Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 7, 2013.

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A Filmmaker and Bioartist join forces to film DIY Biologists and Bioartists across North America.

At $10,000, DIYsect goes to Mexico City! In late September, we'll be able to film the annual New Media Art and Video Festival TRANSITIO_MX, an event that hosts a symposium, exhibition, and competition on art, digital culture, and technology. There, we'll be able to interview writer and curator Jens Hauser, one of the jurors for Transitio_MX.

Thanks to all our amazing supporters and loving community. We couldn't have done it without you. It's been an incredibly humbling experience, and we're more than excited to make this project a reality! 

Don't forget about our stretch goals

  • Each additional thousand that we raise funds an additional episode. With just a little more help, we'll be able to extend the web-series to cover more themes within biotechnology.
  • At $15,000, DIYsect will head to Europe! There is a wealth of people and projects to cover overseas, as well as a whole new culture of DIYBio and Bioart. This web-series will surely be incomplete without footage of Europe. Check out our map below!

Check out our new prizes

"Build it yourself" DIY Scientist Buddy
"Build it yourself" DIY Scientist Buddy

For those of you who've chosen Mike Madsen's Hacker Heroes illustrations, here are the finished images. You'll receive a glossy hardcopy, and what's more, these illustrations will be signed by an interviewee!

$50 & $100 prize
$50 & $100 prize

Like these new prizes? You can always change your pledge amount and prize selection. Learn how here.

DIYsect is a documentary web-series on the exciting world of amateur biology. 

DIYsect focuses on DIY Biology and the Biology-Art intersection. This summer, we're traveling across North America and Europe to film and interview biohackers, bioartists, scientists, writers, and curators that are involved with citizen biology. We want to raise questions and discuss the way biotechnology is changing our society. What are its political, social, and even philosophical implications? What happens when manipulating life becomes as simple as writing a line of code? And more importantly, what does this mean for average citizens and their future?

Ellen Jorgensen (left) and Nurit Bar-Shai (right), co-founders of Genspace community lab. Image of HeLa cells by Thomas Deerinck, taken from the Cut/Paste/Grow exhibition (bottom left).
Ellen Jorgensen (left) and Nurit Bar-Shai (right), co-founders of Genspace community lab. Image of HeLa cells by Thomas Deerinck, taken from the Cut/Paste/Grow exhibition (bottom left).

"DIY Biology and Bioart turn the public into producers, not just consumers." 

(Marleen Stikker, Waag Society)

DIY Biologists and biohackers are a conglomeration of Maker Culture, iGEM competition participants, and Hacker Ethic--deconstructing things to understand them, and decentralizing knowledge for the benefit of all. Around the globe, we're discovering community biolabs that operate on cheap lab equipment and sheer passion to bring biology to the hands of the public. Each lab has its own set of unique experiments, culture of influence, and personal story.

"Life is becoming raw material, waiting to be engineered."

(Oron Catts)

Similarly, artists re-contextualize the bio-laboratory. They produce works that question the nature of biotechnology, and engage the public by making science relatable and worth discussion. What does it mean to create transgenic life? Or to digitize our bodies into genetic code? Artists are able to pose these questions and confront the norm because their works are not product-driven.

Writer and curator, Wythe Marchall (top left), co-founder of Genspace, Oliver Medvedik (top right), and Emily Anthes (bottom left), author of Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts. Cut/Paste/Grow exhibition (bottom right).
Writer and curator, Wythe Marchall (top left), co-founder of Genspace, Oliver Medvedik (top right), and Emily Anthes (bottom left), author of Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts. Cut/Paste/Grow exhibition (bottom right).

"Art is science made clear."

(Jean Cocteau)

Writers and curators are just as important in this growing network. They've analyzed and spoken critically on the growing trend of bio-accessibility, and through literature and exhibitions, we're able to better understand the work that DIYBio and bioartists are putting forth in the public sphere. 

Baltimore's Underground Science Space (BUGSS), Nurit Bar-Shai's bacteria sculpture (top middle), and Nikki Romanello in her studio in Red Hook (bottom right).
Baltimore's Underground Science Space (BUGSS), Nurit Bar-Shai's bacteria sculpture (top middle), and Nikki Romanello in her studio in Red Hook (bottom right).

Why now?

