What is better? Whose better? And who gets to decide? I spent the last four years asking these questions in my PhD by project at London's Royal College of Art in the Design Interactions, and I'm delighted that I passed my viva with no corrections in November 2017! Through my projects and interventions in synthetic biology, I used design to to question better, opening up the possibility of alternative dreams.
I'm now looking to publish "Better" and start making projects again. If you have project ideas, want me to come and talk about "better", or want to find out more, please get in touch.
For Knotty Objects, the first MIT Media Lab Design Summit, I was set a challenge by the conference curators, Paola Antonelli, Kevin Slavin and Neri Oxman to 'captain' a team to make a short provocation about in vitro meat. Along the way, we discovered that the steak incorporated all the hallmarks of a knotty object, a term coined for the summit. Working with New York based production comapny m ss ng p eces, who were commissioned to make four shorties in all (bitcoin, brick, steak and phone) and in vitro meat speculative designer, Koert Van Mensvoort, our provocation attempts to move away from the existing discussions around the palatibility of in vitro meat, and instead to delve into the complex discussion around sustainability, human desire and industrial capitalism that drives the meat industry. Many different agendas. In three minutes.
The shortie was a provocation for the panel New Dimensions in Organic Design (video) moderated by Alexandra Midal, where we discussed the design of life with scientist Kevin Esvelt from Harvard's Wyss Institute, and Isha Datar of New Harvest, a not-for-profit that supports in vitro meat as a future industry.
Designing for the Sixth Extinction has been nominated for the prestigious Designs of the Year Awards by London's Design Museum. One of 76 nominations, Designs of the Year "celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year." Design experts, practitioners and academics from across the world are asked by the Design Museum to suggest potential projects, from which the museum has selected 76 for nomination and display in the exhibition. A specially selected jury chooses a winner for each category and an overall winner. This is the second time that my work has been nominated for Designs of the Year, with E. chromi featured in the 2011 exhibition. The work will be part of the Designs of the Year exhibition at the Design Museum from March 25th 2015 to August.
Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator at MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design, writes: "What happens when biology—specifically, the core materials and processes that underpin the life cycle of all living beings—birth, existence, disease, and death—becomes synthetically replicable by humans and, consequently, a building block for design? In the wake of the recent MIT publication Synthetic Aesthetics, and just a few days prior to the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Synthetic Biology 2014 Jamboree in early November 2014, we set out to discuss this complex, compelling question at MoMA by hosting a panel discussion, Synthetic Aesthetics: New Frontiers in Contemporary Design."
Led by Paola Antonelli, we were joined on the panel by architect and Synthetic Aesthetics resident, David Benjamin, Genspace co-founder Dan Gruskin, and DNA origami specialist, biochemist William Shih from Harvard's Wyss Institute. A lively question and answer session followed. Read Paola's post on the MoMA Inside Out blog, and a review of the event on Hyperallergic.
An expanded version of Designing for the Sixth Extinction is on display at the Second Istanbul Design Biennial until December 14 2014, curated by Zoe Ryan and Meredith Carruthers. Designing for the Sixth Extinction imagines a series of new machine that might repair toxic landscapes and forestall imminent ecological collapse. For the biennial, Ginsberg offers insights into the "ecology" of her own research for one of these machines, a "bio-remediating slug."
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Installation view. Photograph: Sahir Ugur Eren