We are (very!) happy to announce that Canadian researcher/artist Francois-Joseph Lapointe will be in residence at the Museion and the CBMR Section for Science Communication for three weeks during May and one week during October. Francois-Joseph is head of the laboratory of Molecular Ecology and Evolution at Université de Montréal and full professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He has more than 100 scientific publications in the areas of  metagenomics, bioinformatics and population genetics. Alongside his scientific work, he also completed a PhD in dance in 2012 with a thesis entitled ‘Choreogenetics, or the art of making DNA dance’ (see examples of his work here). His recent bioart work involves sequencing his wife and his microbiome in order to generate changing metagenomic self-portraits.

While at the Museion Francois-Joseph will stage a two-part performance called ‘A 1000 handshakes’. In his own words:

“This project proposes a scientific representation of my own metagenomic portrait (‘microbiome selfie’) and its combinatorial transformation in time through different types of interactions with other people. I will modify my own microbiome by performing specific actions (i.e., shaking hands with the public), which will modify the microbial communities of my body. I will sequence my skin, gut and oral microbiomes before AND after these experiments to assess the complex combinatorial process of metagenomics. The series of portraits (original + contaminated) will be displayed alongside each other at the exhibition, during which a re-enactment of the ‘1000 handshakes’ experiment will be presented to transform my microbiome in real time.”

The project will run in two parts – an early version in late May and a full version at the Culture Night on 10th of October, where the portraits generated by the first run will be shown, alongside the performance itself.
Francois-Joseph will also give a public lecture on the relationship between art and science from his unique perspective at the Art Academy on May 15th (details to follow).
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