Call for Artist in Residence at UCI for Synthetic Biology Project


IRVINE, CA (July 24, 2016) -- The Beall Center for Art + Technology, The Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS) and The Newkirk Center for Science and Society, all located at University of California, Irvine (UCI) are co-sponsoring an artist in residence. The selected artist will be given the opportunity to develop a Synthetic Biology (SynBio) work of art and to actively engage with science professionals on campus. The work can employ biological materials and/or computational processes; it will be included in an exhibition at the Beall Center in February 2016.

The two-part residency includes a two-week period anytime from October - November 2015, with a second visit to produce/install work for the Beall exhibition opening, February 6, 2016. A stipend of up to $10,000 will be provided by the Beall Center, CCBS, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to cover travel and living expenses and to support the production of a finished work.

This inaugural residency program is aimed at exploring the potential of the arts or alternative cultural practices related to the extensive and interdisciplinary field of Synthetic Biology. While in residence, the artist will investigate the challenges and philosophical, aesthetic and ethical aspects connected to the field and its societal ramifications.


The Beall Center for Art + Technology is one of the premiere exhibition spaces for emerging artistic practices in the United States. It promotes new forms of creative expression by exhibiting art that uses different forms of science and technology to engage the senses. The Beall builds innovative scholarly relationships and community collaborations between artists, scientists and technologists by encouraging the research and development of art forms that can affect the future.

The Newkirk Center for Science and Society promotes appropriate and effective uses of research in the natural and social sciences to enhance quality of life. It seeks to develop and share research knowledge with the public and policy makers so they can make informed decisions about vital policy issues on law, education, environment, health care, crime and public infrastructure. The Center carries out its mission in several ways: through conferences, workshops, colloquia, lectures and the funding of research linked to the goals of the Center.

The UCI Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS) promotes research and education in systems biology, which includes aspects of synthetic biology, genomics and functional genomics, computational biology, mathematical biology, biophysics, bioengineering and molecular biology. The goal is to develop a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of complex biological systems and their behaviors. CCBS has more than 120 affiliated members, representing faculty from multiple schools and departments at UCI, providing a favorable environment for the formation of multidisciplinary research interactions. CCBS is one of 13 current National Centers of Excellence in Systems Biology supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).

UCI’s CCBS will arrange for benches of research space suitable for standard molecular biology procedures, access to molecular biology equipment, computational resources and associated technical expertise to develop and/or set up artworks. The artist will have opportunities to engage with scientists during their time here. Specific areas of inquiry in which CCBS has unique expertise and interest include spatial dynamics, mathematical modeling and orthogonal bio systems. For CCBS, the main objective of this project is to support works that will engage the broader public in the topics of systems and synthetic biology.


The successful applicant will spend the first period getting hands-on experience in the dry or wet laboratory, as appropriate, sharing observations and plans in order to refine the artist’s project focus.  Some of the issues that could be of interest include but are not restricted to:

  • Orthogonal biosystems as a platform for manipulating the core information transfer processes of life (i.e. DNA replication, transcription and translation)
  • Biopolymers and semisynthetic organisms that use synthetic building blocks (e.g. XNA and unnatural amino acids)
  • Mathematical and computational modeling of spatial dynamics, especially as related to development and morphogenesis
  • Visions, challenges and societal impact of synthetic biology and the convergence of biology and engineering

The first part of the residence can begin October 2015. For the application please submit:

  • A biography (100-300 words) and your CV   
  • A short project draft (max. 500 words)
  • A list of materials, techniques and equipment required to develop and set up the artwork (if known already)
  • Possible dates of the two-week period you are available for residency
  • A website and/or a PDF portfolio

The applications will be reviewed by an international jury composed of Jens Hauser (curator), David Familian (curator/artist), Simon Cole (social scientist), Chang Liu (scientist), Felix Gunn (scientist), and Victoria Vesna (artist).

Applications and any additional questions about this opportunity should be addressed to: David Familian

The deadline is August 24, 2015. All applicants will be notified by September 8, 2015.