Tuur Van Balen and Revital Cohen. Alter Nature

2 March 2011

The Unnatural Animal takes you on a journey into the world of two critical designers, Tuur Van Balen and Revital Cohen. Against the backdrop of progress in bioscience and technology, Van Balen and Cohen create critical design objects and installations. Their work plays into and speculates on the changing behaviours, norms and values that may guide our (social) lives in a biological revolutionary era.

In Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal, both designers exhibit three of their works together. The floating spaces reference the playfulness of tree houses, the uncanniness of domestic homes flying in a hurricane, and the experimental nature of Do-It-Yourself bio garden sheds. Van Balen and Cohen invite the visitor to step into their alter-worlds, a space with its own logic; strange at first, but somehow recognisable.

Revital Cohen, Ready-to-use Models

Ready-to-use Models, a work-in-progress project developed for Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal, is an installation seeking to question the current definitions used to indicate living creatures. Does one denominate a manipulated organism as an object, product, animal or pet? What consequences does this choice of definition entail for our perceptions, feelings and behaviours regarding living creatures?

Tuur Van Balen, Cook Me – Black Bile

Synthetic biology can give detailed insight into our metabolic processes, potentially introducing new interactions with our body. In this project, these interactions are proposed as a new form of cooking, guided by one’s personal metabolism. In such cooking, blood can be used to disclose the body’s state and bespoke bacteria or yeasts can interact with its metabolism through biosensing and biosynthesizing. With the right ingredients and recipe, one could finely balance emotional experiences; through cooking for and from the body.

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