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Menas x Mokslas: Megalomania


|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every day that begins at 00:00, repeating until 2023-10-29

The “Megalomania” exhibition of the “Menas x Mokslas” cycle of science popularization is open in the Steam Condenser Hall of the Energy and Technology Museum.

About the exhibition

The future does not yet exist, but it can be glimpsed upon. The decisions we make, or don’t, new technologies, scientific discoveries, and many other factors that are currently emerging – these are the path to the future. Thinking about the future gives rise to both hope and doubt. Scientists are promising a good, easy life thanks to technology and scientific inventions. Human work will ultimately be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence, medical breakthroughs will help people live healthier, longer lives, changes to human DNA might be possible, and so on. But will future technologies help solve the challenges of the challenges humanity is facing and will face? To what extent can humans change the laws of nature? How will people relate to themselves when their environment (and perhaps even themselves) is shaped by technology? What kind of tomorrow is being created now? What can it be?

This exhibition presents a younger generation of artists who consider the relationship between man and science. By imagining the near future, the artists pose a series of questions: to what extent will the innovations of science and technology help humankind in the future? How will it affect people’s relationship with themselves and their bodies? Is there any hope for such a life?

The key word in this exhibition is synthesis. The most interesting phenomena arise from synthesis. This exhibition is a synthesis between art and science, between young creators and life sciences students. The artists’ works are closely linked to synthetic biology and its ideas.

What is synthetic biology? Synthetic biology is a completely new natural science. Synthetic biology was formally established as a new natural science in 2004 at the Synthetic Biology 1.0 conference, giving it this name. However, the term “synthetic biology” itself was proposed in 2001 (first mentioned in 1912) and research or theories related to the field date back to 1961. Synthetic biology is a field in which scientists use their imagination and engineering skills to create new biological systems or to modify existing ones. Scientists can use different DNA sequences to connect them like LEGO bricks to form a DNA sequence that programs an organism, such as a bacterium, to perform a desired function. Rather than changing just one gene, synthetic biologists are designing and building entire biological systems from many different parts. They can combine genes, enzymes, and other components to create living systems that can perform functions that benefit society. For example, bacteria that can purify water from oil or produce biofuels. Its applications are wide and varied, for example: in pharmaceuticals (scientists can develop synthetic metabolic pathways that allow the production of valuable compounds such as insulin, antibiotics, or vaccine components. This makes it possible to use bacteria (and more) (e.g. by using bacteria to produce life-saving drugs suitable for human use more efficiently, cheaply, and quickly), in the environment (scientists can engineer genetically modified bacteria or algae, that can help remove harmful substances from the environment, for example by removing oil spills or other substances from water sources), the food industry (genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can help achieve higher yields or resistance to pests and diseases crops), by developing cells to mimic or replace damaged tissues and organs. This opens up the door to innovative therapies, and treatments for injuries and diseases (cell therapies can be used to repair damaged heart tissue or treat acute kidney failure).

Why are artists and creativity important to science? Artists’ imaginations are often triggered by scientific discoveries because, like science, art is a way of knowing the world. Both work with different methods, and while artists’ “truth” is not necessarily based on logical facts and is subjective, the questions that both scientists and artists ask in their research are often similar or even the same. It’s all about life (in the broadest sense) and how it works in different forms, how it manifests itself in different ways, how it will exist in the future, or how it existed in the past. It is also important to mention that imagination, in both areas, is an important factor. Imagination expands the boundaries of thinking, enables us to see a phenomenon or situation from a different angle, and helps us to create new forms, ways of knowing, etc. We could go even further, but that would be books, articles, or essays that have already been written. So with this exhibition, we want to encourage you not to underestimate imagination in science or life. So science and art have always been side by side, partners, that cannot be without each other, even though it is often forgotten today.

The idea of transhumanism is reflected in some of the works in the exhibition. In short, transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement advocating the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical qualities. The main goal of the movement is to create a new intelligence and a new, eternal, and perfect human body (the VLE) by modifying and mechanizing the human body and by using bioengineering and the creation of new life forms. Synthetic biology is being used to develop new technologies that will in the future replace current methods of treatment, allow the modification of the DNA of living organisms, etc. Although the development of such technologies is driven by good goals, we cannot lose sight of the fact that it opens the way, and enables, the realization of transhumanist ideas. It is important to mention that such technologies are strictly controlled. Thus, both in the scientific community and in the public sphere, there is an important debate about the future of synthetic biology that involves crossing moral and ethical boundaries. The questions are growing by the day. They are difficult to answer, viscous, and uncomfortable. But it is up to people to decide where this science will go and how it will be applied. And so it is up to the artists participating in this exhibition. The questions are the same as those of the scientists – whether what is being created with the help of synthetic biology is ethical, whether it is within the bounds of morality, whether will it help man and what will he become? Another part of the work deals with the relationship between man and technology and how this will affect the relationship between oneself and one’s body. On the estrangement of people.

There are lots of ideas about what the future will be like. The young generation of artists featured in this exhibition contributes to a theme that is widely discussed around the world: the relationship between mankind and science. This theme can be explored from many different angles – looking back at the past and how it has affected humanity, nature, and culture. What is happening now and what will happen tomorrow? Imagining the near future, artists ask: to what extent will scientific and technological innovations help people in the future? How will it affect a man’s relationship with himself and his body? Will we be alienated in the age of technology? Is there any hope in such a life?

The exhibition is organized by: Vilnius iGEM

General sponsors: Vilnius University, Lithuanian Science Council, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Partner: Energy and Technology Museum

Information partner: LRT

The exhibition will be on display from September 12th to October 30th in the Steam Condenser Hall.
The presentation of the exhibition will take place on October 12th (Tuesday) at 5.30 PM.
 The event is free of admission charge. Visiting the exhibition – after purchasing a museum visitor’s ticket. 


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