I had the pleasure to curate and moderate a Leonardo Art and Science Rendezvous, featuring Dr Nina Sellars from Melbourne and Dr Yun Wah Lam from Hong Kong.
In this LASER, we pondered on the art and science of the body. Sellars’ talk will question the cultural and scientific implications of the relative absence of fat in the history of anatomy and the significance this has for contemporary discourses about the human, non-human, and posthuman. She explored these ideas through a discussion of her biological artwork, Sentinels, an installation that features living human preadipocyte cells embedded in a drip-fed hydrogel kouros—its inaugural showing was for the exhibition, ‘HyperPrometheus: The Legacy of Frankenstein’, 2018, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia.
Yun W Lam discussed his fascination with the meaning of the “body” from the perspective of cells. Cells inside our organs are embedded in the extracellular matrix, a fabric of proteins and sugars that give each organ its unique shape and texture. This inanimate and messy material, mostly absent from lab cell culture, defines the identity of the cells. Lam has been working to unlock the information stored in this matrix and reconstitute these signals in the lab. “Absence, Presence, Belonging and Becoming” refers to our relationship with our own anatomy, an indispensable yet alienating element of our existence.