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Art and Biotechnology: Discussion Forum

The responses to the notion of a discussion on art and biotechnology fall into several areas.

  1. Artists who are interested in using biotechnology, image scanning, etc in their work.
  2. The transition from art as making to art as transformation.
  3. The artists vision and sensibilities applied to the wider implications of biotechnology, ethics, power and the transformation of the human species.

I invite anyone to add further comments, also to pass on the URL to other artists and biologists who may be interested.

Lilane Karnouk
Roger Malina
Martin Kemp
Kim Williams
Rita Lauria
Don Foresta
Joel Johnson
Bruce Gilchrist
John Briggs
Claudia Faehrenkemper
Web site for Ned Seeman
Laurent Condominas: Art and life
Beverly Rubik: We are beings of Energy
Liliane Karnouk: Molecular Biology and ancient tradition
Rita Lauria: Mind Media and changing consciousness
Margaret harrell: What are we human beings?
Tenacity: Cultural Practices in the Age of Information and Biotechnology
Claudia Fährenkemper Art and Biotechnological Imaging
Franck Ancel: Art and Science in Bordeaux Nov 2000
Deena des Rioux
Suzanne Anker

From: Lilane Karnouk
This is fabulous ! Please include me. I am happy to know that I am not alone to think that what we have seen as art has a long way to go. I agree with your method for improving the situation.

I returned from Seattle yesterday where I was trying to find two teachers. The first one who might be able to teach me electro-fusion ( ie a method for coating with metal any organic matter , thus providing non degradable casings to biological forms ). The second to teach me traditional enamelling ( a way of coating and coloring metal while preventing them from rusting ).

As art techniques both benefit from being old and new, and include an equal knowledge of art and science and are rooted in the alchemist Ancient past. I intuitively feel that techniques will help me create better art-science art , do not ask me more , I is just instinct.

You see I am searching too, and it is really difficult ! For a while I thought of relocating in Seattle for apprenticeship, and than I thought why not Italy , since a friend offered me also , to join her on a residence in Italy starting in May. My week Canadian $ and my knowledge of Italian makes the option quite appealing. So, would be ready to come to Italy , and it might cost you much less.

But where can I study both techniques , where is the center for jeweller and metalcrafts in Italy ? Ravenna ? Please advice me if you know and inquire if you can.

I will write again about suggested artists and other ideas. I will also respond to your previous message, I need to think about it.

PS Thanks !!! I needed the support

From: Roger Malina <>

great idea= there is a leonardo art and biology project that we have been running for a few years with texts in the journal and the web site.

See and

key artists are people like eduardo kac who has created some transgenic art, also the art group Tissue culture in Australia, George Dessert who leads the art and biology project for Leonard also is good= see his articles in Leonard

we have also published the work of a number of artists involved in artificial life projects

anyway= i am interested

if you like i can disseminate your suggestion to the leonardo list= ok ?


From: Martin Kemp <>


the Art and Biotech initiative is of interest. keep me posted - but you know the limits of my time!


From: Kim Williams <>

Dear David, Good luck with this new phase of work, and congratulations on the new site. I'll link it to your conference report on Art and Science in the NNJ.


From: Rita Lauria <>

David: I am definitely interested in meeting if it is possible. Please keep me apprised of the developments. I would also like to bring my friend if he is available to travel, as he teaches. Perhaps he is not an artist, but has done develpment in VR. Keep me informed.

From: Don Foresta - IMC <>

David, I appreciate your message on art and science. I'm still completely involved in whatever that might be, but feeling strongly as you do that its new prominence in current fashion is not doing any real dialogue any good.

There are several things that I'd like to bring to your attention. First of all, the exhibition, "Instrument Makers" that I had talked to you about is still current but has been held up.

Secondly, I'm developing an art and science virtual faculty with several people in Europe and North America which will be an on-line project proposing weekly talks on different topics, once from the artistic point of view and once from the scientific. For instance, one week we would have the topic, "perception" with Jim Turrell as the artist and Igor Aleksander, the scientist.

