This series of public events entitled "Trust me, I'm an artist: towards an ethics of art/science collaboration", taking place in international settings, investigate the new ethical issues arising from art and science collaboration and consider the roles and responsibilities of the artists, scientists and institutions involved.

At each event (before a live audience) an internationally known artist will propose an artwork to a specially formed ethics committee (following the rules and procedures typical for the host country), the ethics committee will then debate the proposal and come to a decision, the artist will then be informed of the ethics committee’s decision and, alongside the audience, they can enter into a discussion about the result.

The proposals have been selected as they raise interesting questions for science ethics committees and will help reveal the mechanisms that drive this usually hidden process, enabling the wider public to understand the driving forces behind ethical decisions and the role of artists working in scientific settings more deeply.

The project “Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration” is led by artist Anna Dumitriu in collaboration with Professor Bobbie Farsides (Chair of Ethics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School) in collaboration with the Waag Society and The University of Leiden.

This event took place on Saturday 10th December 2011 at The Theatrum Anatomicum, De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Anna Dumitriu introduces the project “Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration” on which she is lead artist.


Adam Zaretsky’s project “Mutate or Die”, in collaboration with Tony Allard, addresses the life sciences’ enormous investment in the illusion of objective control over the biological world, and the tag team efforts of “pan-capitalism” and the biotech industry’s privatizing of genetic research and patenting life forms. The writer William S. Burroughs' genetic material will be used in a speculative artistic experiment that will involve the creation of a transgenic mutation. The public will be invited to participate in the process, specifically within the portable lab we will build in a gallery space.

Bioart tends to use cutting edge biotechnology as an art-making device and specializes in presenting living organisms as art. In this project, a DNA sample from Burroughs has been isolated, amplified and will be shot into the nuclei of some cells. At the core of the project will be the gene gun blast that will biolistically combine tiny pieces of William S. Burroughs’ gut flora / script/ gene text with another organism’s genetic script / gene text, to produce a transgenic mutation, or put in another way, an “intentional-genetic modification orgiastic”, or “i-GMO”. After the gene gun blast sets the mutations in motion, we will invite the audience into the process as readers / interpreters of the stories embedded within the old beat writer’s gut. See for more information on Adam’s work.

The Theatrum Anatomicum:

The Waag's historic Theatrum Anatomicum, is a wholly appropriate venue to house such a discussion. Built in 1691 as a space dedicated to advanced experimenting, observing and learning, it was the place where leading figures of the surgeon's guild dissected the corpses of many criminals to expose the anatomy of the human body and help advance medical science. At later stages these dissections turned into events where not just medical professionals or students, but also the man in the street could have a glance at this intriguing, taboo-breaking world of new discoveries.

Ethics Committee short biographies:

Dr Ellen Ter Gast (PhD) is a medical biologist and philosopher with a PhD in bio-philosophy. She was formerly the chairman of the animal experimentation committee of the Dutch Cancer Institute. At present she teaches bio-ethics at Leiden University.

Professor Dr Klaas J. Hellingwerf (1950) was born in Wijnjeterp (Friesland, The Netherlands). He received his masters in Chemistry from the University of Groningen in 1975, with specializations in biochemistry and microbiology, and his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Amsterdam on “The structure/function relationship of bacteriorhodopsin liposomes” in 1979.

From 1978 to 1988 he was staff member of the Biology Department of the University of Groningen. Within this universities' Laboratory for Microbiology he studied anoxygenic photosynthesis in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, in relation to membrane transport. Since the first of January 1988 he holds the chair in General microbiology at the University of Amsterdam.

His research focuses on the molecular basis of signal transduction and the ensuing physiological responses in micro-organisms. Light-activated signal transduction pathways play a roll-model function in his research, because they allow unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution of this process. Part of the insight obtained in this research is applied in a project aimed at producing biofuel, which led to setting up the spin off company 'Photanol BV'.

During these years he has been visiting professor at the universities of San Diego, Beijing, Buenos Aires and Paris, and as of May 2004 he holds an honorary professorship in the Physics of biological photoreception at the “Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam” (VU).

Dr David Koepsell (JD/PhD) is an author, philosopher, attorney, and educator whose recent research focuses on the nexus of science, technology, ethics, and public policy. He teaches at the Delft University of Technology. He has provided commentary regarding ethics, society, religion, and technology widely in the media, including MSNBC, Fox News Channel, The Guardian and The Washington Times.

Dr Paul Krimpenfort (PhD)
1982: Graduated at the Radbout University in Nijmegen: Biochemistry
1988: PhD at the University of Amsterdam (Promoter Prof. P. Borst), Thesis: The use of transgenic mice in the study of the cell-mediated immune response.
1989: Managing scientist at the Department of Embryology Genepharming Europe BV in Leiden
1991: Generation of the transgenic bull Herman
1993: Post doc at Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
1996 - until present: Staff member at Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam: Scientist in the division of Molecular Genetics and Head of the Transgenic Facility, member of the Animal Experiment Committee (DEC).

Taconis Stolk is a conceptualist and meta-modernist, educated in media arts and intermediary composition at the Dutch Royal Conservatoire and Royal Academy of Arts. Since 1993, he has worked (for WLFR and Formalism in Amsterdam) on a wide range of media projects, which have been exhibited, performed and published on many international occasions.

Trust me, I'm an Artist Team Biographies

Anna Dumitriu is an artist whose work is concerned with the ethical implications of new technologies, and blurs the boundaries between art and science. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, interactive media and textiles. Her work has a strong international exhibition profile and is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. She was a member of the e-MobiLArt project (the EU funded European Mobile Lab for Interactive Art) and Artist in Residence/Visiting Research Fellow since 2007 at The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex University. She is known for her work as director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice. She is currently working on a Wellcome Trust funded art project entitled “Communicating Bacteria”, collaborating as a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the Adaptive Systems Research Group at The University of Hertfordshire (focussing on social robotics) and Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence on the on the UK Clinical Research Consortium Project “Modernising Medical Microbiology” (looking at whole genome sequencing of bacteria) at the University of Oxford. and

Professor Bobbie Farsides (ethicist) is Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Her research is focussed on the experience of health care professionals operating in morally contested areas of biomedicine. She has conducted research and contributed to policy relating to organ donation ante-natal screening and testing, reproductive technologies, palliative care and issues around death and dying. Bobbie is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust funded LABTEC Centre (London and Brighton Translational Research Centre) and she was founding Co-Editor of the Royal Society of Medicine’s journal Clinical Ethics. In collaboration with her colleague Sue Eckstein she is currently developing a series of events at BSMS under the heading Ethics in Performance to engage audiences with ethical issues through performance and art.

Download the ethics form Adam Zaretsky completed here:

Download the consent form Adam Zaretsky created for the project here:

For more information on "Trust me, I'm an artist: towards an ethics of art/science collaboration" see

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