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This course studies how bioart blurs distinctions between science and art through the combination of artistic and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. It explores the history of biotechnology as well as social implications of this science.
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Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.


BLOGS

Genome & Identity Politics

I read “In Contradiction Lies the Hope: Human Genome and Identity Politics” by Abha Sur & Samir Sur. In their essay they discussed recent genetic studies that looked further into the genome of India and in particular, Hindu caste members. In a study done by Michael Bamshad, it was found that the genetic composition of the Indian population was both rank and sex-specific. For example, the upper castes (priest or Brahmins) had a higher frequency of West Eurasian haplotypes (Bamshad).

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.

Cultured Meat: Raising the Steaks

                My Dad was in LA last week for work, so we grabbed dinner together on Tuesday night and, unsurprisingly given our mutual love of science fiction, multiple topics from this class dominated our conversation. After a somewhat heated debate about the morality of Edward’s Kac’s GFP Bunny, I explained my project proposal on using CRISPR-Cas9 to enable limb regeneration in humans.

Beyond Fitness: Virtual Reality in Education

There were so many incredible presentations to choose from, but Anna's presentation surrounding the potential applications of Virtual Reality to the world of fitness captured my interest and made my imagination run wild following the class. Anna's presentation centered around the potential use of virtual reality in the specific use-case of the world of fitness, and she did a wonderful job describing the various applications in this realm from guided yoga, to one-on-one instruction.

Scarcity and original copies

All the presentations last week were very interesting and inventive, but one of the most interesting to me was the presentation on an art market app. The idea of an app that could connect artists directly with buyers struck me both as interesting and problematic, because of how pragmatic it is. The art market is unpredictable, and driven by many more factors than simply scarcity. An algorithm would not be able to accurately reflect the market to price art pieces, even by new upcoming artists.

Brain Implants for Memory

Last week in class we each presented on various topics. One I was extremely interested in was the idea of having an earpiece that connects to our brain. This would then allow for the recording and storage of memory for later playback. Such a technology seems very far into the future, and there are many ethical concerns regarding it as well.

Economics of Art not Money of Art

This week, with my great pleasure, I saw many bold, crazy and creative thoughts. I was so impressed by all the excellent presentations and found my shortcomings in my capabilities in speech. Except for the language barriers, despite how well I prepared, I still always lost some ideas or points when I presented. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful experience to broaden my horizons and make me feel the attraction of biotech and art.

Traveling Brainwaves

The Octopus Brainstorming was an amazing project by Professor Victoria Vesna and Neuroscientist Mark Cohen that we as a class were able to take part in. I was very amazed by the structure of this project and my first impression in observing this piece was how thoughtful and fun the octopus crowns were designed. But other than the physical appearance of it, the science developed behind it was very fascinating.

Green Leaves, Green People?

I am very impressed by the concept of photosynthetic humans and how artists expressed it. Photosynthesis is commonly found in plants, algae and some bacteria groups and is considered key to all life on earth. Through this pathway oxygen is released into the atmosphere and carbon dioxide fixed into polysaccharides, which makes up the bases of our food.

(Source: http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/plant-cells-chloroplasts-and-cell-walls-14053956)

Virtual Reality: The Future

The past week’s lecture was very interesting. The midterm presentations brought up very interesting proposals and ideas that I had not even imagined. The presentation that intrigued me the most though was Anna’s virtual reality put to use in the realm of fitness. Anna’s ideas of how virtual reality can be used in fitness in various aspects including training and motivation is a really important point and aspect of the future. Further, I feel that the idea of having your trainer with you through virtual reality is ingenious.  

 

Life & Lizards

Last week’s lecture consisted of midterm presentations. I was looking forward to seeing everyone’s presentations as some really interesting and diverse ideas were proposed in class during week 5. Unfortunately I had to leave class early due to a severe family emergency so was unable to be present. I did however have a look through this week’s blog posts, and after reading through them and seeing my fellow classmates’ responses to the presentations, one idea really struck out to me.

 

Can you meat me halfway?

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.

Futuristic Sleeping

The midterm project that interested me the most was the Dream Machine project. Having the ability to be in control of your dreams, be able to determine where to go, what to do, and have lucid dreaming is very fascinating to me and I believe that this futuristic creation will definitely be a great benefit to people.

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