Art + Science III

Khoj’s interest in Art and Science is in promoting a dialogue between artists and scientific concepts, phenomena and technology through practice. It fosters the creation of new expert knowledge in the arts by extending artists’ practice in connection with fundamental research.

Instituted by Khoj and supported by Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, the Art + Science programme is designed to advance projects that explore artistic applications of emerging thoughts and technologies with the help of partners from the scientific industry and academia. This year the Art + Science Grant will fund a small number of projects that engage emerging themes around science and technology. The grant consists of a six month research and development period culminating into a four-week residency and Open Studio at Khoj Studios in March 2018.

The selected residents are: Darya Warner and Puneet Kishore; Sonia Mehra Chawla; Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Goutam Ghosh, and Susanne Winterling; and Tulika Aasma, Kaushal Sapre and Abhinav Gupta.

Darya Warner and Puneet Kishore

MycoPrinter is an open source 3D bioprinter that prints mycelium substrate ready for inoculation with various types of fungi. MycoPrinter combines additive manufacturing with plant biological tissue to create living organisms sculpted into artistic shapes. As such, it brings together engineering, biological sciences, and art under the umbrella of open citizen science. The printer would allow printing relatively fine details that otherwise would be difficult to sculpt using regular mycelium growing techniques of mold-making. Any artist wanting to work with mycelium would be able to use the MycoPrinter. In this project, we start with a DIY 3D printer kit and modify its print head to extrude biological substrate. Starting with a 3D printer allows us to focus on the substrate and its extruder. A well-regarded ready-to-assemble 3D printer kit based on the open source RepRap project can be combined with a multi-substrate paste extruder, or better yet, an open source syringe pump design to create a basic 3D bioprinter.

Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Goutam Ghosh, and Susanne Winterling

Project Speculation: Desert takes off from the two interlinked futurist descriptions of anthropogenic impact on the planet: the desert planet and the drowned world. The desert planet and the drowned world from one angle seem to be absolute opposites: the latter the result of global warming leading to melting polar arctic ice and the permafrost layer, leading to apocalyptic visions of gigantic tsunamis, unconquerable floods, and drowned cities or countries, while the former represents the desertification of the planet, loss of greenery, biodiversity and arable land, with widespread hunger, drought phenomena and so on. From another angle, the desert planet is the ultimate future, for many deserts of the present were not too long ago covered in water, or lush greenery, and teeming with life-whose presences remain to this day. In India and the subcontinent, there is no dearth of examples of parts of the country suffering droughts, desertification, and flooding at the same time, leading to widespread destruction of property and loss of life- not just human life, but all manner of flora and fauna. Nuclear apocalypses of the Cold War period have been replaced by these apocalypses for a new epoch in the new millennium. If statistical models and extrapolations such as the planetary boundaries model are acknowledged, then one can see that these problems of our time will only intensify, leading to scientific visions and science fictional visions merging with spiritual-apocalyptic visions of the end-times.

The project maps this mergence from three intersecting nodes: the geo-cultural, the biological, and the science fictional, uniting the theoretical and practical engagements of the three different members of the group. At the heart of this project is what we call the “speculative desert.” This speculative desert will be researched, classified, and designed in terms of fictional and real deserts, the real and imagined creatures and technologies that inhabit these deserts, the socio-cultural life in these deserts, and the geological peculiarities of these deserts and their futures.

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Associated Programmes