Zones of Inhibition: Biotech/Art Workshop

December 5 -8, 2013

Video Pool Media Arts Centre
Unit 300, 100 Arthur St. Winnipeg, Canada

Presented by Niki Sperou (Adelaide, South Australia)


Image Niki Sperou

Zones of Inhibition: Biotech/Art Workshop; A 4 day practical and theoretical workshop offering the phenomenological experience of working with live media. Artists will work responsibly with readily available materials and domestic appliances in order to produce biotech projects. The aim is to create access to the processes of science and to bring them into the public domain. Discourse between areas of specialization is important in order to promote critical thinking.

Further to this, subject matter addressed in the workshop is pertinent to the project theme “Toxicity”. Within scientific application, toxicity is calculated with regard to populations rather than individuals, it is species specific and its effects can be measured. Toxicity has many types; chemical, biological and physical. It can be destructive however there exists a paradox; outcomes can be positive, negative or benign. Toxicity can be a tool for the selection of desired traits. Immunity can render it harmless. Conversely it can precipitate resistant bodies. Practical assays presented during the workshop will elicit these phenomena. Theoretical tutorials and group discussion topics are based on the ideologies of bio-ethics, bio-colonialism, ecology and broader bio-political concerns. Organic and scientific models often reflect those cultural. Topics include; making media and creating environments, toxicity assays and measuring the outcomes, gene transfection, making changes and making metaphors.

Thank you to everyone who applied to take part in the workshop.  All positions have been filled.

Image Niki Sperou

Image Niki Sperou

Workshop Schedule:

Day 1

  • Registrations and Welcome
  • Introductions
  • Tutorial-Lab Safety
  • Clothing, hygiene, behavior, equipment, hazardous materials, correct disposal
  • Practical – Extracting DNA
  • Practical- Enrichment-making media & aseptic technique
  • Assay 1)-streak plates and incubate
  •  Assay 2)-Toxicity Assay – create a bacterial lawn


Day 2

  • Permissions
  • Assay 1)
    • Horizontal gene transfer -insert pGLO plasmid via heat shock method
    • Stimulating gene expression with arabinose
    • streak bacteria
    • incubate
  • Assay 2)
    • Toxicity testing via zones of inhibition
    • Dilution/dose preparation
    • Preparation of filters & plates
    • Application of toxin

Day 3

  • Tutorial; Making changes
  • natural changes, natural selection ,directed evolution, genetic engineering
  •  Assay 1)
    • Selecting with an antibiotic
  • Artist’s talk – Biotech Art

Day 4

  • Analysis
  • Assay 1)
    • Evolution of bacteria to degrade toxic compound
  • Assay 2)
    • Toxicity testing via zones of inhibition; Measuring zones of inhibition
  • Correct disposal and clean up
  • Discussion; Making metaphors
  • Making things visible
  • Controls; Measuring a known against an unknown
  • Are we speaking the same language?

Plug In ICA

Toxicity is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts As well as With additional support from:
Video Pool gratefully acknowledges our funders
Background Image by Niki Sperou