2016 Seminars

Bees, Beds, and Incubators - Oh My!

Date: 18 November 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Mike Bianco

SymbioticA PhD candidate Mike Bianco will give a presentation briefly introducing himself, his work with bees prior to his arrival at UWA, and his most recent work and research which has taken place over the past year. Bianco will focus primarily on his recent projects featured in both PICA's Radical Ecologies and the Kenpoku Art Festival.

Mike Bianco is an artist, curator, researcher, activist,cook, and beekeeper.

Bianco’s practice is invested in issues of politics, sustainability, community activism, energy decline, interspecies issues, and the impending “century of crisis.” Bianco’s work has been exhibited in numerous international venues, most recently at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, in Western Australia, and at the Kenpoku Art Festival in Ibaraki, Japan.

Bianco received his BA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Alfred University (2004), an MA in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts (2007), an MFA in Art & Design from the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan (2015), and is currently a PhD candidate working in the labs of SymbioticA and CIBER at the University of Western Australia.

Evolution of Regulatory Landscapes

Date: 28 October 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: José Luis Gómez-Skarmeta

Temporal and evolutionary dynamic of gene expression is critical for tissue formation during animal development and has been essential for morphological diversification along evolution. This depends on cis-regulatory information located at the non-coding DNA. What is the dynamic of this regulatory information along development and evolution and how this information is organized in the genome? Here I will show how epigenomic information can be used to reveal the evolutionary history of the 3D chromatin architecture of critical genomic locus.

José Luis Gómez-Skarmeta has 26 years experience in the field of developmental biology. His areas of expertise are Developmental Biology and Evolution, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Functional Genomics and Epigenomics. In recent years he has pioneered the combination of recently developed molecular and developmental techniques to study the contribution of cis-regulatory elements and chromatin structure to development, evolution and human diseases.

José has published 101 papers during his research career (see: These include one Cell, one Nature, three Nature Genetics, one Nature Cell Biology, one Developmental Cell, one Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, two Nature Communications, ten Genome Research, five PNAS, two Current Biology, two PLoS Genetics and one Cell Report papers.

Public talk with GUO Cheng Chronus Art Centre Shanghai

Date: 7 October 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: GUO Cheng

This talk has two sections. GUO Cheng will first give an introduction of Chronus Art Centre (CAC), which is China’s first non-profit art organization dedicated to the presentation, research, creation and scholarship of media art. By introducing its exhibitions, residency-oriented fellowships, lectures and workshop programs and archiving and publishing initiatives, the talk will reveals how CAC creates a multifaceted and vibrant platform for the discourse, production and dissemination of media art in a global context.

Secondly, GUO Cheng will talk about his own practice through several previous and ongoing projects which includes “mouth factory”, a critical design project that puts comment on the topic of Human enhancement, and “evolving towards handicap” a speculative project in collaboration with Naturalis Biodiversity Centre (Leiden) for BADaward 2016.

GUO Cheng is an artist whose work mainly focuses on exploring interrelationships between mainstream/emerging technologies and individuals under the context of social life, culture and ethics using speculation as a way to create narrative within alternative/future scenarios through installation, objects and video. Guo obtained his BE from Tongji University, Shanghai, and MA from Royal College of Art, London. He is currently based in Shanghai, serves as Executive Director at Chronus Art Centre and Visiting Lecturer at College of Design and Innovation (Tongji University).

OF BORDERS AND BODIES: The very physical effects of the global borders and passports regime and poetry as a very physical form of resistance.

Date: 23 Sept 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Antoine Cassar

A generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, physical barriers between nation states are going up faster than they are coming down. By attempting to keep danger out, governments create a more dangerous world for people forced to migrate. But borders also exist within states, in the form of bureaucracy and discrimination; according to migration academic Joanna Tsoni (Univ. of Malmö), refugees navigating their way through Europe unwittingly carry the border on their skin. How can poetry - often seen as vapid, abstract and self-serving - resist and overcome the very physical effects of nation-state borders? In this talk, we'll explore how voice, rhythm and metaphor can help to break through the barriers of fear.

