The Art of Tissue Engineering

At ASCUS we are delighted to welcome renowned bio artist Oron Catts from SymbioticA, the first research laboratory of its kind enabling artists and researchers to engage in wet biology practices, to ASCUS Lab this month!

Image credit: semi-living steak by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, 2003

The Art of Tissue Engineering
5:00-9:00pm, Thursday 22nd Mar 2018

The idea of growing products rather than manufacturing them has been explored and critiqued through the notion of the semi-living by the Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A) since 1996. It stems from the developments in biomedical research in the 1990s; in particular tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The premise was that we can evoke the latent regenerative abilities of the biological body to grow organs and tissues either inside or outside of the biological or techno-scientific bodies.

Over the last two decades, Tissue Engineering (TE) started to be considered as a technology that can be used for other ends. Since 1996 Oron Catts has used TE for artistic purposes and was the first person to grow, serve and eat a piece of in-vitro meat. In this workshop we will attempt to isolate viable bone marrow stem cells from the bone of an animal that has been dead for some time, obtained from the local butcher. To do this we will cover some of the main techniques of TE while exploring the broader cultural and artistic implications of using living tissue within a non-medical context.

The workshop was developed by SymbioticA – The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences at The University of Western Australia.

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.

About The Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A)

The Tissue Culture & Art Project (initiated in 1996), is an on-going research and development project into the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. They investigate our relationships with the different gradients of life through the construction/growth of a new class of object/being – that of the Semi-Living. These are parts of complex organisms which are sustained alive outside of the body and coerced to grow in predetermined shapes.
These evocative objects are a tangible example that brings into question deep rooted perceptions of life and identity, concept of self, and the position of the human in regard to other living beings and the environment. Through these objects and/or artworks the TC&A project are interested in the new discourses and new ethics/epistemologies that surround issues of partial life and the contestable future scenarios they are offering us.

Here’s how it went…

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