Sarah: You may recall my previous post on the past catching up with me. It’s happening again! I started reading a fantastic book last night – The Best of Technology Writing, edited by Steven Levy. A collection of essays, it begins with a piece entitled The Artist as a Mad Scientist, by Kevin Berger (which was first published in Salon online magazine; read it here). It is a fascinating piece of writing, documenting the philosophies and recent activites of Natalie Jemerijenko, a Australian-born scientist and artist who now lives in New York and sets herself the task of
“creating interfaces that draw people into the environment and get them to reimagine collective action”.
Part of the way through the essay, I came across this passage:
“Jerimenko’s views about bird flu have also been informed by one of her brothers, Andrew, a physician, an epidemiologist, and the head of influenza studies at a US Naval medical research facility in Indonesia”.
That research facility is US NAMRU-2, where I worked for 2 years as an immunology research associate in their Parasitic Diseases Program. Cool huh?! And I thought this ‘2 degrees of separation’ thing only worked in Adelaide! (It’s only a small detail that I never actually met Andrew…..).
Anyway, back to the book. Some of the cool examples of art that Natalie has produced include:
* planting genetically identical seedlings in different neighbourhoods to prove the impact of environment on growth (project entitled One Trees)
* creating bird perches which are triggered by a bird landing to play pre-recorded messages about Bird Flu, and the importance of avian and environmental diversity in preventing it (project entitled For The Birds)
* unleashing robotic dogs with chemical-sensing noses to detect toxins in urban sites (project entitled Feral Robotic Dogs).
We love a bit of sciencey-art here at Bridge8 (check out other blogs under the Art, Creativity and Design categories), and those examples are some of the best I’ve seen.
Image shows me (far left) with NAMRU-2 work colleagues on Indonesian Independence Day, August 17 2004.