So far along in the class, the lectures have cover a wide variety of grounds, taking the particular perspective from the art to look at current advances in medicine, technologies, and genes. The two-culture lecture focuses on the necessity to reconnect the dichotomies of art and science disciplines and emphasize the not-so-obvious parallels between the two. The topic compels me to step out of my South-campus perspective to scrutinize this latent connection and rethink the commonly stereotyped-divide between art and science. In particular, I think Amy Francheschini’s commentary is very fitting, which goes in the effect of - “Science and art are essentially the same; except for science the research needs to match the reality.” As an undergraduate researcher, I can definitely see the parallel that artists and scientists alike possess a similar degree of imagination, creativity, and aspiration; but while art is boundless, the science only receives credit when it shows proof of significance with the facts and provides real-life applications.
The lecture on food discusses the few critical art projects like the Critical Art Ensemble and others and raises the concerns over GMOs and GM foods currently dominating the market. It is quite refreshing and intersting as a scientist to view from the objective of these art projects and understanding what are the public opinions on GM food. I do not necessarily agree with the general concern of the detrimental health effects of GMOs, which may sometimes be distorted and exaggerated by the media, but the environmental effects of GM food on the global ecosystem do concern me. Yet the initiatives taken by these art projects do help instigate public discourse on the widespread implications of GMOs.
The lecture on animals and genetic manipulations perhaps epitomizes the height of the ethical issues and public fear toward genetic engineering and trangenic animals. The thought and realization of engineering the phenotype of one species, say the flourescent GFP protein from the jelly fish, into other lab animals, opens the pandora’s box of all possibilities of cross-species mixing. Artists increasingly use these genetic technologies to make artworks that make statements about the biotechnology and intend to provoke public discussions.
My midterm project directly arises from this trend in art and its stance and effect on the social discourse of biotechnology and genetic engineering. I feel that while these art projects make powerful statements about the genes and DNA, not enough section of the public actually understands the mechanism of transmission for genetic information that make all these technologies possible. I think there is a tremendous need to find an effective and interactive project to educate the general public about the molecular mechanism of genes and DNA in order to make the public discourse on such subject effective and un-shrouded by misplaced fears and misunderstanding.
My midterm project focuses on the idea of using DNA for its leteral purpose, as a mode of information transmission. My DNA Postal Service project will be based on the real-life application of mail communication to make the analogy between the DNA and the alphabet. The purpose of the project will be enable the participant to learn the mechanism of information transmission in order to code or decode a message through DNA. This project aims to re-orient and dispel the unfounded fears for biotechnology and produce more productive discussion of the genes and their applications.