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SynCity Festival and Dutch Design Week

Exhibition of iArts year two students’ video installation "anima factura"

Us second year students have had a busy and engaging start to the academic year. For the first two months of the academic year, we had been working on an installation titled ‘anima factura; an ode to the life to be created’, most recently exhibited at the Dutch Design Week 2017.

Working alongside our coaches Laurens Landeweerd, Xandra Van Der Eijk and Roos Meerman, we were given the assignment to develop an installation that would articulate issues related to Synthetic Biology.

The development of this installation began in what was quite futile territory for us, as none of us had delved into the topic before. Luckily and necessarily, we began with individual and group research into the topic Synthetic Biology. This research led to a collection of content and great discussion into Ethics, Bio Engineering, biohacking and more. It was soon clear to us all that there is a lot happening in the field of Synthetic Biology and that the opportunity to focus on such a subject was golden.

At this point in the project, there was a curious energy within the group. No one was able to anticipate the rollercoaster of the creative process ahead.

Alongside conceptual idea after conceptual idea that came and went, many hours of exchange, testing and debate led us to develop what would eventually become ‘anima factura; an ode to the life to be created’.

We decided to draw attention to the uncharted potential that exists in organisms from micro to macro. By detecting and focusing on the unique capabilities of organisms, we wanted to highlight the features that can potentially play a promising role in the future advancements of Synthetic Biology. We did this in the form of a video installation. It consisted of six screens that showed separate videos. A collection of wires was hung from above the installation and draped down to connect each screen together. Each video represented unique features taken from various processes of different organisms. To name a few ; the Myxococcus Xanthus’ ability to build a self-sufficient tower-like construction in order to survive without prey or the Deinococcus Radiodurans’ ability to reconstruct its own DNA after its destruction by radiation. This number of handpicked organisms marked the beginning of a collection and thus database of interesting genetic information.


On the 5th and 6th of October, we showcased our work at the SynCity Festival at Wageningen University. This Arts and Science festival explored the influence of synthetic biology on the world we live in today through lectures, short films and art installations. Throughout the festival we had conversations with a lot of visitors, ranging from scientists to students in the field of (Synthetic) Biology. These inspiring conversations gave us new insights and helped us to shape the next phase of this project.

The next phase of the project, which was developed for the Dutch Design Week, was a more elaborated version of our first installation. We decided to include more than just micro organisms and were thus showing nine instead of six videos. In addition, we created a website to begin a database of the organisms with great potential.


Ultimately, the development of this installation was a huge learning experience for us students. Delivering quality work on a project with many stakeholders, deadlines and a short time-frame was a real challenge that led us to exercise our patience, stamina and adaptability as individuals and as a collective.


Written by Holly Hudson Taylor,
iArts year two student