Biofabricating Frankenstein’s tales: Talk by Oron Catts

We are delighted to welcome renowned bio artist Oron Catts for an exclusive talk about his fascination with tissue engineering and regenerative biology and his project focusing on the story of Frankenstein.

Image credit: Vessels of Care and Control -the Compostubator (2019) by the Tissue Culture & Art Project (Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr)

Biofabricating Frankenstein’s Tales

Artist and Scientist Oron Catts from Symbiotica is visiting Scotland on an exclusive trip investigating connections between Orkney and the Frankenstein story. He’s popping by ASCUS to deliver a unique talk giving more insight into his extensive experience of tissue engineering,  speculative design and contemporary artistic practices and his new project investigating Frankenstein.


1:30- 3pm, Saturday 15th Feb, 2020
(please arrive 10/15mins before the start time to get everone seated)
Cairns Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, please ask reception for directions

*Concessions: full time students; unemployed persons, senior citizens, residents of Summerhall, and disabled persons. If you have booked as a concession, please bring proof of status on arrival.

More from the artist:

Tissue engineering and regenerative biology are usually discussed in relation to biomedical research and applications. However in the last decade, we witnessed a shift; there is a growing interest in exploring spin-off tissue engineering and regenerative biology technologies for other ends, such as consumer products, art and design. The new fields of biofabrication and cellular agriculture will be analysed, critiqued, explored and discussed in particular in vitro meat and leather, actuators and bio-machine interfaces, speculative design and contemporary artistic practices.

I will draw on my extensive experience of using tissue engineering for non-medical ends to speculate about what led to these applications, their possible future development. Avoiding utopian and dystopian postures and using the notion of the contestable, this talk will also highlight some philosophical and ethical consideration stemming from the use of non-medical approaches to tissue constructs.

I will also include a segment on a project currently under developments in which I found some material evidence for the Frankenstein story at the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

About The Speaker

Oron Catts is the co-founder and the Director of SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia.

Oron Catts is an artist, researcher, designer and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, a biological art research centre at The University of Western Australia. Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the inaugural Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction (2009-2012), and a Professor at Large in Contestable Design (2015-2017) at the Royal College of Arts, London. In 2012-2013 he set up a biological art lab called Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, where he was a Visiting Professor.

Catts interest is Life; more specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in the light of new knowledge and it applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists (mainly Dr. Ionat Zurr) and scientists, Catts have developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulation of evolving concepts of life.

Catts curated nine exhibitions, developed numerous artistic projects and performances. His work was exhibited and collected by museums such as MoMA NY, Centre Pompidou, Mori art Museum, NGV, GoMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Ars Electronica, National Art Museum of China and more.

About SymbioticA

SymbioticA was designed as an evolving place of artistic investigation, an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences.The focus on experiential engagement with life led SymbioticA to develop programs that would allow artists and designers access to labs and techniques usually reserved only for scientists and engineers. These programs include residencies, workshops, academic courses and public engagement through exhibitions and forums.


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