Resetting the Aging Clock? MDC End of Residency

Resetting the Aging Clock?

The artist Emilia Tikka spent three months at MDC labs. She was curious about CRISPR and whether genetic reprogramming could enable a “rejuvenation” of human cells in the future. Now, the results of her residency called “AEON – Trajectories of Longevity and CRISPR” are being shown at STATE Studio Berlin.

Copy of (c) Anne Freitag -State-5.jpg

STATE studio, pic by Anna Freitag

November 1 2018

During her residency at the Max Delbrück Center of Molecular Medicine (MDC), Emilia Tikka intensively exchanged ideas with researchers. The Finnish artist and designer had the opportunity to explore the potential of a novel version of the gene-editing technology CRISPR called dCAS9. This molecular tool activates specific genes instead of removing others from the genome. 

Tikka learned at the bench that by activating the so-called Yamanaka factors, adult cells can be turned into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) cells. These cells can potentially become any type of cell within the human body. Some scientists even claim that this process also “resets” some of the hallmarks of cellular aging. What if humanity could reprogram and fine-tune this kind of processes using novel gene-editing technologies such as dCAS9?

Drawing inspiration from her experiences in the laboratories, she developed an artwork addressing the philosophical and social dimensions of the longing for longevity. Tikka’s final design will be presented for the first time at the opening of STATE Studio on October 27 in Berlin. The artist in residence also showcased a preliminary version of AEON at Ars Electronica Festival in Linz representing STATE Studio at the Gallery Spaces.

Tikka anticipates an everyday situation in a future world

AEONTrajectories of longevity and CRISPR is a poetic and fictional scenario arising from the human desire to drastically extend lifespan. The residency project initiated by STATE Studio and MDC is concerned with human dreams driving current developments in life sciences. Tikka’s artistic concept is rooted in questioning the vision of transhumanism and eternal life. “My speculative scenario maps out a world in which ageing process can be reversed,” she says. “With my artwork I would like to invite viewers to engage in an anticipated everyday situation in such a world leaving them to decide whether this future vision would be desirable.”

While current research in life sciences is pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible further and further, Tikka tackles philosophical questions first. In what kind of world do we want to live? What happens when we get there? What is the essence of the human wish to live forever? The conceptual aim of this speculative scenario is to engage the public in a fundamental antagonism: the constant loop of decay and rebirth as an enigmatic molecular process in all the living beings and the human drive to interfere with this processes using technical means.

Curatorial team: Dr. Christian Rauch (STATE), Stefanie Greimel (STATE), Johanna Teresa Wallenborn (STATE), Dr. Ralf Kühn (MDC), Dr. Luiza Bengtsson (MDC).

The artist residency was funded by the EU ORION Open Science Project, Grant Agreement No. 741527. The project aims to engage society in discussions of the risks and opportunities presented by disruptive technologies.

STATE Studio Field Experiments Exhibition and Berlin Science Week Event

Field Experiments Exhibition

Tuesday - Friday 12 – 6PM 
Keynotes & Panel Discussion “From Understanding to Tinkering - the Future of Genome Research”: 

1 November 2018, 5 PM 

Further information

ORION at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine 

STATE Studio

Seeing through the Eyes of the Other


Aeon. Ein Foto aus dem Kunstwerk zum Download, Credit: Zuzanna Kaluzna
Turning stem cells into neurons. Credit: MDC Stem Cell Platform

Press Contacts

Please contact us for further information. The curatorial team, researchers and invited artist are available for interviews. 


Press and Communications
Johanna Teresa Wallenborn
Phone:  0157-5555 4824

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
Communications Department

Jana Schlütter
Phone: 030-9406 2121



The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) is an internationally renowned biomedical research center in Berlin. Named after Max Delbrück, one of the founders of molecular biology and a Nobel Prize Winner, the institute is dedicated to linking basic science with clinical research. Currently the institute employs more than 1660 people from 60 countries; over 1300 of those are directly involved in research. 

ORION – Open Science I Horizon 2020 

Nine leading European research institutes, national funding bodies, companies and civil society organizations have joined forces in the EU project “ORION” to find new ways to increase social participation and transparency in research. Through co-creation experiments, benchmarking and training activities, ORION aims to trigger evidence-based institutional, cultural and behavioral changes towards Open Science in Research Funding and Performing Organizations. ORION runs from May 2017 to April 2021 and has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Science with and for Society (SWAFS) Work Program. 

STATE is a Berlin-based festival and studio for open science, art and innovation. Founded in 2014 out of Paul-Drude-Institute, STATE stands for a new way of connecting people with science: participatory, interdisciplinary and inspiring. Integrating research, technology and culture in its thinking, STATE explores current developments in science where cutting edge research transforms society. It creates a meeting ground for science and the public, where scientific inquiry meets artistic expression. STATE now opens its first permanent art and science gallery in Berlin from October 2018. Again, the focus is on creating an open and vibrant forum for public discussion of current, socially relevant developments in scientific research and its impact on society. STATE Studio is supported and developed in partnership with Wissenschaft im Dialog, the German umbrella organization for science communication.

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