On another front, one of our Souillac group is respnsible for art commissions at the London Science Museum. She, Hannah Redler, has succeeded in persuading the museum that artists are very often the best interface between scientific ideas and the public. She has already commissioned four works which will be inaugurated this summer and is continuing with more including an artist designed web site for the museum. I can send you other documents on the VF and other projects, if you're interested. I do hope we can make a meeting work one of these days.

From: Jo Joelson


I would like to respond to your e-mail about a potential gathering.......i think it could be the start of a quiet international movement David! I think the level of subtlety is very important - and we would definately be interested in being involved. It ties in perfectly to the 'london fieldworks' idea - and could hopefully lead to a reciprocal gathering in London.

As you probably know from Bruce's e-mail : we are waiting on ACE for a funding decision about 'POLARIA' which is moving on very wonderfully. The group is now 7 and a truly inspirational mix of art & science! (the age range 30-70!!) It would be great for you to meet these people when you are next in London.... Anyway that is enough writing for one e-mail - so look forward to hearing from you soon!

From Bruce Gilchrist <>

Dear David

The only way I could respond to this would be through the 'Looking at primitives' project in that the issues raised could reference notions of ownership and copyright.

In the past I have entertained the idea of talking to a copyright lawyer about patenting the process of 'capturing' the perceptual responses of the public that the project interfaces with, with the aim of manufacturing some kind of 'social sculpture' object that could be sold through the art market, galleries etc. Could it qualify as a 'public artwork' (for the benefit of society) or am I merely exploiting the public for personal profit?

The broad aim of the project is to produce an object purely by machine process, 'feeding' from the database of recorded human responses. Culturally then, the onus will shift from that of 'making' to 'transformation', which is probably more to do with the role of artistic agency within society rather any biotech metaphor. If there is any linkage it is a crude methodological one I think. There may be a resonance (can I use 'that' word when talking to a physicist?) through the use of the database and the possible ethical implications.


'Looking at Primitives' is a space dedicated to the storage and analysis of evoked potentials. The 'evoked potential' in this case being electrical voltages coerced and amplified from the cerebral cortex, a kind of neuronal applause in response to the dissolution of an image.

In the dream-state we think nothing of, and routinely forget, the 'impossible' transmutations of objects, people and events. Detached from our critical faculties we are passive witnesses to the most extraordinary inventions of the 'undermind'.

This is a collaborative project between artist Bruce Gilchrist and programmer Jonny Bradley the latest in a series of artEMERGENT works.

'Looking at Primitives' uses autostereographic imagery (a.k.a. 'magic eye pictures') as a visual stimulus whereby members of the public are invited to perceive specific primitive shapes embedded within the images while having recordings made of their brainwave responses. The brainwave files archived within 'Looking at Primitives' will constitute the raw material for a series of performance works: (a) utilising rapid-prototyping machines to objectify these perceptual recordings into plastic, 3-d sculptural pieces; (b) exploiting the midi capability of the DreamEngine™ to produce sound 'compositions'- shifting the normally cortically-bound phenomena into the live-art arena.

The database, through the growth of material generated by a mass of interactions and its eventual creative application aims to engender discourse around the issues of collaboration and networks rather than the urge to delineate the impress of a single psyche. As 'Looking at Primitives' grows, individual participants will be reminded that today was a solo performance, but tomorrow will be ensemble. Perhaps one of the aims of this project is to challenge the model of the artist as unique self expressor, offering something other than the affirmation and extension of the individual.


At the end of the last century, theosophists Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater described in a book called 'Occult Chemistry', the physical makeup of every then known chemical element, including some isotopes not yet discovered. This extraordinary feat they claimed to have accomplished by means of intensive yoga training in India, which provided them with the faculty known in the Indian yoga literature as siddhi. This psychic power, it is claimed, allows yogis to develop an inner organ of perception that enables them to attune their vision to microscopic levels. Leadbeater would psychically visualise the interiors of the various atoms while Besant made sketches of what turned out to be all the then known elements, one by one.

