Category: Affiliate Program

Uranus’ Castrated Penis: centiSperm Glazed Ceramic Sculpture


centiSperm Glazed Ceramic tribute to Robert Arneson and the NorCal Funk Artists

centiSperm Glazed Ceramic tribute to Robert Arneson and the NorCal Funk Artists

The centiSperm was applied to Uranus’ Castrated Penis as a glaze. The sculpture fired well. The centisperm effect is basically un-perceptible. Yet, there is a pearly sheen to the penis of Uranus. Certainly, the ritual process of anointing the lingam, even the lingam forcibly removed, is of discerning taste. Here are some pictures of Uranus’ Castrated Penis. This sculpture is a tribute to Robert Arneson (a former teacher) and the NorCal Funk Artists.

tribute to Robert Arneson and the NorCal Funk Artists

tribute to Robert Arneson and the NorCal Funk Artists


centiSperm Product Orientation Seminar


Now that the centiSperm exists, we begin concern ourselves with artSci research and development. What can be done with this novel new media biotechnological product? Are there scientific theories, artistic practice, bioethical debates and profitable applications to stem from this?


Artificial Human Gene Screwed centiSperm For Sale

My initial plan was to offer the centiSperm online as a posthuman artificial insemination product. I am sure there are people out there on the world wide media net web who would like a centiBaby. I haven’t had my sperm screened for safe resale and no one locally wanted to commit to a long-shot mutant interspecies jazz insect child.

centiSperm Glazed Donut Product Line

I began to anoint one of Celia Olsen’s homemade donuts with centiSperm. Actually I have glazed that donut once or twice a day for the past five days. This a perhaps a boutique edible for a dedicated foodie. Perhaps Tim Hortons might be interested in licensing centiSperm glazed donuts?

centisSperm Donut Glazing

centisSperm Donut Glazing

centiSperm Glazed Ceramic Sculpture

 I did build a ceramic sculpture to honor Uranus’ castrated penis. I will fire it tonight and glaze the penis with centiSperm as a physical ceramic glaze. This should adorn the sculpture with a burnt offering and test the applicability of centiSperm as a second level of anointed glaze.

Novel Birth Control: centiSpermicide

I am a bit worried that I am incubating more than insect-human hybrid germ cells. The centiSperm glazed donut could be a petri dish for naturally found airborne pathogens that feed on sperm. Although the statistical risk factor is low, anytime you feed human cells you should be aware of what or who might grow on the rich lawn of easy to scavenge tissue. On the other hand, we may be hunting for a volunteer novel spermicidal agent that could be use as a additional spermicide in our arsenal against unwanted pregnancy. centiSperm as a medium can be used to bait and check novel organisms. Any microbial or fungal life that can grow on a centiSperm Glazed Donut incubator will be potentially resistant to centipede venom. This means that we may be able to derive a new spermicidal secondary metabolite from the microorganisms that can be used in conjunction with various forms of centipede venom therapies without deleterious drug interactions.

centiSperm DIY Protocol: Sperm Desalination


Goals: To electroporate whole genomic DNA from a centipede into the center of human sperm.




Matteo Farinella of

Matteo Farinella of


Sperm Desalination

Rinsing the sperm is meant to remove the salt from the sample. This is to reduce the electrocution risk to the sperm during electroporation. The electroporator gives high voltage millisecond pulses and if the sperm is in a salty seminal fluid medium, the electroporator will just zap the sperm to death. The process is much like being a human washing machine. The actual process is slow, boring and repetitive: spin, drain liquids, agitation rinse, spin, drain liquids, agitation rinse, spin, drain liquids, agitate into a sort of gel. Matteo was heard to say, “This is why I stopped being a scientist.”

A – Obtain Sample


B – Put sperm in tubes

I had very few tubes with me. I thought to use disposable pipettes but I got worried about sperm spray because the tubes would have no tops. I bought hypodermic needles at the Wallgreens to use as sterile tubes. I figured that the syringes could be spun and the heavier sperm would deposit the pellet onto the black rubber plunger and then I could push out the liquid (supernatant) and suck in new liquid to resuspend into (vibrating agitation rinse). I used electrical tape to secure the needle closed. I used the screw-on.twist-off luer lock for as the cap for the syringe tube. This made accidental sharps sperm injection much less likely! I also taped the plunger closed so it wouldn’t fly off the fan releasing sperm in a circular spew pattern. I left tape slack so I could still plunge without having to worry about coating the place with a thin film of half rinsed ejaculate.



