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


GMO Pro's and Cons - Golden Rice

Initially, I’ve always thought how can we modify our natural produce, how could that be good? It has shown to cause various diseases, cancer, and symptoms in mice research. Most popularly, how soy has caused infertility. However, genetically modifying food has been thought of as a solution for hunger. Golden Rice has been a solution to combating malnutrition and it makes a lot of sense to me. In fact, most things in our stores is GMO’d. I believe there is a law that makes it not needed for food to be labeled whether it is GMO’d or not.

Dario's First Blog

In a laboratory setting, researchers in the US have shown that in 60 days, colonies of individual yeast bacteria managed to form genetically identical multicellular clusters with an early form of division of labor already in effect – some of the yeast died so that others could grow and reproduce. https://www.nature.com/news/yeast-suggests-speedy-start-for-multicellular-life-1.9810

Gluten Free Yeast

My mother is gluten intolerant and has been trying out different wheat flour alternatives so I thought this was an interesting topic to research about. I learned that gluten is a protein that causes the elasticity in the flour and water mixture. It also creates a suitable space for carbon dioxide to reside, the food for yeast. This is why picking the right gluten-free flour is important in order to successfully make yeast.

Biopointillism (Yeast Art)

Pointillism originated with George Sauraut’s classic work, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette in 1884. Today, scientists at NYU began trying out a new technique that they call biopointillism. Biopointillism combines science and art literally by using yeast, a genetically modified organism to create beautiful and meaningful artwork. Using tiny yeast cells and genetically modifying them, they were able to produce different beautiful colors. Then, the cells are arranged as an art form and are put onto agar plates into an incubator.

Week 9: Studio Time

This week, during studio time, I did more research on my project topic. Because I am researching about agriculture’s water usage and impact on our daily lives, I wanted to inform users about the context surrounding certain foods. This class, I focused my research on the almond industry. It was interesting to learn more about almonds because I love eating almonds but I did not know much about their impact, history, or production.

Week 10: Final Blog

Week 10 of class everyone presented their final projects to the class while also receiving further feedback. My final project had transformed from my initial idea of creating a mushroom book that would act as codex for different kinds of mushrooms while having 2 kinds of illustrations with a page of information about said mushroom. So after that, my final project became somewhat the same idea but transforming them into collectible cards.


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