Bio Art & Design Award winners announced

Press release MU, ZonMw, NWO and Waag Society

20 May 2014

An intervention in evolution by creating the perfect pigeon, growing food from toxic waste and the creation of a new habitat at the interface of fresh and salt water that brings together four cultures of men, plants, fish and crustaceans. These three projects, each to receive € 25,000, were announced the winners of the Bio Art & Design Award this afternoon on Friday, May 16, at NWO in The Hague by the five-member international jury.

The head of the jury, writer and curator William Myers, praised the winners for the fact that all three “addressed themes of the 21st century, the era of scarce resources, of information sharing and climate change”. The international jury, that apart from Myers included Hans Clevers (KNAW), Geert Verbeke (Verbeke Foundation), Karen Verschooren (Z33) en Hub Zwart (Centre for Society and the Life Sciences), selected the winners from eleven teams of collaborating international artists/designers and scientists from the Dutch research institutes.

The award money enables the three winning teams to realise their plans in the coming six months. Following the awards, the three projects will be exhibited from November 28 until February 22, in MU at Strijp S in Eindhoven

With ‘The Economics of Evolution: The Perfect Pigeon’ London-based Studio PSK, in collaboration with Professor Jan Komdeur of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies of the University of Groningen, wanted to stimulate the debate about the end of natural selection and the influence of human interference in the evolution of certain species. In a speculative scenario set in ‘offline’ India they sketch the role that a swarm of pigeons could play in spreading coded biotechnological information.

With ‘Growing food from toxic waste’ Austrian Julia Kaisinger and Katherina Unger, in collaboration with Professor Han Wösten of the chair of microbiology of Utrecht University, want to revolutionize food production. They propose to develop a technology that could turn the 280 million tons of plastic waste that we produce every year into humus for edible mushrooms.

The ‘Four Cultures’ proposed by Slovenian Špela Petrič in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research revolves around the creation of artificial habitats for living creatures in the North Sea. Petrič considers the sea as the last frontier we haven not really conquered yet. Her project is a first step in that direction as a positive colonisation that would benefit all life forms involved. The

Bio Art & Design Award is a continuation of the successful Designers & Artists for Genomics Award (DA4GA) that between 2010 to 2013, brought international recognition to ten teams of bio-artists and scientists.

Established by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative and Waag Society, the prize soon became an encouragement to the fast-growing group of young creative professionals who direct their work towards exploring the new possibilities offered by biotechnology.

Apart from its new name, the Bio Art & Design Award also found new partners in research funders NWO and ZonMw, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), art space MU and Bio Art Laboratories in Eindhoven. The new name is well suited for the expansion of the award to include the entire field of life sciences, instead of its previous limitation to genomics.

Source: NWO

Further information

NWO, Information and Communication Department, tel.: +31 70 344 07 41