C – Spin to make pellet (natant)

I was going to buy a hand-powered centrifuge but I thought better of it. I tried to make due with what I had brought and immediate materials. Although a DIY handheld grinder centrifuge was beta tested. The results were dangerous. David Bowen and I put the grinder in a vice and stepped out of the shop to plug it in. The attachment took air, collided with the vice and self destructed sending shrapnel in every direction. We were nearly maimed in the face by a projectile syringe.

Beta Test Grinder Centrifuge Epic Fail

Beta Test Grinder Centrifuge Epic Fail

The DIY box fan centrifuge was the answer. I drilled holes in the plastic fan blades and zip tied the syringes to the blades of the fan. It took a little time to cut them off between each cycle but we did see a thin white line of sperm solids around the plunger after each spin.



Spin for about 3 minutes

D – Throw away supernatant (liquid)

Plunge the seminal fluid supernatant into the bleach bath.

A word on DIY Biosafety: When working with human fluids, it is good to have art as a shield from the health department. Art is not usually considered to be stringently regulated, as are federally funded laboratories and biobased economy manufacturing processing plants. Using somewhat dangerous materials in performance art or DIY labs is generally ignored. Not that the health department doesn’t have jurisdiction. There are just some funny ideas about art. It is generally considered to be sort of like a party in the ambi-bathroom of a good afterhours club. Art is a sleazy urinal cake. So, the mythos of general consensus art freedom from oversight is sort of a mix between fourth amendment freedom of expression issues and that soldier of fortune motto ‘kill em all, let god sort em out’. This is the attitude towards the arts and artist’s in general society. This is to say that the impact of art is zero to nil in the public eye and the desperate narcissism of most artists doesn’t hinder this vision. Proclaiming yourself an artist is like wearing a classless green translucent plastic masochist visor on your head. Artists signify as frivolous, expendable and hence deregulated. It is sort of an unsaid authoritative death wish hex that translates to freedom from funding and freedom to self regulate. Nonetheless, I used a water purification pill good for 25 liters in a bin as a bleach bath for both used fluids and plastic disposable trash. No harm in sterilizing the shit out of stuff, neh?


Just suck distilled water into the syringe. Use the syringe plunger to fill the syringe with distilled water. Don’t forget to leur lock the sealed needle back on the syringe so there is minimal leakage.

F – Vortex

Resuspend sperm in distilled water by vortexing

A vortex is a great home toy to invest in. It is an industrial strength vibrating twiwrler. Its major use in a lab is for resuspending tacky solids stuck to the bottom of tubes after centrifugation. It can also be used a fun drink mixer. It does make that tell tale tornado in fluids pressed onto the nob of the vortex. The strength and RPM is well beyond the standard vibrator so there are other more potent uses for a home vortex related to: massage, deep tissues, and earthshaking stimulation possibilities. Well I left my home vortex at home. The DIY vortex for resuspension was simply to attach two syringe wrappers to a handheld sander and let the sander shake and vibrate the sperm solids back into solution with the saltless distilled water rinse. Sometimes I would press the hypodermics onto the sander surface to see the liquids really shaking and splashing and spinning and waving about. It worked! It was a little foamy, frothy for professional use, but the saucy was scenic.

G – Spin to make pellet (natant

Spin for about 5 minutes

H – Throw away supernatant (liquid)

Plunge the distilled water seminal rinse supernatant into the bleach bath

I – Replace distilled water with ice cold distilled water

J – Vortex
Just another jot on foam and happenstance.

Photo credit: David Bowen

Photo credit: David Bowen

The foam of castration, vortex and sperm, the birth of Aphrodite
Photo credit: David Bowen

There was some leakage of sperm from inside the hypodermics to outside on the surface. Good thing this lab was mostly stag. Gloves were offered and the dangers explained. But, during vortexing, the shaking and vibrating of the lost droplets of sperm appeared as foam. This again confirms that sperm, left out and agitated by waves, does make a foam! This foam is thick, meringue-like, white, bubbly, a shave cream consistency, a lather of leaky fluffed goo spread. Its an epic yuck factor emollient. It’s also proof of concept in the foam as castrato sperm meets ocean vortex theory of Aphrodite’s origin.