When 'Occult Chemistry' was first published in 1895, scientists rejected its amazing revelations as pure fantasy. Almost a century passed until the mid-1980s, when an English authority on particle physics, Dr. Steven M. Phillips, discovered a few of the 'Occult Chemistry' diagrams in the theosophical book, 'Physics of the Secret Doctrine'. Philips later found a copy of the third edition of 'Occult Chemistry', and with the advantage of the most recent theories in particle physics was quickly convinced by the accuracy of the diagrams with which Besant and Leadbeater had illustrated their book. With uncanny detail they had described every element known in their time - from hydrogen to uranium, including several isotopes as yet unknown - each with its correct number of what today are named quarks, particles discovered well after the death of Besant and Leadbeater.

Not until the end of the 1970's were particle physicists able to postulate the existence of six different kinds of quarks, giving them the names of up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom, along with their corresponding antiquarks. The theosophists had gone further, clearly depicting subquarks, the next smaller particle of matter being researched currently by physicists using supercolliders.

The story surrounding 'Occult Chemistry' remains highly contentious, ricocheting off some belief systems and absorbed by others, and was most famously 'debunked' in the 1930's by the American psychologist Joseph Jastrow in his book 'Error and Eccentricity in Human Belief'. These contentions aside, I have always used the story as an analogue to those with the ability to perceive autostereographic imagery and those without

-the world divides into two kinds of people: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't. Robert Benchley

It was as if those members of the public, gathered in small groups around the street vendors in the early 90's touting their innovative 'Magic Eye' pictures, were being coerced into public displays of etheric vision.


The use of primitive shapes within the imagery (stimulus) is most profound in its implication. The cylinder for instance, is a primitive shape manifested in a multiplicity of ways: organic structures in nature; manufactured objects in the environment; internal corporeal architecture etc. As humans we find ourselves immersed in and containing a plasma-in-flux of primitive shapes. We are outwardly perceptive of their structural role in the construction of the world 'out there', with a tacit awareness of the internal body as a synergy of 'primitive shapes' and energy.

A PUBLIC WORK OF ARTowards another patent on Life?

Can a participant in this work claim intellectual copyright to brainwaves captured as a response (evoked potential) to a process that could potentially employ those responses in the making of a future art-work? The Human Genome Diversity Project claims that the purpose of its databases is to be instrumental in the protection of endangered peoples. In light of the ethical and moral issues surrounding the HGDP, could the potential creative application of the contents of 'The Perception Depository' be considered a public work of art, or an art-work disinterred from the public?
click on 'looking at primitives' (currently netscape and explorer 5 browsers only for eeg related java app.)

From: John Briggs <>

David, I am definitely interested in this. The last section in my planned Universe as a Work of Art is intented to explore the issue of whether we can bring our artistic sensibilities to bear on two projects the could potentially transform us as a species: the millenial project to explore the galaxy and the project to transform our own genome. It's my contention that unless we can do this as artists of life--including the requisite humility--that we will make a terrible botch. Hope you can get this to work. It raises important questions from an angle not seen in the biotechnology discussion thus far. The biotechnology thing puts us right at the edge of questions of our hubris, our spirit, our creativity and our greed. cheers,

David, A couple more points on the biotechnology and art question.

I wonder if our artistic sensibility doesn't give us our best model for combining the known with the unknowable. We have convinced ourselves that everything necessary to master the material world can be known. That illusion is the most dangerous of all the many we possess. The Gothic cathedrals resulted from an artistic combination of the high technology of the known and the influence of a Being that was--as the medieval philosophers put it--greater than that which can be imagined. (Cusa called it the 'non-other'.) Can we build the technology of the future in the artistic spirit of the Gothic cathedrals. The chances are probably slim, given our lethal assumptions about the material world, but it may be worth speculating about it.

The question also relates to a conference held recently between biotechnologists and philosophers and ethicists over the prospect of delaying aging and death. The philosophers pointed out that that death is a major part of what makes us human. Or, to put it more cynically, Human beings are pretty insufferable. Imagine how insufferable we'd be if we didn't die. Death helps keep us in line. But wouldn't we love to redesign ourselves as immortals and then spend our free time figuring out some new ingenious ways of killing each other.

