Crude Matter

Crude Matter

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr

Loosely based on the story of the Golem, which literally means ‘crude’ or ‘unshaped’, Crude Matter explores the potential ‘alchemical’ transformations that occur when a cell’s substrate is manipulated. 

In the story of the Golem, a new life form is created from a raw, inanimate material: mud. The new creature, the Golem, is brutish and simple, but it could be moulded and shaped for different purposes. This seems an apt metaphor for contemporary laboratory techniques which alter cell development by changing its substrate. In lieu of mud, synthetic substrates are the basis of life. Various polymers can cause stem cells to differentiate into various lineages, from blood tissue to bone and fat cells.

Crude Life features cells grown over various substrates and brings attention back to the agency of materials and their influence on the development of life. By drawing attention to the substrate this project seeks to focus on the context of life rather than the code of life; it aims to divert attention from the hegemonic view of DNA as the primary means of altering life.

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