Antoine Cassar is a Maltese poet, translator, cultural organiser, and a creative activist for migrants’ rights and universal freedom of movement. His iconic work ‘Passport’, published in the form of an anti-passport for all peoples and all landscapes, has been published in 10 languages, and adapted for the stage in Malta, Italy, France, Belgium and Australia. Proceeds from the sale of the ‘Passport’ are donated to grassroots organisations that provide direct support to refugees in the community.  

Memes, Shitposting and Lalangue

Date: 16 September 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Dr Francis Russell, Curtin University.

Much recent critical media theory has centred on the affective dimension of digital media platforms such as social networking sites. Rather than discussing our use of digital media as a disembodying encounter that renders us passive, contemporary media theorists have been able to outline the embodied and affective dimension of our encounters with platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Far from being disembodied, such encounters see the tethering of our emotional comportment to the quantifiable scales of likes, shares, and comments. Rather than being cold and virtual, social media provides us with a mode of enjoyment that is connected to different magnitudes of circulation. Given that such enjoyment is underpinned by the neoliberal privileging of the calculable and optimisable, such media theorists often speak of hegemonic “cognitive” or “immaterial” capitalism that traps subjects in circuits of enjoyment. In this talk, I will look towards memes as a site for both illustrating and challenging such a conception of our connection to digital media. More specifically, I will look to the “dank meme” and the phenomena of “shitposting” in order to explore the possibility for social media platforms to function as critical sites.

Francis Russell is a sessional academic at Curtin University where he teaches visual culture and cultural studies. He has published texts in Deleuze Studies, Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, and for a host of non-academic publications. His current research investigates the relationship between ambient aesthetics and the discourses that surround global warming and eco-crisis. He writes a blog on WA art here:

An Anthropological Journey Through Cellular Life

Date: 26 August 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Christine Beaudoin

Christine Beudoin will discuss her year-long research project which looks into the relationship between humans and lab-grown cells, as maintained by scientific methodology and harnessed by both biohacking and artistic practices. Her hands-on explorations have included mammalian tissue culture experiments at the Pelling Lab and at SymbioticA, together with engaging physarum polycephalum (slime mould) and fungal cultures at the Chooi Lab. The methodology chosen to investigate beyond-the-human life and relationships within the framework of anthropology will be discussed, bringing the notion of species to be questioned.

Christine Beaudoin is currently a masters’ student in anthropology at the School for Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa. She has been an anthropologist-in-residence at the Pelling Laboratory for Biophysical Manipulation (uOttawa) since July 2015 and is presently undertaking a 3-month residency at SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia. She’s a member of the HumAnimaLab which uses ethnographic methods to study human-animal relationships. She is also involved with a DIYbio group in Ottawa, BioTown.

Wing Threads: Bringing People Together from Art, Aviation and Science for Shorebird Conservation

Date: 12 August 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Amellia Formby, School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia

In April 2016, I started learning to pilot a microlight aircraft with the intention to fly the Australian migratory route of the Red-necked stint from Melbourne to Broome to promote urgent action for shorebird conservation. After witnessing the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds carpeting 80-Mile Beach in Australia’s northwest earlier this year, I have been moved to experience their journey firsthand in the hope that future generations may one day too witness this breathtaking sight. By mimicking the Red-necked stint’s epic feat of endurance, I aim to shape a narrative that will inspire awe and motivate people to become involved in change. I believe a female pilot staging a cross-continental flight in a lightweight aircraft will create a spectacle large enough to capture the attention of a broad international audience outside the scientific and birdwatching communities already engaged with this issue.

Leading up to the flight, I will build this audience through a blog titled ‘Wing Threads’ to share my experiences learning to fly, volunteering in shorebird conservation and creating artwork, as well as highlight current shorebird research, promote artists and exhibitions, and profile women in aviation. Applying my credibility, skills and experience as a qualified zoologist and artist, I aim to collaborate with people from science, aviation and the arts to create a documentary film and organise a group art exhibition to raise vital funds for shorebird conservation groups. In pursuit of this goal, I have begun to mobilise a wide network of professional contacts from across Australia and the UK for promotional and logistical support.

