Bioart and Science 

Conversations cross faculties and disciplines

By Russ Cooper

Communication Studies professor Tagny Duff experiments in the Fluxmedia laboratory in the CJ Building. Magnifying glass

Communication Studies professor Tagny Duff experiments in the Fluxmedia laboratory in the CJ Building.

Through March, Communication Studies professor Tagny Duff will be hosting a series of discussions with renowned bioartists and Concordia arts and science professors to look at the overlapping elements between research and the artistic creation practices.

“Defining ‘bioartist’ is a contentious issue because not many artists want that label,” says Duff, a bioartist herself. “The artists I have invited use anything from digital media, video, photography to painting, but include biotechnology or other forms of biological techniques from the life sciences. And the researchers from our arts and science faculty all have research interests that have become inspiration for many artists.”

Duff, a Concordia MFA grad who returned here as a professor in July, serves as the director of the recently-established Fluxmedia research-creation network. Duff’s brainchild is dedicated to “an experimental approach to media and technology across artistic and scientific processes from the life sciences,” according to Fluxmedia.

The first discussion "Cellular interventions in art" was held March 3 between communication studies’ Kim Sawchuk and artist Marta de Menezes, who serves as the artistic director of the Ectopia, a Lisbon-based centre facilitating artistic research in a scientific laboratory setting.

The next discussion, "Of mice and transgenic rats in art and scientific research" on March 10, will see Director of the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology Barbara Woodside in conversation with Kathy High, media artist and professor of Video and new Media at the Department of Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

The final discussion will be "Transformation and biodiversity in art and biology" on March 31. Department of Biology Professor Dylan Fraser will meet with artist Brandon Bellengée. Bellengée is currently completing a dual art and science PhD at the University of Applied Sciences and Art in Zürich, Switzerland, is renowned for his collaborations with scientists that create hybrid ecological research projects and art.

All discussions will be held in 1.114 in the CJ Building.

“Historically speaking, there has always been a borrowing and cross-pollination between scientific and visual art processes,” says Duff. “It will be interesting to see what comes out of this series of direct conversations.”


Concordia University