July 10, 2010 · 2:00 PM
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The material aesthetics of biotechnology
by Philip Ross
Biotechnology has emerged from disparate fields, including industrial agricultural production, genetics and systems based informatics amongst others. While the computational field has come to be represented through instrumentation, biotechnology does not as yet have its own clear analog. In this talk Phil Ross will present some of the problematics of how biotechnological aesthetics are perceived and contested in popular imagery, the history of artists who are translating this research into the cultural realm, and the history of ideas that are at the root of these aesthetic interpretations. This will include his own creative research in making biologically based artworks and his curatorial experience as the founder and director of CRITTER Salon.
For the past fifteen years I have been making research based artworks that place natural systems within a frame of social and historic contexts. While this often takes form as sculptural installations my recent work has included a trilogy of videos about microorganisms, founding and directing CRITTER- a salon for the natural sciences in San Francisco, and developing some LEED Transplutonic building materials. These diverse projects stem from my fascination with the interrelationships between human beings, technology and the greater living environment.
My personal drive for making work about the organic world is born from a lifetime interest in biology. While I was terrible in high-school science and math my education emerged through a more direct engagement with materials and practices; as a chef I began to understand biochemistry and laboratory methods, as a hospice caregiver I worked with life support technologies and environmental controls, and through my interest in wild mushrooms I learned about taxonomies, forest ecologies and husbandry. Engaging with the sciences through an every day practice is a route that is aesthetically, intellectually and symbolically rich. In my various projects I show what I find interesting about the natural world, and use the lens of human artifice to achieve a specific focus of that view.