After I successfully perform this flight, I intend to pursue my ultimate goal of flying a microlight the length of the EAAF from Australia to Siberia to complete the Red-necked stint’s journey.

About the speaker:

Amellia Formby is a qualified zoologist and artist from West Gippsland, Victoria and currently live and work in Perth, Western Australia.

Before pursuing a career as a zoologist, Formby completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Monash University in 2003, majoring in tapestry. This led to a career as a professional tapestry weaver at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in South Melbourne where she worked for over 7 years. During her time at the ATW, Formby collaborated with some of Australia’s best known artists, including John Wolseley, Ben McKeown, Rona Green, Trevor Nicholls, Song Ling and John Cattapan to name a few. In 2008, she began the journey to pursue her dream of working with animals and completed a Bachelor of Science – Zoology in 2011 at The University of Melbourne, and later completed a Masters degree in 2014 researching the behavioural ecology of Black swans.

Formby began to draw again at the end of 2013 and now blends her passion for both art and science as a zoological illustrator and artist. Australian birds are the major source of inspiration for her work and is also inspired by the long tradition of natural history illustration, museum collections and our interactions as humans with the natural world. Formby views art as a highly effective tool for communicating the importance of conservation by drawing attention to the beauty of the natural world around us, featuring Australia’s unique fauna.

Shorebirds in particular are Formby's passion. In her spare time, she volunteers for Birdlife WA as the Shorebirds 2020 Coordinator for south-west WA, running shorebird information workshops, identification training sessions and organising surveys over the summer and winter months. She also regularly participates in fieldwork with the Victorian and Australasian Wader Studies Groups cannon-netting shorebirds to band and flag individuals to obtain data on age, breeding status and migration patterns for conservation management.

Uncovering the Hidden Treasures in Fungi: Cornucopia of Drugs, Toxins and Agrochemicals

Date: 5 Aug 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Dr Yit Heng Chooi, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Western Australia

Fungi are an important part of the nutrient cycle in the Earth ecosystem and they play important roles in many aspects of human life. In agriculture, they are a major cause for yield loss in crop due to diseases. Some fungi are also known to cause devastating diseases in human especially in immunocompromised individuals. At the same time, fungi have been used for thousands of years in the production of food and beverage. The bioactive small molecules produced by fungi (aka secondary metabolites) have been the source of medicines, including important clinical drugs, such as the antibiotic penicillin, the cholesterol-lowering statins and the immunosuppressive cyclosporine. On the other hand, some fungal secondary metabolites are mycotoxins that are harmful to humans, while some have been implicated as the virulence factors that enable fungi to cause disease in plants and animal, including human.

The surge of microbial genomic information in recent years revealed that fungi encode for secondary metabolite biosynthetic potential that far surpasses the chemical diversity that we have previously appreciated. This not only presents immense opportunities for genome-based discovery of novel chemical entities but at the same time highlight our lack of understanding of the roles of secondary metabolites in fungal biology and ecology. A core part of the research in our lab is thus focusing on establishing the link between genes and secondary metabolites and understanding the biosynthetic mechanism using various molecular genetic, biochemistry and synthetic biology tools. Besides fueling bioactive molecule discovery, many unique biosynthetic enzymes have been discovered in various fungal secondary metabolite pathways. Some of these have the potential to be developed into useful biocatalysts for chemical synthesis.

Our work also deals with the biological aspects of secondary metabolism in fungi, in particular through establishing the genotype-to-chemotype link, we seek to uncover the role of secondary metabolites in host-pathogen interactions by integrating functional genomics (transcriptomics and metabolomics) and chemical ecology.

