kitchen science and the Origins of Life

Kitchen Science is a series of work that includes digital prints, performances and an interactive installation. Each work is a response to the " recipe" metaphor to describe genetics and DNA . Why would genetics be thought of as a recipe? My hypothesis was that the men who were writing about science were not cooks but chemists and besides cooking is just a matter of chemistry. Therefore, recipes like science protocols, are a set of instructions that when followed correctly produce similar results each time, I also discovered a wonderful article called Spooling the Stuff of Life by Shawn Carlson, who at the time was writing the column, Amateur Scientist for Scientific American. The article begins with a paragraph about his wife, who is a biophysicist and their dinner discussions about her work. He then proceeds to describe to extract DNA in the kitchen. Again I was struck by the irony of his unintended gender politics. With this in mind I began reading books such as Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors and Machines by Evelyn Fox Keller, R. C Lewontin's Biology As Ideology , the brilliant Feminism and the Biological Body, by Lynda Birke and Bonnie Spanier's Impartial Science Gender ideology in Molecular Biology. Consequently I grew suspicious of the metaphors used to explain scientific processes to the general public and I wanted to reveal the ideology that informs them.

During my research I was also alarmed by how many important women scientists such as Ellen Swallow Richards (chemistry) and Agnes Fay Morgan were excluded from and ignored by the scientific establishment. In fact Agnes Morgan switched to nutrition so she could work professionally as a chemist. It became increasingly clear that although women have made significant contributions and inroads, they still must confront sexism and bias. As made all to clear by Lawrence Summer' s comment in 2005 , "that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers".