Art|Sci Center + California NanoSystems Institute
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LASER talk as a part of the Medicine and Media Arts series
Featuring Medicine and Media Arts Board Members: Stelarc, Rebecca Messbarger, Piroska Kopar with special guest Siddharth Ramakrishnan

July 16, 2021

03:00 PM PDT
05:00 PM CDT
06:00 PM EDT
12:00 AM CET
08:00 AM AET


New advances in medicine, transgenics, and biomechtronics have generated genetically-modified “superhumans,” cyborg fantasies, and new evolutionary futures in the fields of art and medicine and also the cultural imaginary. Whether participating in bio-elective surgeries, performative dissections, or experimenting with invasive genetic editing, manipulations of the human form summon Mary Shelley’s cautionary tale, which serves as a metaphor for our darkest fears involving human evolution and knowledge. This event will feature four subject experts on the spectacular body in art and medicine. Transhumanist artist, Stelarc, who has used himself as an experimental canvas for exploring alternate anatomies, will discuss the obsolete body and its potential for technological alteration.  Scholar, author, and medical historian, Rebecca Messbarger will respond to these notions, and also discuss increasing scientific analysis of criminal and saintly bodies via dissection in the Early Modern period. MD, surgeon, and medical ethics specialist, Piroska Kopar will also respond to the ethics of bio-elective surgeries in contrast to the delivery of acute care surgery. Siddharth Ramakrishnan will be a respondent coming from the neuroelectronic perspective focusing on the increasing use of technologies to interface the brain with electronics and manipulating ourselves with disembodied cognition.

Patricia Olynyk
Fellow and Chair

Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Affiliate Professor,  Medical Humanities, School of Medicine, Performing Arts, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Faculty Scholar, Institute for Public Health
Washington University in St. Louis 

Medicine + Media Art Fellow, UCLA
Co-Director, NY LASER (Leonardo/ISAST) 

Victoria Vesna

Victoria Vesna Professor of Art, Department of Design Media Arts at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, director of UCLA's Art|Sci Center and the UC Digital Arts Research Network

Advisory Board Members:


Performance Artist
Art practice focused on extending the capabilities of the human body
Curtin University in Western Australia



Piroska Kopar M.D.
Director, Center for Humanism and Ethics in Surgical Specialties (CHESS)

Assistant Professor of Acute and Critical Care Surgery 
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, Department of Surgery

Rebecca Messbarger, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and First Director of Medical Humanities

Director of Undergraduate Studies in Italian and Professor of Italian

Affiliate Professor of History, Art History, International and Area Studies, Performing Arts, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Washington University in St. Louis


Special Guest:

Siddharth Ramakrishnan 

Chair of the Neuroscience Program at the
University of Puget Sound

Medicine and Media Arts Advisory Board

David Gere, Ph.D.

Founding director,  UCLA Art & Global Health Center

Professor, UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Diane Mullin, Ph.D.

Senior Curator, Weisman Art Museum
University of Minnesota


Hannah Klemm, Ph.D.

Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
St. Louis Art Museum


Herman J. Milligan, Jr. Ph.D.

Managing Partner, The Fulton Group

William Powderly, Ph.D.

Dr. J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Sciences, Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health Washington University in St. Louis, Director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS)  Co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases Washington University School of Medicine

Monica LoCascio

Visual Artist

Shanti A. Parikh, Ph.D,

Associate Professor, Anthropology and African & African American Studies (AFAS) Associate Chair, AFAS Faculty Fellow, Institute of Public Health Washington University in St. Louis

Bianka Hofmann

Head of Communications at Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine MEVIS

Aisen Caro Chacin, Ph.D.

Lab Lead + Device Designer | Developer,MakerHealth Medical Fabrication Lab University of Texas Medical Branch

Kenneth Wells, M.D., Ph.D

David Weil Professor and Director of the Center for Health Services and Society, of the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, and of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, Affiliated Adjunct Staff at RAND, and Staff Psychiatrist at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Health System.

Carlo Ventura, M.D., Ph.D.

