Department of Media Theory’s Bio Lab is now fully functional and truly hands-on!

Biotic gaming workshop participants @ Open Lab Class, Department of Media Theory, 2019.

Report by Zahra Mirza: In the first week of June Roland van Dierendonck (Waag Society Amsterdam) gave a 3-day (biotic gaming) workshop by invitation of Günter Seyfried. Students were getting familiar with various software and hardware components of the Bio Lab, especially how to use them to discover different forms of live-ware (cellular living matter) and develop strategies of playful yet informed artistic engagement within such a setup.

The workshop started with a friendly explorative walk to the Stadtpark, collecting pond water droplets, scraping moss from tree barks, drops of still standing rain water puddles from the night before and from the running canal. Some of us even collected own saliva just to see how that would compare to the rest. These samples were carefully collected, labeled and brought to the Bio Lab for preparation into ready-to-screen plates to view under the microscope. The sampling plates were observed for live visual tracking of characteristics, movements and activities of cellular organisms if any. A high-definition camera was connected to the microscope, which documented and live-streamed these observations and tracks via projection while open-source software was used to manipulate visualization techniques along with the microscope’s manual controls. Observed visuals were compared to researched cellular organisms and group discussions followed after. Participants shared words on their observations and how they plan to use the information about their samples as well as the stills and visuals documented therefrom for prototyping artworks and use in future projects.

Roland van Dierendonck is the head of the BioHack Academy at the Waag Society in Amsterdam. He studied biology at the University of Amsterdam and at Humboldt University Berlin (2010-2014) and holds an MSc in Media Technology from Leiden University (2017). His recent projects include Mold Rush – bio-digital game, with Raphael Kim (2018), Euglenizer – euglena-based synthesizer (2017), Ecosystematic Lunch – edible journey through biology (2017), Return to Dilmun – binary DNA conversion, image manipulation using CRISPR/Cas9, with Günter Seyfried, Federico Muffatto & Hansjörg Petschko (2017). In 2018 he participated in the HighLight Festival, Delft and exhibited his project Biodesign Here Now at the London Design Festival, Open Cell, London. He published several articles on Biotic Gaming, recently: Raphael Kim, Siobhan Thomas, Roland van Dierendonck, and Stefan Poslad: A New Mould Rush: Designing for a Slow Bio-Digital Game Driven by Living Micro-organisms. In: Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games Conference, Malmö, Sweden. August 7-10, 2018 (FDG’18)