Dr Yit Heng Chooi (PhD, Applied Biology and Biotechnology) worked as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Los Angeles, USA with Professor Yi Tang (2009-2013), focusing on the molecular genetic and biochemical basis of secondary metabolite biosynthesis in fungi. He moved to the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University in 2013 after winning a prestigious ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). In 2015, he joined the faculty at The University of Western Australia and took up a lectureship in the School of Chemistry & Biochemistry. His current research is focusing on the secondary metabolism of fungal pathogens and understanding its roles in plant and animal disease development. His work spans the field of genomics, genetics, molecular biology, synthetic biology, biochemistry and natural product chemistry.

YouTube: Life on Both Sides of the Lens

Date: 29 July 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Kiana Jones (Freakmo)

Kiana Jones will discuss the realities of earning a living on YouTube, the funny moments, the stress, and the never-ending pressure to get more views while managing severe anxiety and balancing a life away from social media. In the age of 24-hour information, it is an eternal battle to stay relevant and protect what is yours.

Working under the name Freakmo, local artist Kiana Jones (WA) runs one of Australia's most popular special effects makeup YouTube channels. With nearly 350,000 subscribers and more than 60 million views, her work is world renowned. She is sought by feature filmmakers, makeup schools, and art galleries alike. Jones’s work consists of fantasy photos and video portraits, developed through hours of labour intensive makeup sessions.

On Being a Microbioartist: Art-making in a Microbiology Laboratory

Date: 24 June 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Tarsh Bates

I discuss the challenging nature of making art with microbial pathogens in an era of global epidemics and fears of bioterrorism and present a series of artworks that explore the physical, emotional and political relationships between humans and Candida albicans (an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans). These relationships span immunology and epidemiology, sexuality (both human and microbial), public health and body discipline, institutional frameworks and the biopolitical implications of the recent revolution in our understanding of the human body as being at least half non-human. In addition to the challenges of working with pathogens, the rapid simplification of genetic engineering technologies (eg the Bento Lab, “an easy-to-use, laptop-sized DNA analysis laboratory”) and increasing commodification of human microbes (eg fecal transplantation) raises complex questions about whether these organisms have ethical standing: are they living or merely machines? I ask the audience to consider the perspective of the microbe, of the pathogen, as a creature that is more-than-human, through a series of artworks developed in a microbiological laboratory.

Tarsh Bates completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours from Murdoch University in 2000 and studied contemporary art at Edith Cowan University between 2003 and 2005. In 2012, she became Master Bates* after living in a public art gallery for 3 months with eight other scientific model organisms, exploring the aesthetics of care and alterity. She has worked variously as a pizza delivery driver, a fruit and vegetable stacker, a toilet paper packer, a researcher in compost science and waste management, a honeybee ejaculator, an art gallery invigilator, a raspberry picker, a lecturer/tutor in art/science, art history, gender & technology, and counter realism, an editor, a bookkeeper, a car detailer, and a life drawing model. Tarsh is currently a PhD candidate at SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia, where her research is concerned with the aesthetics of interspecies relationships and the human as a multispecies ecology. She is particularly enamoured with Candida albicans.

Photovoice: Giving Voice to Refugee Settlement

Date: 10 June 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Associate Professor Farida Fozdar, The University of Western Australia

Refugees are an over researched population. Often research into refugee issues silences the very voices it is attempting to assist.  This paper shares the results of a research project that sought to give voice to refugee participants through allowing them to represent their own settlement experiences through the taking photographs. It considers the pros and cons of the method and some surprising effects.

Farida Fozdar is Associate Professor in Anthropology and Sociology, at The University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on race relations and migrant settlement, racism, citizenship, nationalism and postnationalism, and issues to do with refugees and asylum seekers. She has published widely including 3 books, 15 book chapters and more than 45 journal articles, as well as authoring reports to government and research consultancies.

