Workshop #1: Hunting for nature´s healing powers: soil, flowers and antibiotics
We believe that in order to create a sustainable environment and way of living, we need to better understand the living. Through a deeper understanding and ways to co-create we aim to inspire the art and a new futures. Through our series of workshops we will introduce ways of working with living organisms, to rethink material possibilities, to look into nature for resources and collaborators and to rethink our way of collaborating with nature.
Norway is famous for its impressive natural scenery: every gift shop has postcards capturing the
magic of its magnificent fjords, endless forests and uncountable lakes. But looking deeper, the
Norwegian soil, air and water are home to a microcosmos of life. A part of nature invisible to the
naked eye: bacteria, yeasts, viruses. Even our own bodies are filled with ecosystems of microbes, we
never walk alone.
What do people do in the Norwegian nature? Besides hiking and skiing, Norway is a nation of
hunters, and also recreational fishing is a common hobby. But did you know that there is a special
class of hunters whose weapon of choice is not a gun, nor a fishing rod, but a cotton swap? They are
the microbe hunters, and you could be one!
Microbes can be harmless, beneficial, but can also cause harm. Biomedical sciences are continuously
trying to outsmart disease-causing microbes (pathogens), for example through antibiotics. Most
antibiotics are found in nature: they are the substances one microbial species produces to fight off
competing species in the struggle to survive. Especially soil bacteria are a common source for new
Some of humanity’s existential risks, such as runaway climate change and nuclear war, are well
known and often talked about. An existential risk that is often ignored in the public perception is that
of large-scale disease outbreaks – although the current pandemic might put it in sharper focus.
Besides viruses, an outbreak could be caused by harmful bacteria that over time become resistant to
antibiotics, and are therefore sometimes called “super-bugs”. Because the bacteria are getting
stronger, the number of functional antibiotics we can use to fight them is declining, and soon we
might be without a weapon against some of these pathogens. Therefore it is of vital importance to
keep microbe hunting!
Inspired by this story from the Smithsonian Magazine we have been
inspired to use soil that will undergo a healing ritual by Eirik Myrhaug, a local sami, healer and
In this workshop we perform a “cooking show” demonstration of how to grow bacteria and find
antibiotics in soil samples. Live from the NOBA BioArtLab, we explain the steps in the process, from
collection to discovery, and show you how to perform these. We invite you on a journey through the
invisible world, along the way stopping at various BioArt examples related to the microworld.
Roland van Dierendonck
Roland van Dierendonck is an artist and researcher based in Oslo and Amsterdam. In his practice he
combines techniques from Biology and Media Technology. His interests include the translation of
complicated processes and concepts into public experiences, as he has done with topics like
emergence, ecosystems and microscopic interactions, using media ranging from robotics and genetics
to living matter. His past exhibitions include the Ars Electronica Festival, London Design Festival and
the Discovery Festival. Next to his practice he also likes to teach and create the conditions for
stimulating art-science collaborative projects. In this context, he was leading the BioHack Academy at
Waag, helped set up the Biospace of the Utrecht University of the Arts and founded Amsterdam
Hege Tapio is an artist and a curator based in Stavanger, Norway. Art driven by curiosity, knowledge,
ability to convey and contextualize aspects of technology and research, both through speculation and
critical attitude, have been the basis for many of the projects. Tapio founded and directed i/o/lab –
Center for Future Art since 2001, where she established and curated Article biennial – a festival for
the electronic and unstable art. Her Humanfuel project was first presented in HYBRID MATTER – a
Nordic art&science network program, and her latest project was presented this year at Ars
Tapio is also engaged as Guest Artist / Guest Curator and currently part of the team of NOBA –
Norwegian Bioart Arena, developing and programming the Norwegian hub for Bioart located at
Vitenparken by Campus Ås. Tapio is also pursuing her own artistic research as Phd fellow at FeLT,
Futures of Living Technologies at OsloMet
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