The Bio Community Revolution

The Medical Republic hares an article on “Hacking into a Bio-Community Revolution with examples of the work being done in Australia.

With curiosity and creativity at the forefront, the hope is that “following interesting tangents will lead to innovations that couldn’t happen in a traditional university laboratory”, Meow explains.

Biohacking is the latest iteration of the so-called maker movement, which is one of the more encouraging extensions of the digital age.

The maker movement emphasises learning-through-doing (constructivism) in a social environment. It encourages informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfilment. It encourages novel applications of technologies, and the exploration of intersections between traditionally separate domains and ways of working including metal-working, calligraphy, film making, and computer programming.

Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared spaces such as hackspaces.

Maker culture has attracted the interest of educators concerned about students’ disengagement from STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in formal educational settings. Maker culture is seen as having the potential to contribute to a more participatory approach and create new pathways into topics that will make them more alive and relevant to learners.

Some believe the maker movement is a reaction to the devaluing of physical exploration and the growing sense of disconnection with the physical world in modern cities. Other scholars including Raymond Malewitz and Charles Jencks have examined the utopian vision of maker culture, which they link to myths of rugged individualism, the possibility of a counter-culture and libertarianism. Many products produced by the maker communities have a focus on health (food), sustainable development, environmentalism, local culture and can from that point of view also be seen as an anti-response on disposables, globalised mass production, the power of chain stores, multinationals and consumerism.

And a mention of UWA-based artist;

A recent conference in Perth highlighted one example of this, with an artist named Guy Ben-Ari who had created a musical instrument out of his own skin. The artist had flown to labs across the country and the world to obtain the tools to create the project, in which he took his own skin cells, turned them into stem cells, then turned them into neurons. He then laid those down on an electrical frame, and converted it into a musical synthesiser. As neurons do, they are growing in response to musical stimulus, and are developing independently as time goes on.

I remember helping to grow artificial skin cells as well as cluttering an ear on a scaffold during my research days.

Read the full article here


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