At the weekend I popped into Science Gallery in Trinity College to see their latest exhibition, Visceral: The Living Art Experiment. As the name suggests, it's an art exhibition based on living tissue. The artworks come from SymbioticA / the University of Western Australia and were produced by artists working with the advice and support of scientists.
Just because the exhibition is made of organic matter doesn't change the most basic rule of enjoying art: context is everything. For €1 you can pick up a handy little booklet with information on the various pieces. Better still (and free), talk to the friendly and knowledgeable staff. From previous experience I was unsurprised to find that they know what they're talking about - most of them seem to be researchers, postgrads or other well-informed types. It's perhaps a bonus that they're good communicators and seemed interested in the material.
Then again, why wouldn't they be? There are some damn fine concepts on show. For example The Vision Splendid is a bioreactor with cells from an anonymous human donor who gave a sample back in 1969. Similarly Afterlife: Immortalisation of Kira and Rama looks at the idea that some cell lines could live on indefinitely; it also prompts discussion about the use of "Foetal Bovine Serum" (Calf-foetus blood). Ask a member of staff to tell you about it.
My favourite part of Visceral is Host, an exhibit about the sex lives of crickets. It's fascinating - fellow humans, crickets would find us terribly dull. Those are some damn kinky insects.
Visceral runs until 25th February 2011 and is well worth a look.