Special Topics in Design | Media Arts: Biotechnology and Design

Bio-designers use cells, DNA molecules, proteins, and living tissues to highlight ethical, social, and aesthetic issues that influence contemporary life. Introduction to how bio-design blurs distinctions between science and design through combination of design and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. Introduction to new sciences that influence food we eat, clothes we wear, and environment in which we reside. Students challenged to think outside the box, explore divergent and convergent thinking, and seek out knowledge and inspiration from ideas that drive nano- and bio-technology. Peer collaboration encouraged to develop speculative design projects that address issues covered.
Some content are only accessible to registered users.

Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.


Week 1: Grain

Hi everyone! I am Ann Suzuki, a third-year undergraduate DESMA major currently working towards being a film minor. I still don’t really have a focus yet but here are a few types of designs I gravitate towards: entertainment design, set design, motion graphics, and stop motion. To be honest, I am entering this class as a complete novice - I am by no means an expert or even a slight bit knowledgeable about Nano and Biotech but I am curious to learn more.

Symposium Response: Arts Based Dementia Research

A speaker that really resonated with me at the “Arts based Research in Times of Climate and Social Change” Symposium at the California NanoSystems Institute was Cornelia Bast, who identifies as an arts based researcher and social designer. Bast spoke about her creative projects surrounding her research on dementia, but most importantly, how she was working to abolish the stigmatized perspectives we have on mental disorders.

Week 1: A New Perspective on Culinary Basics

I have always loved the idea of culinary innovation coming from a place where every part of making a meal, from the ingredients to the preparation, effectively caters to our health while still maintaining the joy of consuming a delicious creation. I had no idea what exactly the difference is between different types of bread-making processes and how each respective way of mixing, leavening, baking, etc.

Bread 101

I didn't know much about the process of making bread before this class, but I was immediately intrigued after seeing the Netflix episode on the history of bread and the science behind the making of bread in the past and now. I never knew you only needed three ingredients to make bread, and I didn't know that you could make bread without yeast and that bread could naturally rise from the fermentation of microorganisms. I also didn't know how much unnecessary ingredients were put into the bread we usually purchase from the grocery store.

Workshop reflection

One of the speakers from the workshop, Dajuin Yao, is from China Academy of Art, the oldest fine art school in China. Within the academy, Dr. Yao opened the School of Intermedia Art in 2010, experimenting new media with students through the department of open media. Dr. Yao proposes the Chinese concept of “wang qi cun  dao”, which means to forget about the vessel and to keep the way, the vessel being the medium, and the way being the message.

Rethinking the chemistry of bread

I learned so much more about bread through watching the episode from the Netflix series Cooked during class. Making bread is as simple as mixing flour and water with a pinch of salt. With certain amount of fermentation by micro-organisms, the bread is risen and filled with air bubbles. Yet we spend three times more money on commercial bread that are made of at least 20 ingredients, including preservatives that keep them fresh on the food racks for a long period of time.


Subscribe to S P E C I A L  T O P I C S  :  B I O T E C H  +  D E S I G N RSS