The scientific knowledge of life expands at an enormous rate, and with it the public discussion of its implications. Stem cell research, bionics, genetic modifications—these topics transcend science and leave laboratories, enter culture and politics, and challenge our fundamental understanding of what it means to live and be human. The influence is mutual: politics and culture influence the science, whether directly via legislation and funding, or indirectly via public discourse and education. How can artists meaningfully engage in this enormously…
Oron Catts’s interest is life; more specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in light of new knowledge and its applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists (mainly Dr. Ionat Zurr) and scientists, Catts has developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulation of evolving concepts of life.
In the more than two decades since Catts began his artistic work with living systems, the mindsets governing these topics have changed significantly. It can be argued that artistic practices, which involve the use of scientific and technological tools for the manipulation of life, have played a role in these changing mindsets. The discourse generated by placing manipulated life forms within cultural context has yielded a range of unanticipated outcomes and conversations.
This talk will unpack the role played by different cultural institutions (such as art/science/natural history museums), research settings, cultural workers (artists, curators, and critics), popular media, and industry in their dealings with biotechnological artifacts. Catts will also discuss the existence of biotechnological artifacts within a timeline and scale of global scientific, technological, economic, and cultural narratives and endeavors.
About Oron Catts
Oron Catts is an artist, researcher, designer, and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project (established in 1996) is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, a biological art research center at The University of Western Australia.
Under Catts’s leadership, SymbioticA has gone on to win the inaugural Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007), the WA Premier Science Award (2008), and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008.
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