Last week, our friend and artist Minna Langstrom introduced Brooke and I to Ulla Taipale who is coordinating BiofiliA – a bio-art lab at Aalto University in Helsinki. Ulla was so generous as to give us a tour of the lab which consists of an electronics area, a wet lab and biology lab. It was amazing to see a university dedicating the funding and facilities to a relatively avant-garde practice of combining biology and art. Pictured above is Ulla to the right and the lab manager a recent bio graduate of the university.
As the BiofiliA site states, the project is “a biological art unit was launched under the Aalto ARTS in 2012. It offers a platform and infrastructure for trans-disciplinary research and education that aim at creating cultural discussion and innovation around the topics related to the manipulation of life and biological processes at a practical and theoretical level, including philosophical and ethical dimensions…”
Artists that have worked collaboratively with scientists at BiofeliA include Oron Catts of SymbioticA, Christina Stadblauer, Kiran Gangadharan, Agnes Meyer-Brandis and they hope to bring Paul Vanouse for 2014. Art and biology students may take courses at BiofiliA and work along side of resident artists.
One of the ongoing projects exists outside the labs – Hexa-Hive Village an experiment with urban bee keeping. The hives were designed by Christina Stadlbauer and Kiran Gangadharan. And beyond producing honey, Till Bovermann of Media Lab Helsinki has installed contact microphones in one of the hives for “project hive listening.”