June 23, 2010
Transbiotics. Temporal Stabilty Points – Tissue Engineering Workshop

The following is the SymbioticA workshop which took place at the University of Latvia’s Faculty of Biology last Saturday (19/06/10) as part of the Transbiotics Festival in Riga.

The workshop was run by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr from SymbioticA and ran from 10am to 6pm. During the day we had an introduction to the history of tissue engineering, a lecture to give us context as to what tissue engineering is, what it does and currently where it is in it’s development and then the workshop proper started.

Before lunch Oron explained the different types of sterile environments, indicated by levels one, two and three (image above). Then groups of us built a series of DIY ‘sterile’ hoods (image below) to perform the work tissue engineering work in, at least this was the intention. I don’t think we were terribly successful but this was largely a demonstration in practice as to the procedure that needs to be taken when working with biological samples.

We had liver and bone to extract samples from (image above), luckily there seemed to be no vegetarians present, which were then used to employ a number of basic tissue culturing techniques, passaging / subcloning etc. In the image below you can see what was essentially step two once the sample was extracted, adding nutrients to the sample and then, the image below that, a number of techniques such as separation, cleaning etc. (this time in a real sterile environment) to get the final sample of cells which were viewed under a microscope (last image).

All of this was new to me and while I’m never anxious about learning new things I’ve never had much of an interest in biology so that type of learning curve is all the more difficult. It’s interesting however when it’s framed within an art context it suddenly becomes quite interesting and potentially a ‘medium’ worth exploring.

The workshop has certainly fueled my interest but also underlined my ignorance in this area so for the moment I’m going to think about how / if I can take this forward in any way. Consideration of materials and equipment really needs to be priority number one for any artist to engage with this ‘medium’ as the equipment used in the workshop makes a DIY approach for any serious or sophisticated work all but impossible.

    Posted by: Garrett @ 11:08 am

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