The Mars Project :: Biosynthesizing Otherness investigates boundaries of life in extreme conditions and frontiers of nature found here as a scientific, political and cultural space. By using the Martian environment as inspirational environmental parameters, the project aims to locate conditions of habitation through experimental manipulation using various biological specimens in a biochamber. The project also sees desirable routes in manipulation of specimens through both developmental biology and genetics.
The Mars Project developed from The Mexico Project which looked at an ecological invasion by introducing genetically modified plants into pristine wilderness confronting ideas of nature’s frontier and man’s construction of concepts such as nature and wilderness. Keeping within this bearing we wanted to look at more recent frontier developments and production of life which led us to look at possibilities of life outside Earth. Our initial proposal A Rose for Mars also attempted to stay within the framework of botany (also drawing concepts from Tikhov) and intended to look at reconstruction of life for extreme conditions which would include the potential aesthetic breakdown through genetic conditioning (i.e. no flowering) as well as carrying a romantic idea of giving a rose for Mars. Further development of the project opened outlooks of a merely cryogenic frozen rose in an unprotected environment and led us to reformulate the project into its current stand – which considers more suitable biological specimens, extremophiles. This is perhaps less romantic but allows us potential habitational environments (ecologies) closer to concepts we aim to explore. Through our investigations we have researched most bio-chambers used for planetary simulation and visited one in Denmark that is used for testing bacteria in a Mars simulated environment. Specifically to this experimentation for our proposal are the alterations of parameters to find zones or spaces where life can exist and to investigate to what extent this life becomes otherness. As an art project the aim is not to produce new scientific knowledge but to open artistic areas in primarily scientific spaces and to address cultural aspects and experiences that also take place here. It is therefore useful for us to use both close alignments and crossover to existing scientific projects.
Our overall aim will attempt explore strategies of engagements, experiences and interactions with live biological specimens within a biochamber initially conditioned to a Martian environment. As one of the outputs we are considering using two biochambers, one with earth conditions and the other using Mars based parameters (gas concentration/distribution, radiation, pressure, etc). We are thinking of connecting the the two biochambers in vacuum (space) with potential transfer. The bacteria within the biochambers can be monitored and be projected on transparent screens. We are also interested in social behaviour of bacteria that can potentially produce a bridge between the biological wet and the digital/electronic by analysis of pattern and structure. In our proposed installation, the exopod, is a tactile platform consisting of four chairs that are lowered towards the centre of the semi-sphere allowing the audience to experience some of the activities from the simulators through vibrations and being worked on. This idea subtly plays with the abduction scenario.