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BioArt Syllabus :: Fall 2009
Freshman Seminar Blog:

Neil Olszewski    Diane Willow
Biology                          Art

BioArt Description
Victimless Leather alive at MOMA, an artist designed DIY Digestive Table for your kitchen, the One Tree series of genetically identical trees living in San Francisco, and artists "cultivating" consciousness with a Botanical Gameboy each hint at the range of contemporary artwork by artists whose creative research integrally links art and biology.

Exploring topics from ecology to molecular biology, artists are accessing, critiquing, and demystifying biotechnology. We will examine the collaborative process between scientist, artist, and the public, the questions that artists and scientists pose, the poetic and political implications of this art, the response of scientists to this portrayal, and ethical issues associated with the creation of this art.

These issues will be explored through engagement with living things, reading and discussions that develop critical thinking, as well as laboratory and studio sessions that lead to the creation of BioArt.

To see examples of the range of BioArt go to:

• By design, the BioArt Freshman Seminar introduces you to the:
    • hybrid zone of BioArt
    • ways of thinking that are fundamental to Biology and Art
    • experimental contexts of the lab and the studio
    • University of Minnesota student learning outcomes
       as they relate to BioArt, including how to:
        ~ identify and solve problems artistically and scientifically
        ~ locate and critically evaluate information
        ~ gain competency in the history, theory, and practice of BioArt
        ~ understand the diverse perspectives that inform BioArt globally
        ~ effectively communicate your ethical views related to BioArt
        ~ develop creative inquiry and critical thinking skills that will
           empower you as a lifelong learner
• Seminar LOGISTICS:
meeting place: In the spirit of the Freshman Seminar and as an introduction the extraordinary resources of a large research university, we will introduce you to a variety of  resources and hold our seminar in several places on campus. Check for our meeting location each week. Unless noted, we will meet in Regis Center for Art, Room W123

• Standing Weekly ASSIGNMENTS ~ (Unless instructed other wise)
      1.  Find a description of a BioArt project. Write a brief description of the project,     that covers both the artistic and scientific elements. Use the format of two
    statements and one question. Be prepared to present the piece to the class at the     next meeting.
2.   After a presentation on each project, the class will vote on the project that will be     discussed in depth the following week. The instructors will decide if the focus of     the discussion will be artistic, scientific, ethical or a combination.
3.     Prepare to discuss the project in class.


Week 1 September 9
•Classroom Activities:
    • Introductions
    • Course mechanics
    • Discussions: What is BioArt? What is Transgenic Art?
    • Introduction to Uthink Blogs and our BioArt Blog
    Read about Natural History of the Enigma at Eduardo Kac's web site To prepare for the discussion in class next week, write a brief paragraph discussing the project from a scientific or artistic prospective.

Week 2 September 16
•Classroom Activities:
      • Neil presents the project Natural History of the Enigma and leads a discussion
    • Diane introduces the BioPortrait project and related concepts and techniques,
         including Photoshop as a tool for exploring and making visible concepts
       related to portraiture and biology in the production of your BioPortrait
    • The Standing Assignment part 1 plus research one of Eduardo Kac's artworks.
    • Be prepared to describe the project to the class and to pose a question for us to

Week 3 September 23 - meet in the BioMedical Library
•Classroom Activity:
    • Introduction to U of MN library search engines at the BioMedical Library
    • Brief presentations by class of Bioart projects and vote on topic for next week
    • Areca introduces Photoshop - favorite tools and techniques
• Critique of Natural History of the Enigma   
    • Complete your BioPortrait

Week 4 September 30
•Classroom Activity:
    • BioPortrait presentations and critiques
Week 5 October 7 - meet in Cargill Center and Biological Science Bldg
                      St Paul Campus

•Classroom Activity:
    • Neil introduces lab and everyone will Streak Bacteria
    • Brief presentations by class of Bioart projects and vote
    • Discussion of project picked last week.
    • The Standing Assignment, Parts 1, 2, 3

Week 6 October 14
•Classroom activity:
    • Presentation by Diane: Her Light Sensitive Project with bioluminescent plankton and an overview of BioArt and artists   
         working in these hybrid contemporary art forms and actions.
     •  Identify teams for transgenic art project
    • Working with your team come up with concepts for a BioArt project.
      • The Standing Assignment, Parts 1, 2, 3
October 16th 3:15 pm SPECIAL event: Steve Kurtz from Critical Art Ensemble

Week 7 October 21 - meet at the Weisman Art Museum
•Classroom activity:
    • Curator Diane Mullin will meet with us at the Weisman Museum to discuss      
      Transgenic Art exhibitions Eduardo Kac: Natural History of The Enigma
       and Gene(sis)
    • Discussion of transgenic art; students present and discuss project concepts
    • Meet with your group to develop and clarify your project proposal

Week 8 October 28 - meet in the Imaging Center, St Paul Campus
•Classroom activity: visit to the Imaging Center
    • Continue group planning meetings
    • Finalize project and prepare a written proposal
    • Find and Read 2 articles that discuss ethical issues related to BioArt
    • post 3 questions on the blog that we will use in our discussion
        with Jeff Kahn next week.

Week 9 November 4
•Classroom activity:
    Jeff Kahn, Director of the Center for Bioethics, UMN
    Visit with Jeff Kahn to discuss ethics of BioArt and Transgenic Art
    Continue developing, documenting, and making blog posts of your group projects

Week 10 November 11
•Classroom activity:
    Guest Artist: Lynn Fellman   
    Ceri Myers, Art History, PhD candidate - presentation and discussion
    Introduction to the Exhibition/Installation Space
    Continue developing, documenting, and making blog posts of your group projects

Week 11 November 18
•Classroom activity:
   Areca  Roe, Art, MFA candidate - presentation and discussion
   Laboratory work for project
    Continue developing, documenting, and making blog posts of your group projects

Week 12 November 25 (Thanksgiving Week)
•Classroom activity:
    View Film: Strange Culture and discuss the Steve Kurtz story   
    Studio work for project
    Continue developing, documenting, and making blog posts of your group projects

Week 13 December 2
•Classroom activity:
    Studio work for project
    Continue developing, documenting, and making blog posts of your group projects

Week 14 December 9
•Classroom activity:
    Exhibition of Class Projects in Regis W130 ~ 12noon to 5pm
    Prepare a paper that reflects upon a particular aspect of the exhibition, discussing artistic, scientific and ethical issues.


1:00 pm to - 4:00 pm
BioArt Exhibition

6:00 - 8:00 pm
Dinner with students from the Transgenic Art Seminar in 2006

Week 15 December 16
•Classroom activity:
    Full group discussion of the exhibition and the seminar
    Complete all blog entries including complete documentation of your participation in the process of making and exhibiting new work in the BioArt exhibition

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