Art has the answers

While Mick's whole lecture intrigued me, I feel that the idea of environmental Agitation Propaganda especially stood out to me. I feel that half the issue with dealing with environmental issues is that people keep continuing to ignore the fact that something still needs to be done about so many environmental issues caused by pollution. We've gone as far as to -mostly- acknowledge the effects we have on the environment, but still aren't changing the way we treat it in terms of the byproducts we produce as a species.  I found Buster Simpson's work to be incredibly interesting and inspiring, and the project he did with the giant Tums tablets to de-acidify the rivers especially great, because they really force people to see the damaging effects of pollution and how incredibly simple a remedy could be.  I think that these projects, combined with the efforts of Gilberto Esparanza's Plantas Nomadas, are incredibly important because they prove that something CAN be done about the damage that we have done to nature as a byproduct of human presence.  While they only remove and remedy small-scale environmental damage, they are still a starting point. We have to start somewhere, and we've talked about it long enough. These projects prove that restoring the environment is not really as far from our reach as we might have thought.  Imagine if large-scale changes were made to prevent further damage from coming out of our societies, and if we paired these with inventions such as those of Simpson and the Plantas Nomadas (especially considering their pretty self-sustaining as a new 'species').  Who's to say we couldn't greatly impact the environment in a positive way for once? What's especially great is that these projects were not necessarily thought of as solutions to the problem, but rather statements about it. But I think that artworks such as these are the beginning for solving so many problems.

Source: http://www.bustersimpson.net/hudsonriverpurge/index_files/4-buster%20simpson.%20river%20purge.jpg 

In addition, I also found the discussion on the use of nanodiamonds for cancer treatment incredibly thought provoking and actually kind of reassuring. It also creates a beautiful metaphor surrounding the perceived purity of diamonds. When we think of diamonds, we think of something clear, clean, sparkling, perfect; the exact opposite of the ugly, toxic, discolored, misshapen image of cancer. Just the thought of something so pure infiltrating these corrupted cells and literally stopping them from continuing in their disruptive courses, causing them to wither up and die, is beautiful and reassuring. Its almost as if its their 'inherent' purity is what overcomes the resilience of cancer.  I feel that a treatment like this (once they're sure it doesn't have any serious side effects to it, of course) could really be augmentative to the field of cancer treatment, not just for its effectiveness, but also for changing the face of treatment. I know from supporting several family members and friends suffering from various types of cancer that chemotherapy itself is somewhat seen like more of a death sentence than the actual cancer itself.  People that go into remission can sometimes not recover from the treatment itself, which deters many from seeking treatment in the first place. When contrasted with these current forms of cancer treatment, which are so harmful to the healthy cells an the rest of the entire body, this approach just seems so much better to me, especially since it only targets the infectious cells.  While further exploring the intersection of bioart and cancer I came across an interesting, prize-winning project of the website of the Federation of American Societies for Research Biology (FASEB)AlexanderKozlovskaya, Kharlampieva, and Godin, supported by the National Cancer Institute, researched other targeted drug delivery systems for cancer treatment, and they came up with a really interesting project exploring "how the shape of a particle affects its transport through the body and uptake by targeted cells." Like the nanodiamonds these paticles are being used to find more direct ways to treat cancer without all of the side effects and collateral harm to healthy cells. 

Source: https://www.faseb.org/Resources-for-the-Public/Scientific-Contests/BioArt/2015-BioArt-Winners.aspx

They were specifically looking at breast cancer cells, but I can only begin to  imagine what will happen once we find the 'right shapes' for all types of cancer cells. It's kind of funny to think, but these experiments bring the image of one of those childhood toys where only certain shaped blocks correspond to another hole of the exact same shape to my mind. As if treatment is just a process of trial and error, much like the process we go through learning this game as child, of trying to find the correct key to each problem, because no two issues are the same or require the same treatments.  This is especially true of more complicated infections and cancers, such as lukemia, which gain resistance (or change shape) after being paired with the right treatment. Our bodies have become a collection of different block puzzles, with each uniquely-shaped cut-out corresponding to a new unsolved mystery of disease or infection.  It's both a troubling and reassuring image. There are a great deal of cut-outs that are still empty because we don't yet have the solutions.  But, then again, all we have left to do is find the right shape to fill that gap in our research, our technology, our knowledge, and it's really reassuring to think of it sitting there just waiting to be picked up and placed in the right outline.  After what I've seen in this class, I really feel that bioart might provide this piece. It might be being used as a piece in someone's artwork for now, but tomorrow it might be a key piece in solving the world's most pressing biological conundrums.  

Source: http://img.banggood.com/images/upload/2012/lixia/SKU096432-2.jpg

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References:

"Child Baby 13 Holes Wooden Toys Shape Building Block Puzzle." Ernest-e-mall.com. Web. 12 April 2016.

"Research Focus: Targeted drug delivery systems for cancer treatment."Jenolyn F. AlexanderVeronika Kozlovskaya, Eugenia Kharlampievaand Biana Godin. Web. 11 April 2016.

"Tiny diamonds to boost treatment of chemoresistant leukemia." (September 2013). University of Singapore. Web. 11 April 2016.

"Tums-for-mother-nature." Buster Simpson. Web. 11 April 2016.