From: Claudia Faehrenkemper <>

Dear Mr. Peat,
I met Lynne Cohen first at the opening of my exhibition at Musée de L'Elysée in Lausanne at January 1999. We became friends and she told me about your focus in writing at the borderline of art and science and guessed that you might be interested in my work. So I would like to introduce myself and my work.

During my education at the Art Academy Düsseldorf by Bernd and Hilla Becher I got a very systematic, nearly scientific approach in photography and worked on a big documentation of strip mine excavators all over Germany for more than 5 years. During that work with a grandview camera I always intended a very precise imaging of morphological details as well as construction and function of these huge dynamic and mobile machines.

Photographs of man made microstructures (microturbines, micromotors etc.) in newspaper articles of the scientific section in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" and the "Spiegel" early in 1992 made me very curious as I was reminded of huge excavator details that I photographed before. So I contacted the Institute of Microstructure Technology at the Nuclear Research Center Karlsruhe and was offered to work on the scanning electron microscope for the first time in 1993. Under technical assistance I succeeded in taking pictures of micromotors and turbines as big as dustgrains, but was never content with the result, cause the scale was somehow unimaginable. For scaling I took beetles and combined them with the microgears. Watching these sceneries was kind of a key experience. Compared to complexity, perfection and beauty of natural construction the technical ones appeared primitive.

Therefore I am now taking photographs of insects only, preferring beetles but also ants and bugs, for nearly four years at the Zoological Institute and Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn. I am fascinated by these filigree, movable and very dynamic constructions discovering their richness of morphological details like feeler, feet, wings, wingcovers, joints, sense organs etc. at the scanning electron microscope. I am not interested in a scientific view, but in a sensual experience of these perfect and complex forms.

Although changing completely the dimensions and the imaging process, I was surprised, that photographic results of scanning electron microscope were very similar to photos taken with a grandview camera in depth of field, accuracy of details and three-dimensional impression.

Lynne Cohen gave me your website address, where I found lots of interesting information about your work. Among "Other Issues" I found an interesting statement and question in your homepage, which is very essential for my work. ' "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics" The concepts of beauty, elegance, etc. are widely used in mathematics and physics but have fallen out of fashion in art. What is the role of beauty in art?' I have been confronted with this theme very often!

Web Site
The Web site for Ned Seeman, the father of DNA nanotechnology. Seeman is interested in how interaction with artists can inspire new directions in research.

From: Laurent Condominas <>
Subject: Art and life

Dear David, I have been a photographer for decades, and am now more and more turned on to other aspects of mankind's mischievousness, thanks to an earlier assignment for UNESCO to Ethiopia, where the intensity of slavery and human misery is a direct consequence of high technology suddenly dropped into a country whose culture was given no time to absorb it.

Eastern Africa seems like another world, but it is as dependant on biotechnology and more on art as are the Davos people piling up power and wealth.

Biotechnology appears to be one of the issues at stake for anyone concerned with the earth we borrowed from our children, it is also a truly fascinating, esthetic discipline still waiting to be included in our conceptions of everyday life. From where and when we stand it looks like good enough to become one of the main knots of power and control over the whole population, broad enough to provide all sorts of deviations.

In short, it is a substantial ground for creativity, fantasmagory, food for the freak and the wise as well. Art is the flashlight opening the way. But then also, wouldn't you say that terminologies like "art & (western) science", "art & (modern) technology", "art & (modern western) biotechnology", are very often a hype, fashionable concept?

From: Beverly Rubik <>

Dear David, I am working now with a new form of Kirlian imaging developed in Russia that is real-time and without film, thanks to CCD measurement of the corona discharge, digitalization, and input to a PC where the image can be seen in real time. Moreover, the whole body emission can be calculated, based on an algorithm that relates the finger-tip emission to the acupuncture meridians passing through the fingers, and from that, a whole body aura and map of the energy distribution in the various organ systems is calculated. It is a scientific and medical tool, but also a highly visual new way of seeing humans that I think artists would love. Moreover, it gets the point across that we are beings of energy, not just bags of molecules. Warmly, Beverly

From: Liliane Karnouk <>

Dear Peat I have a lot to say about how my work led me to molecular biology , but the story is not rooted in a particular fascination with science but is the consequence of an idealistic attitude which is part of my personality.

