Went to the Visceral living art exhibition at the Science Gallery in Dublin the other day. It was well worth the trip. We got to see some of the output from some ten years of collaborations and residencies from artists working in SymbioticA, the art-science lab in Perth at the University of Western Australia. I like the idea suggested by Marshall McLuhan that artists might be regarded as canaries in the cultural coal mine of scientific research alerting the public to the consequences of new technologies. This fits in with my feeling of scientists working alone in the semi darkness in the bottom of a diamond mine; when we find a whopping big diamond we jump up and down for a while and then put it in our pocket and start digging for the next one. Guess we should tell someone about this big diamond but it sometimes takes too much time and effort and we are more excited about finding the next one. Well there are an increasing number of canaries out there nowadays twittering away (why do artists twitter so much more than scientists? NO one I work with tweets) and doing art as well. Not sure if they are aware of all the noxious fumes emanating from our mines but they sure are producing some exciting art work.
‘Living art’ is how the exhibition is described and that is what excited me; seeing a group of living art exhibits together like this left me like the veritable kid in a sweet shop (aka candy store). I didn’t know where to start; whether to join the resident cricket audience listening to a lecture on their sex lives or whisper my fears to the semi-living worry dolls. I work with bacteria, insects and cell culture and felt very much at home in the exhibition, this sort of exhibition is primarily about producing great art, but there is also the opportunity to build a bridge across from the science lab and translate some of the new technologies being developed and ethical dilemmas facing us. Continue reading