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This page documents the art/design workshop run by Zack Denfeld and Cathrine Kramer with Yashas Shetty and the ArtScienceBangalore iGEM 2011 team.

iGEM Abstract

Searching for the Ubiquitous Genetically engineered Machine.

The Biobrick has been used as an abstraction or template for creating standardized functional parts. This year's ArtScienceBangalore project proposes alternate re-appropriations of the BioBrick by using existing BioBrick primers as random-PCR primers in investigating soil samples. This random PCR will provide a succinct signature of the biological diversity present in these samples. These investigations of soil lead us to ask questions about citizen’s science "performed" by non-institutional actors using accessible tools as well as gives us a glimpse into the "post-natural world" where BioBricks may end up in our environment and may very well show up as bands in a gel. By imagining a world in which the Biobrick has become the accepted standard for synthetic biology, and where these engineered products are ubiquitous in our lives and environments, the samples we archive will serve as the baseline from which the subsequent extent of human influence can be measured.

Mojo Plantation

On 6|09|2011 Cat wrote:


I just got back from a 4 day trip to the rainforest in Coorg with 4 of the Bangalore igem students. We stayed at the Mojo Plantation - a beautiful place run by two molecular biologists + experimental organic farmers; Sujata and Anurag Goel.


Just off the bus in Madikeri the moisture of the region is already apparent in the surrounding buildings.

We took several hikes on the farm and in the surrounding areas, where our guides (Sujata, Ravi and/or Archana) shared their intimate knowledge of the region, telling us about their experimental farming practices and pointing out the local biodiversity.


Sujata showing us the crops they grow at Mojo Plantation: mainly vanilla beans, coffee and cardamom.


or a larger version of the panorama click [ here]


Silver oak trees were planted close to the Mojo Plantation by the forestry department many decades ago. This was a failed attempt at soil errosion prevention and they have since learnt to use other strategies. Stemming from Australia, these trees are a point of contention. Archana explained that they do not provide enough of a canopy for other species of plants to thrive and their leaves cover the ground, preventing growth and biodiversity.

However, the region has very diverse terrain and on our hikes we encountered several curious creatures:




There was an abundance of insects including the pill millipede. Most noticeable however, where the audacious leeches.


The students were tasked with collecting soil samples. Having produced tools for the expedition at Srishti, the rainforest offered an intense user testing experience, as well as an exercise in dealing with unexpected challenges of field research. We faced torrential rains, an onslaught of leeches and a jungle rat, but the diversity of flora and fauna was breathtaking.


Week 1: SEPT 10 - 17

  • Test Balloon Mapping
  • Design + Produce Outfits
  • Design + Produce tools


Week 2: SEPT 17 - 24

  • Organise flights + other travel details (accommodation, etc)


  • Analyze Soil Samples
  • Image production
  • Mapping production
  • Video Editing

Week 3: SEPT 24 - 01

  • Analyze Soil Samples
  • Image production
  • Mapping production
  • Video Editing

Week 4: OCT 01 - 08

  • Prepare for trip
  • Prepare for exhibition
  • Prepare for presentation

Week 5: OCT 08 - 15

  • Fly to Hong Kong (12th?)
  • Set up exhibition
  • PRESENT iGEM 15th!!!!

Costume & Design Fiction Inspiration

Before we can create we observe and learn. The following is a collection of the material that led us to our project.

When The Future Was Ultramodern

A collection of costumes that explores what future fashion coould be like.

Wsxedc.jpg Qazwsx.jpg Edcrfv.jpg

Click here to view the full article.

Object For lonely Men

Branching from Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960) is an assemblage of objects from the film that spoke to the artist.


Click here to view the full article.

Lucy and Bart

Pushing the envelope of fashion. Watch it bend.

Wdv.jpg Qsc.jpg Efb.jpg

Costume Workshop Summary

Pp1.jpg City-Of-The-Future1 copy.jpg Postnaturalfieldbiologist.jpg Mercenary.jpg Roguereporting.jpg Cool scientist.jpg P9053480.jpg Costume Prakrithy.jpg Thetravellingsister.jpg Costume.jpg

For More See: Character Design Workshop

Field Kit Prototype

Kit1.JPG Kit2.JPG Kit3.JPG Kit4.JPG Kit5.JPG


700px Chacko.jpg Twins.jpg

Ariel View of Balloon Mapping:

Imageone.jpg Imagetwo.jpg Imagethree.jpg Imagefour.jpg

Brainstorm of Soil Mapping

  • Urban Bacterial Theater

  • Desire Line Drawing
    • Capture the paths of people on a park using Stop Motion
    • Sample along those paths

  • Hospital Waste Samples
    • Human Parts thrown out back?
    • Nurse Costume

  • Family History

  • Super Hero
    • Saving the Day
    • Radiation / Mutation i.e. Spiderman, Incredible Hulk

  • Disaster Mapping
    • Fukishima, Chernobyl, Bhopal etc...
    • E-Waste Sites

  • "Space Dusters" / Space Crashers = Mediorite Landing

  • Retracing a walk
    • Recursion / Remembering
    • Gandhi Sea March
    • Silk Road
    • Ghengis Kahn

  • Topography / BioTrekking

  • Farmer / Drought / IR Mapping

  • Costume = Bullet Belt

  • Blood Soil
    • Conflict Areas / Borders
    • Israel / Palestine
    • Kashmir
    • Tropic of Cancer - Bhuj

