culture &
art project

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr

est. 1996
Perth, Western Australia

Established in 1996 by Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr, the Tissue, Culture & Art (TC&A) Project is a pioneering collaboration that explores how tissue engineering can be used as a medium for artistic expression. For over twenty years the TC&A Project has developed artworks, curated exhibitions, written essays and created performances, throughout the world, that focus on the impact of tissue engineering on society. Their projects have dealt with lab-grown food, tissue cultured clothing, semi-living sculptures and the changing relationship between humans and nonhumans.

The artwork of the TC&A Project have been exhibited and collected by institutions such as Ars Electronica; GoMA; MoMA, NY; Mori Art Museum; National Art Museum of China; NGV; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and more. Their work has been covered by the NY Times, Washington Post, Wired, New Scientist, Time, Newsweek and other TV, Radio, print and online media.

In 2000, Catts & Zurr were instrumental in establishing SymbioticA, an art school and artistic research centre housed within the School of Human Sciences at The University of Western Australia. SymbioticA advises Masters and PhD candidates who focus on biological arts and it also offers research residencies for artists, designers and other researchers. It is consider the first art-science laboratory of its kind.

While the TC&A Project is considered a pioneering collaboration in the field biological art collaboration, the impact of Catts & Zurr’s work extends beyond the confines of art and is often cited as inspiration in diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction and food.

Through their research about the impact of tissue engineering on society, the TC&A Project conceived of the term semi-living to describe a new category of life that originated in the lab. The semi-living are cells and tissues that are isolated from organisms and coerced to grow in predetermined shapes. While the semi-living possess some of the characteristics of life, they require numerous laboratory technologies and human intervention in order to survive. These evocative creations are a tangible examples that bring into question deep rooted perceptions of life and identity, concepts of self, and the position of the human in regard to other living beings and the environment. The primary aim of the TC&A Project is to explore the philosophical, cultural and ethical implications of the semi-living and the contestable futures scenarios they offer us.

Oron Catts

SymbioticA, Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts

Professor at Large in Contestable Design
The Royal College of Arts, London

Oron Catts @UWA-ResearchRepository
Oron Catts @Academia

Oron Catts is an artist, designer, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the TC&A Project is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA. Under Catts’ leadership, SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007), the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction, Royal College of Arts, London. In 2012-2013 he set up a biological art lab called Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, where he was a Visiting Professor.

Catts’ primary interest is Life, specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in the light of new knowledge and it applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists (mainly Dr. Ionat Zurr) and scientists, Catts have developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulation of evolving concepts of life.

Dr. Ionat Zurr

Associate Professor of Fine Art,
The School of Design, The University of Western Australia

Ionat Zurr @UWA-ResearchRepository
Ionat Zurr @Academia

Ionat Zurr is an artist, researcher and curator who co-developed the TC&A Project. Zurr is considered a leader in the growing field of biological art, both as a practitioner and a theoretician. Her research was instrumental to the development of SymbioticA in 2000.

Zurr was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School. In 2012-2013 she set up a biological art lab called Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, where she was a Visiting Professor.

Zurr’s presented her research in forms of exhibitions, workshops and public talks in numerous places around the world. Her work is in the collection of the MoMA NY. Zurr ongoing research involves art and beyond; in diverse areas such as new materials, textile, soft robotics, bioethics, food and fiction.

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