A few weeks ago my friend Ellen Jorgensen, co-founder of the Brooklyn Molecular Biology Community Lab Genspace, invited me to the Mitochondrial DNA Workshop for Artists that she was running at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. “You should come with me and visit the Bio Art Lab, it´s fantastic”, she mentioned in her email.
A few days later we met for breakfast and she took me to the lab. It was actually more than fantastic! The SVA has created a well-organized, fully equipped, esthetically beautiful laboratory for artists to engage in creative activities and research in the intersection between art, science and technology.
The Bio Art Lab, was founded in 2011 as part of the SVA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) new facility consisting of 54,000 square feet in the heart of Chelsea, NYC. The Lab was founded and is directed by Suzanne Anker, Chair of the BFA Fine Arts Department. Conceived as a place where scientific tools and techniques become tools and techniques in art practice, the Lab is the result of many people’s expertise, research and sustained effort.
During my visit I had the pleasure to meet Suzanne Anker, Lab Director, and Tarah Rhoda, Lab Manager. “This Bio Art lab is the first of its kind”, mentioned Suzanne Anker proud of the result of her initiative and hard work.
Tarah manages the lab with the help of students. She was very kind and gave me a tour of the lab, presented me the equipment, the live organisms, their projects, results and programs and introduced me to some of the artists in residence.
They had, in a previous workshop session, isolated DNA from their cheek cells, amplified the mitochondrial DNA fragment by the Polymerase Chain Reaction technique, confirmed that the DNA was amplified correctly by gel electrophoresis and had their DNA fragment sent to be sequenced by a private company. (For more detailed information in a similar lab procedure please read the Urban Barcode Project article)
In future posts I will describe several really cool projects at SVA Bio Art Lab. For now, if you want to know more, I suggest you visit their web page loaded with good content, images and videos.