Kira O'Reilly's Garden Shed Lab at Laboratory Life, 2011
Kira O'Reilly's Garden Shed Lab at Laboratory Life, 2011


An art-science laboratory led by artist Andy Gracie

22 FEBRUARY - 6 MARCH 2011

Art and science come together in this exciting open laboratory.

Young doctors, scientists and artists create a series of projects exploring the cutting edge of medical technology in an open, living laboratory at Lighthouse.

Kira O'Reilly's Garden Shed Lab at Laboratory Life, 2011
Kira O'Reilly's Garden Shed Lab at Laboratory Life, 2011

Laboratory Life was a unique, interactive art-science laboratory, open to the public. Conceived and led by artist Andy Gracie, a group of international artists and scientists from the UK, Spain and the US worked with young doctors, scientists and emerging artists, to create a series of projects exploring the cutting edge of medical technology in a living laboratory at Lighthouse. These projects were showcased in an exhibition at Brighton Science Festival.
What makes this project unique was its open nature. Most laboratories are closed to the public, and we have little idea of what goes on inside them. But Laboratory Life adopted a radically open structure, inviting the public to come and visit the laboratory, meet the artists and scientists as they were working, and discuss what they were doing.
Visitors met artists Andy Gracie, Adam Zaretsky, Kira O’Reilly, Bruce Gilchrist, and Anna Dumitriu, who were working with sixteen exceptional doctors, scientists and artists, Sarah Roberts, Brian Degger, Melissa Grant, Kate Genevieve, Simona Casonato, David Louwrier, Daksha Patel, Kuiashen Auson, Janine Fenton, Meredith Walsh, Valerie Furnham, Columba Quigley, Genevieve Maxwell, Zack Denfield, Helen Bullard and Simon Hall. Scientists, John Paul (Health Protection Agency), Helen Smith (Brighton & Sussex Medical School), and Tom Shakespeare (World Health Organisation) provided expert advice.
The artists and scientists created five art-science projects which formed the basis of a fascinating exhibition at Lighthouse, featuring DNA tattooing, astrobiology, microbiological textiles and much more which was open to the public 2-6 March 2011.
On 3 March, Andy Gracie, Kira O’Reilly and Anna Dumitriu spoke about their experiences of taking part in the Lab, and will discuss the process of making work using biomedical technology.
On 5 March, Lighthouse hosted a public forum, where the public can debate the role of new technology in medicine.

To find out more about what they got up to, check out the participants’ blog:

The Projects

Public Misunderstanding of Science
Led by Bruce Gilchrist.
Collaborators: Kate Genevieve, Simona Casonato, David Louwrier, Daksha Patel
This group of artists and scientists spent several days testing the public’s understanding of science. Visitors to their laboratory were invited to draw and illustrate their understandings of scientific information and protocol, while listening to scientific discourse on synthetic biology.
Their exhibition of work-in-progress is an animated film, which features the drawings sound-tracked with the original discourse and field recordings made on-site at a medical laboratory.

Infective Textiles
Led by Anna Dumitriu
Collaborators: Rosie Sedgwick, Sarah Roberts, Brian Degger, Melissa Grant
This group of artists, doctors and scientists worked on the development of a textile-based artwork that takes the form of a Regency-style dress stained with bacterial pigments and patterned by antibiotics.
Their exhibition features the Regency style dress, which has now been pasteurized so that the bacteria are no longer living, video documentation of their project, framed works (which show slides of cultured bacteria and moulds, Gram’s stain paintings embroidered with antibiotic threads and drawings made by visitors to the lab) and a table of items used in their lab.

The Quest for Drosophila Titanus
Led by Andy Gracie
Collaborators: Kuaishen Auson, Janine Fenton, Meredith Walsh
This group of scientists and artists were engaged in an astrobiological experiment using various phenotypes of Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly), one of the most important organisms used in developmental biology and genetics.
Their exhibition of work-in-progress includes the experimental chamber, video documentation of the experiments, a printed manual which describes the experimental process, the breeding colony and the memorial to failed individuals.

Tattoo Traits
Led by Adam Zaretsky
Collaborators: Zack Denfield, Helen Bullard, Simon Hall
This group of artists and doctors examined the feasibility of a new notion – “DNA Tattooing”. They explored the ethical, legal, and health issues that might be raised by such a process. Their work involved the creation of a “new media” which they have referred to as Shecan, and the extraction of hybrid DNA from this media. They then adapted a tattoo gun, with the intention of tattooing a novel sequence of hybrid DNA into the nucleus of a living cell, something which is statistically improbable, but conceptually possible.

The Garden Shed Lab
Led by Kira O’Reilly
Collaborators: Valerie Furnham, Columba Quigley, Genevieve Maxwell
This group of artists and scientists created a space for exploring the relationship between biotechnologies and domestic everyday experiences, such as cooking, tinkering, composting, and gardening.
Their exhibition of work-in-progress features their garden shed, containing their home-made sterile hood and incubator, their laboratory equipment and photographs and video they made whilst on site.

Open Laboratory: 20 – 28 February 2011
Exhibition preview: 01 March 2011, 6-9pm
Exhibition: 02 – 07 March 2011, 11am-6pm
Talk by Lead Artists: 03 March 2011, 7pm
Open Forum: 05 March 2011, 2pm

Venue: Lighthouse, 28 Kensington St, Brighton BN1 4AJ

Laboratory Life was organised by Lighthouse and The Arts Catalyst
Support from the Wellcome Trust
It was conceived by artist Andy Gracie, based on the Interactivos? model developed by the Media Lab Prado in Madrid.
Part of Brighton Science Festival.

All five projects will be presented this November as part of the Microwave Festival.




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