“It can be said that with what we are launching into with life sciences, we are getting a scientific revolution that”s a match of the physics revolution of the early 20th century,” University President Lee Bollinger said at a panel forum yesterday.

Paul Wong

The panel, held at the University Museum of Modern Art, featured leading life sciences faculty and art curators, who focused on the increasing importance of genetic science and its connection to art. The panel was formed around a current exhibit that is an artistic response to genetic engineering and the Human Genome Project.

Bollinger said in order to grasp life sciences issues, people need to come to terms with four issues: the overreaching of science, the blindness of science, the aesthetics of science and the changes in conception of life.

“But what will this be? What is the potential of interactions of art and life sciences?” Bollinger asked the audience.

Panel members included Peter Ubel, associate professor of internal medicine Liz Petty, associate professor of human genetics and exhibit curators Mavin Heiferman and Carole Kismaric.

The exhibition was organized by Heiferman and Kismaric after the announcement that the sequence of the human genome was nearly complete.

“The more we read and learned, the more we realized how staggering the implications are,” Heiferman said. “We wanted to bring together a cross-section of artists working with genetics and show the relationship of science and humanities.”

This is the first major exhibition to consider the meaning and implications of recent breakthroughs in genetic research and biotechnology.

In the exhibition, various themes, including evolution and the genetic component of identity, are presented in 34 works by 18 artists. Chosen works include paintings, photographs, sculptures, interactive projects and installation, and mixed media pieces.

“The exhibition is based on real life issues,” Heiferman added. “I think it will help the audience think about this period and what we are going though.”

Ubel stressed that genetics will play an important role in society in upcoming years.

“What the dot-com fad was to the “90s, the Human Genome Project will be to this decade,” Ubel said.

Kismaric noted the curators” desire for diversity in the exhibition.

“We really wanted for different mediums of art and different generations to be represented,” Kismaric said.

Heiferman also discussed how the exhibition made its way to Ann Arbor.

“The exhibition is here because the University was interested in it and the fact that it is the first of its kind,” he said. “It”s an interesting way to get people talking about art and science and we want to thank the University for getting the exhibition here so fast.”

The exhibition runs at the Museum of Art through May 27.

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