SymbioticA

2020 Seminars

Sleeping with the Fishmen: Reimagining the Anthropocene through Oceanic Chthonic Couplings

Date: 14 Feb 2020
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speakers: Prema Arasu and Drew Thornton

This Valentine’s Day, seek “love and deeper understanding” through mythology, pop culture and ecocriticism.

Prema Arasu and Drew Thornton dive into the world of fish-human hybrids, exploring romantic and sexual couplings of the monstrous and the human in fantasy and myth.

From The Little Mermaid (1837) and Shadow over Innsmouth (1931) to The Shape of Water (2017), fantasy’s engagement with myth makes it a powerful force in constructing stories about what it means to be human, animal, or monster. In these texts the world of the human butts up against forces that are primeval, diluvian and Chthonic. But could these fishy intimacies function as a metaphor to articulate a new relationship with nature?

In this presentation and discussion session, examine what present-day myths express about our identity and ask the question: why are fish-men so damn sexy?

Prema Arasu is an emerging writer and PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Western Australia. Their research is practice-led with a focus on gender in fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction. They hold a BA (Hons) in English and Cultural Studies from UWA and an MLitt in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture from the University of St. Andrews.

Drew Thornton is a monster enthusiast and artist/researcher, and has just graduated with SymbioticA's MBiolA. Drew's project explores conceptualisations of non-human consciousness through a cooperative sci-fi arcade game—played by humans and houseflies—on an original game console equipped with a "virtual reality" display for the fly player.


DNA Zoo - Tracking Genomes in Space for Fast, Inexpensive, and Accurate Chromosome Length Scaffold Assemblies

Date: 7 February 2020
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Parwinder Kaur

Over a quarter of all assessed species are threatened with extinction. The DNA Zoo consortium, a not-for-profit organisation incorporated in Houston, TX, USA, with sister labs in UWA, Australia and ShanghaiTech University, China focused on facilitating conservation efforts through the rapid generation and release of high-quality genomics resources. We believe that these efforts can not only aid threatened nonhuman populations, but will enhance our understanding of life, its varieties, and its origins, and will greatly facilitate our understanding of our own species – Homo sapiens.

A global network is being created with >58 collaborating partners across 8 countries for comprehensive worldwide sampling of biological diversity with the participation of geographically localised communities dedicated to this cause. DNA Zoo collaborations between academic labs and zoos across the world will facilitate comprehensive sampling of global biodiversity, including the vulnerable and threatened species across the 'tree of life'.

Parwinder Kaur is a Genetics and Biotechnology expert at UWA and the Director of DNA Zoo Australia. She leads an innovative translational genomics research program, spearheading the use of novel CRISPR platform, single-cell, 3D genomics combined with AI and machine learning, and transforming fundamental science into solutions across agriculture and medicine. With DNA Zoo, she is on a mission to facilitate conservation efforts for Australia’s threatened and endangered species through genomic empowerment.