Although these themes were dissected from a social and humanitarian perspective, Sara Diamond comments that; 'visualising the stock-market is about as sexy as you can get'. Whereas 'visualizing a stream of lava, data from it, planetary observatories, or weather systems is very sexy'. Looking at ways that people are thinking critically about the information and knowledge is very exciting; including cancer research, and the role that artists play in health issues. A good example is David Goulden's The Cell: Inside Out, a VR room created by designers, biologists and cancer researchers.

The weekend highlights included:
>> the sublime; Charles Ostman, Institute for Global Futures
>> performatory; Maris Bustamante, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Mexico >>serious science: Arpad Pucztai & Susan Bardocz, Hungarian Scientists - Genetic Foods; Olga Samborska, Genetic Engineer
>> enthralling: Machiko Kusahara, Japanese curator, Growing Virtual Pets >>inventive: Oran Catts and Ionatt Zurr, The Tissue Culture And Art Project
>>virtual worlds: Bruce Damer, Avators!, Rebecca Allen, Artificial Life
>>recombinant: Eduardo Kac, Alba the glow-in-the dark bunny
>>ethical implications: Carol Gigliotti, Whose Utopia? Whose Reality?; Gregor Wolbring, Commodification of Beings.

Efforts were made in trying to frame criticisms and collaboration to look at how language has functioned for us. There was a question raised about trying to find a mutual language in which to discuss what it is that we do and to define terms. Do we have to re-invent a new language/new terms? When we speak of bio-engineering, what does that mean?

The people there represented various positions of the Biotech Phobic - Oliver Ressler, 'Anti Gene-Worlds: Oppositions to Genetic Engineering', for good reasons (at the time I write this, it is still legal to sell Genetically Modified Food Products in Canada, without labeling them as such), to the Biotech utopian artists; Joe Davis and Katie Egan, 'Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Genetics in the Arts.' The on-going challenge is to balance people's need to state their opinion and display what they do with creating discourse, dialogue and understanding.

The Methodology

First day: Sniffing around - some testy points. A bus trip is planned. Some of us explore the beauty of the park and encounter a ghost.

Second day: Stuff starts happening. Explosions. Fights break-out, and people have a sense of despair. Evening: PARTY. 'Rock against Genetics'. People hang-out and engage in social discourse in social context. Others let it go on the dance floor. I have the honour of listening to Joe Davis' epic poem of how he lost his leg to an aligator in Mississippi.

Third day: People wander in slightly tired and hungover but start to talk. Some people work together while others do not.

The Outcome

The building of Code Zebra, the dialogue and framework to keep this all going, on-going collaborations, networking and bringing in new voices to form larger networks of people (not just scientists/artists).

A Few Missing Links: The aboriginal voices; who declined the invitation to participate in the summit, and the voices of those who do not belong to the cultural elite, those who are very much affected by the decisions made by others.

In the dawn of the new biotechnological revolution; new technologies are giving us the power to remake the world, but what is it that we are busy growing/building/creating, as scientist and as artist? Are we examining Nature under microscopes 'Marta de Menezes, Redesigning nature: Art through the manipulation of butterfly wing-patterns' to reconstruct it? (de Menezes presented images of butterflies she 'redesigned' by cauterising the pupa which resulted in a distortion of the butterly wing patterns). Or do we engage ourselves in her splendor on a daily basis; co-existing quietly, peacefully and reverently. (Peter Poole, Lead Researcher, Parks and Conservation, UTSB Center, Banff; Larry Diamond, Landscape Architecture, parks and nature, BC ) Do we envision ourselves as new 'god'(s) building a new religion, 'Steven Kurtz, Critical Art Ensemble, Cult of the New Eve', for and of the people? In all this looking out have we afforded ourselves the time to look inwards? Do we know where we stand? Are questions of spirituality at the forefront of these discussions?

CONTINUE>>

TOP: Sara Diamond plays with Machiko Kusaharas PostPet
MIDDLE: Ghost in the Machine
Nina Czegledy, Right, and Machiko Kusahara enjoying the bus tour