Lucia, Qld , Australia. E-mail: dr. The risks and ethics, potentials and pragmatics, of a visual artist engaging with contemporary experimental biomedical research - both practically and theoretically - are outlined and discussed. Project This project responds to the personal and emotional aspects of my scientific experiences.
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Lucia, Qld , Australia. E-mail: dr. The risks and ethics, potentials and pragmatics, of a visual artist engaging with contemporary experimental biomedical research - both practically and theoretically - are outlined and discussed. Project This project responds to the personal and emotional aspects of my scientific experiences. Page 1 of 5 Biomedical Context Although there are historical precedents in the sciences for self-experimentation I encountered bureaucratic resistance as soon as I proposed using human tissue as a medium for my art; regardless of the fact that it would come from my own body.
This first-person methodology was fundamental to my lines of enquiry and I was not prepared to give it up — although, ultimately, the pursuit of ethical clearance took over a year. Of the many protocols regarding the use of human tissue for laboratory experimentation, from a hygiene perspective, there is a danger of transmitting life-threatening diseases when unscreened human material is put into equipment and cultured in the laboratory.
The complexities inherent in ownership and informed consent that surrounds the current worldwide use of HeLa cells in laboratories also highlights the intricacies of the ethical and moral issues involving experimental research on human biological material.
Briefly, in this landmark case, cells were cultured without permission from the biopsy of a low-income, black American woman, Helena Lacks . During the elapsing decades these cells have become so common in standard laboratory experiments that it is suggested that some biologists no longer classify them as human; merely regarding them as single-celled micro-organisms .
These Last updated on 30 September speculations, extensively interrogated by postmodern literary critic: N. Katherine Hayles, instantiate the material body to such an extent that it is seen as informational patterns in which biological embodiment becomes accidental rather than inevitable .
The data collection and laboratory experiments were supervised by my scientific collaborator, Dr. The university ethical clearance process for experimentation on human cells proved to be very complex and lengthy.
We finally expedited this procedure by altering our plans to take advantage of existing university protocols. To do this we changed from the proposed use of adult stem cells from my tissue to those extracted from my blood.
My experiments began by extracting adult stem cells from my blood sample which were then cultured and changed into cardiac cells in the laboratory. At the same time a mixture of cardiac Leonardo Electronic Almanac Vol 16 Issue 6 — 7 differentiating factors, with a proprietary molecule, were also added in order to change the undifferentiated stem cells into cardiac cells.
In response to this unique chemical mix the cells reproduced, matured and began to develop characteristics of heart cells. Each cell has a signature combination of proteins with a fraction of DNA. The innate characteristics of heart cells lead them to seek each other out, to cluster and beat and then to synchronise their beating.
At this stage, after seven days in culture, they can be observed as a large pulsating mass. Personal Responses Holding containers of my own cells in the laboratory had a profound and intense effect on me.
This unusual emotional and physical proximity generated an ambiguous relationship between me - in my role of experimenter - and the cellular material. Under the microscope, from an essentialist perspective, I observed my stem cells respond to the shock and disturbance of being removed from my body by withdrawing and shrinking into circular shapes in the culture medium.
After only a short time in the incubator I was amazed to see that they had acclimatized to the environment in the culture dish and were spreading out. I had not anticipated this level of apparent sentience in such small organisms. In order to gain some understanding of these unexpectedly cognisant cellular responses I attempted to identify the different degrees at which living organisms can function.
Author and physicist Evelyn Fox Keller, who worked for many years at the interface of physics and biology, points to the necessity to characterise those special properties or features that distinguish a living system from a collection of inanimate matter .
Day 1 stem cells in culture are disturbed and curled up. Day 3 stem cells have recovered and have chemical growth mix added. Day 5 cardiac cells begin to form. Day 7 the cardiac cells form a large beating cluster in culture. My subsequent investigations also revealed that biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela have formulated a model of life systems in which cognition is understood as a biological process.
A bacterium, or a plant, has no brain but has a mind. The simplest organisms are capable of perception and thus of cognition. Therefore, as a result of my investigations into contemporary theories of consciousness and sentience and the status of my cells as living entities, it appeared to me that at all levels of life mind and matter, process and structure, seem to have an inseparable connection. For me it involves speculation on how to creatively effect disruptions to the habitual proscription inherent in the perception of representations.
This is recontextualized for inclusion in artworks as a site for identification and empathy between the digital image research data and the viewer. At this level the position of the observer involves extensive prosthetic dependency and arguably a leap of faith. It necessitates trusting in the veracity of the machine with all its potential epistemic and technological limitations. Reliance on machinic interpretations prompts speculation about the status of scientific imaging.
Of particular consideration here is the implication that, in the otherwise invisible layers of the microscopic, the technologies of seeing become mechanisms for believing. When adopting this model I was also building upon my interrogations of endophysical systems that explore immersive constructs and observer relativity.
It operates on the premise that the human cellular digital image data symbolizes more than an impersonal scientific outcome of the laboratory experiments. This is brought about by creating an intense engagement with the experimental digital image data and its accompanying sound environment.
Throughout this paper the fundamental conceptual importance of my own immersion in the scientific procedures has been emphasised. I regard the time-lapse digital videomicrograph image data as being imbued with intimate traces of its human origin.
The installation structure parodies my own scientific and physical immersion during the project. These encapsulate manipulable systems where the boundaries between the body and its environment are in a constant state of interplay and flux.
The interactive digital technologies are selected to promote and facilitate this flexible approach. When an installation participant observes the digital image data of the human cultured cardiac cells beating in synchrony with their heartbeats it is as if a microscopic simulacrum of their own beating human heart - the vital, functioning, interior engine of their body - were laid bare before them, so deeply are they implicated in the installation systems.
This cardiac cellular digital image data is visible on the monitor above the participant. This is intended to increase the sense of immersion experienced by the participant.
This facilitates user-friendly access to the artwork so that there is no complex digital interface to distract participants from the phenomenological impact of the human cellular digital image data or emotive responses evoked by the sound of their heart beats.
It is proposed that this structural relationship embodies the viewer as a network participant and fosters receptivity to the multisensory impact of the artwork environment .
A participant lies on the couch in the machina carnis installation. She locates her heart with the modified stethoscope. Furthermore, individual viewers are implicated as participants who complete the installation; according to their personal responses to the socio-cultural and biomedical issues that it incorporates. University of Queensland.
Under the leadership of Professor Mandyam Srinivasan this research group focuses on the cognitive and navigational abilities of the honey bee.
They plan to incorporate their direct observations of bee behaviours into both a virtual Second Life environment and realtime installation contexts as the project develops. Her thesis explored the impact of experimental biomedical engineering techniques on expressions and representations of corporeality.
Capra  p. Acknowledgements Dr. Victor Nurcombe: my scientific collaborator. Anna Munster , Digitality: Approximate Aesthetics, www. Hayles  p. All pages:.
Dorothy M. Needham
Mooguzragore Such a review necessarily encompasses a great deal of abstruse material. Sign in to access your subscriptions Sign in to your personal account. This article is only available in the PDF format. Sign in to download free article PDFs Sign in to access your subscriptions Sign in to your personal account. Contents Muscle metabolism after the Chemical Revolution lactic acid. Interaction of actomyosin and ATP. Enzymic and other effects of denervation crossinnervation.
Machina carnis. The Biochemistry of Muscular Contraction in its Historical Development