The world’s first commercially available genetically modified flower is a shocking, artificial shade of purple. Considered a decorative object, the carnation (named Moondust), was sold around the world as a cut flower without the regulations or labeling required of GM foods. BCL, an artist collective, uses DIY biotech methods to bring the flowers back to life, and plant them in the wild, creating an open-source population of a flower completely new to nature. This project, called Common Flowers/Flower Commons, is part of Intimate Science, the winter/spring exhibition at The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC) at Parsons The New School for Design.
Curated by Andrea Grover and organized by theMiller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Intimate Science features contemporary artists conducting projects in scientific or technological domains. The artists are engaged in non-disciplinary inquiry; they aren’t allied to the customs of any single field, and therefore have license to reach beyond conventions. Their process hinges on up-close observation, experiential learning, and inventing new ways for the public to participate in the process. And through their engagement with “intimate science,” a more knowledgeable public might well be able to influence what research is supported and adopted by the larger culture, and the walls of science can become more transparent.
Another part of the exhibition is the work of Philip Ross, which focuses on the field of mycotecture (mushroom architecture). The chairs, bricks, and sculptures that are in the exhibit are all made out of mushrooms, a flame-retardant, edible, biodegradable, nearly bulletproof building material.
“Today, artists working in science and technology have far greater agency than their predecessors of 50 years ago,” says curator Andrea Grover. “They can work independently with ambitious biological experiments, materials research and micro-manufacturing— and not at a naive or removed distance.”
Networked communication and open source culture have made possible new forms of access and authority in domains formerly restricted to specialists. Intimate Science features six artists and collectives working at the intersections of art, science and technology. The exhibition features: BCL (Tokyo), Center for PostNatural History (Pittsburgh), Markus Kayser (London), Allison Kudla (Seattle), Machine Project (Los Angeles), and Philip Ross (San Francisco).
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About this organization
In an increasingly designed world, art and design reflect and shape all kinds of experiences. Through rigorous practice and critical scholarship, Parsons The New School for Design prepares students to be leaders in their professions and society.