Plant art and biotechnology in the face of climate change

What does an artist paint in a scientific laboratory? What’s the point of spending time in a research center collaborating with scientists to create a work of art based on their research? The so-called “art residencies” in research centers are a form of art-science collaboration that is increasingly widespread internationally.

At the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants of Valencia, IBMCPone of these residencies is being carried out: AR

Art-science collaboration

One of the recognized functions of art is its ability to reflect on reality in alternative ways to the usual ones. In this sense, artists can generate provocative perspectives on science and also more easily accessible to society. On the other hand, artistic creation on scientific subjects opens the way for the researchers themselves to discover new potentialities in their field. This means that there is currently an increase in the number of collaborative initiatives between artists and scientists.

Proof of this is the existence of specialized magazines in this field (such as the magazine Leonard), interdisciplinary centers (such as the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology) and national and multinational networks to support such initiatives (such as the American Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, a2ru or the European S+T+ARTS).

Another indirect evidence of the growing interest in art-science collaboration is the growing use of the acronym Steam (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) instead of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to refer to the most in-demand skills.

Artistic residences in research centers

Among the initiatives carried out to promote the art-science dialogue is the realization of artists’ residencies in scientific research centers. In them, the creators reflect together with the workers of the center on the work carried out there and the artist acquires practice in the techniques used in the investigation. The final result is the creation and exhibition of an artistic work related to the scientific activity of which he has been a witness and an actor.

There are numerous examples of artistic residences developed in research centers, perhaps one of the best known and longest-lasting being that of the CERN in its particle accelerator, now in its tenth year. Other notable examples are those of the fermilabthe European Space Agencythe Synthetic Biology company Ginkgo Bioworks or the telecommunications company Deutsche Telecom.

In Spain, some artist residencies are also being carried out in research centers. One of them, the National Cancer Research Center, CNIO Madrid, has had its own stand for the last two years at the Contemporary Art Fair BOW. In Barcelona we have those of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, IRBand the Center for Genomic Regulation, CRG.

Artist residency at the IBMCP: AR

At the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants, IBMCP, in Valencia, the artistic residency is being carried out AR

Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants, IBMCP (UPV-CSIC)

The IBMCP is a public research center that uses plant biotechnology to respond to global challenges such as producing more food while consuming fewer resources, obtaining crops that are better adapted to climate change, producing vaccines and medicines in plants, or recovering the traditional flavor of tomato in current varieties, to name a few examples.

However, the responsibility for this task should not lie solely with the scientific community, but rather requires the collaboration of the entire society. Along these lines, the AR

The resident this year in AR

with your project Phytosemiotic Expressions, Castellanos intends to explore in AR

Conference Intersections of living and machine agencies in the arts taught by Carlos Castellanos at the AR

In short, it seems unquestionable that the diversity of ideas and visions is the best tool that human beings have to respond to the global challenges that we face. And the international initiatives of art-science collaboration are an excellent way to contribute this diversity.

That is the meaning and promise of artistic residencies in research centers, in general, and of the AR

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