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BioBricks

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Spearheaded by Drew Endy, the biobrick foundation has set up a repository of biobricks. These biobricks (http://bbf.openwetware.org/) are short pieces of  DNA that have defined characteristics, or behaviours(such as acting like a switch, or an indicator or a computation).

This work comes out of the synthetic biology field, where people such as Craig Venter are creating organisms from scratch. So rather than trying to decipher all of the complexity that is in current organisms a bottom up approach is used. Basically, the biobrick people are thinking about DNA as sort of circuit, with the DNA sequences, analogs of components such resisters and actuators and switches.

 What is exciting is that the sharing of biobricks enables others to build on what has been before, that like a computer is made of various integrated circuit chips, assemblies of biobrick components might be used in the same way.   

To support this innovation, the international undergraduate synthetic biology competion iGEM(International Genetically Engineered Machine) was started (http://2009.igem.org/About). This year there are 200 teams competing from around the world.

Ok so I have talked a bit about iGem and biobricks, where does the art come in. In much the same way that artists have already embraced computing, and other technologies, I believe that SynBio may be a new fertile place for artist to make both frivolous and critical art. Artists like TC&A and Andy Gracie are already using quite complicated processes to grow or feed their art. Can this be where the semi-living breaks free of the apparatus and life support system?

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Written by Brian

May 22, 2009 at 11:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,