I came from an agricultural background, I am the daughter of a plantation owner. I remember from my earliest childhood, riding a donkey in cotton fields and having a picnic in palm groves. Now all this is gone . The battle between the fertile land and the arid desert is almost lost . Seth is killing Osiris and here we are, sixty million foolish humans on a stretch of polluted river wondering how we can learn to plant the desert like our neighbor in Tel Aviv .

Egyptian identity is rooted in they Nile valley , a fertile soil which used to be naturally flooded each year by waters carrying fertilizing silts. The Revolution's modernist dreams and the construction of the High Dam in Nubia put an end to it.

But all is not lost, we remain with sand , water , hands and new technology. Desert silviculture is only a first step. Planting trees is a must in order to stop the movement of the sand and protect the new growth , tree barriers are like defence walls against the advance of the mythical Seth , god of war and of the desert . We learned that when it was necessary , Leonardo Da Vinci designed defense weapons. In my modest way I used trees in my exhibition Black and Green ( a lament on the damages caused by the Gulf war ). The so called Desert Storm was transformed into a huge spiral of seedlings covering the gallery floor. Like a storm it had to disperse . The plants were some form of aggressive growth Acacias, intended for the arid lands , a real nuisance if planted anywhere else, but in the deserts they worked wonders in restauring and fixing the sands. Each visitor was asked to pick a few trees and plant them. The idea is not new, but I again , creating avan -garde art was never my priority.

The second time I used seedlings was when I was asked to create an installation in the British Museum . I had two intentions , express my outrage by making a point that mummies belong in their homeland's burial grounds and not in any museums . So, as they could not be take them back, ( my comment was carefully censured from the exhibition catalogue by the British museum editor ) I tried to bring Egypt to them by surrounding a sarcophagus with a date palm grove , likewise in an artificial casings , test tubes . The cloning process symbol of resurrection is obvious my second point.

The seedlings displayed on their test tubes were provided by Wye College the first place to succeed in cloning date palms. This is where I returned with my grant from the National Gallery of Canada to become the first artist in residence in that college department of horticulture. Dr Sinclair Mantell (Reader in Propagation Systems ) was my guide. I gave a paper in that experience at the National Gallery and wrote a proposal for a creative project, regarding an installation exhibition related to Tobacco, a sacred plant of the Native Americans transformed , through genetic manipulation , into a potent poison. The story of how it happened is also a story of the colonization of America . I had learned during my training that tobacco was as fundamental as fruit flies in genetic , the story of tobacco was also the story of plant genetics. I sent this proposal to the curators of the National Gallery but nothing happened. Apparently the topic was too "hot". I have not given up yet, but it is a difficult and costly show.

Since 1997 , I have done little but making a living , and figuring outhe past , geometry , and aesthetics from an Islamic philosophical perspective. I am now immersed in color and form , my paintings look like gigantic medieval enamels which is the next field I want to explore. This is why I would like to learn about electro-fusion - a method for coating with metal any organic matter , thus providing non degradable casings to biological forms. Also someone to teach me traditional enameling ( a way of coating and coloring metal while preventing them from rusting )

From: Rita Lauria <>

David: I'm working with the proposition that there is a change of thought being expressed globally that re-presents the new physics began in the early twentieth century.

The intentionality of some of the initial designers of "mind media" was to create media that could tap directly into the thought processes and thereby mimic them. So some proposed a symbiotic relationship w/the human and machine (computer) to allow for more direct intutitive access to the very process and resources of thought.

I suggest that the implications of the conceptual thought of quantum theory, relativity etc. are embedded per se into the design of these media and are currently being assimiliated on a global level with the use of the same. The artists are the first to realize the shift in the cultural ground and their expressions are indications of the foreplay of a mass shift, not just a shift that perhaps a core group of intellectuals -- physicists, philosophers, communication theorists, etc. would be privy to. The conceptual frames of the intellectual ground of the physics of the early 20th century laid the foundation for the mind of the 21st century and the ramifications currently express through the artists who characterize communications via the net as distributed self, etc.

