This series of public events, taking place in international settings, investigate the new ethical issues arising from art and science collaboration and consider the roles and responsibilities of the artists, scientists and institutions involved.
At each event (before a live audience) an internationally known artist will propose an artwork to a specially formed ethics committee (following the rules and procedures typical for the host country), the ethics committee will then debate the proposal and come to a decision, the artist will then be informed of the ethics committee’s decision and, alongside the audience, they can enter into a discussion about the result.
The proposals have been selected as they raise interesting questions for science ethics committees and will help reveal the mechanisms that drive this usually hidden process, enabling the wider public to understand the driving forces behind ethical decisions and the role of artists working in scientific settings more deeply.
The project “Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration” is led by artist Anna Dumitriu in collaboration with Professor Bobbie Farsides (Chair of Ethics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School) in collaboration with the Waag Society and The University of Leiden.
Previous events in this series have taken place at The Waag Society in Amsterdam which debated Adam Zaretsky’s project “Mutate or Die” and at The Arts Catalyst in London which debated Neal White’s “Self experimentation and the ethics committee of 1”.
6:00 Introduction by Lucas Evers (Waag Society, Amsterdam) and Professor Bobbie Farsides (Brighton and Sussex Medical School)
6:10 Anna Dumitriu project presentation plus 10 minutes for questions and clarifications
6:40 Artist goes out and ethics committee debate the project. Coming to a decision on whether to allow the project as it stands or place certain restrictions.
7:10 Break for refreshments
7:30 Artist comes back in and is told decision, at this point they can ask questions and begin to discuss
7:40 Audience invited to ask questions and raise points.
Event 3: Anna Dumitriu “Confronting the Bacterial Sublime: Building a Biosafety Level 2 Lab in a Gallery”
Anna Dumitriu is proposing the construction of a portable Biosafety Level 2 Microbiology Laboratory for use in art gallery settings. The purpose of the space will be to allow the exhibition of artworks created using pathogenic and genetically modified bacteria and to provide supervised access and hands on practical transdisciplinary art and microbiology workshops for the public. Dumitriu has previously exhibited a number of works created using GM and pathogenic bacteria that have either been killed and sterilised or filmed in remote settings (including her contribution The Science Gallery exhibition “Infectious” entitled “Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 which made links between human digital communication and bacterial chemical communication). In this work she seeks to enable the audience to experience what it feels like to be confronted with the intricate behaviours of living bacteria in their most sublime form.
Anna Dumitriu is an artist whose work is concerned with the ethical implications of new technologies, and blurs the boundaries between art and science. She is lead artist on the project “Trust me, I’m an artist: towards an ethics of art/science collaboration. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, interactive media and textiles. Her work has a strong international exhibition profile and is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. She was a member of the e-MobiLArt project (the EU funded European Mobile Lab for Interactive Art) and Artist in Residence/Visiting Research Fellow since 2007 at The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex University. She is known for her work as director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice. She is currently working on a Wellcome Trust funded art project entitled “Communicating Bacteria”, collaborating as a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the Adaptive Systems Research Group at The University of Hertfordshire (focussing on social robotics) and Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence on the on the UK Clinical Research Consortium Project “Modernising Medical Microbiology” (looking at whole genome sequencing of bacteria) at the University of Oxford. www.normalflora.co.uk
The Project Team:
Anna Dumitriu (Lead Artist) – see above.
Professor Bobbie Farsides (Ethicist) is Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Her research is focussed on the experience of health care professionals operating in morally contested areas of biomedicine. She has conducted research and contributed to policy relating to organ donation ante-natal screening and testing, reproductive technologies, palliative care and issues around death and dying. Bobbie is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust funded LABTEC Centre (London and Brighton Translational Research Centre) and she was founding Co-Editor of the Royal Society of Medicine’s journal Clinical Ethics. In collaboration with her colleague Sue Eckstein she is currently developing a series of events at BSMS under the heading Ethics in Performance to engage audiences with ethical issues through performance and art. http://www.bsms.ac.uk/research/our-researchers/bobbie-farsides/