Biotechnology is becoming more and more relevant in our society. With Synthetic Biology, it won’t be long before we can design and build our own organisms with ease, like the way software creates hardware. Scientists have predicted personalized medicine, alternative energy produced by bacteria, and starving nations fed by transgenic livestock. However, many of these innovations are concentrated in corporate and/or academic settings, and the research is swayed by the industry that funds it. The public needs to realize that this biotechnology will determine much about their society: what’s in their food, how their diseases are treated, and who gets access.

  • Bring these game-changing people into a single, accessible web-series platform 
  • Promote bio-literacy: offer people knowledge to eliminate their fears and to help them join the dialogue on these new technologies. 
  • Produce six episodes (8-10 min. long) where each episode explores a different theme on biotechnology. 
  • By using the web-series format, we'll be able to cover more content in shorter, digestible episodes. 
  • By January 2014, the DIYsect web-series will be hosted on Vimeo for free accessibility. 

Check out our short clips:

Who have we interviewed?

  • Ellen Jorgensen, co-founder of Genspace and advocate of bio-literacy
  • Nurit Bar-Shai, artist and co-founder of Genspace
  • Oliver Medvedik's Synthetic Biology course at Genspace
  • Wythe Marschall, writer and co-curator of the Cut/Paste/Grow exhibition at the Observatory
  • Emily Anthes, author of Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts
  • Nikki Romanello, artist
  • B-roll footage of Baltimore's Underground Science Space (BUGSS).

With over four hours of footage, we definitely have enough for a first episode. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We've spent the past two months contacting dozens more that we want to film and interview. Just check out our itinerary below.

Since these people are spread out across the country, we're embarking on an exciting road trip to reach them. Our filming period is scheduled to begin early August and end in Los Angeles in late September. After four years of living in Pittsburgh, it's finally time to say goodbye.

UPDATED on 7/18/13 [click to enlarge]
UPDATED on 7/18/13 [click to enlarge]

Who are some of these people?

  • Eduardo Kac- Famous for a transgenic glowing bunny named Alba, Kac has pioneered the avant-garde in the world of bioart. The artist has defined many important hybrid art practices, such as biotelematics in which a "biological process is intrinsically connected to computer-based telecommunications." 
  • Adam Zaretsky- With humor, satire, and performance, Zaretsky confronts the practical norm of our society's relationship with biotechnology. His works question the use of the laboratory for our consumer society, versus for the creation aesthetic organisms to feed our psycho-fantastical-desires.
  • Genspace- What began in 2009 in Brooklyn became a thriving community biolab that has hosted a variety of hands-on lab courses as well as artistic projects. Co-founded by bio-literacy advocator Ellen Jorgensen, Genspace has been at the forefront citizen biology in the US.
  • Glowing Plant Project- After a super successful Kickstarter, the folks at Glowing Plant want to make... well... plants that glow. Using Synthetic Biology, they hope to create an environmentally sustainable alternative to street lighting at night.

Plus so many more... and that's just our American Map....

Calculated for $8,000 budget
Calculated for $8,000 budget
  • Equipment- Sound and Lighting. We're investing in a shotgun microphone for our DSLR camera (to ensure that you hear our subjects in any environmental soundscape), and lighting equipment (to ensure that we'll be prepared to shoot in any lighting situation, no matter what).
  • Travel- Vehicle and Gas. We've also added a contingency percentage, just in case said vehicle causes us any problems along our journey.
  • Post-production- Data Storage and Editing Software. We'll be using Adobe's Creative Cloud service will ensure that all footage we send out will look and sound fantastic. We're also purchasing a 4 terabyte hard drive to keep everything in one place, with cloud storage backing up all our files.
  • Collaborator fees and Kickstarter Prizes- By the way, Kickstarter takes 5% of our earnings, and Amazon's billing system takes another 3%. As for collaborator fees, we've teamed up with some amazing artists to assit with prizes and to make our web-series a reality. Check out their bios at the bottom! 

