Aqua Vita & The Rhythm of Life

Aqua Vita and The Rhythm of Life explore the relationships between art, design and science, reinforcing a long-lasting collaboration between various scientific institutes and the arts. The projects' multidisciplinary nature allow for the exploration of experimental research parallel to a scientific agenda, contributing to the on-going discussion on the role of the creative industry within research and innovation.

Aqua Vita was one of the award-winning projects from the Designers & Artists for Genomics Award 2011, consisting of a collaboration between Amsterdam based designers Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret with the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre and Sino-Dutch Centre for Preventive and Personalised Medicine. The project addresses the information potential of urine, to map metabolic changes in the body. Combining insights from Traditional Chinese Medicine with biochemical analysis, it aimed to challenge current paradigm shifts towards a future of personalised medicine.

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The Rhythm of Life is a collaboration between designers and scientists at the Leiden University. The project presents a hybrid art/science research instrument, offering participants the possibility to listen in on the electro-chemical messages transmitted by their bodies, in exchange for donating their personal biodata to scientific research. The artists investigate the potential of sensory data experiences, through an ambiguous data collection process, making use of the Photon-Multiplier Tube (PMT), an experimental medical device designed to measure biophoton emissions from the skin. Biophotons, or light emitted during biological processes, are used in cell to cell communication in plants, bacteria and animals. Invisible to the naked eye, these particles of light belong to the electromagnetic spectrum and are detectable with instruments such as the PMT. Placing their hands in the PMT, participants hear their emissions as complex percussive rhythms, performed in real-time.

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The Bio-Information Network investigates interactions with biological data for healthcare, through the industrial design of innovative sensory interfaces, contributing to fundamental biophoton research at Leiden University. The insights obtained will contribute to exploring the ‘bioinformation network’, investigating how light and sound vibrations, or ‘rhythms of life’, are involved in regulating biological processes, to advance understanding of biofeedback loops in health and disease. The embedding of design, within the production of fundamental knowledge, will extend beyond the conventional use of Ultra Weak Photon Emission (UPE) technology, to investigate its potential roles in human to human communication. Interfacing the academic knowledge produced for society, Bionet investigates how public involvement in scientific research can be taken upstream through design. This approach will contribute to future research into ‘non-invasive diagnostic tools’, critically addressing the shift towards a more preventive and personalized care system.