Anna Dumitriu’s work blurs the boundaries between art and science with a strong interest in the ethical issues raised by emerging technologies. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, robotics, interactive media, and textiles. Her work has a strong international exhibition profile and is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. Dumitriu is known for her work as founder and director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice. She recently completed a Wellcome Trust commission entitled “The Hypersymbiont Salon", is collaborating as a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the Adaptive Systems Research Group at The University of Hertfordshire (focussing on social robotics) and (Leverhulme Trust 2011) Artist in Residence on the UK Clinical Research Consortium Project “Modernising Medical Microbiology” at The University of Oxford. Her major international project “Trust me I’m an artist, towards an ethics of art/science collaboration” (in collaboration with the Waag Society in Amsterdam and The University of Leiden) investigates the novel ethical problems that arise when artists create artwork in laboratory settings. She is also a contributing editor to Leonardo Electronic Almanac, and winner of the 2012 Society for Applied Microbiology Communication Award. Dumitriu was recently awarded Wellcome Trust funding for her new project "The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis". Click the links at the top of this section to explore the site and find out more about key projects. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Dumitriu will be speaking at “How The Light Gets In” - the world’s largest philosophy festival, on 29th May 2013. She is participating in a panel discussion with Julian Stallabrass and Lynne Segal, “Of Wonder and Terror” which discusses “Turner and Shelley once dazzled us with sublime visions, but in the modern world cosmologists and biologists seem better able to evoke feelings of wonder and majesty than artists and poets. Does science now provide our access to the sublime, or does art still have the power to make us feel awe?” She will also present a solo talk “Confronting the Bacterial Sublime” and explore the disintegrating boundaries between art and science with detours into vampirism, plague and genomic sequencing. Book tickets here.
Anna Dumitriu recently ran a Bioart and Textiles workshop and gave a talk entitled “Confronting the Bacterial Sublime” at Genspace in New York City on 12th March 2013. The workshop, which was aimed at artists, focussed on learning how to work safely with bacteria as an artistic medium using commonly available supplies in domestic spaces. An important goal for participants was to develop a bacteriocentric view of the world, to understand the microbiology and textile techniques used in the work of bioartist Anna Dumitriu and discuss the new advances in clinical microbiology being investigated by the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project. The workshop involved discussions of safe working practices, the ethical issues around bacterial bioart, issues of public engagement in science, and the nature of collaborative art - science practice. See images of the workshop here.
Several works by Anna Dumitriu are currently being exhibited as part of “Gone Viral: Medical Science and Contemporary Textile Art” at the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery, Rockefeller Arts Center, State University of New York, Fredonia, NY, USA. The show also features textile works by Sonya Clark, Lindsay Obermeyer, Paddy Hartley and Laura Splan and is curated by art historian Leesa Rittelmann. Exhibits by Dumitriu include The Infective Textiles Dress, The MRSA Quilt, Bed Flora and The Art and Science of Linen which looks at the whole ecology of linen production from the bacteria used to break down the flax in retting tanks to the industrial production of linen. The exhibition runs from 8th March - 7th April 2013. Dumitriu also gave a public lecture on 7th March 2013 as part of the gallery’s visiting artist programme. It is hoped that the exhibition will then tour. See images here.
There is a new interview with Anna Dumitriu written by Eva Kekou on the 4Humanities website. 4Humanities is a platform and resource for advocacy of the humanities, drawing on the technologies, new-media expertise, and ideas of the international digital humanities community. In the interview she discusses all her current and recent projects and her approach to transdisciplinarity, collaboration, health and safety, ethics, unnecessary research and more. “The majority of people observe disciplinary boundaries, for example putting Art, Science, History, or Philosophy etc. into different boxes, but I prefer to think of all these things as equally important ways of understanding the world. Unweaving the history of something is as important as knowing the scientific basis for it, or feeling its emotional impact viscerally” You can read the interview here.
A new interview with Anna Dumitriu is now live on Imperica entitled “Dirty Work”. It includes a discussion about the work she is currently undertaking inspired by ‘The Romantic Disease’ (Tuberculosis) for several forthcoming exhibitions in 2013 and 2014. There is also a review of her recent performance “The Hypersymbiont Enhancement Salon” and a review of her last solo exhibition in Oxford in May 2012.
“It’s clear that with this extraordinarily varied mix of gallery-based art, performance art, and workshops, all focused on specific yet universal topics, Dumitriu has something special here. She has a clear vision to continue the participatory work, as it reaches a wider audience, one that might not simply visit a gallery to appreciate the visual product, extraordinary though it may be.”
“Confronting the Bacterial Sublime: Whole Genome Sequencing, Microbiology and Bioart” Conference Stream led by Anna Dumitriu at “Mutamorphosis: Tribute to Uncertainty”International Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, 6th - 8th December 2012. There is a sense that the world is heading towards a new pandemic, that an unknown disease will emerge or that an existing pathogen will evolve strategies to resist our limited antibiotic cures and strike us down. However, new developments in whole genome sequencing of bacteria and viruses offer us hope, potentially enabling doctors to diagnose and precisely treat diseases in a matter of hours. We are in the midst of a quiet revolution that may have as big an impact on our lives as the industrial revolution had on our ancestors’ lives.
Infective Textiles will be exhibited in Germany in from 25th October 2012 at Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study), Lehmkuhlenbusch 4, 27753 Delmenhorst, Germany as part of “Transitions: Knowledge Through Performance in Art and Science”. The exhibition curator is Timothy J Senior, who described the exhibition thus: “in performance, the interests and values of contemporary scientific and artistic practices come closer together than we would commonly believe. With work from renowned scholars, artists and scientists, the exhibition explores these shared values, challenging our conceptions of where the boundaries between artistic and scientific inquiry lie.” Opening reception 8pm on 25th October 2012.
The new book “Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance” edited by Maria Chatzichristodoulou and Rachel Zerihan features a chapter by Anna Dumitriu “The Normal Flora Project: Intimate Revelations in Art and Science” which discusses her participatory performance work. It is available to buy here.
Photographic documentation of “Normal Flora: Bioart Responses to Modernising Medical Microbiology” a major solo exhibition by Anna Dumitriu, which was recently exhibited at The Barn Gallery, St John’s College, University of Oxford, is now viewable online. The exhibition is available to tour. Please use the contact link (in pink) at the top of the page to get in touch.
The exhibition featured key works by Dumitriu including “The Communicating Bacteria Dress” stained with bacteria which has been ‘killed’ in the process of sending communication signals, a video mapped with timelapse footage of the process, and the “The MRSA Quilt” where each square of fabric is stained and patterned by the famous ‘superbug’ in interplay with antibiotics.
Anna Dumitriu is creating a new performance artwork for the flagship Wellcome Collection exhibition “Superhuman”. Step into the ‘Hypersymbiont Enhancement Salon’. This new work uses the format of a beauty consultation to demonstrate and discuss the potential ways in which our harmless bacterial flora could be enhanced to create human superorganisms (with better appearances, better health and even better personalities) through our active colonisation with hypersymbionts; bacteria that not only happily co-exist on and inside our bodies, but may actively improve us in some way. Choose between being ‘more creative, ‘smarter’ or even ‘less irritatingly cheerful’. This event takes place on 3rd - 5th October 2012 within the “Superhuman” exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London. See here for information.