Dream States - Explorations of Nature and Marine Microbiology in the Remote Icelandic North

Date: 27 May 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speakers: Steven Aaron Hughes and Dimity Magnus

Steven Aaron Hughes and Dimity Magnus, two artists from Perth, were selected as Artists in Residence in Skagastrond, Iceland in November 2015. Their research involved collaborating with Marine Biotechnologists BioPol, who conduct research in the Arctic North Sea. During their stay the pair documented their experiences into a series of short films that look into the nature and culture of remote Iceland from a foreign perspective, looking into the research of Biopol and the natural wonders of the region including Glacial Lagoons and Volcanic Geothermal Hotspots. Steven and Dimity will share selections of their films and discuss living and working in the remote north of Iceland and how it affected their work, research and perceptions of nature and reality.

Steven Aaron Hughes is a practitioner in synchronistic digital technologies in sound and visual mediums, incorporating performance, installation and composition in exploring the facets of sensory perception working in an array of fields in the realms of entertainment, information and environmental activism. In 2011 Hughes founded his own video production company Blue Forest Media and has since worked as a visual artist on dramatic film and music video productions collaborating with high profile national and international artists, in addition to writing for and performing in musical acts including ‘Injured Ninja’ and ‘Usurper of Modern Medicine.’

Artists Steven has collaborated with include ORLAN, Stelarc, Chicks on Speed and The Venus Project. His recent works include feature documentary ‘Frackman: The Movie,’ (2015) and the Perth International Arts Festival 2016 opening event ‘HOME.’ Hughes’ current work ’Exoterica’ is a projection mapping installation that investigates the forms of nature and their relation to structure of the human body.

Dimity Magnus is a physical artist. Her practices include a wide array of practical effects, Mixed media art, Construction and performance. She is the founder of: Dr Sketchy’s Anti Art School Perth Branch of the worldwide Alternative Arts Event Community. Dimtronstudios Performance, Events and Festival Installation Builds Company. Art for Reef, an artist run campaign to gain awareness for the Great Barrier Reef. Gaining support from Artists such as Toby Bell and Ian de Souza.Monkey Collective, a collective for designers and as a launch pad for future theatre performances. Monkey Collective builds a fan base through regular Immersive Cinema events at Luna Leederville.

Previous works have taken her to studios through Australia, UK and US on projects including: The London Olympics Mascots- Studio (UK), Not by Bread Alone- theatre (U.S), The Luwow - Club (AUS), The Boy who kicked pigs - Theatre (UK), Cedric and Hope - Film (AUS), Hydrapoesis - Theatre Group (AUS). And commissioned for Installations by: Scitech Discovery Centre, Fairbridge Folk Festival, Nameless Festival, Beaufort Street Festival, Joondalup Festival and FringeWorld. Dimity now dedicates her time to developing works that voice her views on nature, consciousness and how we percieve reality. Her latest works include illustration series Reality Passed as well as writing and performing in musical act She Leaves the Mountain.

Trace Elements: Notes on Notes from the Arctic

Date: Friday 20 May 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Devon Ward

Tucked away in a research station North of the Arctic Circle, Devon Ward spent a wintry month at the Ars Bioarctica residency in Kilpisjärvi, Finland. During this time, he researched a phenomena known as Arctic Haze—the accumulation of air pollutants that collect during the Polar night and, at the onset of spring, manifest as a haze across the sky. With the aim of reframing Arctic Haze as a hyperobject and an unconscious trace of human industrial activity, Ward collected weather data and investigated potentials for translating these haze patterns into bodily sensations. This talk will recount a few key moments from the residency and present a few preliminary ideas.

Devon Ward is an artist and designer investigating how information and biotechnologies intervene in living bodies, materials and processes in order to explore notions of place, scale and the posthuman. His work takes the form of multimedia installations that include video, sound, print and sculpture. Ward earned a Master of Biological Arts from SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia in 2014 and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Florida in 2010. Ward teaches within the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at UWA and at the School of Design and Art at Curtin University.

