DA4GA winnaars 2011: Susana Cámara Leret and Mike Thompson
Luca Di Tomasso BY

Artists in your lab? Scientists designing?

The opening of the new Designers & Artists 4 Genomics exhibition is a fact! In the crowded Life Science room in Naturalis, the winning teams of designers/artists and scientists were put in the spotlight. The reactions of the audience present were positive, indicating a growing sense of the importance of such interactions between art and design - the creative sector - science, in this case the Life Sciences. In any case a great moment for all concerned, but certainly for the organizing partners who worked very hard and with much involvement towards this day.

After a short break due to a harmless fire alarm Valerie Frissen (TNO, Erasmus University) told us more about what the beautiful synergy between art and science yields, not only for the two domains, but also for society and the market. 

Science journalist Maarten Keulemans did his best to play off art and science against each other, to no avail: both disciplines indicated they learned a lot from each other's trade and they even came to new insights thanks to the collaboration! The Netherlands Metabolomics Centre will continue the urine research of Aqua Vita and another winner, the Centre for Genomic Gastronomy, is working with Mark Post of the University of Maastricht to grow 'lab meat", meat grown in laboratory conditions that makes the slaughter of  animals unnecessary.

This last project - Eat less, live longer and pray for beans -  made us laugh about the cultural differences and influences that surfaced: artists from America were inspired by the story of Bartje who would not pray for beans. The bean consumption in the Netherlands has been steadily decreasing for a long time, while beans are healthy and calorie-rich foods with a low carbon food print. Also hilarious: how the always clean & tidy Dutch vigourously scrub away the beautiful lichens that Concrete Lichen wishes to grow, while their so-called 'eco-architecture' can provide a new meaning and sensory quality.

Collage DA4GA

Then it was time to move to the fifth floor where the organizing partners cut the ribbon and we could admire the installations. From the spectacular rotating 'plant meter' (In Vena Verbum) and the flowering lichens to the sleek design of the meals of the future and urinary diary in hand blown glass, this exhibition has surprises in store for you. 

After the opening of the exhibition, one of the winners - Centre for Genomic Gastronomy (CGG) - treated us to a utopian dinner where two Japanese chefs prepared "Corn Smut Croquettes', a delicacy made from a fungus that grows in corn served with the traditional Dutch mayo, considered a delicacy by some, and by others as the plague. CGG will soon be testing with transgenic corn.

This edition of DA4GA has produced spectacular results again thanks to the wonderful balance and ambiguity between scientific and artistic research. Reason enough for NaturalisCSG, NGI and Waag to announce the third edition.