Can performance & video art cause epigenetic changes within individuals participating in the art form?
At the Italian Institute of Culture in Valletta, performance and video artist, Cristina Ghinassi, and geneticist and science communicator, Dr Edward Duca, will talk about that experiment this Wednesday, 28 September at 19:00.
The 28-day experiment was part of the CODE SWITCH #1 project. It combines epigenetics with new media art and was implemented in collaboration with Spazju Kreattiv at St James Cavalier, after a grant by Arts Council Malta, and was carried out thanks to collaboration with Maltese researchers from the University of Malta and Mater Dei hospital staff. The experimental project aims to demonstrate how our lifestyle and the social environment can impact how our genes work and, consequently, who we are.
Together with Dr Edward Duca, Cristina Ghinassi studied the academic literature on the epigenetics of exercise and social interactions and conducted interviews with Maltese scientists and experts – Dr Joseph Borg, Dr Stephanie Bezzina Wettinger and Prof. Christian Scerri — before devising the test performance to be repeated for 28 consecutive days.
The major goal of the research project was to run a proof-of-concept performance and tests by measuring the physiological characteristics and DNA methylation – an epigenetic property – in specific parts of the artist’s (Cristina Ghinassi) DNA before and after a test performance.
The artist had to stick to a strict weekly diet for 40 days, starting two weeks before her repeated test performance. Aiming to prove scientifically that performance & video art can cause epigenetic changes in the involved individuals, Cristina Ghinassi repeated a test video-performance by herself in front of a camera, while she was keeping her diet.
On Wednesday, the performance artist and her collaborator will introduce the project to the audience while projecting some videos coming from the research process. The event, that forms part of Science in the City—European Researchers’ Night festival, is targeted to scientists, artists and others interested in this innovative project. Find the full festival programme, or visit the Facebook Page.