The Challenges of Producing a Piece of Bioart
Khong Wai Han, Mabel

The line between art and biological sciences became blurred when bioart first emerged. This manipulation of organic matter in the name of art serves to bring both art and biology under the same roof in a bold attempt to unify the two disciplines. Much as there is a lot of controversy regarding bioart, of which ethics play an important role, I personally salute a bioartist's attempt at integrating both art and biology into a piece of work. However, there are challenges in producing a piece of bioart, which I will largely generalize into two broad categories: the seen and the unseen, meaning the physical and the non-physical factors.

One unseen challenge is the relationship between the artist and the biologist when both cooperate in producing a piece of bioart. (This can mean for example, the bioartist consulting the biologist on certain techniques.) Firstly, since both are originally trained in their very different separate disciplines, they will therefore, have to face inevitable contrasts in mindsets, mentalities, and even working styles. To illustrate further, a bioartist's perception of bioart is using this media to "raise questions regarding social concepts" and giving "expression to and provide commentary on the procedures of visualization, cartography and interpretation of the actually invisible procedures of biotechnology". (Richard, 1999) It is a lot of focus on expressing ideas and views in the organic piece of work. Therefore, the mentality of a "no boundary" kind of work will probably occur more in the bioartist as he focuses more on bringing art into life through the media of organic materials. In contrast to this, a biologist's view of manipulating organic materials is normally (though I dare not say absolutely always, but this will not be our realm of discussion) for the sake of improving quality of life, either for humans or other living organisms. He may not agree that a certain idea or view of the bioartist, however it might benefit society, is really going to improve the quality of life. The hard fact is, for a biologist, quality of life may most probably be confined to the biological aspect, and not the social. In this sense, we can see how the motives of both parties differ. This will affect their working relationship significantly and determine the effectiveness of their communication too.


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