April’s Friday Late at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum celebrates the launch of Synthetic Aesthetics as artists, designers and scientists explore our biological future. On April 25th, the V&A will be transformed for an evening into a space of biology and design, with films, talks, workshops and debates and hands-on lab experiments, from 6.30pm-10pm. The Synthetic Aesthetics Late is sponsored by Mastercard with support from the EPSRC, and is programmed by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg with the V&A. More information will be posted about the evening on the V&A Friday Late webpage.
I’m thrilled to say that our book, Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature is now available to order in the USA direct from The MIT Press or Amazon, and will be available elsewhere from mid-April. Documenting a research project that first began in 2009 at an EPSRC/NSF funding ‘Sandpit’, this interdisciplinary, internationally collaborative book sees synthetic biologists, artists, designers, and social scientists investigating synthetic biology and design. Read more about the project and the book, or visit the Synthetic Aesthetics project website.
We’ll be launching it in London at the V&A Museum on April 25, with further talks and events to come.
Christina Agapakis and I met for the first time at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition jamboree, back in 2009. iGEM is an undergraduate-focused design competition in synthetic biology, which began at MIT in 2004. I was there as a designer with the 2009 University of Cambridge E. chromi team, carrying a briefcase of coloured poo, the Scatalog. Christina was a biologist at Harvard and a competition judge. Ever since our first conversations that year, when this biological engineering competition unexpectedly saw artists entering for the first time (ArtScienceBangalore), and designers showing work (our E. chromi guerilla intervention), Christina and I have continued to collaborate across science, design and art, from the Synthetic Aesthetics project, to conferences, exhibitions and publications.
Five years later, we are excited to have been invited by iGEM HQ in the spirit of art/design/science collaboration to develop Art & Design at iGEM for the 2014 competition. This year is the tenth anniversary of iGEM, and the annual ‘jamboree’ will be held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston in November. To celebrate the diversity of teams and disciplines that come together at iGEM, this year's competition will include a range of special tracks and prizes to include as many participants as possible. We are launching a new Art & Design Prize and Art & Design Track. Our motivation is to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration at iGEM and beyond.
There are two ways to get involved:
An Art & Design Track for teams that are primarily undergraduate artists and designers, although it is open to master’s students and non-degree candidates as well. The track is essentially a mini-competition (other iGEM ‘tracks’ cover ‘software’ or 'environment'). There will be a Track Award for the best team within the track.
There is also a new Art & Design Prize, open across the iGEM competition to all teams. We hope this prize will encourage art and design students to collaborate with science and engineering teams in mixed groups (even from different universities). To find a team close to you, check out the list of teams already registered.
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The iGEM 2009 jamboree