This presentation explores how the University of Surrey’s first ever artist-in-residence Anna Dumitriu engages with cutting edge research methods in the health sciences to engage and inspire diverse audiences in new technologies that have the potential to affect all our lives.

Dumitriu works hands-on in the lab and the art studio to create sculptural or installation-based works that incorporate diverse materials such as altered historical objects, textiles, bacteria and DNA. Her high impact artworks draw threads across time, from the history of science and medicine to cutting edge fields such as synthetic biology and bacterial genomics and have been shown around the world in prestigious museums and galleries and featured across all forms of media and in numerous publications.

Since 2012 she has been developing artworks that explore tuberculosis, such as her ‘Romantic Disease’ and ‘Susceptible’ projects which have taken audiences on a journey from past superstitions about the disease to the application of cutting edge genomics techniques to combat issues of antibiotic resistance. In the past year she has been working with researchers at the University of Surrey to explore new research and techniques from looking for ancient bovine TB DNA in Iron Age bones, and the development of vaccines, to carbon capturing microbes, and quantum biology.

Her multi-layered artworks enable audiences to explore scientific ideas, as well as the ethical, cultural and societal impacts of new technologies through sensory and aesthetic approaches, inviting viewers to notice important things that have previously gone unnoticed and to think about them in different ways. She peels away layers of complexity and providing glimpses of ‘weak signals’ from the future, and always reflecting on the past.