Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a multidisciplinary artist exploring the human values that shape design, science, technology, and nature.
Through artworks, writing, and curatorial projects, Dr. Daisy Alexandra Ginsberg examines why we make things, what those things are, and their relationship with us and the world. Ginsberg has spent over ten years researching synthetic biology and the design of living matter, pushing the boundaries of design and science with scientists, engineers, artists, designers, historians, social scientists, and museums around the world.
Selected AI Artworks:
The Wilding of Mars
The Wilding of Mars simulates the growth of a planetary wilderness, seeded with Earth life forms. In exhibition, a wild garden on Mars thrives over millennia, its growth visible over human hours.
Using AI, a northern white rhino is digitally brought back to life, thus exploring a paradox: our preoccupation with creating new life forms, while neglecting existing ones.
Resurrecting the Sublime
Using tiny amounts of DNA extracted from specimens of three extinct flowers, the Ginkgo team used synthetic biology to predict and resynthesize gene sequences that might encode for fragrance-producing enzymes.
Ginsberg on using technology to highlight the natural world:
Why do you gravitate towards the relationship between nature and technology in your work?
“We see nature and technology as separate things, We make new technologies and decimate nature, but ultimately we are part of it. Often the solutions to our problems are social and not technological."
What role does design play in the construction of our future natural world?
“What designers do is a desire to make a better world, and that optimism is at the heart of design. I’m trying to incite people into action but I'm not offering a concrete solution, instead I'm using design to ask questions. If you think the world is terrible, it still means you think it could be otherwise.”
Given your interest in Biotech, how do you see this field blurring our understanding of what we consider to be nature?
“How will we classify what is natural or unnatural when life is built from scratch? Biotech promises us control over nature, but living machines need controlling. Biology doesn't respect boundaries or patents. Are promises of sustainability and healthiness seductive enough to accept such compromise?”
Daisy is lead author of Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature (MIT Press, 2014), and in 2017 completed Better, her PhD by practice at London's Royal College of Art, interrogating how powerful dreams of “better” futures shape the things that get designed (supervised by Professors Sarah Teasley and Anthony Dunne). Daisy received the World Technology Award for design in 2011, and the London Design Medal for Emerging Talent in 2012. Her work has twice been nominated for Designs of the Year (2011, 2015), with Designing for the Sixth Extinction described as “romantic, dangerous… and everything else that inspires us to change and question the world”. Daisy exhibits internationally, including at MoMA New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, the National Museum of China, the Centre Pompidou, and her work is in museum and private collections. Talks include TEDGlobal, PopTech, Design Indaba, and the New Yorker Tech Fest. Daisy is a resident at Somerset House Studios, London. Her new projects focus on ecology and technology, including wilding the planet Mars, and resurrecting the smell of flowers made extinct by humans, in search of the sublime.
Ginsberg’s Selected Residencies, Fellowships, Commissions, and Projects:
2019 Commission, Nature, Copper Hewitt Triennal, New York, USA
2018 Residency, Somerset House Studios, London, UK
2018-19 Guest Co-Editor, Journal of Design and Science, MIT Press/MIT Media Lab, Cambridge USA
2017, Commission, Engineering Life, University of Edinburgh, UK
2014 Commission, Dezeen and MINI Frontiers, London, UK
2014 Commission, SynbiCITE, Imperial College London, UK
2014 Program Curator, V&A Late: Synthetic Aesthetics, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
2013-14 Lead Curator, Grow Your Own…Life After Nature, Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2013 Commission, Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2013 Commission, EDF Foundation, Paris, France
2010-13 Design Fellow, Synthetic Aesthetics, Stanford University & University of Edinburgh
2010 Visiting Fellow, ESRC Genomics Forum, University of Edinburgh, UK
2009 Residency, SymbioticA, School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia
Ginsberg’s Selected Awards & Nominations:
2019 Honorary Mention, Artificial Intelligence and Life Art, Prix Ars Electronica
2018 Finalist, COAL Prize
2018 Nomination, Hublot Design Prize
2015 Nomination, Designs of the Year, Design Museum, London, UK
2014 Ones to Watch, Selected by Martin Roth, Director, V&A Museum
2013 The Select Ten, Selected by Paola Antonelli, MoMA, Metropolis Magazine
2013-17 Rector’s Award Full PhD fee scholarship, Royal College of Art, UK
2012 Winner, Emerging Talent, London Design Medal, London Design Festival, UK
2011 EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Award, University of Southampton, UK