Johanna Rotko selected for the Tokyo Art & Science Research Residency
posted by Erich Berger on 25 June 2020

Our open call for the Tokyo Art & Science Research Residency 2020, which will be hosted by BioClub Tokyo in partnership with the Finnish Institute in Japan, received again a good number of excellent applications. We would like to thank everybody who participated in the call for their effort. The selection commitee consisted of members of the BioClub Tokyo, the Finnish Institute in Japan and the Bioart Society.

The commitee unanimously selected visual artist Johanna Rotko for the residency. Rotko is working with living materials, mainly with different yeasts. She will dedicate her residency to research colored yeast species that are used in traditional fermentation processes in the Japanese kitchen. Those species can be found in different misos but also in dried berries and other everyday products in the markets of Tokyo.

"I'm honored to have been selected for the residency, and I'm looking forward to the work in a fully equipped BSL laboratory – and to be able to explore the Japanese umami sources," says Rotko.

Rotko is known for her work with yeastograms - living images - that are formed by cultivating yeast on biological growth media to create images out of conventional photographs. Raster images printed on film are exposed with Ultraviolet LED lamps onto cultivated yeast in petri dishes. After approximately 48h, the yeast cells exposed to UV light are killed or injured and the ones sheltered by the black parts survive, and the yeasts form the image on the growth medium. Rotko was first introduced to yeastograms in 2013 during a workshop organized by artist collective Pavillon_35 and the Bioart Society, and she has been working with yeast images since then. In her works, Rotko explores the themes of transiency, material loss, change and time. She currently focuses on different yeast species, biological colours and the many purposes of yeast. Rotko's works have been exhibited in Mänttä, Dublin, Oulu, Corwallis, Helsinki, Kotka, Dortmund, Tokyo and Paris.

Rotko will commence her residency in November 2020 if the pandemic conditions allow for save travels from Finland to Japan.