The concept of a bio-based economy captures the idea of replacing fossil resources and chemical processes by biomass and biotechnological processes. This concerns the production of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fuels, materials, and energy. Globally, many countries strive for a transition to a bio-based economy as it is expected to benefit society in terms of sustainability, energy security and public health (Langeveld & Sanders 2010). However, such a transition would require technological innovation, involving important changes requiring engagement of the society as a whole. Success in achieving these goals is co-dependent on the preparedness of individuals to make choices in daily life, with regard to food, transport and energy usage (Gijsberts et al 2005).
Achieving engagement on issues that are relevant for the future is not trivial. Bio-art has a potential as an intermediary for the engagement between art, science and society. It can function as a ‘double boundary object’ (Star & Griesemer 1989), namely, a configuration between science and art and one between science and society (Hansen et al 2006). In this capacity, it has the potential to articulate social, cultural and moral dilemmas carried along by emergent science and technology. Bio-art makes them visible and tangible. By turning the innovation process into something concrete the artist and his work are able to question notions of innovation, and thus trigger dialogue.
System Synthetics is a bio-art project by designer Maurizio Montalti. He was one of the winners of the Designers & Artists for Genomics Award 2010 (www.da4ga.nl). In this project he explored the impact and social consequences of the latest advances in life sciences and microbiology. The installation was on display for half a year at the natural history museum Naturalis in Leiden, the Netherlands. The Section Biotechnology and Society at TUDelft studies different approaches to public engagement. For the presente study engagement is understood as a state of being rather than a process. This ‘state of engagement’ comprises three spheres: cognition, affect and behaviour (Lorenzoni et al 2007). For engagement you need to know something about the subject, have a feeling relating to it and a behavioural intention. In this context Montalti’s work was studied, questioning how the work affected the public and to what extent it triggered engagement with a bio-based economy.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public Engagement with System Synthetics

Susanne Sleenhoff   Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation

Maurizio Montalti   Section Biotechnology & Society, Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology

Patricia Osseweijer   Section Biotechnology & Society, Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology

The concept of a bio-based economy captures the idea of replacing fossil resources and chemical processes by biomass and biotechnological processes. This concerns the production of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fuels, materials, and energy. Globally, many countries strive for a transition to a bio-based economy as it is expected to benefit society in terms of sustainability, energy security and public health (Langeveld & Sanders 2010). However, such a transition would require technological innovation, involving important changes requiring engagement of the society as a whole. Success in achieving these goals is co-dependent on the preparedness of individuals to make choices in daily life, with regard to food, transport and energy usage (Gijsberts et al 2005).
Achieving engagement on issues that are relevant for the future is not trivial. Bio-art has a potential as an intermediary for the engagement between art, science and society. It can function as a ‘double boundary object’ (Star & Griesemer 1989), namely, a configuration between science and art and one between science and society (Hansen et al 2006). In this capacity, it has the potential to articulate social, cultural and moral dilemmas carried along by emergent science and technology. Bio-art makes them visible and tangible. By turning the innovation process into something concrete the artist and his work are able to question notions of innovation, and thus trigger dialogue.
System Synthetics is a bio-art project by designer Maurizio Montalti. He was one of the winners of the Designers & Artists for Genomics Award 2010 (www.da4ga.nl). In this project he explored the impact and social consequences of the latest advances in life sciences and microbiology. The installation was on display for half a year at the natural history museum Naturalis in Leiden, the Netherlands. The Section Biotechnology and Society at TUDelft studies different approaches to public engagement. For the presente study engagement is understood as a state of being rather than a process. This ‘state of engagement’ comprises three spheres: cognition, affect and behaviour (Lorenzoni et al 2007). For engagement you need to know something about the subject, have a feeling relating to it and a behavioural intention. In this context Montalti’s work was studied, questioning how the work affected the public and to what extent it triggered engagement with a bio-based economy.

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