans particularly fascinated me because it bridges the divide between plants and animals such as to promote our growth on this planet and beyond. One potential addition to this project is to create photosynthetic hybrids to not only produce food, but to also produce oxygen. We could also venture into genomic editing and artificial photosynthetic devices to improve efficiency and production.

Brainstorming Technology

With the expansion of the internet and the ability to connect and share with people behind a glowing screen, it is refreshing to be able to just sit and try to listen and connect with someone on a deeper level. This week we experienced this sensation by visiting the “Brainstorming” project (Vesna, 2015). This piece aims to have individuals try to sync up their electrical brain activity, corresponding color of their octopus crown, and color-specific jazz music.

Hogo sapiens

I was born in 1995, the year of the pig according to the chinese zodiac. While I have not seen a live pig since I last went to the county fair years ago, I still encounter remnants of the pig in the everyday. I was unaware of the full extent to which pigs are used until I saw Christien Meindertsma’s Ted talk in class this week (How Pig Parts Make the World Turn). It is enlightening to see that pigs are used for many more commodities besides meat, and it is somewhat comforting to know that almost all parts of the animal are being used.

Manipulating Our Relationship with Nature

In this week’s video and reading material, I am interested in the ability for humans to use natural, ecological relationships for our advantage. I find this interesting because, when reflecting on my relationship with nature, it seems as though we are not only trying to observe and study nature, but also trying to use those systems to our advantage. From my experience, this manipulation is especially gaining ground in science.

Biotech, art, and life

This week I was very intrigued by the reading and videos about ways bioartists have manipulated life around them and the idea of life itself. From this week's lecture and research library collection, I was also fascinated by how art about life changed over time: from first drawing and printing flowers to directly manipulating the patterns on moth wings. From these sources, my impression is that biotechnology can be used as another media for artists to communicate their ideas, such as defining life. 

Introduction to Bioart

Coming into this class as a fourth-year neuroscience major, and having some experience tinkering with traditional art media, I am very interested in learning about what bioart is. I have been working in a neuroscience lab focusing on neuronal underpinnings of motivated behavior, using techniques including chemogenetic manipulations, fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, and immunofluorescence histology. I first encountered bioart when I was imaging brain tissue.

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