Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Crafting Synthetics: Interdisciplinary Art and Life's New Design
Britt Wray
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
Ontario College of Art and Design University
Thesis Supervisor
Dr. David Cecchetto
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design
Languages Familiar to Author
English, French
URL where full thesis can be found
synthetic biology, DIY biology, citizen science, art, design, craft, critical theory, cultural studies
Abstract: 200-500 words
In this thesis I examine and assess contemporary interdisciplinary theory and practice in art, design, citizen science and synthetic biology. I explain the differences between the three main knowledge distinctions of synthetic biology today (DNA based device construction, genome driven cell engineering and protocell creation), and identify prominent artists, designers, and citizen scientists who are creating new modes of interdisciplinary labour therein. My survey of these individuals and organizations locates them in Isabelle Stengers’ notion of the Ecology of Practices, which I also connect to my own writing and art practice as a DIY textile crafter. In the DIY Body Project, I have made a space for the public to generate its own evolving narrative of what a synthetic body can mean, look like and function as through collaborative methods of open-source resource sharing and playful making. Without promoting a specific rhetoric of the body as human, the synthetic as machine, or the biological as computable as is often seen in biotechnology, I take an openended approach to what it might mean to make formal decisions about constructing bodies through the arrangement of crafted corporeal components, as is literally done in lab of the synthetic era. The installation, which takes place in the Ontario Science Centre as well as online at explores how knowledge is shaped through participatory methods both in the gallery setting, and in the home.