CREATORS – Tina Gorjanc

In ALL, CREATORS by Rachel Stewart

Name: Tina Gorjanc

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

Science in the sense of curiosity for biology, materiality, and its functions has been intrinsically intertwined with my creativity from a very early age. I have been fascinated by natural organisms and the technologies that enable us to study and alter them since I can remember. However, the most straightforward answer to this question would probably be that art came first, especially while looking at my education and early career path. 

“I believe that the term SciArt is a linguistical and cultural marker of the era in which we live. Looking back at history, it is quite apparent that the two fields have always been interlaced.”

Tina Gorjanc
Four hands made of plaster wearing black knit garments and holding cigarettes.
Body Spam PPA (2015) by Tina Gorjanc.
A photograph of a woman in a black dress holding a perfume bottle and looking in a mirror. A photograph of a woman in profile with a Chanel logo branded on her neck.
Branded Body Rush (2015) by Tina Gorjanc.

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

Rather than specific sciences, I have a strong interest in how particular and niche scientific applications get proliferated into the mainstream and impact our society’s behaviour and mindset. My work has been heavily based on biotechnology and synthetic biology as I believe that those are some of the industries that are, and will, most impact our culture and society. 

A pale peach-colored leather jacket with a koi fish tattoo on the left breast.
Pure Human Product 1 (2016) by Tina Gorjanc. Tattooed leather jackets mimic inked skin alteration techniques.
A pale peach-colored leather jacket seen from behind with a tattoo on the right sleeve saying "Love looks not with the eyes, But with the mind."
Pure Human Product 1 (2016) by Tina Gorjanc.
Five clear compartments containing biological products with magnifying glasses over each.
Pure Human Process (2016) by Tina Gorjanc.
A gallery display of Pure Human 2 with a briefcase containing reagents and a patent on a table. The table also contains a glass case with magnifying glasses hovering over pieces of leather.
Pure Human 2 (2016) by Tina Gorjanc. Photo by Sanne Visser.
A pale peach-colored leather bag with occasional small brown spots.
Pure Human Product 3 (2016) by Tina Gorjanc. The pigmented product exploits the ability of the TYR gene to promote the production of the pigment melanin. The stimulation of the gene’s performance can be achieved with biological agents. Depending on the amount of the applied agent the accumulated melanin can appear on a smaller (freckles) or larger (moles) scale.
A gallery display of Pure Human 1 with a leather jacket, two bags, and a briefcase containing a patent placed on white podiums.
Pure Human 1 (2016) by Tina Gorjanc. Photo by Gyre Gallery Tokyo.

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

My projects’ speculative artifacts are produced with various techniques and materials utilized across different creative industries ranging from special effects, leatherwork, digital 3D design, sculpting, and casting. The development process to generate my artifacts elevates and improves my technical skillset, as I can continually learn and update production methods that will best suit a specific project. All the tools and mediums tend to be closely linked by the desire to mimic or relate to bodily materials. 

A piece of dried, bird-like skin stretched within a frame and two magnifying glasses showing closeups of the texture.
Phylogenetic Atelier Leather (2018) by Tina Gorjanc.
A preserved dissected pigeon inside a glass case.
Phylogenetic Atelier Pigeon Dissection (2018) by Tina Gorjanc.
A preserved dissected pigeon inside a glass case.
Phylogenetic Atelier Pigeon Dissection (2018) by Tina Gorjanc.

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

Body Spam was my first speculative project that combined scientific theory and processes with applied product design principles. The project also helped me understand my position and role as a creative within the luxury and scientific industry.

The Fake exhibition from Science Gallery Dublin was my first “professional” commission straight after my Master’s degree, which has dramatically repositioned my design practice and methodology. Coming from a more applied design background, I didn’t have the experience of collaborating within a diverse team of practitioners. This opportunity introduced me to working within a truly multidisciplinary team, which has been the preferred approach for all my recent creative ventures.

A gallery display of The Self-Donor Workshop with a model of a human torso with the organs showing, artificial organs and colorful IV bags on a table, and drawings of organs on display.
The Self-Donor Workshop 1 (2019) by Tina Gorjanc. Photo by Richard Eaton, Science Gallery London.
A gallery display of The Self-Donor Workshop with a women replacing an organ from a model of a human torso. Artificial organs and colorful IV bags are on a table nearby.
The Self-Donor Workshop 3 (2019) by Tina Gorjanc. Photo by Richard Eaton, Science Gallery London.
An artificial portion of a kidney described as a recellularization treatment for renal disease.
The Self-Donor Workshop Kidney Organoid Packaging (2019) by Tina Gorjanc. Photo by Richard Eaton, Science Gallery London.
An artificial liver with blood vessels described as a temporary patient support.
The Self-Donor Workshop Liver Organoid Packaging (2019) by Tina Gorjanc. Photo by Richard Eaton, Science Gallery London.

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

George Church, the provocative and entrepreneurial American geneticist, molecular engineer, and chemist is one of the personas that inspires me the most. Besides having unique technical creativity and expertise, his critical thinking theories and speculative scenario portraits significantly impact how human-engineered biology is pursued.

Another strong influence on my practice is the Sci-Fi Artist and Body Architect Lucy McRae. I can relate to her visualization of future scenario projections within the luxury industry.

Lastly, one of my very early design role models, and a great disruptor of what the fashion industry should be, is British designer Hussein Chalayan. His inventions, such as the aeroplane dress, the airmail dress, and the transforming dress, are the ones that sparked my interest in the luxury industry at the very beginning of my design education and are still very inspirational today.

A large, grey rhino horn held up by two hands.
Harvest Horn (2020) by Tina Gorjanc.
A belt-like object floating in front of a verdant forest scene.
Harvest Product 3 (2020) by Tina Gorjanc. Indonesian Sumatran Rhino Horn Product, 3D modelling and rendering by Katja Gorjanc.
A belt-like object floating above a grassland scene.
Harvest Product 1 (2020) by Tina Gorjanc. African White Rhino Horn Product, 3D modelling and rendering by Katja Gorjanc.

SciArt is an emerging term related to combining art and science. How would you define it?

I believe that the term SciArt is a linguistical and cultural marker of the era in which we live. Looking back at history, it is quite apparent that the two fields have always been interlaced. However, the term applies mostly to today’s scientific practices and processes that are either novel or present a variation/update of the old discoveries.

For more on Tina Gorjanc, visit her website, Instagram, The Dots, or Linkedin.

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About the Author
Rachel Stewart

Rachel Stewart

Rachel is a biologist, writer, and long-time visual artist from New Jersey. At college, she split her time between the lab and the printmaking studio. During her doctoral work at Yale University, she unearthed a passion for digital illustration while studying the role of the cell nucleus in maintaining tissue integrity. After obtaining her PhD, her love for travel led her to pursue postdoctoral research at RIKEN in Kobe, Japan, studying early embryonic development in fruit flies. She is now based in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she continues to create science-inspired art and jewelry, listen to horror podcasts, and feed a growing coffee addiction. @excytoplasm