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BioArt Blog: An Interview With Laura Splan By Elise Vider

EV: Can you describe the nature of the collaboration with Integral Molecular?

LS: The residency entails spending three months working closely with scientists in a laboratory setting, studying their cutting edge research methods and interpreting them creatively. My residency research and experiments will culminate in a project that will be exhibited at the EKG Gallery in 2019.

EV: How much time do you spend in their lab, and how are you interacting with their scientists? Is it strictly observational or are you “hands on” and if so, how?

LS: I spend one day a week at Integral Molecular in Philadelphia. My days have been quite multidimensional and very active. Ben Doranz and his colleagues have been unfailingly generous with their time and resources. My residency entails doing everything from observing work and experiments in the laboratory to attending weekly company lab meetings to learning how specific tools and technologies are used in the lab. I spend the rest of the week digesting what I have learned and combing through my notes to do more independent research in my studio in Brooklyn.

EV: Can you provide a few specific examples of how you are working together and what is emerging so far?

LS: I’ve taken a particular interest in the humanization of antibodies from divergent species. I had the opportunity to observe a chicken b-cell harvest in the lab, which gave me a much stronger understanding of the science behind antibody discovery.

I’ve also had the opportunity to sit down with scientists to learn how different types of software are used for data visualization and 3D molecular visualization. These are especially intriguing, as my recent work has included a lot of data-driven forms and patterns as well as quite a bit of 3D modeling.

EV: Any specifics yet about the nature of this work and progress so far? Any notion of medium, etc.?

LS: Nothing too specific, but some ideas are definitely forming around camelids, wool, humanization of antibodies, molecular modeling and ritualistic movement of the body. This residency has been so inspiring that it will undoubtedly influence several future bodies of work. Stay tuned!

Elise Vider serves as innovation and news editor for Keystone Edge, a monthly e-magazine covering economic growth in Pennsylvania. In conjunction with CityWide, she is also “writer in residence” at the University City Science Center.