Coming up next: Understanding Biomedia

Lignosus rhinocerus – Tiger Milk Mushroom, Open Lab Class, Mushroom Cloning Workshop with Flo Hubmann – Foto: Chris Kyritopoulos.

During the Winter term in 2020/21 artist Günter Seyfried will again offer the course “Understanding Biomedia” (SE, 2 WST., 4 ECTS), which is coming along with hands-on lab experiences. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic the modalities of the seminar and the hands-on experiences will be adapted to safety regulations, if needed. Please see base angewandte or contact gh.seyfried[a] for the latest developments.

The course introduces students to emerging epistemologies, which rise through the transformation of biology into technology and the origin of biomediality. Whereas former media theory approaches have concentrated mainly on technological media and human–machine interactions and interfaces, recent innovations make it necessary to include also living matter in the curriculum of media theory, because in the expanding sphere of biomediality, biology becomes technology: DNA codes and computer codes are increasingly merging, opening up new possible constellations for designing nature. The ramifications of these changes are explored in the course in a cross-disciplinary approach, taking into account artistic responses as well as the respective discourses and practices in the sciences, in order to develop a critical understanding of biomediality. A wide range of current projects will be addressed from the fields of Bioart as well as the do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) practices employed. DIYbio approaches will be taken into account because in this field a number of new participative formats have been developed in recent years. A fast growing community of individuals and small organizations study biology today with a focus on molecular biology, synthetic biology, and genome editing. DIYbio practices contribute to open source policies in the sciences with the aim of making the tools, protocols, and resources necessary for doing science in this field available to everyone who is interested in engaging, for example, in biological engineering or genome editing including non-professionals. The course aims to open up a process of engaged and cooperative learning and to accomplish ways of knowing to contextualise and understand new approaches in art, science, and society, when biology is increasingly turned into technology. The course will also include a number of hands-on experiences in basic methods of biotechnology and genome editing.

The theoretical corpus is accompanied by hands-on experiences, where participants learn methods and techniques ranging from genome editing to innovative biomaterials in hands-on experiments. The course is open to art students and non-scientists where they can engage hands-on with biology and immerse themselves in current biotechnological research. Biotechnology is, without doubt, one of our most important resources for dealing with global challenges, now and in the future, such as food security, water management, pandemics, ecological collapse, climate change, or the need for new sources of energy. The course is designed to provide students from all disciplines with sound practical knowledge about how to bring creative approaches together using experimental methods in art and the sciences. The aim is to give art students the opportunity to learn and work on biological concepts, bioart and biodesign, basics in genomics, synthetic biology, neuroscience as well as to offer insights into the cultural and social implications of emerging cutting-edge technologies in biotechnology, like genome editing (CRISPR-Cas9). Bioart is a major element to engage with biotechnology in class, because art enables a tangible encounter with a great number of issues concerning biotechnology, including paradoxes, ambiguities, and uncertainties: only art can offer a non-normative approach to explore the implications and challenges of biotechnology. For registration contact Günter Seyfried: gh.seyfried[a]

Günter Seyfried is an artist who lives and works in Vienna. Since 2017 he teaches the seminar “Understanding Biomedia” at the Department of Media Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna. He studied medicine and psychology at the University of Vienna and digital art at the University of Applied Arts Vienna where he gained his diploma in 2008. In his projects he combines arts-based and scientific research, and in recent years he has completed a number of cross-disciplinary projects as a freelance artist in which art, biology and synthetic biology intersect. He shows his work at international exhibitions and it is also featured in many publications. In addition to his teaching positions at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Department of Art and Knowledge Transfer (2008–2016) and the Department of Media Theory (2017–), at the New Design University St. Pölten, course on Design, Trades, and Material Culture (2016–), Günter Seyfried gives lectures, seminars, and workshops at well-known and acclaimed institutions (HeK House of Electronic Arts Basel, Folkwang University of the Arts Essen, Waag Society Amsterdam, University of Naples Federico II) and at festivals (Pixelache Helsinki, Cynetart Dresden, Border Sessions Den Haag, Bio-Fiction Vienna). In connection with an entire series of projects Günter Seyfried worked for the Stella Art Foundation in Moscow (2004–2010) and currently for Biofaction in Vienna (2012–). He is a founder member of the Institute for Polycinease (2004) and pavillon_35, the Society for Science-based Art (2012).