Each additional $1,000 funds an additional episode

We have way too much ground to cover, and our goal of $8,000 will fund travel in the US & Canada only, and six episodes organized thematically from the topics outlined below.  Luckily, each additional $1,000 that we raise will fund an additional episode. With your help, we can potentially cover all of these topics:

  • Bio-Practicality
  • Living Media: Biology for Art's Sake
  • How to Build Your Own BioHackLab
  • Digitizing the Software of Life 
  • PostNaturalism: New Breeds of Hybridity
  • DIYBiology: A Tale in Two Parts
  • BigBio: Who's in Control?
  • The Ethics of LifeHacking
  • Genes, Self, & Identity
  • Putting Patents on Life
  • Bioterror & Bioerror
  • The Future of Citizen Science

And at $15,000... DIYsect will head to Europe!

Finalized 7/22/13
Finalized 7/22/13

The content of our web-series is unique, groundbreaking, and critical for understanding the future's trajectory in science. That's why, it's absolutely crucial that we include every person and location that's contributing to this growing movement. The map above is only a fraction of what Europe has to offer. Our research never stops, and the list continues to grow every week. 

Not featured on this map is Mexico City's Transitio Festivale on Biomedia in late September. There, we'll be able to interview many more artists on the art-technology frontier, as well as catch an interview with Jens Hauser, a leading writer and curator in the "bioart" community.

Also not featured is SymbioticA artistic laboratory in Perth, Australia. Co-founded by artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, this research facility is one of the first bioart hubs in the world. Several pioneers in bioart have had residencies there, including Adam Zaretsky, ORLAN, and Steve Kurtz.

We've collaborated with local Pittsburgh artists to bring you some really amazing prizes. Plus, with any contribution over one dollar, we'll list you in the thank you credits after every episode. 

Just finished! The complete Hacker Heroes illustration. Get your signed copy at $50 and up!

Pittsburgh artist Mike Madsen creates a fictional scenario where biohackerspace heroes inspired by actual DIYBio labs join forces to combat a gigantic monster created by "Big Bio" corporations. Collect all three illustrations to complete one awesome image.

DIYsect has a two-person crew: Ben films while Mary interviews.

When Benjamin Welmond was 12 years old, he watched Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, and decided to commit his life to the art of filmmaking. Since then, he's been working in almost any position available to him on a set; from gaffing, to writing, to directing, to editing. He has shot documentaries, musicals and silent horror films over the course of his short career. In the near future, he hopes to shake hands with David Lynch and say that even if Eraserhead really freaked him out, Mullholland Drive is one of the greatest films ever made.

ben-welmond.com

Mary Tsang was born and raised in Los Angeles in a densely-populated, Chinese-speaking neighborhood. Then, she decided to fly 2,500 miles to study Biology and Art in Pittsburgh, where she picked up a knack for growing hydroponic kale and building installations inspired by 50s space age aesthetic. With an undying love for neotropical rainforests, she has traveled to Central America and back several times, mostly for researching frogs. Mary simultaneously believes in Bokononism, aliens, and "Amor Fati," loosely translated as "love of one's fate." She will be eternally curious about all things alive.

marytsang.com

Our Collaborators

Composer | David Grabowski | http://davidgrabowski.com/

Logo Designer | Theresa Liu | www.theresaliu.com

Comic Artist | Mike Madsen | http://acemanspaceman.tumblr.com/

Special Thanks

We would like to thank Richard Pell for getting us started on this amazing project, David Kinskey-Lebeda for his hospitality in Brooklyn, Sam Suter for filming and Dave Grabowski for composing the Kickstarter video, Jordan Garcia and Daniel Campos for helping us out with initial filming, Dan Vetanovetz for his incredible advice on planning, and finally, our friends and family for their unwavering support. We would also like to thank the folks at Genspace, Wythe Marschall, Emily Anthes, Nikki Romanello and BUGSS for giving us the privilege to capture them on video.

Thanks for listening & stay tuned for more DIYsect
Thanks for listening & stay tuned for more DIYsect

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Working on the road comes has a number of perilous possibilities, and that's why back up materials have made their way into our budget. The camera is insured, and online cloud support will keep our footage secure on a server, no matter what happens to our equipment. Sound is, and will be a continual challenge; the artists and biologists work in hackerspaces, and are at times surrounded by other tinkerers with loud equipment. We'll try to our best to accommodate these factors.

Of course, post-production will come with it's own difficulties, but a number of generous friends and our own work ethic will ensure the episodes will be released in a timely and professional manner. Also, post-production will take place in Los Angeles, a large and bountiful city of resources that we can tap into if we ever run into a setback.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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