Crossing Kingdoms

Crossing Kingdoms

Ionat Zurr, Oron Catts, Tarsh BatesElise Cachat, Jane CalvertAlistair ElfickSusan Rosser & Erika Szymanski

Lewis Thomas said of cell fusion: “it is the most unbiologic of all phenomena, violating the most fundamental myths of the last century, for it denies the importance of specificity, integrity, and separateness in living things”(1).

Cross-kingdom fusion raises ontological, ethical and poetic questions: how do multi-kingdom cell fusions challenge our categories and understandings of life? Where do they belong within both biological and cultural realms? How does their existence impact the environment and society?

In this interdisciplinary collaboration between artists (SymbioticA, University of Western Australia), scientists and social scientists (SynthSys, University of Edinburgh), we propose to create yeast-mammalian cell fusions, while exploring such questions through art.

We are engineering these fusion hybrids and observing their formation as they assemble into a new cell type. The work-in-progress was presented as an art exhibition at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in April 2018.

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