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.
We welcome artists, researchers, students and scholars from all disciplines, to work alone or in interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary research teams, exploring innovative directions for new technologies and the effects they might have on society.
SymbioticA is the first research laboratory of its kind, enabling artists to engage in “wet biology”, with access to scientific laboratories and staff in a university biological science department.
Catts and Assistant Professor Ionat Zurr from the Tissue Culture and Art Project, had been working as artists/researchers in residence in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology and the Lions Eye Institute since 1996. Their shared vision for a permanent space for artists to engage with science in various capacities led to the creation of the artists’ studio/lab within the school.
The school's corridors are lined with art and scientific images and sculptor and painter Hans Arkeveld, has been working with the department for the past three decades. However, it was not until Catts and Zurr began using the tools of scientific research to produce their art work that the potential of a space such as SymbioticA was realised.
SymbioticA fosters interdisciplinary research and other knowledge and concept-generating activities and in doing so, has developed a new means of artistic inquiry.
Artists actively use the tools and technologies of science not just to comment about them, but also to explore their possibilities. Researchers pursue curiosity-based explorations, free of the demands and constraints associated with the current culture of scientific research, whilst still complying with regulations.
In 2008, SymbioticA became the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, and in 2010 was named as a Research Centre within UWA.
In 2007, SymbioticA was awarded the inaugural Golden Nica for Hybrid Arts in the Prix Ars Electronica, an international award recognising SymbioticA as an organisation that epitomises a space that transgresses boundaries and disciplines and describing it as an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences.