My First Experience with Bioart

Hi, my name is Craig Clark and I am a third year Biochemistry major. I don’t have any experience in the biology labs which produce these eclectic works but I do research in an organic chemistry total synthesis lab here at UCLA. I would be willing to argue that the work my superiors do in the lab is a sort of bridging of art and engineering. They strive to create extremely complex, even beautiful (as my PI would say), molecules. Although these molecules are elegantly synthesized by nature, they are extremely complicated to create using manmade methods and, until a few years ago couldn’t even have had their structures elucidated. For example, this is the molecule which I am helping to synthesize right now, Callyspongiolide, a macrocycle with five stereocenters. It may be a meaningless drawing to most, but it truly is complex and beautiful to the trained eye.

 

  

  • Taken from my own research report.


 

I am very happy to be part of the honors program because I get to experience classes like these which introduce me to and immerse me in topics which I otherwise would probably never learn anything about. This class seemed particularly interesting to me when I was enrolling for this quarter because I had never heard of bioart. After the research that I have done into bioart, the only thing I know to relate to it (only because of the eclectic and controversial nature of the art and artists) is modernist art such as that of Picasso and Matisse, another topic which I discovered through the honors program. Here is an example of such a painting, Woman In An Armchair (1929) , a painting by Picasso of one of his many lovers.

 

  • Woman in an Armchair

  • Taken from “ http://www.pablopicasso.org/woman-in-an-armchair.jsp”


 

After watching the lecture videos and reading the first assignment I can tell that I am going to thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in this topic! These artists are extremely interesting and diverse and clearly all have a great sense of humor. I found some things discussed, for example the SymbioticA artwork, “Fish&Chips,” to be extremely humorous and entertaining. It is an interesting idea to create art using connection to goldfish brains. To me, it’s also really funny for some reason. I hope these artist had a humourous approach to creating this work.

 

“Fish&Chips” - (http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/fish-chips/)

 

I found others such as Eduardo Kac’s glowing bunny, “Alba”, and his transgenic environment, “The Eighth Day,” to be exciting while simultaneously a little bit unsettling. It seems like he is pushing the boundaries of ethics in science but still creating something interesting that doesn’t seem, to me, to be inherently bad . I guess this means that they are good works of art right?

 

Alba” - (http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html#gfpbunnyanchor)



 

  

From “The Eighth Day” - (http://www.ekac.org/8thday.html)

 

All of this has made me very excited to delve into the world of Bioart. I cannot wait to learn about, see, and discuss these concepts further!