BIO CHROME was a collective project formed by Monsoon in 2017, with artists based in the UK, US and Canada. All Artists are exploring the collaboration of Art, Science & Technology within their practice. Established at an artist residency run by artist Alexis Williams, Art Ayatana. BIO.CHROME ran events and exhibited in Toronto in 2018 and the project is ongoing and put on hold to establish further funding and more collaborators.
BIO.CHROME were invited to exhibit works with the Baba Yaga Collective. "The Chaos fungorum exhibit explored the particular position occupied by fungi and other hybrid organisms: neither plant nor animal, fungi extend across, and can entertain, communications and collaborations between animal, human and industrial realms. Mixing different artistic practices and media, the artists featured in this exhibition seek to move beyond rigid comprehensions of the living by working with, rather than merely shaping, sculpting and manipulating plants, microorganisms and fungi. Letting the non-human speak is to move away from an anthropocentric approach to the world: it not only opens to new rewarding artistic practices, but it also fosters new ideas of sustainable coexistence, new unusual life collaborations and adaptations, and new forms of communications and languages." Text written by Baba Yaga collective.
Photographs of Chaos Fungorum, August/October 2018
Photographs from talks & panel discussions at Fields Institute, Toronto.
Design My Microbiome
Mellissa presented her work with agar sculptures and invited participants to create parts of her body in agar such as her face, boobs, vagina, hands and mini body moulds which she used for a project Microfloral Femunculus, and add their own microbes from a part of their body of their choice to create their own version of her. Mellissa explained the process of making agar and how she made projects like Microbial Me and Microbial Michael, giving an insight to her work she also explained how she captured the secret life of bacteria and plants through her time-lapse film making.
Thoughts from Workshop participants!
"I swabbed my armpit and belly button, I am an agricultural research scientist and I was amazed by how microorganisms growing on agar can be an interesting work of art. I had never seen it from that perspective. It was definitely a first for me and I really did enjoy the workshop" - Maryam Ndope
"It was really interesting to learn about how bacteria can grow and to use our own bacteria on mould of Mellissa's body was really cool because it connects us in a weird and wonderful way. The workshop was hands on and fun and Mellissa explained what she did really well, making it fun and interactive." - Victoria Monsoon
"The possibilities are endless with art and science mixed together, very interesting to see our bacterial creations grow into art" - Luke Martin
Biological Staining by guest speaker Julia Krolik
The collective's guest speaker and group member for the event, Artist and Scientist Julia Krolik; ran a workshop on biological staining techniques. Although Julia prefers to work with bacteria, given biohazard level limitations of the workspace, she focused on plant biology, onion cells in particular, to show participants how beautiful onion cell monolayers are under the microscope. Adding dyes like Brilliant Green, Methylene Blue and Toluidine Blue allowed the participants to paint their onion cells and create beautiful images like the images below.
Image credits: Julia Krolik
Robyn Crouch is a ceramic artist based in Montreal. The symbolic imagery that comes through Robyn's work invites one’s gaze inward to the cellular realms. There, one discovers playful depictions of chemical processes; the unseen lattice upon which our macrocosmic world is constructed. Technological advancements create windows into this molecular realm, and human consciousness acts as the interface between the seen and the unseen worlds. In her functional ceramic work, the influence of Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony encourages contemplation and appreciation of a quiet moment. The viewer-participant can lose their train of thought while meandering through geometry and biota, connected by strands of double-helical DNA. A flash of recognition, a momentary mirror.
Shavon Madden is a Brampton based artist, specializing in sculptural, performance and instillation based work exploring the social injustices inflicted on the environment and its creatures. Her work focuses on challenging social-environmental and political ethics, through the embodied experience and feelings of self. She graduated from the University of Toronto Specializing in Art and Art History, along with studies in Environmental Science and will be on her way to Edinburgh for her MFA. Shavon has had works shown at Shelly Peterson, the Burlington Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Mississauga, among many others
Tracy Maurice is a NY-based multidisciplinary artist who works across platforms in art, photography, and film. Her practice is a research-based, project to project approach that embraces analog techniques inspired by science, nature, and early cinema special effects. She often uses a black ground or dark field (in the case of microscopy) to create iconic images that aim to redefine ‘darkness’ as something transcendent and connected to nature. She worked as the Creative Director for the band Arcade Fire from 2004 - 2008, creating artwork, music videos and live content for the albums ‘Funeral’ and ‘Neon Bible’. Her background in music has led her to continue to collaborate with many talented musicians. She joined Serial Pictures from 2011 - 2014, working in creative development. Her film and video work has exhibited at Lincoln Center, NY; The Worldwide Short Film Festival; Toronto, The Canadian Museum of Civilization; Ottawa, and has been featured in publications including, Creativity, Shots, Stash Magazine, Billboard and Print Magazine. She won a Juno Award in 2008 for Best Director of the Year for the artwork and design of the full-length album, Neon Bible by Arcade Fire.
Alexis Williams (A.K.A Ember Penumbra or Ember Erebus) is a Canadian artist interested in non human sensory expiriences. She has a love for biology and natural philosophy. She frequently uses natural materials like mushroom spores, butterfly dust, spider webs and dead birds to experiment with untraditional printmaking techniques. Her work, which often highlights the kinship of Art, Science and Spirituality, indicates the importance of observation, contemplation and adventure.
A common theme in Williams’ work is the comparison of sampling and remixing cultural material to the collection and representation of natural materials. In both cases of appropriation, the aesthetics of the original are use to comment on familiar concepts in new contexts. Collection and manipulation are fundamental aspects of her process.