"Artists now talk about how the Internet and the World Wide Web enable them to navigate and to reframe consciousness. They talk about distributed self. They develop projects focusing on the construction of self, the transformation of personal identity, and the ontology of telepresence. They talk in terms of how the Net allows one to be both here and there at one and the same time.

Architects and telecommunications researchers talk about liquid architectures and artificial life technology in the context of noetic navigation and the making of new kinds of awareness and consciousness. They say new kinds of architectures are needed to accommodate the mind as it inhabits 'virtuality.' They talk of the need for new kinds of space for the mind to explore which will afford connectivity with outer minds and provide pathways through cyberspace. These pathways, they say, have implications for the emergence of a post-biologicial culture.

Visionaries in computer science see the future Internet as being everywhere at the same time, always "on." They talk about ubiquitous computing where walls and desks will be fully actuated with sensors, logic, memory, processing, microphones, cameras, speakers, displays, i.e., fully enfolding the potentiality of communication. One could walk into a room and the room would know and would interact with the individual, as if the room were one with the individual, offering up information perhaps in response to requests. The environment world be in-formed as would the individual as a part of the whole environmental context.

Between where computing is now and that ubiquity will be nomadic computing. Using a variety of handheld devices, people will be able to access information over the Internet at any time, any place. ..." ( Section in quotes from "Virtuality." by Rita Lauria.)

From: Margaret Harrell <>

These forums interest me very much, and here is why. I have for some time now begun to look at the paradoxesof the many skills that science has given us, but applied through technological instruments. That means that for every new discovery, every newly discovered principle, the first thing that is thought is that it takes some mechanical medium, some conductor of electricity, etc., some television set--to implement the knowledge.

We have a growing list of things we have discovered that work "in principle." But by the same principle, it's a list of things that the human being Cannot Do. So before answering the question of J. B. Rhine, in "The Reach of the Mind" (published back in 1947, over 50 years ago)--"What are we human beings, you and I?"-we are now so far advanced, that we want to restructure and change this creation. But not by teaching it skills. Rather by acting upon it--to lift it beyond the reach of certain experiences, without first even understanding (in many cases) their purpose.

The main point being the use of the opposite directions of (1) technological planning and (2) investigations of the entirely "human" skills that we have in parallel, but untapped into. One requires great mental development to discover, but the other requires vision, consciousness, etc. Yet all the processes we suspect and leave in the unconscious, as nonlinear, irrational, etc.) we are currently, for the most part, leaving in the hands of the East and in some indigenous societies.

It seems strange that we can only conceive of expanding outward-through tools such as technology--which is fine. But not if to the exclusion of the resources of consciousness that we have, scattered all over the planet, with much to teach. (Jung was very clear about this--about how what we do not integrate or see, we meet on the outside, in life events.) It should be quite possible to learn the skills of settling our "differences" of opinion. Yet this would mean stretching our capacities for understanding and integrating. And that's a very subtle thing, to learn.

The option, which it seems to me that you are furthering, is to look ahead, and look to the whole planet, for the wisdoms and techniques we want to learn and preserve. If we haven't developed the skill of "Choice," we can't comprehend the many opportunities that technology brings. Can't define words like "abundance," because they take holistic procedures that energy itself contains. But if we don't study this, we won't know what it is that the facts will bring--merely what they will do. But us--how will we be inherently changed? Information is not just a commodity, because everything is also, at the same time, an experience-creating consciousness. By this line of thinking, what you are attempting is profoundly important, I believe.

So in order to more wisely decide something of "who we want to be," I think we have to combine an interest in "who we in fact are." And WHAT. Just as J.B.Rhine prophetically said. The term "informed choice" is also paradoxical, because the information it gives is often superficial. What is "informed choice"? Informed how? Certainly not entirely by reading about it. Rhine corresponded with Jung, to raise profound questions about synchronicity. ETC. There were many theoretical discussions--even in that period--that I think are still current. It is not only that we have access to knowledge and information but that we know how it is capable of interacting with us creatively.

