MAKING_LIFE 2014–2015


What is Making_Life?

Making_Life is a series of three work periods which allows a multidisciplinary group of practitioners to critically, and in an informed manner, engage with the socio-cultural, political and ethical complexities of synthetic biology.

A group of 29 Finnish and international participants composed of artists, designers, architects, engineers, scientists and Aalto University students cooperate within the program.

The methods shift from workshops, laboratory sessions and field trips, to forums, seminars and lectures. It comprises theoretical as well as hands on approaches.

The first and second work period in May and November 2014 took place at Biofilia –  Base for Biological Arts – of Aalto University. It covered the introduction to synthetic biology, its sciences and technologies and practical experience in the laboratory. In parallel the group worked on associated questions in art, ecology, ethics and politics.

The third work period in May 2015 is an intense production session to create artistic responses and prototypes, culminating in an exhibition and seminar.


What is synthetic biology?

Synthetic biology is an active area in biological research that combines science with aspects of engineering. Synthetic biology encompasses a variety of different approaches, methodologies and disciplines, with the aim to design and construct new biological functions and systems that are not found in nature.

Most approaches of synthetic biology are based on genetic engineering but some go much further. In genetic engineering the goal is to manipulate an organism’s genes, usually by transferring one gene from a donor to a host organism.

Synthetic biology, on the other hand, aims to create whole new biological functions, systems and eventually organisms. If synthetic biology lives up to the current hype and promises, it will become a highly transformative technology affecting ecology, biological development, economy and ethics.

For further discussion, see the related interview by three participants in Making_Life.

Making_Life is a project by The Finnish Society of Bioart in collaboration with
Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts - Aalto University Helsinki  
BIO·FICTION Vienna Austria within the SYNENERGENE EU Project. 

Workshop session leaders: Oron Catts, Orkan Telhan, Andy Gracie, Helena Shomar, Stephen Fortune, Erich Berger, Marika Hellman, Martin Hancyk, Rupert Mutzel
Production: Erich Berger, Piritta Puhto, Oron Catts, Andy Gracie, Marika Hellman
Photo credits: Erich Berger, Pei-Ying Lin
Audio-visual documentation for workshop 1: Haohsin Chang
Logo for Making_Life: Ville Olaskari
Web content management: Sarah Alden
Thank you to:  ZEISS Helsinki/ Ari Frilander, BCL, Hideo Iwasaki / metaPhorest, OKM, Austrian Embassy Helsinki

To the list of all participants and partners.