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Participants of Merry CRISPR II

Artistic investigations into CRISPR/Cas9

Merry CRISPR is a workshop produced by the Bioart Society in collaboration with Biofilia laboratory - Aalto University. It is supported by the Nordic Culture Point via the Nordic Baltic Biomedia Network project “Shared Habitats” – DIY-Practices for People, Machines, and Others which was initiated by Instituto Media.

The workshop takes place 10th – 14th of December at the Biofilia laboratory on the Aalto University Campus in Otaniemi/Espoo/Finland.

CRISPR refers to a range of novel gene editing systems which can be programmed to edit DNA at precise locations. It allows the permanent modification of the genes in cells of living organisms. CRISPR enables novel basic research and promises a wide range of possible applications from biomedicine and agriculture to environmental challenges. The previously unknown precision and simplicity of CRISPR and its possibilities has led to a wide diversity of reactions. While some welcome it as a gene editing revolution others urge for a worldwide moratorium, especially when it comes to human germline modifications. Particularly controversial is the CRISPR given possibility to intervene in the evolution of organisms.

For Merry CRISPR we are a group of practitioners from a diversity of backgrounds such as artists, designers, engineers, scientists (natural and humanities) and students from Aalto University. The workshop activities shift between hands on wetlab sessions, lectures, interventions, field trips, presentations and screenings. We investigate and work with CRISPR, look into its materiality and artistic possibilities, and discuss and explore socio-cultural, political and ethical implications within our transdisciplinary group.

Instructors Artist Marta de Menezes with the support of Biofilia laboratory manager Marika Hellman, invited guests from art, natural science and the humanities as well as workshop participants.

Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, and a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford. She has been exploring the interaction between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies, DNA, proteins and live organisms can be used as an art medium. Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is since 2005 artistic director of Ectopia – Experimental Art Laboratory and from 2009 director of Cultivamos Cultura – Association.

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