Further information

Curated by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr

Presented by SymbioticA: the Art and Science Collaborative Research Laboratory in association with the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery as a part of the Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth 2004.

12 September – 3 October 2004.


BioDifference: The Political Ecology Exhibition explored biological art with ideas concerning relationships with living systems and the interconnectivity of the different levels of life.

From a pin-ball competition between humans and micro-organisms and the movements of rolling robotic fish bowls, to the anti-aesthetic of breeding plants and fungi grown into textile stains.

It brought together an array of critical and activist voices and discourses engaged with ecosystems to single DNA strands.

  1. Hans Arkeveld (Australia) - Untitled
  2. Jennifer Willet and Jason Knight (Canada) - Bioteknica
  3. Georg Dietzler (Germany) - Oyster-mushrooms eating up hazardous waste sculptural experiments
  4. Donna Franklin (Australia) - Fibre Reactive
  5. George Gessert (USA) - Family (1) and Family (2)
  6. Marta de Menezes (Portugal) - The Extended and Nuclear Family
  7. Ken Rinaldo (USA) - Augmented Fish Reality
  8. Philip Ross (USA) - Junior
  9. SubRosa - Cell track-mapping the appropriation of life materials
  10. Jun Takita (Japan/France)
  11. Polona Tratnik (Slovenia) - Private Microbes
  12. Paul Vanouse (Jamaica/USA) - The relative velocity inscription device
  13. Cynthia J Versapaget (Australia) - Anarchy Cell Line
  14. Stephen Wilson (USA) - Protozoa Games

Hans Arkeveld, Australia

Hans Arkeveld has collaborated with scientists on projects including embryological cell development drawings; mammary gland ultrasound drawings; laproscopic historectomy drawings; micro slides and fossil reconstruction.

He is one of Western Australia's leading artists and has been Artist in resident in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at UWA for more than 30 years.

The trials of growing living materials on moulds of latex, casien, algimate, bone dust and osteoblast cells and the trials of growing in a confined space are explored.

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Jennifer Willet and Jason Knight, Canada


Jason Knight is a practising artist working with digital print media, video and installation. His research explores notions of authority, control structures, media and international biotech and pharmaceutical policies. 

Jennifer Willet explores notions of self and subjectivity in relation to biomedical, bioinformatic, and digital technologies with an emphasis on social and political criticism. She exhibits, lectures and publishes, across Canada and internationally.

Bioteknica is a fictitious corporation which explores notions of reproduction and self/other distinctions in relation to evolving biotechnologies. The project is supported by SymbioticA and The School of Anatomy and Human Biology, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec Programme Québec Multimédia Jeunesse, Hexagram Institut Canada Council for the Arts, Banff Center for the Arts and Articule Artist Run Centre.

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Georg Dietzler, Germany,  in collaboration with Gary Cass, Australia

Oyster-mushrooms eating up hazardous waste sculptural experiments

Georg Dietzler is a culturally and politically engaged artist and curator who engages in socio-political environmental art and produces ecological future-visions as redevelopment schemes among art and sciences amongst other activities. This project is a collaboration with Gary Cass of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science, UWA.

A living still life, where flushes of growing cycles of oyster-mushrooms decompose a stack of information. Environments and short-term interventions in public peripheral zones for contaminated industrial sites – experimental sculptural methods between art and science.

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Donna Franklin, Australia

Fibre Reactive

Donna Franklin's artistic practice delves into spaces of the pseudo-environment and relationships between the body and cloth. She is active in performance and costume design and worked closely with Gary Cass as artist in residence at SymbioticA for more than a year.

Techniques of ancient and new technologies merge to stain a living garment grown over the course of the exhibition.

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George Gessert, USA

Family (1) and Family (2)

George Gessert's work focuses on the overlap of art and genetics and has been exhibited widely, including at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, at Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, France, and at the Science Museum in London. He has been editor for art and biology for Leonardo magazine.

The overlap of aesthetics and genetics is explored through breeding plants. 

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Marta de Menezes, Portugal

The Extended and Nuclear Family

Marta de Menezes has been working in research laboratories for a number of years. She has been an artist-in-residence at SymbioticA and has worked at the Structural Biology Department, University of Oxford.