Full Professor of Molecular Biology, Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine (DIMES), School of Medicine University of Bologna, Italy Chief National Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Stem Cell Engineering - Eldor Lab, Istituto Nazionale di Biostrutture e Biosistemi (INBB) Innovation Accelerator

More about Medicine & Media Arts
The Medicine + Media Art Initiative is a multi-layered artistic and scholarly endeavor that serves as a national and international hub for the artistic  exploration of contemporary medical science and biotechnology. The fellowship will act as a conduit for advancing new projects and artistic research that reimagine the medicalized body, corporality, notions of embodiment, posthumanism, and the effects of our environment on our sense of bodily presence and well-being in the world.

In a time of pandemic conditions, the exchange between media art, medicine and the medical humanities in particular foregrounds the critical role of art practice in negotiating the human experience. And while medical science has evolved over time in culturally specific ways that are not value-neutral, media art and its related discourse have advanced the social, ethical, and humanistic investigation of medicine. Embedded in this network lies the interconnected categorizations of gender, race and class—intersectionality—as media art and medicine explore the corpus and its hidden landscape under  the skin.

Through lectures, exhibitions, symposia, and the production of original creative work, The Medicine + Media Art Fellowship will bring together various collaborative partners that include: UCLA’s Art|Sci Center, the California NanoSystems Institute, and School of Medicine; the Sam Fox School of Visual Art, the School of Medicine, the Institute for Public Health, and Medical Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis; Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine MEVIS
, Bremen, Stuttgart; Angewandte University of the Arts, Vienna; Ars Electronica; Leonardo/International Society for the Arts, Science and Technology (ISAST); Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSA); and Inter-Society for Electronic Arts (ISEA).
Art + Brain, reissue of limited edition printed publication. Co-organized by Patricia Olynyk and Victoria Vesna, Art + the Brain: Stories and Structures explored the complex histories, practices, and interconnections between art, architecture, medicine and neuroscience with the human brain as a central focus.

To purchase a copy, you can contact Patricia Olynyk

Art + Brain Symposium
UCLA Art|Sci Center

For more information look here
MEDICINE AND MEDIA ARTS from the Art|Sci Archives:

Dark Skies
UCLA Art|Sci Center Gallery

Dark Skies responds to the omnipresence of light pollution, defined by The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as an excessive amount of obtrusive artificial light, which affects brainwave activity and the circadian rhythms of human and non-human lifeforms alike. The work takes as its title an astronomical reference, referring to remote places free of hazy, human-made light that allow for an extended view into deep space and time as a unique perceptual and psychological experience. Due to the finite speed of light, stargazing offers us a view into the past.

Dark Skies consists of a digitally-sculpted video wall and a two-channel video projection: one which reveals a crepuscular sky and the other, a dark sky with milky streams of light. The installation also includes a complex soundscape, drawn primarily from field recordings captured at twilight in the Rocky Mountains during high summer. The sound design serves two functions: to sonically articulate the ambiguous space between micro and macro environments, echoing those depicted in video elements, and to add an interactive/immersive quality to the work.
For more information look here

Leonardo da Vinci, Inventing the Future, Automata, Art, Anatomy, Biomorphism

UCLA Art|Sci Center with UCLA School of Medicine, Caltech, and Cambridge University 

This incredible symposium hosted jointly with scholars, doctors, scientists, and artists together to discuss and view Leonardo’s influential work and legacy. His desire for new knowledge and understanding are examples of true interdisciplinary thinking, and this conference invites us all to consider approaching the future with expanded, Leonardo visions of what is possible.

Co-Organized by: Noel G. Boyle, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology, UCLA; Massimo Ciavolella, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, UCLA; Morteza Gharib, Professor of Aeronautics and bioinspired Engineering, Caltech; Francis Wells, Cardiac Surgeon, Royal Papworth Hospital, and Cambridge University, UK, Victoria Vensa, UCLA

For more information look here
Art|Sci Center is home to the Art|Sci Collective, an international group of researchers and creatives that develops projects, workshops, performances, and exhibitions that address social, ethical and environmental issues related to scientific innovations. If you would like to get involved please subscribe to our newsletter or reach out to!
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