Bio-art is described as a possible intermediary for the engagement between science and society. It functions as a double boundary object between science and art, and science and society. Bio-art has the potential to explicate social, cultural and moral dilemmas that are likely to arise with the advancements in science and technology by making them visible and tangible. By turning the innovation into something concrete the artist and his work are able to ask questions or trigger dialogue.
 
For turning our current society into a bio-based one a transition is needed. This is only possible if all stakeholders within society, including the public at large are engaged. Individual choices people make in their everyday life, for instance about what to eat, how to arrange transport or which energy contract to take will determine the direction of the transition. A bio-based economy is an economy in which fossil fuels and chemical processes are replaced by biomass and biological processes for producing pharmaceuticals, chemicals, materials, and energy. This economy is expected to benefit society in terms of sustainability, energy security and public health.
 
System Synthetics is a bio-art project by designer Maurizio Montalti. It was one of the winners of the Designers & Artists for Genomics Award 2010. In this work he explored the impact and social consequences of the latest advancement in lifesciences and microbiology. With this installation the artist addresses the problem of plastic pollution in our natural environment. By working together with life scientists Montalti looked at micro-organisms to see if they could be a solution for the reduction of our plastic waste. His work suggests that they can be more than just that. Not only can fungi reduce waste but by working together with yeast they should be able to produce ethanol.
The installation was on display for half a year in the natural history museum Naturalis. This created the opportunity for researcher Susanne Sleenhoff to look into how the work affected the public and to what extent it engaged them with the bio-based economy. For that she observed visitors, conducted small interviews with them and held a series of focus groups. The results will show how System Synthetics is able to engage the public. This presentation will address both sides of bio-art as a boundary object for public engagement with science.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public engagement with systems synthetic

Susanne Sleenhoff   MSc Delft University of Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Section Biotechnology & Society, Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation; Centre for Society and Genomics, Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands

Maurizio Montalti   MA Officina Corpuscoli, Bilderdijkstraat 182-IV, 1053 LD, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Bio-art is described as a possible intermediary for the engagement between science and society. It functions as a double boundary object between science and art, and science and society. Bio-art has the potential to explicate social, cultural and moral dilemmas that are likely to arise with the advancements in science and technology by making them visible and tangible. By turning the innovation into something concrete the artist and his work are able to ask questions or trigger dialogue.
 
For turning our current society into a bio-based one a transition is needed. This is only possible if all stakeholders within society, including the public at large are engaged. Individual choices people make in their everyday life, for instance about what to eat, how to arrange transport or which energy contract to take will determine the direction of the transition. A bio-based economy is an economy in which fossil fuels and chemical processes are replaced by biomass and biological processes for producing pharmaceuticals, chemicals, materials, and energy. This economy is expected to benefit society in terms of sustainability, energy security and public health.
 
System Synthetics is a bio-art project by designer Maurizio Montalti. It was one of the winners of the Designers & Artists for Genomics Award 2010. In this work he explored the impact and social consequences of the latest advancement in lifesciences and microbiology. With this installation the artist addresses the problem of plastic pollution in our natural environment. By working together with life scientists Montalti looked at micro-organisms to see if they could be a solution for the reduction of our plastic waste. His work suggests that they can be more than just that. Not only can fungi reduce waste but by working together with yeast they should be able to produce ethanol.
The installation was on display for half a year in the natural history museum Naturalis. This created the opportunity for researcher Susanne Sleenhoff to look into how the work affected the public and to what extent it engaged them with the bio-based economy. For that she observed visitors, conducted small interviews with them and held a series of focus groups. The results will show how System Synthetics is able to engage the public. This presentation will address both sides of bio-art as a boundary object for public engagement with science.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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