BioArt and its Implications on our view of Health

To me, Mick Lorusso’s most striking project was his work with the Museum of Endoluminosity. Diamonds are fascinating geologically, as the hardest substance on earth, and it was interesting to see them integrated into his BioArt work. Lorusso’s ability to find connections across life, our minds, art, health, and spirituality is incredible and his project focuses not just on the diamonds themselves, but their ability to reflect and refract light across surfaces. This is very interesting to me because it also incorporates the science of physics and light scattering into art and integrates physical sciences, biological sciences, and spirituality into a striking display. I loved how he integrated the importance of nanodiamonds health implications for cancer.  I have learned in my somewhat limited study of art over my years in school that art is often assigned value based in the values of society and the public. Additionally, art can be interpreted by every individual in an incredibly unique way depending on their own experiences with the subject matter. Cancer weighs heavily on the public psyche, as indicated in the specific example of Lorusso’s father, and the integration of this art display with the potential benefits of the treatment of cancer assigns this art a value that can be accessible to more people who maybe do not have an appreciation for the aesthetic value that art can provide but can relate to the importance of its contribution to cancer.

Similarly to Lorusso, I am fascinated by the relationship between humans and bacteria. We diverged evolutionarily millions of years ago, but we are still intimately connected in a variety of different kinds of relationships. I studied in my Society and Genetics 5 course how we are engaged in a mutualistic relationship with our microbiome, the bacteria that live within our bodies, but that other bacteria has gained the flexible, adaptive ability to make us terribly sick. The advent of penicillin to combat bacterial diseases was a huge hurtle in human health, but the long term cost has been great. Bacteria have the ability to acquire resistance and horizontally pass this ability on to other bacterium in their colonies. Now, we have bacteria that can collectively ravage our bodies thanks to the very technologies that we created to protect ourselves against them. This is one of the most simultaneously interesting and devastating public health issues that I have ever encountered in my learning and it forces us to consider how our interactions, not just with our outside environment, but with our internal biology have influenced our health. BioArt, as far as I have seen, has the unique ability to act as an accessible platform to explore these issues outside of the formal laboratory. Our view of our body system, as explored by Emily Martin, has changed from a passive defense system to an interconnected network of reactions and interactions that all play a part on our health. She similarly integrates this health view, in the context of Polio and AIDS viruses, with the way we employ ourselves in the work force, another example of two seemingly disparate topics coming together.

Finally, the WETWARE project interests me for personal reasons given my interest in science related jewelry. Its exploration of artificial life, and what our definition of life is in the context of systems and agency is communicated through something that can sometimes be thought of as purely based in aesthetics. My jewelry experience, mainly in beaded double helices, is so different from this approach, but I enjoyed the parallels between the two and how it makes me reconsider how jewelry can be BioArt.