Works : Bio-Art and Installation

MEART and the SNOWFLAKE

2006 and 2015

Collaboration with Guy Ben-Ary, Phill Gamblen, Douglas Backum and Oleg Mavromatti.

Hosted in Professor Steve Potter’s Lab at Georgia Tech and Symbiotica Research Lab University of Western Australia.

This project is a result of our research of the history and the social meaning of cryonics—field of knowledge, dedicated to preserving human bodies in cryostasis. People, who wish to do that, hope to “wake up” in the future, when their bodies will be re-covered with the help of advanced nano-technology. We are interested in the social and cultural implications of this phenomenon, but also we would like to conceptually re-examine the border that separates the physical and the psyche, promote its plasticity and create a symbolic object that speaks about all this.

We have collaborated with the project  MEART the Semi-Living Artist, which is a geographically detached, bio-cybernetic organism that has a technologically created identity. It consists of “wetwear”–culture of mice neurons, that grow over a multi-electrode array (its “brain”), and “hardware”–a mechanical body that responds to signals sent by “the brain.” MEART has the ability to sense the outside world through a camera that acts as its eyes. It has the ability to process what it sees through the culture of neurons on the multy-electrode array that act as its brain.

Inspiration for us was the work made at the Cryonic Institute and the ideas of Robert Ettinger (“the father” of cryonics) reflected in his book The Prospect Of Immortality and Man Into Superman.. Interview with Mr. Ettinger is included in the short video that documents our work.

For our project MEART was “seeing” image of a snowflake before the culture of neurons (“the brain”) was cryogenically preserved in Georgia Tech (Prof. Potter’s Lab). At the exhibition display the vial with the neurons will be placed in a liquid nitrogen container, exactly how the bodies of the Cryonic institute’s clients are. This cryogenically preserved “brain” may be dreaming snowflakes, because the only thing it has seen during its live outside the container was the image of the snowflake that we showed to it.

 

 

In 2016 the work was revived and shown at Laznia Center for Contemporary Art, Gdansk, Poland as part of the retrospective show of Guy Ben-Ary’s works “Nevroplastica.”
In Neuroplastica Rossa, Ben-Ary and Mavromatti pay homage to the original project from 2004-2006. However this time, rather than using mouse neurons, they display in a liquid nitrogen container, a neural network made from Guy Ben-Ary’s neurons, which was stimulated with the same image of a snowflake, used in 2006, before being frozen at -80 C. Assembled to evoke thoughts about the technological future, as well as where we are placed within the process of its creation, Snowflake asks to what extent has cryonic technology could change the value of life, and what are the ethical or statutory considerations required to cope with external commercial interventions with memory and plasticity.

Below is the video shown as part of the exhibition. The neurons were displayed in a container with liquid nitrogen. Over the container was hanged a LED lamp in the shape of the snowflake, which was used to stimulate the neurons before they have been frozen. Pictures of the tour in Cryonic institute were displayed next to the video and to a large image of the neuron culture.

Snowflake from Ultrafuturo666 on Vimeo.