The first few days there was a lot of confusion about what exactly had to be done. The only knowledge I had was that it was something to do with synthetic biology. Now what exactly synthetic biology was...I had no idea. I was just familiar with the term biology. We started by seeing videos on cells and talked about various scientists, some of which I already knew from my past knowledge about biology. In a week things had become clearer and now we had a little more knowledge about biology!
Does lying about things do us any good? What if there was something which could immediately detect our lie?? What if our body could change colour depending on our moods?? These were the questions that came to me while I was thinking about my bacteria. So I came up with these bacteria which could detect a person’s lie and his state of nervousness by changing the person’s skin colour. I named it coloreria. While doing this I learnt a lot about the functioning of bacteria. Other things that interested me were the various mechanisms involved in the melanin formation and also I was fascinated by the fact that these bacteria can make people dark and light skinned based on their moods.
The day was spent in modifying our ideas on our hypothetical bacteria. The most interesting part of creating the bacteria was thinking about a mechanism for it to work. It was more like making it work on my own terms. It was interesting to add more features to the bacteria and decide their usability! While thinking about this there were other things that conquered my mind as well. It was the way society accepts colour. Every society has tended to assign some valuation to skin colour differences, especially when these have corresponded with existing economic and political differentiations.
Thinking of a machine....that could perform any abstract function was one of the tasks of the day. What will the machine do? How will it function? Why not make a machine that keeps eve teasers away? So we thought of a machine which could push back the eve teasers. We thought of a machine which can be attached to the intestine. So it absorbs a part of the waste while it passes through the intestine. Whenever any human with the machine in its intestine feels insecure the machine starts decaying the waste and it comes out of the body in the form of bad stink which pushes the eve teasers away.
Things are still not clear and we are thinking on making another hypothetical machine. Thought process was still going on...we were brainstorming on creating another machine and modifying our previous ideas. So why not make something that can act as a life saver. So I got stuck with the idea of an oxygen recycler. This is basically a machine which will extract oxygen from the plants during the day and store it so that it can be used later for a lot of other life saving purposes.
Today we went to the national centre for biological sciences. I had always dreamt of working in a place like ncbs. The place fascinated me a lot. It is quite a fancy place. We then had a huge discussion on whether government should spend that much of money on places like these or not. During lunch we met a very interesting person who is an educator and discussed with him the positives and negatives of the present system of education. He was quite curious to know that why we all being design students are taking part in a competition like igem. So there was one discussion after the other and it went on for quite a long time. So the day was given to discussions. Then we were introduced to the labs and the different microscopes in ncbs. We met a few people who quite willingly talked about their research work in ncbs.
Now that we had our basic knowledge about biology, it was time to read about some artists. We read about Stelarc and Orlan. I quite liked Orlan’s work. Her idea of Carnal Art is quite fascinating. It is a very unique way to put things across as it uses her body as a language. I think that she tried to change ideas of feminism by doing such experiments on herself. Her digital hybrids try to break the barriers of gender, caste, colour and creed.
Today we read about Adam Zeretsky , Petricia Piccinni and Eduardo Kac. Out of these artists Petricia Piccinni’s work fascinated me the most. I think she has tried to challenge the stereotypical mindsets with her work like by using an ugly looking old mermaid, rat like creatures coming out of the bum, breasts at the back and a lot more things like these. I really like the way she has created a beautiful relation between the ugly and the beautiful. Like in one of her works she displays a very beautiful relation between a small boy and an old ugly mermaid.