SVA Wins Gold Medal for Soil Testing Bio Art Project

December 8, 2015

SVA won the gold medal for the Best Art & Design Project at the iGEM 2015 Giant Jamboree. soiled200Hosted every year by the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation, this year’s competition was held in late September in Boston and had 300 international, multidisciplinary teams present synthetic biology projects. SVA’s team, which consisted of current and former BFA Fine Arts students, won the award for their project, Soiled.

In Soiled, the team created the prototype of a device that allows its user to test for nutrients in the soil without using or creating toxins. They reworked the LaMotte Industrial Soil Kit and created a device that used microfluidic chip—a device where you run a small amount of fluid through a circuit and it gives you results depending on the agents it has come into contact with while flowing—to give a color-coded analysis of nutrients in the soil.

soiledapp735“The idea for Soiled emerged from the students of Bio Art realizing that there is considerable interest in urban gardening in New York, said Chair of BFA Fine Arts Suzanne Anker, who led the project. “We limited our scope to the boroughs of New York City and to testing for nutrients.” Anker, who is a pioneer in the nascent field of Bio Art, explains that Soiled did not involve testing for toxins because the team, and the eventual user, would not be able to use that information for any constructive use. “If we could not come up with what can be done with the toxins in your soil, we did not see the point in creating panic about it,” Anker said.

soiled735The presentation for the iGEM 2015 Giant Jamboree was a multimedia installation that consisted of a computer fabricated maquette of the boroughs of New York, a visual representation of the processes involved in creating color reactions and a spectraphotometer that indicates the precise levels of nutrients in the soil samples.

Soiled was also nominated for Best Integrated Human Practices, Best Education and Public Engagement, and Best Presentation. The project will be on display at the SVA Chelsea Gallery during the BFA Fine Arts show in February 2016.

On Saturday, December 12 – Sunday, December 13, 2015, current BFA Fine Arts students will present their recent work as part of the BFA Fine Arts Open Studios, including current work taking place at the SVA Bio Lab. A reception in conjunction with the open studios will be held on Monday, December 14. For more information, click here.

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