EMutagen / Viva Vivo! / Workhorse Zoo / Transplant Sculpting / Aesthetics, Mutation, Ethics and Heredity / Microinjection Erotism / HGP Prophecy / MMMM... / pFARM


Art and Biolab







MMMM... Gallery

In MMMM…, we, the public, are invited to join in the process of sonic performance for cells in culture. Please engage your living unfamiliar relatives. Here is your chance to massage various living tissues or organisms without getting your hands dirty. We, as fleshy flasks of living culture, are also invited to become part of the experiment by vocally vibrating each other’s rear ends at the same time.

Two ButtVibe lounge recliners are placed facing each other on opposite sides of a room. The chairs massage according to sound output miked from the vocalizations of the person in the opposite chair. This can include voice and instruments/noisemakers. The same signals are sent to neighboring vibrating plate speakers applied to various lifeforms. The organisms will bounce, splash, stretch, bear down and/or jump to attention in response to the audio source. Please Feel Free to Sit Down and Talk to the Living Specimens!

Video of reclining volunteers and their life-world mirrors dancing on biopolymers is projected above and behind the volunteers. This functions as a closed circuit and very local vibro-videophone for talking to various kinds of strangers. We have here a real time, multimedia, multi-species erotic continuum of sonic jostling. We also have the ability to record a certifiable non-repeatable effect through bioassay of public play. Please record any data you might have amassed during your research in the communal lab books provided.

Public Knowledge Purpose:


My personal favorite artistic offering to public experience is the reinsertion of fun for fun’s sake into the social. I know that sounds simple and naïve. It is. Vibrating chairs are titillating. The idea of helping strangers in public liven each other’s bodily experience shamelessly in a temporary suspension of moral standards is my call to duty. It’s something to do while waiting for the AIDS vaccine. At the same time, the conjoining of the microcosm and the human body, so often forgotten in the workaday world, is emphasized. Simple assays could show alterity of cells due to vibration, which can be an effective comparative aid in analyzing human facial response patterns to mechanical tickling and vibro-erotism in general. This sensual experience could abstract our importance as self-centered entities by focusing on bounce as a form of transient existence. In other words this is art and tech lite, public hedonism and unashamedly so. Sit Down and Extrapolate!

Philosophy of Science Purpose:

If our research into the effects of sonic spectrum vibrations are progressing so neatly, why then is the next stage of this project an interactive public event? MMMM… is an artistic experiment. No hard data is expected to arise. This in no way limits potential insights into the natural world that might stem from MMMM... Most artistic products, if shaken well, exude scientific data as a by-product. Unfortunately, there are often strong and contentious reactions to cross-disciplinary activities. It is almost as if breadth itself were a kind of blight on the stability of taxonomy. If labels and classifications are more than mythic, faith based logics of the day, then they shouldn’t have such a phobic reaction the birth of hybrid concepts and complex admixtures. With a little grant money, this too can be reduced to its fundaments. Tame All Anomalies!

Artistic Purpose:

I am a rather insular little maniac. I know how important it is that interactivity be interactive and not some uni-dimensional point/click act of avoidance. Dialogical artworks are important diffusers of the unsporting voyeurism of which both scientific objectivity and artistic appreciation are prone to. This bodily bi-directional communication is both remote and deeply interpersonal. It should remind us of our corporeal fleshiness and, by proxy, our relation to all the squiggly things that squiggle upon the earth. As a libertine in the days of deadly STDs, this is perhaps a reflection of the traumas of libidinal economizing for personal survival. The vibratory arts are highly underrated due to fears of lost productivity. Viva Tactility!




The Humperdinck Effect

Dynamically Seeding Musical Bioreactor

Between 1999-2001, Adam Zaretsky was exploring the effects of music on bacterial fermentation as an Artist and Research Affiliate in Arnold Demain’s Laboratory for Microbiology and Industrial Fermentation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During that time, Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr were also in Boston. They were in the process of growing their Pig Wings as as Research Fellows in Dr. Vacanti’s Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Harvard Medical School. That we were in the same town living with similar day to day tactics was pure happenstance. As some of the few artists who use biological laboratories as their studios, we decided to collaborate by playing Pig Music to Pig Wings.

To this end, we downloaded all the pig related MP3s from the soon to be illegal Napster. By typing in PIG as the keyword, our search revealed a cross section of the etymological nuance symbolically connected to this family of animal. A few examples: War Pigs by Black Sabbath, Fascist Pig by Suicidal Tendencies, Da Killing of Da Pigs by Da Yoopers, Chokin this Pig by Eminem, Squeal Like a Pig by The Reverend Horton Heat, Filth Pig by Ministry, American Pigs by The Angry Samoans, British Pigs- The Price of Royalty by One Life Choir, PigInCheez By Aphex Twin, Blue Christmas by Porky Pig and of course, Pigs on the Wing by Pink Floyd.

Once a week, over the next three weeks, we played Pig Music to Pig Wings at Mass General Hospital. This allowed us time during the week to relax and listen to music with the steadily differentiating bone precursor cells. We started with what we referred to as a Dynamic Seeding Musical Bioreactor. Getting cells deep into constructs is common quest for many in the tissue engineering field. The constructs are very porous and it was hypothesized that the irregular vibrations of the music might assist in the distribution and physical embedding of the cells into the construct. The Vibro Transducers, generously donated by Acouve Laboratories, were intalled in a 37 degree Celsius incubator. The Synthecon Bioreactor vessels were then stuck to these vibrating plate speakers. Inside the vessels were the wing shaped polymer constructs (about 4mm thick) and a rich sample of Mesenchenal stem cells (each cell ~ 15 thousandths of a millimeter in diameter.) Pirate MP3s were played. Scientists, artists and stem cells took moments of repose together.

Alteration of Sculptural Morphology was noticed early on as the wing shaped biopolymers curled up like fried corn chips after the first few songs. Not surprisingly, the wings visibly 'danced' to the music both during the early seeding of the biopolymers and on their following weekly exercise regiments. Bouncing and twisting, stretching and jumping, the Pig Wings took flight. After the incubation period had finished, some of the Musically Entertained Pig Wings were sent to histology to be compared to the Pig Wings whom had been Musically Deprived. Considerable differences in cells count, tissue morphology and distribution throughout the construct were ascertained. Although our application of music to growing tissue cultures was informal and non-repeatable, our observations and the results of the histological comparison lead us to postulate that Pig Music may have a curious effect when applied to Pig Tissue in Vitro.

Scientific Perspective
By Kylie M Sandy

In the pig wings project, mesenchymal cells (bone marrow cells) from pigs are grown over bioabsorbable poylmers. The scientific aspect of the project is engaging an artisitic medium, to investigate both the movement of bone cells within the 3D scaffold of the polymer, and the occurrence of calcification within the polymer. Future research should include quantitative and qualitative accounts of the amount of calcification in the polymers, when they are subjected to sound waves. Findings have a potential application to orthopaedic science and tissue engineering.