Summer School “Immortal Portugal 2017”-São Luis- From 2th June | 11th June 2017

Summer School not open for public enrolment, activity exclusively dedicated for students of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Campus.

ARTS.2230 Contemporary Art and Life Sciences Workshop in São Luís Portugal

Course Description

This is an interdisciplinary course that combines art and science.

The intersection of Art, Biology and the Environment offer unique opportunities to visual artists. This innovative summer course, which is already on its fourth edition, will allow non-specialists to acquire theoretical and practical skills in biological and environmental sciences in connection to the visual arts.

The Summer School explores the interdisciplinary relationship between art, life and environmental sciences through hands-on exercises, combining theory and practice in an informal environment, e.g.: seminars, debates, visits, and the creation of artworks with biological media. The activities will address issues such as the cultural representations of technology and science, ethical concerns and the evolution of bioart as a cultural phenomenon. This is a one week program.

The practical component will focus on hands-on exercises in the laboratory, workshop, and within the natural environment. The possibility of transforming abstract concepts into art objects, the collection and selection of organisms for artistic purposes will be highlighted, and, finally, visits to different parts of the natural park, will take place. The course leaves plenty of room for informal activities, and a cultural and social program.

This seminar will involve exploring how we can introduce concepts, processes, and knowledge from the sciences and apply them to the creation of art; and how we can introduce concepts, processes and knowledge from the arts and apply them to scientific research. The studio-lab portion of the course will focus on the development of works that combine elements of both art and science by teams of students. Teams of art and science students will be expected to complete 3 projects for the course. In developing and completing these projects, students will be asked to present their ideas/work and take part in formal critiques. The course will culminate in a public exhibition of the works at Cultivamos Cultura. Finally, as part of the course, students will be asked to document their work/methodology/process by keeping journals of processes, outcomes, and explorations.

Dates: June 2- 11, 2017

Destination: São Luís and Lisbon, Portugal

Cost Estimate $3600. Price includes housing, plane ticket, 3 credits UML CE tuition, and in country transit. Two person per room lodging at Cultivamos Cultural in São Luís for 7 nights (check it out on FB), and 2 nights and activities in Lisbon. Instruction is in English. Online Black- board component before trip.

Registration Deadline March 5th, 2017

ARTS.2230 Fulfills Breadth of Knowledge requirement for Arts and Humanitites and Essential Learning Outcomes for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. Final pricing depends partly on the fluctuation of the Euro.


Luis Graca, MD, PhD, is Head of Cellular Immunology Unit and Professor at the University of Lisbon Medical School.

Marta de Menezes is an Artist, Curator, Art Director of Ectopia, Member of the Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa.

Manuel Furtado dos Santos is an Artist, Curator and Director of the MUTE gallery in Lisbon. He also studied 2 years of Medical School in Lisbon and a third year of biology engineering before starting his career in the cultural field.

Julien Isoré (Alan Tod) MFA, Is an artist of Forests.

Your UML professor is artist Ellen Wetmore, MFA

Questions? Email


  1. Medium as a context favorable for growth:

Optional (intro to Nietzsche, 7 min.) –

Science as medium vs Nietzsche (3 min.) –

Medium is the message (52 min.)-


For the most inquisitive minds:

Optional Book 1- The medium is the message by Marshall McLuan (Online PDF here)

Optional Book 2- The Birth of tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche


  1. Genes, Memes and Temes as varying competing information units (Meme Cultural Theory):

Humans as medium (20 min.)-

Anthropic Principle (Richard Dawkins, 4 min.)-

Optional Strange but amusing Scientific facts (22 min.) –

Optional Critical perspective on Memes (15 min.)-


  1. Ecosystem (is life all about the will to power or collaboration?):

All watched over by machines of loving grace:

(optional but great for context) Episode 1 (1 hour) –

Episode 2 (1 hour)-

(optional , extra info) Episode 3 (1 hour) –

Jeremy England explaining his new theory for life in main stream media (5 min.) – Youtube video here

For the most inquisitive minds:

Optional Book 3– Operating Manual for Space Ship Earth by R. Buckminster Fuller (online PDF file here)

Optional What is Life? by Jeremy England (1 hour lecture) –


  1. Imunology – implications of self vs other (foreign):

Science’s take on human nature (CNN, 13 min.) –

Self and Otherness: Waking Life movie (1h40min. ) by Linklater (link to online streaming)

Optional Biohacking TED talk by Ellen Jorgensen (10 min.) –


  1. Life – what is life and alive:

Software Replica of Minimal Living Processes – Hugues Bersini – Orig Life Evol Biosph (2010) 40:121–130.

Why Is the Definition of Life So Elusive? Epistemological Considerations – Serhiy A. Tsokolov, ASTROBIOLOGY, Volume 9, Number 4, 2009 a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc; pp401-4012.

Lifetime Learning as a Factor in Life History Evolution – John A. Bullinaria; 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Life 15: 389–409 (2009)

Option one:

5.1. Consciousness (information integration theory):

(Intro) Turing Test and A.I. (5 min.) –

What is consciousness? (18 min.)-

Singularity by Ray Kurzweil (7 min.) –

For the most inquisitive minds:

Optional Book 4 – Conciousness, How matter Becomes Imaginationby Edelman and Tononi

(lecture by Edelman here)

Option two:

5.2 Food between Art and Science:

Ferran Adriá Molecular Cuisine in Documenta 12 –

Rirkrit Tiravanija – Interacting and cooking as Art –

For hard-core inquisitive minds:

Optional Book 5 – Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud



Dinner time discussions:

  1. Science in Post-Modern and Contemporary times: mankind expects the scientific method to create consensus on subjective issues?
  2. Limits of science: what is beyond matter? Emotions? Dreams? Is science a teleological field of knowledge?
  3. Models and self-reference: some paradoxes and self-destructing contraptions. Gödel. Oxymoronic perspectives on contemporary art…
  4. Order and Chaos: Life contradicts the ever growing disorder of a system? Is life a more efficient way to dissipate energy? What about culture and knowledge?
  5. Limits of human perception: James Turrel’s Roden Crater and tilted rooms. Dream machines and altered states of consciousness. Humvelt TED.


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