Wastelands

Tagny Duff

Nomination

Wastelands is a playful, yet serious biological art project exploring speculative fiction scenarios and current bioengineering practices applying methanogenic bacteria, archaea and bacteriophage to regu-late methane production through anaerobic degradation. This biological art project speculates on a future 500 hundred years from now when humans are using the biotechnology to create biogas, fuel-ing the world with only our waste—excrement, methanogens and viruses—the key ingredients for the production of methane biogas. Although practiced for decades, interest in anaerobic fermentation has only recently focused on its use in the economic recovery of fuel gas from industrial and agricultur-al surpluses. However, this technological drive does not challenge or change the deeper issues around the industrialization of animal agriculture, but rather it re-enforces the same vision of utilitarianism where large-scale efficient monoculture production is manifested through the labor of living beings.

Credits

Artist, project concept, design, photography, sculpture, and biotechnological engineering: Tagny Duff
Time Traveler and Cosmos bioplastic sculptures, collaboration by Tagny Duff with WhiteFeather Hunter, co-designer and sole sculptor.

Researched and co-produced in collaboration with Bridge Artist Residency Program, Dr. Dana Kirk and ADREC at Michigan State University, Sylvain Moineau Labs at University de Laval, and Speculative Life Labs at Concordia University. Tagny Duff also acknowledges the work and intellectual property of WhiteFeather Hunter and Courtney Books in independently conducting the research, development, and protocol for the bioplastic material, which remains the sole intellectual property of WhiteFeather Hunter and Courtney Books.

Tagny Duff is an interdisciplinary media artist, scholar, and educator working across media art and microbiology with a keen interest in viruses, microbial interaction, and scientific practices from a cultural point of view. Duff’s earlier biological art works Living Viral Tattoos (2006-ongoing) and Cryobook Archives (2010-ongoing) explore the scientific manipulation and potential of human-microbial relations with retroviruses. Duff has exhibited biological art works nationally and internationally, most recently in the Broad Art Museum where she showcased the Wastelands installation (2018-2019), produced during the Bridge Artist Residency Program at Michigan State University.