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Monday, February 25, 2013

Bio-Art: Art Course in Chicago.

By now, some of you are probably wondering: "How do you know about all this bio-art stuff, anyways?" The short answer is that I took a course at Loyola. If you go on Loyola University Chicago's webpage, they might have it up. The course covers all of the visual pieces cited on this blog, and then some, or at the very least introduced me to the artists who made them.

A Google search revealed to me that the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) acknowledged that bio-art was a thing and had a course for it. It's called Bio-Art Studio; more information can be found here. I had no idea SAIC had bio-art classes! Here's the official description:

"This class introduces students to BioArt as a studio practice and art form. We will recreate selected BioArt works and engage in harmless laboratory projects. Students will learn safety techniques and participate in classroom exercises exploring the manipulation of living material on a variety of levels. Rudimentary procedures will serve as departure points for study of more sophisticated and advanced techniques utilized by artists as well as commercial entities. Subject matter will include core concepts of Food, Fuel and Fun. Under “food” we will look at commercial uses of genetically modified organisms and significant cultural/artistic engagement with genetic manipulation. “Fuel” will encompass microbial engineering and synthetic biology. “Fun” entails studying amateur/hobbyist movements and non-commercial uses of biotechnology. Specific projects will include plant cloning, DNA extraction and fingerprinting, gel electrophoresis, harmless microbial culturing, nutrient agar plating, bioinformatics analysis and general lab rules among others."

 The bio-art course I took at Loyola went a little bit farther than that. Along with lab-based art, we covered traditional art related to relevant scientific questions. This is what guides a decent portion of my personal bio-art entries. One shouldn't have to be a scientist to pursue scientific inquiries or, at the very least, question where science is going. 

Again, this makes once question the exact definition of bio-art, but more on a literary level than anything. There's no denying that the stuff they do in this SAIC course qualifies as bio-art. For those of you not in Chicago, look around; chances are someone has a bio-art course ready and waiting. I wonder if the Art Institute will eventually have an exhibition on bio-art, given its rising prevalence?

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