Lecture Write-Up

Lecture Title: Manipulating Art and Living Systems

Artist: Kathy High

Location: Harter Hall, Alfred University

Date of Attendance: 2/10/2015


In this lecture, Kathy High talked about how her artwork combines the artistic world with problem solving and studies in the sciences, mainly in the biology of living organisms. She also talks about other artists and scientists who work with animals to find creative solutions to problems.

The projects and people she talked about are included in the following paragraph. Revital Cohen Life Support shows the potential for animals to be used for medical support, and how humans could live parasitically off of other life forms. Patricia Piccinini’s The Young Family shows how transgenic animals can grow organs for humans and nurse other animals. An Ecosystem of Excess by Pinar Yoldas involves the research of creatures that are given organs that can absorb or eat off of plastic. Catherine Chalmers studies genetically engineered mice that are blind, sterile, obese, and have challenged immune systems or downs syndrome. The iGEM team along with Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and James King work to identify disease, toxins, etc. from ingested probiotics by analyzing poop color. Charles and Jay Vacanti experiment with growing a human ear on a mouse. Eduardo Kac-Alba creates transgenic artwork and questions through it what transgenics mean to us. Also discussed was the creation of beer fermentation, with Chaim Weizmann being the grandfather of this process with the fermentation of making acetone. Marta de Menezes’s projects of manipulating the wing design on butterflies is shown, along with Koen Vanmechelen’s The Cosmopolitan Chicken project where he tries to bring chickens back to their first biological form. Brandon Ballengée looks at pollutants and toxins affecting amphibians by looking for stains prodded by a special chemical on amphibians’ skeletons and muscles. Heath Bunting is shown to be developing a super weed kit to overwhelm pesticide resistance weeds. In High’s projects, she works with her own problems.

Some people may ask, “what does science have to do with art?” A better question would be “how does art affect science?” While a logical mind is necessary to process a lot of the information incorporated with science, a creative mind has more potential for dealing with problems that appear. A person who thinks creatively may come up with a successful circumvention or method of dealing with a problem, and can allow a new perspective on the subject matter. Artists could potentially allow the more logical thinker to see the potential outcome of an experiment with a picture, or an artist can also be a scientist and alter the physical nature of biology as we know it.

What does this lecture have to do with Digital Media and Animation as a field of study? What we learn in this major can help to illustrate the changes in the biology of a creature, allow us to help scientists to visually see and talk about their field of study, and a countless number of other things. In reality, you need both creativity and logical thinking for their to be any progress in the world. A creative mind can come up with a world shattering change, and a person with a logical mind can analyze how effective the idea might be and help it come into human lives. All in all, science and art allow the world to be how it is today.

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