Contextualising Biotechnological Artifacts

On Friday 19th of January in partnership with UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, ASCUS is delighted to present Contextualising Biotechnological Artifacts – a talk by renowed bio artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr.

Vessels of Care and Control: Prototypes of Compustcubator & Hivecubator 2016 Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr in collaboration with Mike Bianco

Contextualising Biotechnological Artifacts
6:30-8:30pm, Fri 19th Jan 2018

It is more than two decades since we began manipulating (fragments of) living systems for artistic ends. During this time the mindset governing the relationship to the concept of life has shifted quite significantly due to developments in science and engineering.

However, it can be argued that artistic practices, which involve the use of scientific and technological tools for the manipulation of life, have played a role in these shifts in approaches to life. The positioning of biotechnological artifacts within cultural institutions has exposed and challenged important social, ethical and ontological issues, for example, regarding the transformation of life into a raw material. In addition, the discourse generated by placing manipulated lifeforms in a cultural context has yielded a range of unanticipated outcomes, which in some cases have been different and even contrary to the original intentions of the artists.

This talk will attempt to unpack the role played by different cultural institutions, research settings, cultural workers, popular media, and industry in their dealings with biotechnological artifacts, and will reflect on the existence of these artifacts within a timeline and scale of global scientific, technological, economic and cultural narratives and endeavours.

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr

Award winning Artists, Researchers and Curators, Catts and Zurr formed the internationally renowned Tissue Culture and Art Project. Oron Catts is the Co-Founder and Director of SymbioticA: the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia and a Professor of Contestable Design at the Royal College of Art UK. Dr Ionat Zurr is a researcher and SymbioticA’s academic coordinator as well as a Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts at the School of Design UWA. Both are Visiting Professors at Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts, Aalto University Finland (2015-2020). They are considered pioneers in the field of biological arts and publish widely, exhibit internationally and their work has been collected by MoMA New York. Catts & Zurr’s ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; their work is often cited as inspiration to those working in diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

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