University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

Adam Zaretsky, Obesity and the Bolus of the Beyond: A Sociopolitical Reading of Metabolic Syndrome

November 5, 2014  by: Dom

Announcing a public lecture and discussion with Adam Zaretsky, Monday, November 10, 1:00-2:30 PM, Center for the Arts, Room 146.

This lecture has been sponsored by Emerging Practices in the Arts, a Humanities Institute research group.

Obesity and the Bolus of the Beyond: A Sociopolitical Reading of Metabolic Syndrome

The way Zaretsky describes his artistic practice is by comparing it with sculpting with living material. In practice this means that he starts with modern life science technology, while his artistic grand challenges are often beyond the current capabilities of life science and technology. To arrive at a higher abstraction level he switches over to using the entire visual, artistic and life sciences register.

His current work involves a participation in the public debate of the Dutch BioSolar Cells open innovation consortium, which is a public private partnership aiming for the implementation of new technology for improving photosynthesis with plants, micro-organisms and (semi-)artificial systems for solar energy conversion.

The problem of how to get to a sustainable energy system based on sustainable primary energy carriers while having enough food for feeding a growing population and with ethical respect for life and nature at large is urgent, and this puts a lot of pressure on technology development, in a situation where the question “what do we want” will be more important than “what can we do”. Thus, metabolic syndrome is at the center of the food versus fuel debate, which is bound to become a common problem of us all, and provides an additional general perspective on metabolic disorder as an individual, social and political problem.


Adam Zaretsky, Ph.D. is a Wet-Lab Art Practitioner mixing Ecology, Biotechnology, Non-human Relations, Body Performance and Gastronomy. Zaretsky stages lively, hands-on bioart production labs based on topics such as: foreign species invasion (pure/impure), radical food science (edible/inedible), jazz bioinformatics (code/flesh), tissue culture (undead/semi-alive), transgenic design issues (traits/desires), interactive ethology (person/machine/non-human) and physiology (performance/stress). A former researcher at the MIT department of biology, for the past decade Zaretsky has been teaching an experimental bioart class called VivoArts at: San Francisco State University (SFSU), SymbioticA (UWA), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), University of Leiden’s The Arts and Genomic Centre (TAGC), and with the Waag Society. Last year he taught DIY-IGM (Do It Yourself Inherited Genetic Modification of the Human Genome) at Carnegie Mellon (CMU) and New York University (NYU).  He also runs a public life arts school: VASTAL (The Vivoarts School for Transgenic Aesthetics Ltd.) His art practice focuses on an array of legal, ethical, social and libidinal implications of biotechnological materials and methods with a focus on transgenic humans. Adam is currently a Professional Lecturer of Media Arts in the School of Communication and the Arts at Marist College and resides in Woodstock, New York.

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax
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