About the Show
Artists obsess over their materials. For bioartists—the emerging group of practitioners who manipulate living tissues, DNA, and bacteria—these materials become active partners in the art. These installations have a will of their own. Art becomes a dynamic ecology.
Life is restless: Bioartists must embrace this restlessness. Working in the lab, the artist can't contain his medium. Even in the Petri dish, fungal spores invade the colonies, or the slime mold overruns maze. Precision gives way to open-ended experiment. The lab is a garden, and bioartist is the gardener for the new millennium, where breeding advances naturally into gene splicing.
CUT/PASTE/GROW: Science at Play provides a space to ask fundamental new questions about aesthetics and our assumptions about life and death. What, for example, makes a beautiful blueprint for a beautiful form—what makes a beautiful gene?
By cutting and pasting DNA into a being, the organism itself—both in function and behavior—becomes a chimera, a hybrid natural/engineered being stitched from disparate parts, a result of both Darwinian evolution and the will of the artist. Since antiquity, hybrids were considered abominations.
Today, we can view them in any number of ways: Are these chimerae quasi-artworks or quasi-organisms? Is bioart a new approach to society and ecology, a partnership with the microbial life all around us?
CUT/PASTE/GROW will be partly based on BioDesign: Nature + Science + Creativity, a book written by Will Myers and published by The Museum of Modern Art in 2012.
Please considering helping us. We will document the entire show on cutpastegrow.com (being designed right now!). And all funds will go toward shipping, installing, and maintaining art, as well as producing a gorgeous print and digital show catalogue—one of our Kickstarter rewards!
Some of the Artists We've Invited
The artists in our show are asking important questions about our shared future as humans—a species that shares the planet and even our own bodies with other species, many of whom are too small to see without a microscope. Depending on our success on Kickstarter, we're hoping to bring the following artists to Observatory:
- Tuur van Balen
- Nurit Bar-Shai
- Heather Barnett
- Bruce Bryan
- Revital Cohen
- Tom Deerinck
- Andy Gracie
- Eduardo Kac
- Natalie Kuldell
- Edgar Lissel
- Julia Lohmann
- Simon Park
- Nikki Romanello
- Paul Vanouse
- Liam Young
Observatory is an gallery and event space in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Inspired by natural history, morbid anatomy, and the intersection of art and science, Observatory hosts lectures, classes, and exhibitions. Observatory is part of the Proteus Gowanus art complex, located at 543 Union Street (at Nevins). Gallery hours are 3–6 PM, Thursdays–Fridays; 12–6 PM, Saturdays–Sundays.
Genspace is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting education in molecular biology for both children and adults. Its staff and volunteers work inside and outside of traditional settings, providing a safe, supportive environment for training and mentoring in biotechnology. Genspace also supplies a Biosafety Level 1 lab for biologists, laypeople, and artists to gather and collaborate on biotechnology projects.
Nurit Bar-Shai is a co-founder of Genspace and an interdisciplinary artist who works at the intersection of art, science, and technology. She composes video, live telematic installations and conducts experiments through creative collaborative inquiry. Nurit lectures and exhibits her work worldwide.
Daniel Grushkin is a co-founder of Genspace and a journalist who covers the intersection of science, biotechnology, and culture. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Businessweek, National Geographic Adventure, Popular Science, and Scientific American.
Wythe Marschall writes and teaches about futurism. With artist Ethan Gould, he is the author of Suspicious Anatomy, an illustrated book of fake neuroscience. At Observatory, Wythe has curated art shows and lectures on retrofuturism, technological ecstasy, the neo-grotesque, and the para-academic. Wythe teaches undergraduate literature at Brooklyn College. His stories and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere.
William Myers teaches and writes about the history of architecture, art and design. His book BioDesign: Nature + Science + Creativity was published by The Museum of Modern Art in New York and Thames & Hudson in London in 2012. He has worked for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Hunter College and Genspace.
Video Credits (THANK YOU!)
Risks and challenges
If you can help us, we can ship all the bioart to Observatory and keep it alive. But we can't guarantee that all the living art will remain alive for the duration of the show.
We can also put together a beautiful show catalogue that will feature the art of CUT/PASTE/GROW as well as some of our writings on bioart and even instructions on how to do it yourself. This will definitely take time to do well, so please bear with us as we first organize the show, second document, and third fulfill all of our rewards as promised.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)