Public Talk With Friction Arts

Date: May 6 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speakers: Lee Griffiths and Sandra Hall

Lee Griffiths and Sandra Hall (Friction Arts) have been making contemporary context-responsive artworks and projects for over 25 years, in the UK and Internationally. These artworks have included performances, interventions, installations films, publications and large-scale site-specific events – among other things. They have worked in places such as inner-city Johannesburg, favelas in Brazil, neighbourhoods in a number of US states, across Europe and in their home town of Birmingham, UK. All their work has the common themes of border-crossing, connecting people, social justice and working with those others find hard to reach, they work in cross-disciplinary practice and partner and collaborate with other artists and experts in all kinds of fields. Sandra and Lee are delighted to be joining Symbiotica for what promises to be a lively and interesting discussion.

Altered Identities in Hybrid Bodies

Date: 22 April 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: John A Douglas

John A Douglas will be presenting current findings of his ongoing creative research development and practice that investigates the alteration of identity and sense of self as a renal transplant recipient. Using the seminal essay “L’Intrus” by Jean Luc Nancy, Douglas will attempt to navigate through the difficult and complex terrain of the transplant experience with emphasis on his altered immune signature  which is the focus of his current residency at Symbiotica Lab.

John A Douglas is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice investigates through scientific and collaborative, immersive performance approaches, his ongoing experience of chronic illness and treatment. He offers a unique and personal perspective as both artist & patient that intersects with biomedical science, clinical treatment and his own human and emotional experience as a renal patient.  In 2014,while recovering from renal transplant surgery, he put together a team of local and international artists and was awarded a Creative Australia Development grant by the Australia Council. He commenced an ongoing residency at Symbiotica Lab investigating the effects of anti-rejection drugs on his body and has established a research partnership with Ingrid Bachmann at Concordia University in Montreal. He was further awarded a an Australia Council New Work production grant in December 2015 and will be presenting a series of exhibitions from mid 2016. The project, titled  Circles of Fire, will be presented iteratively over the next two years, and adds a third body of work to the trilogy exploring his lived experience as a renal patient.

Non-hylomorphic Bodies: Phantom Limb Experience, Immersive Virtual Reality and Gilbert Simondon

Date: 29 April 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Speaker: Tom Keating
Location: SymbioticA

How do contemporary media technologies force us to redefine what we take to count as a human body? Social scientists and artists have reflected frequently on media technologies as a way of staging the various problems with modes of thought that take the human body to be a bounded locus of action and agency. These reflections include various posthumanisms, which have done much to highlight the contingent role of nonhuman technologies in the production of the human body. In such work, media technologies are variously utilised to develop a ‘genuine’ posthumanism that overcomes the distinction between human and nonhuman bodies (Morton 2013), or are discussed more critically in terms of the tendency to theorise media technologies as tools that enhance human life rather than opening thought up to life beyond the human (Colebrook 2012). In the context of these debates, this paper draws upon Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of individuation to develop a non-hylomorphic theory of the body: as a metastable system of human and nonhuman (technological) individuation rather than a bounded organic substance. As non-hylomorphic, the human body is not so much a consolidated material container of life – where life is defined in terms of organismic renewal – but a system of individuation that defines life in terms of its potentialised incompatibility. The paper ends by considering recent research that uses immersive virtual reality technology as a way to reduce phantom limb pain (Pettifer et al., 2012), so as to stage some of the problems and promises of a non-hylomorphic theory of the body for generating a counter-humanising mode of thought.


Tom Keating is a Human Geography PhD Student at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol. He is currently in residence at Perth Centre For Photography.

You Are My Future: FMTs, Gut Reactions and Other Love Stories

Date: 15 April 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Kathy High

You Are My Future: FMTs, gut reactions and other love stories explores auto-immune systems as autopoietic, capable of maintaining themselves, looking at research in blood, fecal microbial transplants and gut biomes to better understand the important function of bacteria in our bodies. This project looks at the metaphor of interspecies love, immunology and bacteria as players. As a patient with Crohn’s disease, my knowledge in autoimmune disorders and the body’s ecology is first hand. You Are My Future expands ideas around imbalances of internal biomes as a mirror to the imbalances in our larger ecological sphere, where the gut is a “hackable space.” This holistic view will allow for dialog between ecologists, biologists, activists and artists to catalyze the imaginary around the abject. “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man.” - Patti Smith