K – Spin to make pellet

L – Throw away supernatant

M – Replace ice cold distilled water with ice cold Glycerol

I bought glycerine at an uptown health and beauty herb pharmacopeia called Pharmaca in PaloAlto. It was the cheapest item in the storehouse of flower dew remedies and herbal tinctures. Glycerol is 10% glycerine. That is 9 parts distilled water and one part glycerine. A solution of glycerol is often used to keep just to keep mixtures suspended in a smooth, moisturizing solution. It is also a sort of preservative. For vegetarians, there is plant-based glycerol. Glycerol is used in lots of stuff we use every day. You can find it in shampoo, water based sex lubricants and in this case, a suspension of sperm. If well screened, young sperm suspension with a little fragrance, perhaps lavender, might make a very good face and cuticle cream for the boutique beauty product market.

SK-II Women's R.N.A.POWER Radical New Age Cream/2.7 oz. - Size No Size $230.00 Saks Fifth Avenue

SK-II Women’s R.N.A.POWER Radical New Age Cream/2.7 oz. – centiSperm humectance, one hundred handed face massage
Saks Fifth Avenue


The Glass Bead Game and a High School Fantasy


Let the cerebration begin! I have only experienced 3 of the first 72 hours of Scientific Delirium Madness but the words and ideas and laughter are flying. A dream since I first took this job, since I first met Carl Djerassi (the Program’s founder), since I first experienced the work of Nina Wise and Ralph Abrams vis The Kepler Story, I was overwhelmed by emotion during yesterday’s orientation.  So many thanks to Roger Malina and the board and staff of LEONARDO, to the perspicacious, brilliantly abstract random Piero Scaruffi and to the board and staff of Djerassi Resident Artists Program who graciously threw themselves into this wild idea that artists and scientists living communally for 30 days was a idea worth executing.  And to the project’s patrons and funders:  National Endowment for the Arts, Lava Thomas and Peter Danzig and Fellowship Partners Pat Bashaw and Eugene Segre.  But this dream has a longer history.

An Army brat finding myself at a new high school, I did what many brats do–I made as many friends as quickly as possible.  I had jock friends, theater friends, cracked-their-SAT-genius friends, hippie friends (this WAS 1967) and “collegiate” friends (I think you’d call them preppies now).  I also had a few “bloc” friends, which is what the greasers were called at Crossland HS in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC.  And I was in love with authors Colin Wilson, Thomas Disch, Harlan Ellison, George Gamow, Ray Bradbury and Herman Hesse.  To this day, I dream glass bead game dreams.  The Glass Bead Game (or Magister Ludi) was a novel about a utopian but flawed future. Hesse’s last novel, he described the game that underpins the society thusly:

Under the shifting hegemony of now this, now that science or art, the Game of games had developed into a kind of universal language through which the players could express values and set these in relation to one another. Throughout its history the Game was closely allied with music, and usually proceeded according to musical and mathematical rules. One theme, two themes, or three themes were stated, elaborated, varied, and underwent a development quite similar to that of the theme in a Bach fugue or a concerto movement. A Game, for example, might start from a given astronomical configuration, or from the actual theme of a Bach fugue, or from a sentence out of Leibniz or the Upanishads, and from this theme, depending on the intentions and talents of the player, it could either further explore and elaborate the initial motif or else enrich its expressiveness by allusions to kindred concepts. Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game’s symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature. Experts and Masters of the Game freely wove the initial theme into unlimited combinations.”

I wanted to play that game.  I was fascinating with linking music with science with poetry with math.  My father played 16 instruments and calculated the trajectories of  howitzer shells for a living.  He had me playing Bach, working a sliderule and shooting at the rifle range when I was five.  Integrating and learning from the process of integration was not only possible, but desirable.

Social failure and the unique brand of high school humiliation soon grounded me.  I had a big party on New Year’s eve and invited ALL my friends.  My mom made fondue.  I was eager for my friends to get to know one another–to cross social and intellectual boundaries.  Wouldn’t school be better without the cliques of collegiates, blocs, hippies and the occasional tensions these artificial groupings provoked?  To their credit, people showed up.  But it wasn’t a crowd.  My livingroom and kitchen was a sea of unique conversational pools.  There was no mingling, no networking, no bridging across the divide, just a bunch of people I liked who couldn’t/wouldn’t talk to one another.    I was heartbroken.  But I never stopped trying to connect people.

