The New York Times
Science | The Scan
Science Events: Dancing Particle Physics and Science-Inspired Fashion
By JASCHA HOFFMAN. SEPT. 29, 2014
Where Is the Art in Bio Art?
School of Visual Arts, Flatiron Gallery, 133/141 West 21st Street, Manhattan. Through Oct. 18; reception at6 p.m. Oct. 1. Free.
When Shane Boddington was growing up in rural Zimbabwe, he remembers craving an orange to quench his thirst. Now he is trying to splice a citrus gene into a tobacco plant to create a transgenic hybrid that smells like an orange. Mr. Boddington is not a biologist, however: He is an art student at the School of Visual Arts, whose Bio Art Lab was founded in 2011 to help young artists to put down their brushes and work with plants, animals and microbes using techniques like tissue engineering and cloning. At this show, one student will project colorized videos of wiggling ants to show the complexity of the gestural language they use to communicate. Another student has built a machine that makes entrancing mounds of glowing bubbles using a compound found in bioluminescent algae. There are also works from faculty members: Brandon Ballengée will show a skate fish preserved with a 19th-century technique that reveals its inner structure, and the lab’s director, Suzanne Anker, will contribute a 3-D replica of an egg in a petri dish with a dead insect. The purpose of bio art is to “demystify science and turn it into raw material for the practice of art,” Ms. Anker said — art that questions “what it means to be human at a time when technologies are changing how we reproduce, grow food and make drugs.”