On April 18th 2016 scientists, designers, and artists working across the biodesign disciplines gathered at the Darwin Building at the Royal College of Art for fifth in the BioChanges series of talks and panel discussions. Themed of ‘Superorganisms’, the event explored questions including:
The speakers were Artist, PhD Quantum Physicist and Senior Tutor in Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art, Dr. Libby Heaney; Reader in Gene Network Engineering at Imperial College, Dr. Mark Isalan; Senior Lecturer in Synthetic Biology and Synthetic Genome Engineering at Imperial College, Dr. Tom Ellis; Artist and Researcher into Biological Systems, and Course Lecturer on the Masters in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, Heather Barnett; and myself.
Dr. Libby Heaney kicked off the presentations with a selection of her biologically-inspired participatory installation experiments and artworks. Dr. Mark Isalan followed, introducing some of his research group’s latest experiments in gene network engineering. Next up, I presented a handful of my research findings at the intersection of ecosystem resilience to extreme hazards, architecture and urban design. Penultimate speaker Dr. Tom Ellis gave a compelling talk on some of his research group’s investigations in synthetic gene engineering (image above), positing the potential for future materials. Heather Barnett then walked the audience through several of her recent bioart projects, including collaborative works exploring the behaviours and potentialities of species including slime mould.
Following a panel discussion and audience Q&A, all gathered participated in a live experiment, which designed by Heather Barnett, mimicked the behaviour of microorganisms. The evening drew to a close with drinks at the RCafe, and an opportunity for those gathered to pitch their ideas for art-science collaborations.
Well done to BioChanges #5 organisers, including RCA biodesign researchers Victoria Geaney and Amanda Olesen, for having put together such an inspired and flawlessly produced event!
Find out more about BioChanges are the link below:
Melissa Sterry, PhD, design scientist, systems theorist, biofuturist, and serial founder inc. Bionic City®.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
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