  • Tea Plantation
    • Basket Costume for Collecting samples
    • Terroir

  • Ant Hills / Termite Mounds
    • Costume = A Bacteria Zoologist / Arcehologist

  • Paranormal Activity
    • Soil Ghost Hunters

  • Soul in the Soil
    • Graveyard / Tower of Silence

  • Sending Soil on a Journey
    • Put a potted plant on a train and take samples at each end

  • Soil Sadu
    • Ask for soil samples instead of alms
    • Wiseman / karma

  • Culture Soil
    • Compare different cultures / paint clothes

  • National PCR
    • Compare national data (GDP, GINI) with PCR data

  • Sunrise Sampling
    • Grab samples as the sun comes up across the world

  • Airplane dust
    • Collect samples on the plane

  • Sea beds
    • Since it is no ones land. International waters

  • Oil Refinery / Shipping Ports
    • Look for oil contamination / Map the flow of energy

  • Shadows & Soils
    • Micro-climates on ONE site based on where sun hits or doesn't

  • Tracing the path of Ganga

  • Zoology of the Future
    • Junkyard is separated out by object - sample each site

  • Old vs New
    • Old vs. New Airport in BLR
    • Oldest Building in BLR and site that is being built on now
    • Schools vs. Old Age Homes

  • Royal Soil Difference between "holy" soil & normal soil

  • Neighborhood Soil

  • Cultural Soils

  • Walking / Imagery of Feet

  • Defense Areas / BSF DRDO Air Force

  • Lake / Garbage Disposal

  • Evolution
    • Mapping the evolution of borders/city limits
    • Soil samples along different border

  • Trace a day
    • Follow a cow/street dog/goat across the city, and take soil samples along the path say, every 30 mins.
    • Follow people from "contrasting" walks of life

  • Deadly Differences
    • Samples from different types'/societies'/religions' burial grounds/crematoriums

  • Soil "Classes"
    • Soils from different classes of places
    • "Holy", Royal, "Dirty", Common, etc

  • Life Soil
    • Trace all locations in a persons life
    • Birth, Education, Settlement, Entertainment, Employment, Retirement, Health, Death, Graveyard, Paranormal activity

Final Four

  • Soil Journeys
    • Take a journey, pick soil samples along the way.
    • Inspiration: Gandhi's Dandi March
    • Aim: Question who, how and why science is done. Question the accessibility of the information they find.
    • March to a science institute, give them the samples collected along the way to them.
    • Demand to be allowed to use the machines. We are funding those with the tax money.

  • Site Specific
    • Urban Theatre:
      • Concert as a space
      • Divided into a grid
      • 1000 samples - 33 samples per square
      • Witvideo and GPS tracking, we can compare differences in soil to what was happening there.
    • Terroir:
      • Soil samples from tea estates in Kerala
      • Done on terrace like steps on hills
      • Costume : Saree, Tea-leaf Basket, Belt holding empty Eppendorf tubes

  • Disatser
    • Mapping disasters on local and global scale
    • Take a similar disaster on both scales.
    • Track its impact on the soil by taking samples in a radial manner surronding the disaster site

  • Life Story:
    • Make a fictional character
    • Samples from his life, or incorporated into his profession.
    • The character, his story might be fictional (say a soil microbiologist from India, whose personal life greatly influenced his professional life).


Persp03 Page 07.jpg

A paper on Atomic Energy in India

Paper on soil thermal properties in Kalpakkam in costal south India.


Twins.jpg Chacko.jpg

Error creating thumbnail: File with dimensions greater than 12.5 MP

Image5.JPG Image6.JPG Image7.JPG Image10.JPG

                          Image12.JPG                                                              Image13.JPG

Balloon mapping test 2

Bmapping1.jpg Bmapping2.jpg Bmapping3.jpg
Error creating thumbnail: File with dimensions greater than 12.5 MP

Link to the stop motion video of the flight :

DNA Extraction from soil 20th and 22nd September

1. Before the DNA can be extracted the cell walls must be broken open. This process is called lysing and the agent used is called a lysosome. We did this by vortexing using phenol-chloroform,

  and further the addition of SDS (a detergent) to remove the membranes of lipids.

2. Next comes the centrifuging to separate the layers. The DNA lies in the interface between the two phases (proteins and reagents). 3. After the protein is removed the DNA can be precipitated using cold ethanol or isopropanol (propan-2-ol). The DNA, being insoluble in alcohol, will come out of the solution. Additionally the

  alcohol serves as a wash to remove the added salts.

4. The resulting DNA pellet should be washed with cold ethanol and centrifuged. 5. After drying the pellet the DNA should be resuspended in a Tris buffer solution. 6. Presence of DNA can be confirmed by electrophoresing on an agarose gel containing ethidium bromide, or another fluorescent dye that reacts with the DNA, and checking under UV light.

  - Preparing an agarose gel solution:
    a)Add the tris buffer to the agarose powder, heat at 50 degrees centigrade till you obtain a clear solution and add Ethidium bromide.
    b)Pour into the Gel box, add the comb to form wells, get rid of any air bubbles and let it settle for 30 minutes.
    c)Load 3 micro meters of the samples in the wells 
    d) begin Gel electrophoresis