Two projects by artists and scientists of AII have won the Bio Art & Design Award 2020 of 25 thousand euros each.
An international jury selected the winning projects from 49 entries.
Prizewinner immunologist Juan Garcia Vallejo of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology of Amsterdam UMC and ecotoxicologist Heather Leslie of the Free University of Amsterdam collaborated with artist Sissel Marie Tonn. Their winning science fiction project "Becoming a Sentinel Species" focuses on small plastic particles - microplastics - and sentinel species. Sentinel species are used to measure the effects of air and water contaminants, toxic gases and also microplastics. In the science fiction story, an imaginary human being takes on the task of becoming a sentinel species by introducing microplastics into the blood. This activates old immunological alarm systems and evokes latent, old memories of the origins of man in the primordial sea.
The other winner is Professor Henry de Vries. He made the connection with artist Nadine Botha. Botha's project is a participatory research design into public health, stigma, viruses and 'othering'. Othering is determining one's own position by defining what it is not. The 'other' is portrayed negatively and as othering/foreigning. Botha uses an interactive green screen and augmented reality to allow participants to experience a zombie film and thus let them unravel the story of infectious social othering that it spreads. The project makes participants think about who the other really is in stories about outbreaks and public health that currently dominate our daily reality.