Recent advances in synthetic biology are making the design of new life forms an increasingly real possibility. Driven by an engineering approach to biology, the future scientist/designer is envisioned as an architect of life, creating living organisms from a library of standardised and replicable parts.
However, life may or may not agree with the industrial paradigm we feel comfortable with. Living organisms are unstable, random and context specific. They are subject to evolution, mutations and symbiosis. Additionally, once science gets out of the lab and into the world it becomes part of much bigger systems such as economics, politics and human beliefs – with surprising outcomes for better or worse.
This series of projects investigates the gap between the promises of engineering biology and the complex and conflicted world we live in. Each scenario is set in a very specific context, ranging form healthcare to green politics and bonzai grooming, and probes the potential impact of biotechnology on society and culture.
Inspired by the merging of the artist’s studio with the research lab to create a hybrid creative space, STUDIOLAB proposes the creation of a new European platform for creative interactions between art and science. STUDIOLAB brings together major players in scientific research with centres of excellence in the arts and experimental design and leverages the existence of a new network of “hybrid” spaces to pilot a series of projects at the interface between art and science including Le Laboratoire (Paris), Science Gallery (Trinity College Dublin), Royal College of Art (London), Ars Electronica (Linz) and MediaLab Prado (Madrid). STUDIOLAB will involve activities along three key dimensions: incubation of art-science projects, education and public engagement.
What happens when you decouple design from the marketplace, when rather than making technology sexy, easy to use and more consumable, designers use the language of design to pose questions, inspire, and provoke — to transport our imaginations into parallel but possible worlds?
Our research explores new ways design can make technology more meaningful and relevant to our lives, both now, and in the future, by thinking not only about new applications but implications as well. It focusses on exploring interactions between people, science and technology on many different levels. We’re concerned not only with the expressive, functional and communicative possibilities of new technologies but also with the social, cultural and ethical consequences of living within an increasingly technologically mediated society. We do this through design-led research projects which are disseminated internationally through exhibitions, publications and conferences. Our research is funded through a mixture of research council, European Union, cultural, academic and industrial organisations. As well as working on applied research exploring themes and topics developed with external partners, we are working towards establishing a theoretical framework for conceptual, critical and speculative design practices in relation to science and technology.