Edinburgh EH9 1PL
What happens when art and science connect, when artists and scientists meet and collaborate?
Synthetica, a special contemporary art exhibition co-curated by Edinburgh International Science Festival, Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science, will showcase the work of established international artists working in the field of bioart, including renowned bioartists Oron Catts, Dr Ionat Zurr and Marta de Menezes. Through works derived using the tools, techniques and often living tissues of scientific research, Synthetica will explore how our notions of the natural and the artificial may need to change in an era in which hybrid and synthetic life forms have come into existence.
As human beings, we have an incredibly strong sense of what we define as “alive”. We grow plants in our garden and know that they are alive. We skim our fingers across the ridged surface of a wooden countertop and know that it is not alive. Yet, as scientists study the nature of living things, working on the frontier that separates living things from everything else, the lines become blurred.
Now more than ever, the definition of life is a vital question that holds implications for vast branches of synthetic biology, genetic engineering and ultimately the search for life elsewhere in the universe. We live in an exciting time where life has become a raw material, for scientific and artistic purposes, and the possibilities for human health and human society are seemingly endless. But how does our culture, our society and even our language come to terms with these new ideas of life? Are we re-writing the working definitions of what is “alive”?