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In this talk, I will discuss a unique artist residency and how this experience led to a technical and conceptual shift in my practice. In 2015, I participated in a residency at the University of Windsor that involved working in both their print studio and Incubator BioArt Lab. The lab is the only facility of its kind in Canada devoted to the production of “bioArt”—art that directly uses scientific processes and live biological media.
In the Incubator Lab, I studied plant and animal cells under microscopes and ran basic experiments exposing samples to household toxins to observe the damage the substances caused. Initially, my work in the Incubator was a means to generate visual references for the prints I was making, which were surreal images that mixed landscape and human anatomy. However, working simultaneously with biological media and print matrix led me to explore how the prints themselves could be a site for biological growth and experimentation.
The resulting projects that grew out of this experience are ‘Retrograde’ and ‘Still Point’, a hybrid bioArt/print-based installation, a two-channel time-lapse video and sculptural bioArt/print piece. Conceptually, the work engages with the anxiety and fear that surrounds potential catastrophic climate change. ‘Retrograde’ involves growing bacteria and mould on etchings embedded in cultured petri dishes, while the video documents the life cycle of the petri dishes. The bacteria and mould that grows and eventually obscures the etchings represents the only organisms predicted to survive if a mass extinction occurs due to global warming. Symbolically, the projects are also a form of erasure and an active collaboration with nature. Crossing the boundaries of traditional printmaking, my recent work explores the use of the multiple and experiments with the hybridisation of printed image through the practice of bioArt.