De Menezes' work was last seen in Perth at BioFeel at PICA as a part of BEAP2002. Supported by Dr Miguel Santos, STAB-Vida and sponsored by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento; Ministério da Cultura / Instituto das Artes, Portugal.

Genetic similarities and differences of species are painted through DNA microarrays. 

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Ken Rinaldo, USA

Augmented Fish Reality

Ken Rinaldo creates interactive multimedia installations that blur the boundaries between the organic and inorganic. Augmented Fish Reality was awarded the Distinction from Ars Electronica Austria in 2004 and he was the recipient of first prize for Avida 3.0 Spain Rinaldo last exhibited in Perth in BEAP2002.

An interactive installation of three rolling robotic fish-bowl sculptures designed to explore interspecies and transpecies communication. These sculptures allow Siamese Fighting Fish to use intelligent hardware and software to move their robotic bowls – under their control.

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Philip Ross, USA


Philip Ross manipulates, nurtures and transforms a variety of living species into sculptures that are at once highly crafted and naturally formed, skilfully manipulated and sloppily organic. In 2001, Ross was artist-in-residence at the San Francisco's The Exploratorium.

His writing featured in the spring 2004 issue of Leonardo.

Nature observed through the lens of human artifice through hydroponically grown plants in custom blown glass forms. 

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Cell track-mapping the appropriation of life materials

SubRosa (Faith Wilding; Hyla Willis and Lucia Sommer) is a cyberfeminist collective of cultural producers combining art, activism and politics. SubRosa has performed and lectured widely in the USA, and in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and Singapore and published SubRosa book Domain Errors! Cyberfeminist Practices. (NY: Autonomedia, 2003). Sponsored by the Creative Capital Foundation, New York, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.

A pilot project that investigates notions of the global dispersal, patenting and privatisation of human and animal stem cells used in reproductive and therapeutic biotechnologies.

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Jun Takita, Japan/France

Jun Takita draws inspiration from the visual concepts of traditional garden – highlighting human attitudes toward confronting contemporary reality.

He worked with the National Agriculture Research Institute (France) and the Information Unit for Life Sciences at the University of Nagoya (Japan) to realise his sculpture.

Humans' impossible desire to possess light is explored in the unrealised sculpture of a luminous brain.

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Polona Tratnik, Slovenia

Private Microbes

Polona Tratnik studied painting and sculpture and has edited and published a book Spaces/Places of Art, and co-edited the main Slovenian art magazine, Art Words, and its sub-magazine, Horizons.

A collaboration with Dr Metka Krasna and supported by The Community of Ljubljana and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.

Micro organisms that live unseen in our bodies are explored and displayed in body casts as objects of value. 

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Paul Vanouse, Jamaica/USA

The relative velocity inscription device

Paul Vanouse's work explores peculiar intersections of 'big-science' and popular culture - addressing complex issues raised by varied new technologies through these very technologies. Funded by New York State Council on the Arts and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

Today's genomics compared with twentieth-century eugenics through a live scientific experiment in which the artist literally races skin colour genes from his Jamaican-American family against one another.

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Cynthia J Versapaget, Australia

Anarchy Cell Line

Cynthia J Verspaget's work has encompassed notions and issues of ownership of space be it bodily or locatative. Verspaget developed this work as artist in residence at SymbioticA.

Funded by ArtsWA, LotteryWest and BEAPWORKS; sponsored by Crown Scientific and assisted by Dr Stuart Hodgetts, Steve Parkinson, Jason White, Dr Luis Filgueria and Henrietta Lacks.

A biological cell line that acts as a dialogue on issues surrounding bio-commerce, ownership of the body, gender and race.

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Stephen Wilson, USA

Protozoa Games

Stephen Wilson is a San Francisco author, artist and professor who explores the cultural implications of emerging technologies such as biosensors, GPS, and artificial intelligence. He has published numerous articles and books including the latest, Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science and Technology (MIT Press, 2002).

Interactive installation that allows humans and live protozoa to compete in a pinball-like environment mediated by digital microscope and motion tracking technologies.

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