The Biohack Academy 4 (BHA4) is a 10 week intensive international course on DIY biology techniques by the Waag Society. As a recent transplant to New Mexico, I have joined the Univeristy of New Mexico node of the Biohack Academy, through the Social Media Workgroup, run by Andrea Polli Ph.D.
You can see updates on the github page started for the course:
In connection to my current collaboration with Joel Ong on the correlations between the environmental microbiome and the body microbiome, I proposed the idea Microbial Utopia/Distopia – Soil to Skin as my midterm to the BHA4. Watch it on Vimeo here.
My final presentation, with the results of the first experiments is here:
Lorusso participates in FLUID SYSTEMS, an exhibition at the UCLA Art|Sci Gallery featuring members of the Sci|Art Nanolab team and their creative approaches to systems in ecology, medicine, and life sciences.
FLUID SYSTEMS explores the myriad relationships between flows on the micro and macro level. David Prince introduces us to the art of making Kombucha. Rita Blaik reveals how dissolved particles in water scatter light in unique colors and patterns, through a phenomenon known as the Tyndall effect. Capillaries of zebrafish in Olivia Osborne’s research on nanotoxicology connect with the flow of blood in our bodies, videos by Mick Lorusso of rivers and estuaries, and the melting of their collaborative ice sculptures in the gallery. Dan Wilkinson shares jostling non-Newtonian fluids with us, and Amisha Gadani shows us her experiments with the flow of fabrics and objects through water.
A collective Water Canning stand—made by the Art|Sci Collective, including Mick Lorusso, Dawn Faelnar, Victoria Vesna and Judy Kim—allows participants to take a can of water home and participate in this flow of water on many levels, from the nano to the global.
I had the pleasure of teaching as the lead instructor alongside a team of incredible creative thinkers for the UCLA Sci|Art Nanolab Summer Institute this year. Our theme was Systems Thinking and to get the students started off on the first day I conducted the workshop “Thinking Geometrically” based on the designs and philosophy of Buckminster Fuller, a master in systems thinking who introduced the concept of “Spaceship Earth,” instilling the awareness of the whole planet as our home that requires a whole-systems understanding to make sure that we maintain it in full life-supporting conditions. Building geometric forms helped us conceptualize systems and structures from the nano scale to the macro scale.
Throughout the course the instructors and I mentored the students in the development of prototypes and in imagining the impossible, using hands on knowledge and lectures as points of departure for their ideation processes.
The Rising Waters II Confab residency acted as a unique think tank for responding to the effects of climate change worldwide, especially on coastal areas and islands, which are threatened by a 3 to 6-foot sea level rise by the year 2100. The residency served as a microcosm of varying perspectives on how to approach climate change and the anthropocene, even amongst an incredible group of artists, thinkers, and scientists who agree that climate change is real and caused by human industrialization.
The relationship I formed with Captiva Island, the Gulf of Mexico, and Pine Island sound, from the micro-scale up influenced me deeply. In conjunction with that direct experience, the knowledge about local ecosystems and history of storm response that local experts and residents shared guided me and enriched my understanding.
For example we learned that we must watch and follow the barnacles on pilings as an indicator of how the water level is changing. Although many of these sites will need to be abandoned as the waters rise, based on what I learned at the Rising Waters Confab, I believe that many of our solutions lay in the resilience and fragility of ecosystems such as the mangrove and coral.
I spent a great deal of time examining the micro-ecologies of the islands under a webcamera microscope, and found the water and soil around the mangroves to be especially rich in life. These examinations became part of an interactive media installation ‘Becoming Mangrove,’ which emphasizes the resilience of the mangrove ecosystems in the face of rising water and storm surges. In the artwork, participants VJ the found digital microscope footage by connecting to mangrove buds and conductive prints.
At ISEA 2016 in Hong Kong, Clarissa Ribeiro, Jennifer Kanary Nikolov(a), Joel Ong, and I presented a paper on a proposed interventionist strategies for modifying the microbiome and provoking considerations of the relationship between the microbiome and one’s health and psychological state.