Bio-Hacking as Design Practice pop-up exhibition
A pop-up exhibition in the White Building on Thur 9 Mar 2023 Mon 13 Mar 2023 presents the work of Sheffield Hallam University MA Design students working with Lab4Living researchers on the theme of BioHacking. It invites visitors on a speculative journey about the human’s future, challenging us to rethink and reinvent the interplay between humans, nature and technology.
Even if deeply rooted in current social and scientific contexts, the speculative nature of these projects gives you the opportunity to think from a different perspective. With our imagination stimulated, we can debate on current societal issues such as radical feminism, ethics, ageing, genetic manipulation, health and food culture.
In this exhibition, you will discover four different speculative, disruptive and original projects creating space to dream, debate, provoke and think differently.
This work is informed by the international BioDesign Challenge, which Hallam students have participated in in previous years. Although the students not taking part in this year’s competition, Head of Area Postgraduate Art & Design Dr Eve Stirling and Daz Richardson (PG design tutor) invited Lab4Living researcher Noémie Soula to work as a ‘client’ with the students on their Creative Design and Positionality module on the theme of BioHacking. The students were given the following brief:
The Brief: Biohacking as Design Practice
How can DIY biohacking and speculation become essential tools with which designers can critically address future issues?
Once again, the module has enabled postgraduate design students to draw on research expertise and contemporary art practice as they work with Lab4Living researchers to craft their ideas. Noemie has been meeting weekly with 13 students (divided into four teams) as they develop their work in response to the brief above, leading to a formal presentation. The work culminates this week in a pop up exhibition of concepts and artefacts in the White Building.
Biohacking consists of scientific experiments with biological matters, especially genes, done by people who are not official experts or scientists. It is accessible by everyone, designer included. Biological material of all sorts has found their way in design workshop and studio alongside the traditional practices and materials. Designers can now explore different materials but also speculate about their future uses and applications.
How can designers use biohacking to critique and foresee future issues related to biotechnology? How can a designer be part of the biohacker community and create for them?
Biohacking has many sub-cultures such as body hacking, nutrigenomics, DIY biology, or Grinders and have been related to transhumanism and cyberpunk movements. It is a rich cultural and scientific blend. Biohacking follows the “hacker ethics”, which is being ethically obliged to share knowledge, expertise and access to the information to other peers. In short, they have to be fully open-source which make them activists against the use of data to generate money or profit, notably from the Web Giants. Between technology and biology, digital and physical, biohacking is a great playground for today’s designers.
The artefacts and concepts in this exhibition encourage you to dream, debate, provoke and think differently.
Open: 5-9pm Thur 9 Mar 2023 postponed to Mon 13 Mar 2023, due to weather
Location: The White Building, Fitzalan Square Sheffield S1 2AZ