Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature

Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature

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Overview

As synthetic biology transforms living matter into a medium for making, what is the role of design and its associated values?

Synthetic biology manipulates the stuff of life. For synthetic biologists, living matter is programmable material. In search of carbon-neutral fuels, sustainable manufacturing techniques, and innovative drugs, these researchers aim to redesign existing organisms and even construct completely novel biological entities. Some synthetic biologists see themselves as designers, inventing new products and applications. But if biology is viewed as a malleable, engineerable, designable medium, what is the role of design and how will its values apply?

In this book, synthetic biologists, artists, designers, and social scientists investigate synthetic biology and design. After chapters that introduce the science and set the terms of the discussion, the book follows six boundary-crossing collaborations between artists and designers and synthetic biologists from around the world, helping us understand what it might mean to 'design nature.' These collaborations have resulted in biological computers that calculate form; speculative packaging that builds its own contents; algae that feeds on circuit boards; and a sampling of human cheeses. They raise intriguing questions about the scientific process, the delegation of creativity, our relationship to designed matter, and, the importance of critical engagement. Should these projects be considered art, design, synthetic biology, or something else altogether?

Synthetic biology is driven by its potential; some of these projects are fictions, beyond the current capabilities of the technology. Yet even as fictions, they help illuminate, question, and even shape the future of the field.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262534017
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 01/06/2017
Series: The MIT Press
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a London-based artist, designer, and writer.

Jane Calvert is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Pablo Schyfter is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Alistair Elfick is Codirector of the SynthSys Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

Drew Endy is a bioengineer at Stanford University and President of the BioBricks Foundation.

Alistair Elfick is Codirector of the SynthSys Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

Drew Endy is a bioengineer at Stanford University and President of the BioBricks Foundation.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a London-based artist, designer, and writer.

Drew Endy is a bioengineer at Stanford University and President of the BioBricks Foundation.

Pablo Schyfter is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a London-based artist, designer, and writer.

Pablo Schyfter is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Alistair Elfick is Codirector of the SynthSys Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

Jane Calvert is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Pablo Schyfter is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Jane Calvert is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a London-based artist, designer, and writer.

What People are Saying About This

John Maeda

Just as post-war designers Ray and Charles Eames showed us how molded plywood techniques for building airplane wings could result in unexpected, and now timeless, pieces of furniture, artists and designers like Daisy Ginsberg are showing us how bacteria and other biological building blocks may give us entree to an entirely new species of experiences.

Endorsement

Just as post-war designers Ray and Charles Eames showed us how molded plywood techniques for building airplane wings could result in unexpected, and now timeless, pieces of furniture, artists and designers like Daisy Ginsberg are showing us how bacteria and other biological building blocks may give us entree to an entirely new species of experiences.

John Maeda, Design Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

From the Publisher

It is essential that designers and artists engage with the emerging field of synthetic biology, but how is not always clear. Synthetic Aesthetics provides a fascinating interdisciplinary discussion of the key issues and ideas driving developments in this field, but more importantly for artists and designers, it offers a range of ways designers and artists from very different points on the creative spectrum can critically engage with this exciting field.

Anthony Dunne, Head of the Design Interactions Programme, Royal College of Art

Synthetic Aesthetics takes a timely view of the interface between science and design from a number of angles. The charismatic introduction sets the stage for the different in-depth views that follow. This book is a good, accessible read for all and as such will also make a great addition to education in biology, engineering, design, and humanities.

Pamela Silver, Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School and Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

Just as post-war designers Ray and Charles Eames showed us how molded plywood techniques for building airplane wings could result in unexpected, and now timeless, pieces of furniture, artists and designers like Daisy Ginsberg are showing us how bacteria and other biological building blocks may give us entree to an entirely new species of experiences.

John Maeda, Design Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Anthony Dunne

It is essential that designers and artists engage with the emerging field of synthetic biology, but how is not always clear. Synthetic Aesthetics provides a fascinating interdisciplinary discussion of the key issues and ideas driving developments in this field, but more importantly for artists and designers, it offers a range of ways designers and artists from very different points on the creative spectrum can critically engage with this exciting field.

Pamela Silver

Synthetic Aesthetics takes a timely view of the interface between science and design from a number of angles. The charismatic introduction sets the stage for the different in-depth views that follow. This book is a good, accessible read for all and as such will also make a great addition to education in biology, engineering, design, and humanities.

Customer Reviews