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Hacking the Environment of Living Cells

***Please note different location to usual***
Date: 21 November 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Curtin University, Exhibition Space, Building 500, Room 1102
Speaker: Andrew Pelling, visiting Raine Professor

Living cells possess an exquisite ability to sense and respond to physical information in their microenvironment. This ability plays a key role in many fundamentally important physiological and pathological processes. I will describe our work utilizing a variety of strategies to use physical cues to guide and direct cell biology. These include exposing to mechanical stimuli, altering the geometric shape of the microenvironment and even growing mammalian cells inside of fruits and vegetables. Our work has demonstrated how physical cues can be employed to re-purpose and manipulate numerous biological processes. Examining the responses of cells to highly artificial physical cues, that are unlikely to exist in vivo, reveal novel cellular behaviours. These responses to physical cues are not simply a side-product of biology but are key components of evolutionary biological and physical feedback loops that govern the life of a cell.

Andrew E. Pelling is an associate professor cross-appointed in the Departments of Physics and Biology at the University of Ottawa. Currently, Andrew is a Raine Medical Research Foundation Visiting Professor at the University of Western Australia. He was named a Canada Research Chair in 2008, received an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement Award in 2009 and an Ontario Early Researcher in 2010. In 2013, Andrew was also elected a member of the Global Young Academy. Andrew completed his undergraduate studies at University of Toronto (1997-2001), his PhD under the supervision of James K. Gimzewski at the University of California, Los Angeles (2001-2005) and his post-doctoral research as a Senior Research Fellow at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London with Michael A. Horton (2005-2008). Andrew leads the Pelling Lab for Biophysical Manipulation, which is an exploratory space dedicated to understanding the limits of living systems. The lab is composed of a diverse group of scientists open to the possibilities that occur at the interface between disciplines. They are generally interested in understanding how living cells can be controlled, manipulated and re-purposed using non-genetic and non-pharmacological approaches. By pushing these systems to highly artificial limits the lab has discovered an astonishing ability of cells to adapt and respond to unusual stimuli. This work has led to a deeper understanding of the role physical cues play in governing fundamental cell biophysics, stem cell fate, cancer cell biology and muscular diseases. Andrew’s work is highly collaborative and exploratory and is always open to new directions and ideas.

Somatic Drifts: Tactility, Illusion and Affect in Live Art and Crossovers with Neuroscience Research in Chronic Pain

Date: 28 November 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Cat Jones

Somatic Drifts, is a full body sensory experience for one person at a time. This new work in development by Cat Jones, investigates the potential for a participant to experience the body of other entities through physical re-association facilitated by touch and visual feedback. In Somatic Drifts, Cat combines sensory experience with deep visualisation to explore difference, trans-human and inter-species empathy and identity transgression. How far can we drift outside of the sense of self? What can this drift enable us to change?

Cat Jones will present documentation of this work in progress and observations of audience sensory, perception and affective responses. She will discuss points of interest arising from her recent ANAT Synapse residencies and research to date at UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology and UniSA Sansom Institute of Health Research, Body in Mind, into the use of body illusions in the neuroscience research on mechanisms and treatment of chronic pain.

Cat Jones is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, writer, curator and all round creatrix. She works with concepts of sexual and gender politics, human and inter-species empathy through language, social construct, anthropomorphism, and science. With a performance practice spanning 25 years Cat is particularly interested in audience psychology for immersive, interactive and participatory works.
Cat was Artistic Director/CEO, PACT centre for emerging artists 2009-2012, Co-director Eletrofringe, international festival of media arts and culture 2006-2007 and Chairperson of its inaugural Board 2008-2010. Cat was awarded a Creative Australia Fellowship in 2012 to research botanic science, social practice, history, literature and art. Recent performance credits in 2013 and 2014 include Plantarum: Empathic Limb Clinic at Proximity Festival, PICA WA, Evolution: A Walk [with Herbivores] at WIRED Open Day, Muttama NSW, Somatic Drifts, Adhocracy Vitalstatistix, SA, and Anatomy’s Confection, Proximity Festival, FAC, WA. In 2015 she will continue her ANAT Synapse research in neuroscience and research the creation of bespoke scents for augmented reality performance at the Institute of Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles.
Upcoming Seminars:

5 December Kynan Tan

12 December Audrey Bester