A new kind of interdisciplinary artistic collaboration is happening in Philadelphia this fall. The University City Science Center has partnered with biotech company and uCity Square resident Integral Molecular to host an artist-in-residence program focused on biotechnology. The three-month pilot of the Art + Science Residency will begin in September with Philadelphia-based artist Orkan Telhan.
The Art + Science Residency’s goal is to provide access, opportunity and awareness for artists to explore the ever-changing world of biotechnology. Telhan will have free reign of Integral Molecular’s lab space with direct access to biotech expertise and equipment at the company. The Science Center will host a public lecture by Telhan on October 3rd at 5:00 p.m. to be held at Quorum, and progression of his work will also be documented online.
Orkan Telhan’s work focuses on the design of interrogative objects, interfaces, and media, engaging with critical issues in social, cultural, and environmental responsibility. For the Art + Science Residency, Telhan will work with scientists at Integral Molecular to explore different ways of manipulating taste transduction by working with a variety of taste receptors, visualizing novel sensations on the tongue in humans and other animals.
“Historically, my work has explored the future of food and taste from a number of different perspectives through the biosynthesis of novel flavors and designing experimental living artifacts,” says Telhan. “This residency will allow me to focus on the tongue itself—which is the ultimate decision-maker that determines what we like or dislike. I am excited to work with Integral Molecular on the biochemistry of taste perception and find ways to make this invisible world more accessible to non-scientists.”
“The ability to interpret and communicate science to the larger community is an important goal of this program,” says Benjamin Doranz, President and CEO of Integral Molecular, as well as a part-time sculptor. “On a daily basis, scientists everywhere have an impact on medicine and public health, yet much of this is not visible outside the scientific community. We hope this program will begin changing this by promoting scientific engagement with the general public.”
Telhan is Associate Professor of Fine Arts - Emerging Design Practices at University of Pennsylvania, School of Design. He holds a Ph.D. in Design and Computation from MIT's Department of Architecture. He was part of the MIT Media Laboratory and MIT Design Laboratory.
Telhan will be working with Benjamin Doranz and his staff at Integral Molecular. Integral Molecular’s research is focused on membrane proteins, such as taste receptors, viral Envelope proteins, and cellular transporters that are involved in diseases such as asthma, Zika, cancer, and chronic pain.
The Art + Science Residency is coordinated and facilitated by Angela McQuillan, the curator of the Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery at 3600 Market Street in Philadelphia. Angela spent 10 years working as a research scientist before pursuing an artistic career. She is well versed in the technical aspects of scientific discourse as well as the creative side of art and exhibition making, and has curated over 25 art exhibitions to date.