Gabe Barcia-Colombo creates madcap art inspired both by Renaissance era curiosity cabinets and the modern-day digital chronicling of everyday life. Think: miniature people projected in objects and a DNA Vending Machine.

Why you should listen

Gabe Barcia-Colombo is an American artist who creates installation pieces that both delight and point to the strangeness of our modern, digital world. His latest work is a DNA Vending Machine, which dispenses vials of DNA extracted from friends at dinner parties. He's also created video installations of "miniature people" encased inside ordinary objects like suitcases, blenders and more. His work comments on the act of leaving one's imprint for the next generation. Call it "artwork with consequences."

As he explains it: "While formally implemented by natural history museums and collections (which find their roots in Renaissance-era 'cabinets of curiosity'), this process has grown more pointed and pervasive in the modern-day obsession with personal digital archiving and the corresponding growth of social media culture. My video sculptures play upon this exigency in our culture to chronicle, preserve and wax nostalgic, an idea which I render visually by 'collecting' human beings (alongside cultural archetypes) as scientific specimens. I repurpose everyday objects like blenders, suitcases and cans of Spam into venues for projecting and inserting videos of people."

Barcia-Colombo is an alumnus and instructor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Read about his latest work on CoolHunting and in his TED Fellows profile.

What others say

“"You could say that Gabriel Barcia-Colombo is something of a modern day mad scientist ... Much like the beloved animated GIF, Barcia-Colombo’s work distills a moment, a gesture, an emotion—taking something universally relatable and instantly recognizable and giving it a physical form."” — —The Creators Project

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Gabriel Barcia-Colombo

Fellows Friday

Brave new weird: Inside the funhouse art experiences of TED Fellow Gabriel Barcia-Colombo

December 5, 2014

Vending machines that sell human DNA. People trapped in jars and blenders. Bottles of perfume that smell like burning books. You have to expect the unexpected with Gabriel Barcia-Colombo, a New York–based artist who works with film, electronics, performance, biomaterials and more to create mind-bending interactive artworks. His latest piece, “New York Minute,” confronts commuters in […]

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7 ways to have fun with DNA

March 6, 2014

[ted id=1942] When TED Fellow Gabriel Barcia-Colombo saw an extraction of strawberry DNA for the first time, he was smitten. “I’d never thought about DNA being a beautiful thing before I saw it in this form,” he says in today’s talk, given at the TED Fellows Retreat. Barcia-Colombo was inspired to join the public biotech […]

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