A filmmaker and artist collaborate to film biohacking & "bioart" practices across the globe
DIYSECT (pronounced like "dissect") focuses on DIY Biology and the Biology-Art intersection. In Summer 2013, we traveled across the United States and Canada to film biohackers, bioartists, synthetic biologists, writers, and curators on this growing phenomenon of "biotinkering" on the non-institutional level. Our goal is to raise questions and discuss the way biotechnology is changing our society: What are its political, social, and even philosophical implications? What does this mean for average citizens and their future? How are "bioart" and biohacking practices affecting (will affect) the whole of society? And most importantly, who gets access?
The documentary web-series is divided into ~15 minute episodes where each focuses on a different theme within biotechnology (bioterrorism, transgenics, genetic technologies, etc). By using the web-series format, we are able to cover more content and people in shorter, more digestible episodes. DIYSECT is hosted on its official website as well as the Vimeo channel, completely free of charge . That way, like our subjects, we're promoting public literacy on biology, too.
The Big Question: Why now?
Biotechnology is becoming more and more relevant in our society. With advancements in Synthetic Biology, it won’t be long before we can design and build our own organisms with ease. Scientists have predicted personalized medicine, alternative energy produced by bacteria, and starving nations fed by transgenic livestock. However, many of these innovations are concentrated in corporate and/or academic settings, and the research is swayed by the industry that funds it. The public needs to realize that this biotechnology will determine much about their society: what’s in their food, how their diseases are treated, and who gets access.
Filming Journey across the U.S.
What is Bioart?
In its most basic definition, bioart describes any intersection between Biology and Art. It can range from an aesthetic representation of the life sciences, to using biological forms as a medium to produce "live art."
What is DIY Biology?
DIY Biology embraces the “hacker ethic,” the idea that promotes the decentralization of technology and free access to information for the greater good. Many DIYBio groups work in community laboratories where they run personal experiments and/or teach biotech classes under safe laboratory protocols.
Why is Bioart important?
Bioartists have the ability to translate complex scientific discourses in a way that is relatable to a non-expert. They can reveal contradictions or ambiguities in how biotechnology is used in our society. It confronts the norm because it isn't product-driven.
How are DIYBio and Bioart related?
DIY Biology and Bioart turn the public into producers, not just consumers. They translate biotechnology for a more literate public. From re-contextualizing the laboratory to public engagement, both communities prove that you don't need a PhD. to practice Biology.