The Hindus have a rhythm: creation, maintenance, and destruction. We would not wipe out one of the three, in order to have "progress." I think we have to know a lot, if we are to plan for a year, two years, a century, as a planet and a species, into the future. It was already, I believe, Kierkegaard, who made a distinction between "understanding" and "explaining." It was Rilke who felt that the process of waiting (without seeing into the future) was a necessary precondition to the big outburst he finally had, in late poetry. He said, "Not to know!" He thought it was his whole purpose during the period of the writing block--so that the spurt of energy and creation would be that much stronger.

Congratulating and thanking you for yet one more endeavor on behalf of the Whole, and thanking you for pointing me to it. I find it highly exciting. y website (under construction) is Containing some photos in a Gallery and other sections; also some literary history of figures in New York City

From: Claudia Fährenkemper <>

Dear David,

I use scientific imaging instruments (scanning electron microscope) for exploring the invisible part of the world and trying to understand it. I am shure that scientific imaging changes the way we look at and respond to it. But this raises some questions: Is it really possible to influence the perception of nature or even to change the attitude with it's visual representation? And what is the difference between an (artistic) photographic approach and pure scientific photography? Although I guess that some scientists are guided by aesthetic criteria, similar to an artist, the issues concerning the same theme, for example biological forms/ shapes are quite different. Using modern technology my photos discover the microcosmos in an apparent scientific manner, and although they might be interesting for biologists, too, these photos have their own world with lots of unscientific interpretations, far from science.

If there would be a chance to participate at a gathering of artists and biologists I would be very curious in questions of perception, interpretation, values and ambivalences (aesthetic and threatening impresssion) of "scientific" photos.Themes of nature and technology (bionic/ robotic) and art would be very exiting for me, too.

To give you a first impression of my photographic work four scanning electron microscope photos from details of insects are added as an attachement to this e-mail. For illustrating the change in the dimensions from macrocosmos to microcosmos, I add three further photos: one of an insect with a microturbine, one of the microturbine itself and one of an excavatorwheel, which I took with a 4x5" grandview camera. The printsize is 40x50cm - 80x100cm. (The scans are compuserve GIF files.)

Reading on your web site makes me interested in a dialogue with you and other involved artists and scientists! It would be great to get more knowlege about Martin Kemps idea of "structural intuition" and Susan Derges interesting work (I saw her exhibition in 1998 in the Musée de L'Elysée in Lausanne).

[Note I hope to make some of these images available on this site.]

From: Franck Ancel <>

Dear David, I'm part of an association who are preparing a Symposium on Art and Technology that will take place in Bordeaux, France in November 2000. Our first symposium took place in the Museum of Modern Art, Bordeaux in November 1999.

At the moment the program is still open and could include "Art and Biotechnology". However, all this would depend on funding.

From: Deena des Rioux <>

In response to your quest for art that addresses biological subjects, I have one image in my portfolio of computer works that might be of interest. It has been generated as both photomural and mid-sized, inkjet print and has excellent international exhibition, collection and print media credits. The image spoofs biotechnology; specifically, cloning and overall, genetic engineering.

Meanwhile, you can see a preview on the Website currently featuring my solo exhibition at the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana, through May 27th. under headings 'Newsletter' and 'Exhibits'. Until a further level of mutual interest, please accept my best wishes. Sincerely, Deena des Rioux

From: Suzanne Anker <>

Dear David Peat: I had the opportunity to hear you speak at the ASCI conference in NYC this year. I had intended to be in touch with you with regard to my work, which consists of the relationship between art and genetics in both essay form and visual art (sculture, prints).

My interest in genetics and art is twofold: 1) I see genetic imagery as an encoded form of language already existing in the body, as other language systems have embedded structures within consciousness 2) this idea has relevance with relationship to the ways in which pictorial practice has produced a visual rhetoric and semiotic system continuous with the discipline of art history.

I will be delivering a paper "Material Into Metaphor: Picturing DNA" at a conference in London on May 27th. Will you be in London?

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