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.


How is Biotechnology really related to Art? Can it be?

Hello everyone, I hope everyone’s week has been great so far. Now moving on to the topic of the hour, biotechnology and its relation to art. Being a second year pre-med who is majoring in a science, you do not really get to explore outside your necessary course subjects and explore a lot of new fields. I can say though I have tried to break this tight course schedule by taking classes in both topics: Biotechnology & Society and Art and Architecture separately as GEs. Thus, biotechnology in relation to art does not really come to mind first as I think of these as separate.

Advancement is Terrifying

              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.

The Quantization of Life: The Categorizational Quandary

A question that I often ponder for myself is, "What is the meaning of my Life", but a question I have rarely asked my self is 'What is the literal meaning of Life'. Stefan Helmreich uses three extreme examples of life in his essay What Was Life? to establish what life has been in the past, which is all that is really possible to assert in this present age. Life, like Art, is a word that has no strict definition, and is a constant source for debate.

Week Two


The past two weeks have opened my eyes to a world I did not know existed. I had never realized biology and art could be so intertwined, producing an endless array of beautiful imagery.


Having an Artificial Life

As I have come to realize over the past couple weeks, the intersection of biotechnology and art is a flourishing field that is capable of bringing attention to many important ethical and scientific issues, as well as philosophical questions of what life is exactly. One rapidly developing field is artificial life and artificial intelligence, which look to replicate biological systems and cognitive processes in machines.

Bioart: A New experience in the Field of science

             Hello, my name is Brandon Trejo, and I am a second-year Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology major. When I first came to UCLA I had little to none exposure to the science field. I Knew I wanted to be in it, but I did not know what interests me. During my first year here I enrolled in a class in the cluster program called “Biotechnology and Society”, and I began to gain interest in the field of biotechnology.

Bio-Art is more diverse than I expected

Since I began researching this topic two weeks ago, I have been amazed to discover how truly diverse the array of bio-artworks can be. After the first week of lectures I had come to the conclusion that most of the pieces within this genre of art were political or sociological. They all seemed to be made by semi-absurdist, semi-comedian type artists as a way of creating satire commenting on the nature of science, art and the mind.

Who owns us anyway?

I think the use and abuse of genetic engineering technology and its relation to art heavily influenced the topics of discussion this week. Throughout the lessons, the idea of an inevitable human-computer synergy and the book “Virtual Reality” by Josh Creel came to mind in which there will come a time in the not too distant future where there were be extremely independent artificial intelligence and will not require human input to operate. Creation of such machine will no doubt spark ethical discussions like all of the major technological advances have so far.

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. 

What Do We Leave Behind?

Throughout the artists and artworks explored this week, what struck me was the idea that all of us are leaving behind traces of ourselves in everything that we do. Specifically, we are simultaneously teeming with living parts and leaving some of these living remnants behind as we interact with the world.


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