It’s our last event of the year, and a holiday to boot, so we’re pulling out all the stops for blinkBL_NK #9. The theme this month is bio art, a topic we’re extremely excited to learn more about. In addition to three bio-themed talks, we also have a fourth bonus speaker who promises to help you all with your mingling skills. Due to some scheduling issues at Blu Jazz, we’re shifting this month’s event to Speakeasy, a wonderful little bar and event space in Outram Park. In addition to great drinks, Speakeasy has a fabulous kitchen, so do come down early for a good seat and some grub before the sessions start.
Time: Doors at 7:00 PM, first speaker at 7:30 PM
Place: Speakeasy, 54 Blair Road (MRT – Outram) ==
Talk 1: Facebook for Your Genes and other Biosocial Interfaces
by Denisa Kera
Description: What do eugenic style dating over DNA profiles with “GenePartner”, large matriarchal families created by sharing information on donor sperms with “Donor Sibling Registry” , and genealogical “tribes” and biotech enthusiasts discussing their DNA makeup on “23andMe” all have in common? They all represent examples of the emerging trend of social networking via biosocial interfaces. While traditional social networking websites support profiles created by users themselves representing their personal history, cultural, and geographical context, the new type of bionetworking services use biological profiles produced in the science laboratories. DNA sequences, so called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which define variations between members of a same species, databases of donors’ sperms defined by numbers and other biological data are becoming means of interaction that is serendipitous rather than conscious and relies on expert knowledge and laboratory results rather than on the free choice of the individual.
Speaker: Denisa Kera is an Assistant Professor at NUS where she teaches Interactive Media Design and topics in Science, Technology & Society studies. Her current academic research is on consumer genomics, citizen science projects and interaction over biological data. (She would like to build a social networking service for sharing of brain patterns, a “dream hunters network” that connects people over their dreams by updating their brain activity online and looking for similar patterns). She has a PhD in Information Science from Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic), an MA in Philosophy, and extensive experience as a curator of exhibitions related to art, technology and science.
Talk 2: Bio-Gifts: How Will We Accept and Respond to the Materials of Synthetic Biology?
by Tim Merritt
Description: We are in the midst of a biotechnology revolution with amazing new materials and objects being created such as glowing bunnies, petroleum-producing algae, and recently, scientists have even created synthetic life using chemicals and a computer! Surely, there will be amazing biotech solutions for many of the world’s problems, such as global warming, the search for alternative fuels, and medical problems. Meanwhile, artists and designers have proposed that people will also engage with biology in new ways and will exchange hybrid objects as gifts to enhance intimacy and closeness with one another. In this talk, Tim will discuss some examples of new biological objects that we might exchange as gifts, the advances in science that make them possible, and results from a user study aiming to understand how we might respond to the prospect of bio-gifts.
Speaker: Tim was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA and worked for 12 years as a consultant for Siemens helping companies manage their IT infrastructure until he decided to get back to school. While pursuing a PhD at NUS focused on improving the design of AI team-mates, Tim also finds time for kiteboarding, scuba diving, and hawker center fanaticism. He also maintains a blog about biological art.
Talk 3: The Bio.Display Project
by Ákos Maróy
Description: The original concept of the bio.display project was to create a dynamic display made of genetically modified fluorescent bacteria. The installation, though consisting of millions of living organisms, would act as a display, a screen – something we’re used to see from machines. The first step in this project is less ambitious: a mechanism that enables a user to create an image using genetically modified fluorescent bacteria. The installation allows the participant to enter an image, for which he will receieve a plate of bacteria, that develops this image overnight. A replica of the chemical process of photography done by millions of living creatures in a small plate.
Speaker: Akos is a member and founder of several non-profit and commercial initiatives, spread between commercial-grade and open source software engineering, artificial life and emergent systems research, media- and bio-art projects, and community radios. His projects and affiliations include Nextlab, Tilos Radio, EU Edge LLC, Scarab Research, double Negatives Architecture group, Budapest New Technology Meetup, and Open Standards Alliance.
Talk 4: Social Deprogramming or How to Talk to Strangers
by Benjamin Joffe
Description: Why is it so difficult to talk to strangers? Our culture and education are part of our social programming but might be getting in the way of new experiences and encounters. Even places branded as social might fall short of expectations. In this talk, Benjamin Joffe will explore attempts at using technology and re-engineering of offline behavior to enable social deprogramming.
Speaker: Benjamin has repeatedly failed at talking to strangers for several decades and decided to try to understand why, and do something about it. While researching how online and offline behaviors relate, he developed some sense on how spaces and social programming frame interactions and will share here his current understanding.