Fast forward 44 years.  Last night’s dinner table was practically levitating with ideas. Strangers-no-more bonded over chaos, fracking, life on Mars, acoustics, pattern recognition and 3-D television.   For thirty days we will promote our core value to TRUST artists and scientists.  To let them BE, to ramble unfettered through our 583 acres of redwoods and the geography of their own minds.  There are NO work requirements.    But history has shown us to expect the unexpected.  Collaboratives will be formed.  Life-long friendships will be created.  Residents will be transformed.  It’s what artists for the past 35 years have called the “Djerassi magic”.

I hope the readers of this blog will take the time to be part of this delirious Djerassi glass bead game.  Read about the 12 participants (see Pat Bentson’s excellent introduction with the link) and throw in your own ideas.  Subscribe to the blog, to the Djerassi and Leonardo newsletters.  Tweet and retweet (@artsandsky @leonardoisast and #scimad).   Tell others.

Mark your calendars for Sunday, July 27  for a special LASER  day (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous)  during our annual Open House/Open Studios.  Learn more at  

Help write and refine the dictionary of Herman Hesse’s fictional universal language.  Help make it real.


From UC Davis


I use life forms as artistic media to comment on their phenomenal nature, bring intrigue to the species at hand, and illustrate the diversity of life. I propose the following  questions: How does human manipulation of life impact the viewer’s perception of  themselves as a species and the organisms involved? Will working with living media  with relation to their environment call the viewer’s attention to environmental fragility?  How does human manipulation of the natural environment affect the function, structure, and aesthetics that each species displays?

My entire life I have been intertwining my studies in art and science. I am a “bioartist” for lack of a better term, using biology to create large “paintings” and sculpture. I am also currently a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis studying plant physiology. My dissertation research focuses on modeling the physiological effects of climate change (increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, temperatures and water deficit) on tree canopies, particularly fruit-crop species important to the state of California.  I will be finishing my Ph.D. this spring.

As a biological researcher, both artistic and scientific, I am interested in how physical environmental factors work in sync with genetics, resulting in unique morphology, anatomy, physiology and development of species, mostly within the plant and fungal kingdoms.

While I work with a variety of species in my artwork, most recently I have concentrated on fungus grown on potato dextrose agar (PDA), a material I work with as an artistic medium. During my artistic process, I extract different species of fungi from their natural ecosystems. Working in a laboratory and my studio, I create a synthetic environment and attempt to capture the fungus’ “behavior” in response to my manipulation of its environment. I’m interested in what the fungal painted agar is capable of as a material. Over the past year and a half, I have been working with this material based on the following two questions:  What can the material do, and how can I make it do what it does not do?

I use life forms as artistic media to comment on their phenomenal nature, bring intrigue to the species at hand, and illustrate the diversity of life. I propose the following questions: How does human manipulation of life impact the viewer’s perception of themselves as a species and the organisms involved? Will working with living media with relation to their environment call the viewer’s attention to environmental fragility? How does human manipulation of the natural environment affect the function, structure, and aesthetics that each species displays?

My scientific background in plant physiology has influenced my work a great deal while modeling the physiological growth and development of a tree canopy in response to environmental parameters in reference to climate change. At the molecular level, I studied the mechanisms by which plants load and transport their photosynthetic products and how those mechanisms may be environmentally induced. While I make my artwork, I think about this research as I remove the organism from its own environment and put it in a new context, transforming what we see in nature into uncommon sight.

Perhaps my work will arouse biological curiosity, invoke human empathy towards other species, and shed light on the importance of environmental protection.

In addition to my school and artwork I am also very involved in my community in Davis, California. Besides running the LASERS, I am also a co-founder and member of the Board of Directors of the non-for-profit art collective called “Third Space.” We are a group of artists, performers and educators striving to enrich the culture of our community by making the creation and exhibition of art and music accessible to all people regardless of age or economic standing. Additionally, I have curated and juried a number of art, science and technology exhibitions in a number of  galleries around the area. I also started a group called W.I.S.E. (Women in Science Engaging), an organization that supports comradery among women in science located in Davis. We participate in academic/career support, guest lectures, field trips, and group dinners.

