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In active response to the novel coronavirus and its unfolding, we offer ArtSci PARTICLES interviews with members of our concentric network. We are deeply inspired by the thoughts, actions, and research-based responses made by our community in this unprecedented time. 


We are so fortunate to be joined by artist Anna Dumitriu in Brighton, England for Episode 9 of Particles. Since Anna was a child, she has been thoroughly interested in the London Plague and subsequent infectious diseases - how they are carried and how myths and folklore develop around the unseen. Her work is now focused on these unseen characters, down to their DNA, and considers what roles and implications microorganisms carry in culture, science and economy. Anna leads us on a fascinating journey through her personal history, research and artwork to discuss the contemporary pandemic and imagines what might come from this time. Anna's work and words are reminders to us all that it necessary to conduct "unnecessary" research - following our own threads of what peaks our interests, in the idea that these seemingly unnecessary interests contribute to the world's body of knowledge carrying potentials that may lead to breakthroughs and unexpected collaborations and solutions. 


Anna Dumitriu (1969) is a British artist who works with BioArt, sculpture, installation, and digital media to explore our relationship to infectious diseases, synthetic biology and robotics. She has an extensive international exhibition profile including ZKM, Ars Electronica, BOZAR, The Picasso Museum, The V & A Museum  Philadelphia Science Center, The Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei  LABoral, Art Laboratory Berlin, and The Museum of the History of Science.

She was the 2018 President of the Science and the Arts section of the British Science Association. Her work is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum London and Eden Project. 

Dumitriu is a renowned speaker and has presented talks on her work at prestigious venues including TATE Modern, Princeton University, Imperial College London, The University of Oxford, La Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, and UCLA

Her work is featured in many books including Bio Art: Altered Realities published by Thames and Hudson in 2016 and many other significant publications across contemporary art and science including Frieze, Artforum International Magazine, Leonardo Journal, The Art Newspaper, Art Quarterly, Nature and The Lancet.

She holds visiting research fellowships at the University of Hertfordshire, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Waag Society, as well as artist-in-residence roles with the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project at the University of Oxford, and with the National Collection of Type Cultures at Public Health England. Her current collaborations also include “Biotechnology from the Blue Flower” with the EU H2020 CHIC Consortium exploring new plant breeding methods and CRISPR, and “Fermenting Futures” focussed on yeast biotechnology in collaboration with the Institute of Microbial Biotechnology at BOKU in Vienna. She recently completed her “Cyberspecies Proximity” project with Schindler as part of an EU Vertigo STARTS residency exploring the futures of robotics.

She has worked with the Liu Laboratory for Synthetic Evolution at The University of California in Irvine (USA) to explore synthetic biology and the resulting artworks were featured in the ground-breaking exhibition “WETWARE” at the Beall Center for Art and Technology in Irvine (USA) curated by Jens Hauser and David Familian. Notably she also worked with the MRG-Grammar project to create  artworks using CRISPR gene editing technology and collaborating with BeyondSeq at the University of Birmingham to explore the biochemistry of DNA.

Dumitriu was lead artist on the Creative Europe supported project “Trust Me, I’m an Artist” which investigates the novel ethical problems that arise when artists create artwork in laboratory settings. Her book of the same name, co-authored with Professor Bobbie Farsides, was published in 2014. She is also the 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. In 2012 Dumitriu received the Society for Applied Microbiology Communication Award.
Teeth Marks (2019):
“Teeth Marks” is a body of work and exhibition by artist Anna Dumitriu explores the strange histories and emerging futures of dentistry from teeth worms, false teeth and the development of anaesthetics to 3D printing and the DNA of dental microbes. It looks at the societal and psychological impacts of this defining field of medicine through a deep investigation of the Birmingham Dental Hospital Historic Collection and collaboration with present day researchers who work at the cutting edge of medical science.
Plague Dress (2019):
The 1665 style “Plague Dress” (2019) is made from raw silk, hand-dyed with walnut husks in reference to the famous herbalist of the era Nicholas Culpeper who recommended walnuts as a treatment for Plague. The dress is appliqued with original 17th century embroideries which the artist has impregnated with the DNA of Yesinia pestis bacteria (Plague), which she extracted from killed bacteria in the laboratory of the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) at Public Health England where she is artist in residence. The NCTC is the oldest and most historical collection of pathogenic bacteria in the world.
Make Do and Mend (2016-17):
“Make Do and Mend” (2016-17) is artwork created by Anna Dumitriu as part of The FEAT (Future Emerging Art and Technology) residency programme. The piece references the 75th anniversary of the first use of penicillin in a human patient in 1941 and takes the form of an altered antique wartime women’s suit marked with the British Board of Trade’s utility logo CC41, which stands for ‘Controlled Commodity 1941’ meaning that the use of materials has been deemed meet the government’s austerity regulations.
ArchaeaBot (2018-19):
“ArchaeaBot: A Post Climate Change, Post Singularity Life-form” (2018-19) is an underwater robotic installation by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May that explores what ‘life’ might mean in a post-singularity and post-climate change future. Based on new research on archaea (a group of unicellular micro-organisms believed to be the oldest form of life on earth adapted to life in extreme conditions) combined with the latest innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the artists have tried to create the ‘ultimate’ species for the end of the world.
  • Anna Dumitriu gave an online lecture (due to COVID-19 Pandemic precautions) to Art and Life Sciences students at the University of Leiden on 16th April 2020.
  • Anna Dumitriu and Alex May gave an online lecture (due to COVID-19 Pandemic precautions) on their “Cyberspecies Proximity” robot project and EU Vertigo STARTS residency with Schindler for the BioComputation Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire.
  • Anna Dumitriu gave an online lecture (due to COVID-19 Pandemic precautions) on her practice to arts students at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland on 24th March 2020.
  • Anna Dumitriu spoke about her collaboration with the National Collection of Type Cultures Centenary Symposium on 2nd March 2020 at Public Health England Colindale in London.


Our friends at Leonardo are offering virtual space, creative platforms and partnership to facilitate socially connecting, even while physically distancing. This includes a curated reading list of free articles from Leonardo journal, virtual LASER programming and community resources
The UCLA ArtSci Collective comes together as a hybrid organism consisting of artists, scientists, humanitarians, ecologists, creative technologists and generally inquisitive humans all around the world. If you would like to be involved, please reach out to
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