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Day-Glo Velocirabbit – bioart begins to mature

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Day-Glo Velocirabbit / Bacteriograph of Albasaurus, E. coli genetically modified to express GFP © Zachary Copfer

Bioart at first seemed to be such a novelty.

Artwork usually made in petri dishes by growing bacteria in patterns outlined by the placement of their foodstuffs seemed to me at first, well, a little twee. Like making a marzipan Mona Lisa. But the techniques and images are becoming more sophisticated, and with the humor present in the latest work by Zachary Copfer, the subject matter is maturing too.

Seriously, view this artwork with some technopunk music playing in the background. Maybe some Skrillex or Die Antwoord.

For maturity to be present in an an art movement, humor needs to stick its tongue out now and again. A confidence in the artists’ work that allows them to cackle and wink. In this case, it’s Copfer sticking his tongue out in response to someone believing whatever images they find online.  Read the post, Albasaurus: the World’s First Day-Glo Velocirabbit (Dear Mr. Kac) and more of an explanation on his Facebook page.

Back in August 2011, in a post titled Tools change, view is the same, I looked at 3 views of a beach with palm trees: one painted with traditional sticky-medium + pigment paint, one with pixels of light and one with luminescent bacteria. It’s telling to me that subjects stemming from common human experiences continue to appear in art even though the tools used to create them change drastically.

Will digital painting  and concept art dominate the art world this century the way acrylic paints left their polymerized mark on the 20th century?

Or is the medium that defines the next hundred years to be petri dish-based, rather than silicon and light?

Looking at Zachary Copfer’s work for the first time this past March, I was struck by how right now his artwork is despite being made by what seems like futuristic means. It’s got the whole retro-screenprint-hipster vibe, and it’s made out of living bacteria. My friend (and formerly featured here on Symbiartic) author and artist Sean Craven once described my own artwork as “evopunk” . I can’t think of a better description than that for what Copfer has done with Day-Glo Velocirabbit.
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Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite and is on Instagram. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. airfyx 6:36 am 06/12/2012

    this is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! (ex- microbiologist now artist) Wish I’d thought of doing art with the endless QA swabs!

    Link to this

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