The BioArt Initiative is a collaborative research project between Rensselaer’s Arts Department and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS). This project proposes to lay the foundation establishing RPI as a premiere institution for the synthesis of emerging biotechnological research and media art practice. The potential for creating a mutually supportive and critically engaged culture between art, engineering and science exists at RPI to a degree that is possible in only a select few universities worldwide. The initiative brings together RPI’s cutting-edge biotechnology resources with its world-class electronic arts community.


Cautlin Berrigan at the Whitney Museum for American Art

Initial Public Offerings (I.P.O.): New Objects, New Audiences
Friday, January 25, 2008, 7 PM

Whitney Initial Public Offerings Presents an artist talk by Caitlin Berrigan in conversation with Boo Chapple, artist-in-residence at RMIT, Melbourne, Australia & Kathleen Forde, curator at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

A new commissioned multiple artwork, Hepatophagy, will be given away to all who come, featuring sculpted La Tène Chocolate.

From chocolates made in the shape of the protein structure of the hepatitis C virus to silicone objects cast from the negative space of a mouth, artist Caitlin Berrigan probes bodily systems and pathologies to create works that address the simultaneous medicalization and eroticization of the human form. The results, she says, are "quietly disturbing works of subtle humor and irony that speak to our violent and conflicted relationship to the body."

About Initial Public Offerings (I.P.O.): New Objects, New Audiences
Features artists who engage, challenge, or rethink modes of creation, circulation, and scale. Each artist in the series is commissioned to develop multiples that will be made available--free of charge--to the Whitney's public audiences.
Free with Museum admission, which is pay-what-you-wish on Fridays, 6-9pm. You may register by going to & clicking on the link to the talk on the front page. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Golden Nica for SymbioticA

SymbioticA Research Lab, University of Western Australia, Perth, earns Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica 2007. The BioArt initiative is mentioned in the jury statement.

SymbioticA: The Art and Science Collaborative Research Laboratory, University of Western Australia, Perth (represented by its co-founder and Artistic Director Oron Catts) SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory, co-founded by Professor Miranda Grounds, Professor Stuart Bunt as its scientific director, and Oron Catts as its artistic director. The laboratory is dedicated to the research, pedagogy and critique of life sciences in relation to the arts. Since 2000, it has enabled artists to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department on an ongoing basis and to pursue curiosity-based explorations while complying with scientific regulations.

Uniquely housed within the School of Anatomy & Human Biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, SymbioticA offers a “new means of artistic inquiry, one in which artists actively use the tools and technologies of science, not just to comment about them, but also to explore their possibilities.” The jury recognizes SymbioticA’s exceptional achievement as a collaborative structure which, since its creation, has provided access to more than 40 resident artists who wish to work with wet biology lab techniques. It became clear to the jury that many of the submissions to the Hybrid category relied on the type of resources which are nurtured and provided at SymbioticA – to the extent that the Lab has since become a model for other institution-embedded structures, including Ectopia in Lisbon and the newly initiated BioArts Initiative at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy. Artists presently working with biological forms confront limitations of access to technology, very much analogous to the experiences of computer artists active in the late 1960s. The necessary resources are financially still prohibitive, with access restrictive and mainly obtained through institution-scale investments. Without institutional support for the critical and imaginative practices, the field is limited to singular and isolated attempts to employ new techniques. SymbioticA represents an outstanding example of how an artistic research community effectively identifies new fields of engagement towards systemically meaningful art forms.

Most crucial is SymbioticA’s efforts to maintain the relationships between artists and scientists in balance – a task that absorbs much creative energy from the core artists running the structure, Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, from the Tissue Culture & Art project. Besides welcoming other artists, dealing with the obligatory ethics approvals and health and safety related issues, the core team of artists also offer classes in “Biological Arts” for undergraduate students, as well as the unique specialized “Biological Arts Masters program”. Outside the academic setting, it organizes workshops for artists including activities such as DNA extraction and fingerprinting, genetic engineering and basic tissue-engineering techniques, whose aim is to both democratize knowledge about life sciences and to enable anyone to set up home labs.

This award is intended to provide SymbioticA both recognition and support for the Lab's existence, and help in creating and producing new artworks. SymbioticA points to new directions for the field of New Media art – to go beyond "plug and play" strategies and to open the horizon for new forms of art which demand time, equipment, skills and philosophical awareness of the issues at stake. The jury believes that these changing factors in terms of duration, transdisciplinary fusion and the questioning of the centrality of data are crucial in the category of Hybrid Art.





A Competitive Race to Make Synthetic Organisms

Friday, October 26, 2007
12: 00 noon
Bruggeman Conference Center
Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

Refreshments will be served!

Peter J. Woolf, PhD
Assistant Professor, Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI 48109

"A Competitive Race to Make Synthetic Organisms"

Synthetic biology promises to change our world in the 21st century at least as much as computers and information technology have changed in the 20th century. In this talk, I will discuss how to become involved in this change through the annual undergraduate competitions, the Intercollegiate Genetically Engineered Machines competition (iGEM). In 2007 the iGEM competition will be attended by over 100 teams from across the planet. I will discuss the basics of how a synthetic device is created, how the parts are organized, and why it is important to get involved.

Please find more information about the speaker here:


On display from October 15th
CBIS, 2nd floor lobby

The 6 min. video is an aesthetic treatment to the concepts of bodily alteration and transformation. It uses the mythological figure of Icharus as a starting point and draws connections between the myth and the reality of technologically enhanced bodies.

Click on the image to see the video.


Ryder Cooley, Jason Martin
Ross Goldstein


Outdoor Terrace, 2nd floor
Biotech Center, RPI
October 2nd

BIOART MIXER EVENTS are part of the recently started BioArt/BioMedia Initiative Program @ RPI.


September 30th, 5-8 pm at the CBIS, Bruggeman Conference Center

Video works and documentaries about artists dealing with the biological will be shown. These works are intended to provoke a debate about controversial issues that have to be discussed in a democratic society.


More about the event