I have a big passion for teaching! Besides teaching many classes in the Biological and Plant Sciences Departments at UC Davis, I also teach for the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program. The first two years I taught the found object and sculpture studio section of a class titled Entomology 1, Art, Science, and the World of Insects. This year I will be teaching linoleum block printing and design. I will now tell you a little bit about our program:

The UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program

The Art/Science Fusion Program at Davis is a trans-disciplinary program that enables scientific learning through the use of tools from the arts. A collaboration among design and science faculty, museum educators, professional artists, UC Davis students and community members comprises this program, which offers a new paradigm for experimental learning. The program is based on a teaching and learning model that combines lectures or workshops that present scientific concepts with site-specific contexts (artistic, scientific cultural and their interfaces) and hands-on experience with artistic mediums (e.g. ceramics, painting, textiles, sculpture, photography, performing arts, song writing). Founded by UC Davis entomology Professor Diane Ullman and nationally-known ceramicist Donna Billick, the program offers students and community members the opportunity to learn and practice art and science in hands-on, project-based settings (


Art Science Fusion Program’s Mission Statement:

The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program’s mission is “to bring the creative energies of the arts and the sciences into a mixture that catalyzes change and innovation in learning for people of all ages.  Described by E.O. Wilson as ‘a spearhead for future creative work in the intellectual borderland,’ the program is a portal into a new creative territory in which people observe the world around them with fresh eyes, testing their ideas and transforming those ideas into new concepts and new insights”             (

Figures 1 and 2. Entomology students learning about honey bees before starting on their public mosaic art piece in the Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis. Photo credit: Donna Billick.


The UC Davis Art Science Fusion program includes many classes. Some examples are described below.

  • Photography: Bridging Art and Science. Offered by Atmospheric scientist, Dr. Terry Nathan, this class uses photography to explore the commonalities shared by art and physics. Topics include the artistic and scientific roots of photography; principles of space, time and light; composition in the visual arts; aesthetics and the geometric foundations of art and science; and photographic interpretation of the environment.


  • Earth, Water, Science and Song. This class is taught by Dr. Wendy Silk from the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. Lectures in this class describe water movement on earth, the natural history of soil formation, nutrient cycles, and resource management to sustain human and natural ecosystems using case studies.  Lake Spafford and Putah Creek on the UCD campus are living laboratories that compliment the lectures. While in the studio, students communicate scientific concepts through song writing and poetry.


  • Freshmen Seminar 2:  Plants in Art and Science taught by botanist Dr. Judy Jernstedt explores plant diversity, plant defences, and reproduction in the context of the history of plant art and artistry. Topics also include plant form and development and the benefits of plants to humans. Based on newly obtained botanical skills, students create a textile surface design illustrating the evolution of plants on the planet (
  • Entomology 1, Art, Science and the World of Insects.

Offered by entomologist, Dr. Diane Ullman in partnership with artist Donna Billick, this course explores the magnificent world of insects. This class focuses on the biological components that allow insects to be successful evolutionarily, and consistent contributors to human technology, culture, architecture, religion, film and literature. This class consists of two parts; a lecture portion held twice per week followed by a three-hour “labudio” (a fusion of a laboratory and studio). In lectures students are introduced to topics such as insect anatomy, physiology, culture, and human/insect interactions. While students are provided a basic scientific framework, they are enabled to make connections between insects and human culture by forcing the students to think about the impact we as humans have on insect ecosystems and the impacts insects have on our culture. This is done through guest lectures from a variety of disciplines including artists, entomologists, environmentalists, humanists and even a lecture from an entomological anthropologist. The students are assigned to one of three “labudios” during which, they create an art piece that interprets an entomological concept or story. Currently, these three studio sections are: ceramics/mosaics, painting, or found object and sculpture. In the first weeks of the labudio, students are introduced to the history of their medium and basic concepts in art theory and composition. The class is assigned a themed public art project, but each student is responsible for his or her unique component. To the labudio, students bring with them lessons from lecture and invited speakers. They research their topic in depth and present their project through writing and in-class presentations before sketching their ideas. Students then translate their scientific research into an artistic masterpiece. At the end of the quarter, the piece is assembled and installed.

For more information about my experience teaching for the Art Science Fusion Program please check out this publication I wrote for the Balance Unbalance Conference in Noosa, Australia last year:Davidson, A. (2013). Transcending the Disciplines, Teaching for the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program. Future Nature Future Culture(s). Balance Unbalance Conference Proceedings pp. 91-97