Kathy High (USA) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator working with time based arts and biology. In the early 1980’s her graduate studies at University of Buffalo were with media pioneers Hollis Frampton, Steina Vasulka and Tony Conrad. She produces sculptures, videos, performances, installations about gender and technology, empathy, animal sentience. She is a scholar of history of video technologies, video systems and art. In recent years she has been working with living systems, animals and art, considering the social, political and ethical dilemmas of biotechnology and surrounding industries. She has received awards including Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts. Her art works have been shown at documenta 13 and NGBK (Germany), Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and Exit Art (NYC), Science Gallery, (Dublin), Fesitval Transitio_MX (Mexico), MASS MoCA (North Adams), among others. She has had artist residencies with SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia (2009 and 2010), and in Hong Kong with the Asian Arts Council (2005), as well the Finnish Society of Bioart, Field Notes/Deep Time/Journey to the Post-Anthropognic at the northern Kilpsjarvi Biological Research Station (2013). High is Professor of Video and New Media in the Department of the Arts, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY - a department specializing in integrated experimental arts practices.

Art, Science and Ethics: A Few Clarifications and More than a Few Complications

Date: 8 April 2016
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Pernille Leth-Espensen

This public seminar (the title of which is inspired by Bruno Latour) will discuss the relationship between art, science and ethics in the art-science field. Artworks in the art-science field employ scientific tools and many artists are also preoccupied with ethical questions. Does that entail that the boundaries between art, science and ethics are completely dissolved? Are the artworks interesting from a scientific perspective, and do they have to be? If the boundaries are dissolved does art then loose its autonomy and critical potential?
In order to discuss these questions this talk will first look at how the relation between art, science and ethics has developed through history. From Ancient Greece up to the end of the eighteenth century, the boundaries between art, technology, science, and ethics were less pronounced than they are today. However, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science and technology, ethics, and art became polarized into separate domains. The past hundred years, however, there have been various attempts to liberate art from its autonomous position and make it part of life praxis, and the relation between art and politics and between art and ethics has thus been a hot topic in art theoretical discussions. This debate becomes even more pertinent when discussing art and science projects, because art is not only related to politics and ethics, but also to science. With the aid of the philosopher Jacques Rancière, this presentation will argue that the artworks in the art-science field are both autonomous and heteronomous. Most of the artworks occupy a paradoxical position where they are both involved in science, but at the same time from an autonomous position, and this paradox is one of the reasons why the artworks are so interesting.

Pernille Leth-Espensen is a postdoc fellow in Art History at The School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University in Denmark. Pernille was a resident at SymbioticA in 2010, as a part of her PhD project, and in 2015 and 2016 as a part of her postdoc. She is funded by a Mads Øvlisen postdoctoral fellowship in art & bio- and natural sciences/technology from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Denmark.

Public Talk with Marika Hellman: Biofilia - Base for Biological Arts

Date:18 March 2016
Time: 3:00pm-4:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Marika Hellman

Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts is a learning and research environment at the intersection of art, life sciences and technology. It offers a platform and infrastructure for trans-disciplinary research and education that aim at creating cultural discussion and innovation around the topics related to the manipulation of life and biological processes at a practical and theoretical level, including philosophical and ethical dimensions. Biofilia was launched in 2012 in close collaboration with SymbioticA.

Aalto Biofilia is unique in the world as it is the only fully equipped biological lab that is operated by an art school and based in an electrical engineering building. It offers un-paralleld research capacity for the growing field of biological art. The lab is equipped for hands-on research and creative experimentation and it provides the basic tools for molecular biology, tissue culture and engineering and microbiology.

This talk will concentrate presenting activities and opportunities of Biofilia and presenting some of the work done there or in collaboration in the past years.

Marika Hellman is currently working in Bioart laboratory Biofilia at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Finland as a laboratory manager. She graduated from Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology in the field of Applied Microbiology and she has been working several years in Biofilia and earlier mainly in research groups but also in industry.