Exhibition view at CBIS, photo by Oleg Mavromatti

In the Presence of the Body 1 is a season of events dedicated to art, biology and society of the ground-breaking BioArt Initiative for collaboration between the Department of the Arts and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at RPI. It includes exhibits featuring documentation of a diverse range of biological artworks and invited speakers who discuss their research, artistic projects and experience in collaborative art/science work.

Curator: Boryana Rossa

The exhibition in CBIS was realised with the help of Professor Ted Krueger, Joseph Banks and Bart Woodstrup.

Views from the exhibition



MEART the Semi-Living Artist in Melborne, 2005

MEART - The Semi Living Artist is the first project shown at the CBIS, Main foyer that opened on April 23, 2007. It takes the form of an installation made from the actual work and presented in an environment especially designed for the CBIS. It offers a successful model of collaboration between artists and scientists from different countries and research institutes.

MEART - The Semi Living Artist is a geographically detached, bio-cybernetic research and development project exploring aspects of creativity and artistry in the age of new biological technologies. MEART is an installation distributed between two (or more) locations in the world. Its “brain” consists of cultured nerve cells that grow and live in a neuro-engineering lab, in the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA (Dr. Steve Potter's lab). Its “body” is a robotic drawing arm that is capable of producing two-dimensional drawings. The “brain” and the “body” communicate in real time when MEART is shown live in a gallery.

MEART is suggesting future scenarios where humans will create/grow/manufacture intuitive and creative “thinking entities” that develop into intelligent and unpredictable beings. They may be created by humans for anthropomorphic use, but they might not necessarily stay the way they were originally intended. This work explores questions such as: What is creativity? According to what criteria do we evaluate it? Can we move away from our anthropomorphic thinking about the “only human” creative capability? Can we recognize the creativity of The Other we don’t know? How does our definition of creativity relate to intelligence?

MEART developed out of seven years of collaboration between the SymbioticA Research Group (SymbioticA - The Art & Science Collaborative Research Lab, University of WA), and Dr. Steve Potter's Lab (Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology).

A short video MEART - The Semi Living Artist featuring interviews with project collaborators and footage of the robot in action was on view in the foyer to the south-east of this exhibit and can be found in the bio-art video collection of Rensselaer's Folsom Library.





In the Presence of the Body 1 was the first exhibition event of the BioArt Initiative program. Documentation of bioart works was displayed at Gallery 111 in West Hall with the aim of introducing the university and the local community to the collaboration of art and science as a field that stands as a mediator between scientific research and society. Artists from Australia, Canada, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany and the US demonstrated an engaging and critical overview of some of the aspects of current scientific research and its application.

Participating artists:

Stelarc and Nina Sellars, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Guy Ben-Ary, Tanya Visocevic, Bruce Murphy (SymbioticA Research Group), Boryana Rossa, Oleg Mavromatti, Anton Terziev, Katia Damianova (Ultrafuturo), Guy Ben-Ary, (SymbioticA Research Group), Eduardo Kac, Paul Vanouse, Shawn Bailey / Jennifer Willet (BIOTEKNICA), Kathy High, Adam Zaretsky, Critical Art Ensemble w/ Rich Pell, Dmitry Bulatov, Julia Reodica.

Exhibition view at West Hall


The conference at the CBIS's Bruggeman Conference Center presented a variety of speakers who talked about their research, artistic projects and experience in collaborative art/science work.


Steve Kurtz (artist, Critical Art Ensemble, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York)

Steve Potter (Ph.D. in Biological Sciences University of California—Irvine, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, 1993, The Potter Group, Georgia Tech, Atlanta)

Adam Zaretsky (artist, Universiteit Leiden, The Netherlands)

Speaker's biographies

Bio-art videos in Rensselaer's Folsom Library

The BioArt Initiative was the inspiration to create a collection of bio-art videos in Rensselaer's Library. Videos by Paul Vanouse, Critical Art Ensemble w/Rich Pell, Bio-Kino and MEART the Semi Living Artist (hosted by SymbioticA) and Boryana Rossa/Oleg Mavromatti are already available.