Winners 2011-2012

Life on concrete

Project: 'Concrete Lichen' by Lionel Billiet

Attractor Poisson Saturn

Project: 'Aqua Vita' by Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret

Sketch transparent sphere

Project: 'In Vena Verbum – Message in a Vein' by Tiddo Bakker

Project: 'The Edible Time Machine' by Zack Denfeld, Catherine Kramer en Yashas Shetty

Living pigment, urinary diary, food time machine, plant with a voice

Award winning projects at the intersection of art and science

On 8 June the second edition of Designers & Artists 4 Genomics will open in museum Naturalis in Leiden. Four prize-winning teams of artists and scientists each developed an installations. They use living material in their projects, which make us raise questions and wonder about the significance of science and Life Sciences in our society. It is exactly at the intersection between art and science that exciting things happen. We already experienced this last year with the results of the first Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award: bulletproof skin, a worm opera and a new life form. This year another four remarkable collaborations were awarded.

Living Pigment
The project ‘Concrete lichen’ or Living pigment by Lionel Billiet and the Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation explores the organic growth of lichens on man-made surfaces such as buildings. The project particularly aims to learn to grow the lichen Xanthoria parietina; the lichen will then be planted on existing concrete walls – and the results observed. “I’m curious about the story that the biological growth pattern of the lichen tells,” says Lionel.

Aqua Vita / Urine diary
Aqua Vita, the project by Susana Cámara Leret, Mike Thompson and the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre, assumes that urine is not waste, but rich in information and a valuable insight into our health. During six weeks the urine and saliva of the artists was examined daily, during which they each filled out a questionnaire based on Chinese medicine. Aqua Vita thus combines advanced technology with traditional Chinese medicine and visualizes this information in a urinary diary. Mike and Susana: “Hopefully now we will gain better understanding of the relationship between lifestyle, diet and health.”

In Vena Verbum
In Vena Verbum (‘Message in a vein’) makes people aware of the fact that plants are much more than static, decorative objects. Tiddo Bakker and the Center for Biosystem Genomics reveal to us the hidden world of plants by developing an instrument that measures the activity of the chloroplast. Thus you see that the plant continuously responds to light, temperature, CO2 levels in the air, food and water in the soil. The medium gives the plant a voice, as it were. “Although we are responsible for the ups and downs of our plants, we do not see how plants respond to us – but we can measure it,” says Tiddo.

Eat less, live longer … and pray for beans
“Eat less, live longer – and pray for beans’ is the title of an installation with imaginary recipes from the year 2030, a “food time machine”. The investigation into the composition of the recipes is based on the ‘Getting Old Together’ study of the Netherlands Consortium for Healthy Ageing, in which subjects were moving more and eating less. Designers Zackery Denfeld and Cathrine Kramer devised recipes for four different future scenarios, among which is one where the Netherlands will receive food aid from India.”What is the impact of climate change, trade and energy on the Dutch food culture?” Zack and Cathrine wonder.

On December 2011, these four projects won the second Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award (DA4GA), a contest where art, design and life sciences are brought together and which bridges the gap between the Life Sciences and Creative Industries. DA4GA encourages artists and designers, in collaboration with scientists from leading Dutch genomics centres, to create new projects in the world of bio art. The winners each received a sum of € 25.000 for the realization of their project.

Designers & Artists 4 Genomics is an initiative of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative and the Waag Society, sponsored by the Centre for Society and the Life Sciences and presented by Naturalis.