Laboratorium develops projects in collaboration with artists and scientists applying the research from the color biolab project.
Experimental movie based on Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. Elias Heuninck (Formlab), María Boto (Laboratorium), 2017, 3.
From May 27th to July 31st 2016 Salina has been exhibited at The Société (Brussels) as part of the Monochrome exhibition.
Salina are several monochromatic glass canvasses in green and orange, with colors brought by the same living source, Dunaliella salina.
Salina highlights new color possibilities to be applied in art practice using emerging biotechnology tools as well as questioning issues in this field as stability or ownership: what would our response be to an art piece which state changes autonomously? Could a living entity become a color itself? Salina suggests the viewer new possibilities in color research, and opens new discussions around art and biotechnology.
Tierra de Diatomeas
Land of Diatoms, a project by Susana, Inés Cámara Leret and María Boto Ordóñez to investigate the relationship between human beings and Castilla and León geographic areas. This research is part of a collaboration with the Laboratory of Diatomology of the University of León, in which diatoms are used as a metaphor to create a dialogue through which to discover historical events, trace existing narratives and discuss desirable futures for the land, its waters and its people.
Due to the high sensitivity of diatoms to chemical changes in the water, these microorganisms are used to analyse ecological parameters such as the quality of the water. Thanks to the fact that diatom cells are covered by a silica wall, they are fossilizable, and through their study, it is possible to analyse agricultural cycles marked by the arrival of the Romans, the Industrial Revolution or livestock farming, for example. As a consequence of their easy dispersion they can be found in any environment, not only in places where there is or there was water. At the same time, diatoms also help to outline a map of invasions through the study of the migration, dispersal and propagation of species as a result of human activities.
Land of Diatoms has been accompanied by researcher Dr. Saúl Blanco Lanza (Diatomology Lab from the University of León) and botanist Dr. Estrella Alfaro. It is commissioned by LAB987 at MUSAC, supported by Universidad de León, represented by the Area de Actividades Culturales and Departamento de Diatomología from Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas and The University College Ghent, School of Arts KASK.
Colour and vision, Natural History Museum, London
As part of the color research project developed in KASK, we had the opportunity to visit the exhibition “Colour and vision” at the Natural History Museum of London, and also to talk about colors with Dr. Suzanne Williams, a scientific researcher who helped design the exhibition content along with Dr Greg Edgecombe and Ms Fiona Cole-Hamilton.
We are surrounded by colors, and the gate to enjoy them is the eye. For that reason, the first part of the exhibition, after Liz West’s art installation, was focused in the evolution of the eye, that unavoidably goes in parallel to the increase of colors in nature. The evolution from light sensors to much more complex structures supposed an important change not only for the living organisms themselves but also for the environment.
An overview from the Precambriam Eon until now shows the evolution of eyes: first fossils, specially trilobites, and then a wide range of existing animals with different eye structures: arthropods, molluscs, cnidarians, onychophora and finally mammals.
The second part of the exhibition was dedicated to color in nature. What is color, where it can come from and how we perceive and interpret it. Visible and non-visible molecules. Derived from natural pigments, complex physical structures and the combination of both. Color stability and its importance in nature: colors to survive and to thrive.
Pigments are carotenoids, melanin, flavonoids, porphyrins, etc. They are found in vegetables like carrots, in animals such as flamingos and in our daily life products. However, there are some colors that the human eye can not perceive, as the fluoresce red of porphyrins under UV light in some molluscs.
There is a clear idea about the reason why some colors are present in nature, but not in every case. In the exhibition, the presence of colors in some animals is shown as a way of camouflaging, showing status, gender identification, facilitation of reproduction and feeding, light harvesting, etc. The color of an innocent ladybird warns us of the toxicity of its body, and marine iguanas use dark colors to store heat before going into cold water.
At the end of the exhibition, a video invites us to re-think our capability as humans to see, perceive and feel, by listening to the two scientists responsible for the exhibition -Dr. Suzanne Williams and Dr. Greg Edgecombe- and two artists, Liz West and Neil Harbisson, colorblind but able to hear colors through a camera implanted in his head.
Living school colors: Laboratory
Neochromologism.io is an ongoing artistic website that aims to reflect about the color vocabulary that we are using in our daily life at professional and personal level by establishing connections between a color name and a meaning or experience.
The random RGB code generated for the website background is presented as hexadecimal code, a name following the rules presented above and gives also the possibility to the user of name it by creating a new color database.
This project has been developed by Laboratorium, the experimental lab for art/design and biotechnology at KASK/School of Arts Ghent, as part of the research project “The color biolab” funded by Arts Research Fund of University College Ghent in collaboration with Juan Luis Font, digital alchemy.