Happigenetics Science Extravaganza: Where Science Meets Performance Art

Venue: Erarta – Line 29th, 2 Vasilyevsky Island, St. Petersburg, 199196 Russia

Date: July 13, 2013

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Happigenetics Science Extravaganza is an experiment in the public communication of science and technology through performance art. Set in the largest non-governmental museum of contemporary art in Russia, this event will present real-time scientific experimentation in the context of experimental live audio and video sequences. In addition to this performance, we will document this process – from preparations to postproductions – so that our message can be freely presented to an infinite audience via the internet.

The overarching goals of this project are to increase the public awareness of experimental biology and research culture, to celebrate the mystical aesthetics of the natural experimentation process, and to dissolve culturally constructed boundaries between scientific and artistic disciplines, which are often perceived as opposites.

Funding

We are turning to crowdfunding to financially fuel this project, and have set up a campaign on Rally.org. Our goal is to raise $5,000, which will be used toward both travel costs and video production related fees – through our partnership with DocuThesis we’ll create a short, entertaining and informative video that will allow us to present our message and the Happigenetics experience freely to the world.

Significance

Publicly funded scientific research represents a significant investment for society as the returns greatly improve our quality of life. However, despite this investment, the public is disconnected from the scientific process, including how these benefits arise. Presenting science to the public in a way that both stimulates and entertains will have positive effects on public support for scientific research.  On July 6 – 11th, the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) will hold an international conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. By staging the Happigenetics Science Extravaganza event in conjunction with this activity, we stand to raise public awareness, not only of research at large, but its presence and significance.  By recording and producing a documentary of this process, we stand to affect a global audience in much the same way.

Approach

This is a theatrical performance recreating, in different phases, the atmosphere of exploration and discovery within a modern biological laboratory. Through physical theatre and dance, we will present a program that is inspired by biological motifs and processes within the cell. Live streaming microscopy projections and other scientific videos and still images will augment the performance, as well as live electronic music with vocal sections. This performance and aspects of the preparation will be used to produce a work to reach a wider audience through Internet-based dissemination.

Here is an excerpt from one of our previous events including physical theatre: Chromosome Carnival.

About us

Alexander Kagansky, PhD is a Chancellor’s fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Head of the Laboratory of Synthetic Epigenetics at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine. His research interests center on the role of epigenetics in cancer molecular biology. In 2013 he was elected as a member of Young Academy of Scotland, established in 2011 by Royal Society. Apart from his research activities, Alexander organizes a diverse range of public outreach and science engagement activities. These include workshops at primary schools and organized and spontaneous science/arts events in the various venues and on the streets of European cities. Together with the international team of scientists and artists he put forward the ‘Science on Stage’ and ‘Happigenetics’ initiatives that were supported by grants from NESTA, ASCUS and The University of Edinburgh – that supported the Chromosome Carnival event in 2012.

John LaCava, PhD is a research associate in the Lab of Cellular and Structural Biology at The Rockefeller University in NYC. A strong proponent of science outreach and youth mentorship, LaCava aims to make science more accessible to the public through music. LaCava and collaborators have launched Sounds of Science (SoS), an initiative to transmit science and research culture through music. In conjunction with this, the SoS team has launched the first a freely available, public repository of science and engineering sounds. SoS aims to integrate with other science/art initiatives in order to experiment with and enrich outreach and science communication.

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