Dr. Ionat Zurr is an artist and a researcher exploring the cultural implications of life manipulation. She led the research and development of Futile Labor, which was funded by the Discovery Research Award of the Australian Research Council 2011-2014. Through hands on research, Futile Labor explores the actuation of muscle tissue for artistic purposes (rather than biomedical research and/or protein production which are secondary concerns). Her pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project—which she established in 1996—is considered a leading biological art project.
Dr. Zurr is a Lecturer and the Academic Coordinator of SymbioticA in The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia. In 2005, Zurr developed SymbioticA’s postgraduate program which offers the internationally unique course titled Master of Science (Biological Arts), which is still ongoing.
In 2013 Ionat completed a six month secondment where she—together with Catts—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. Ionat was a fellow in Techne Institute, University of buffalo (2014), the InStem Institute, NCBS, Bangalore (2010) and a visiting scholar at The Experimental Art Centre, Stanford University (2007) and The Tissue Engineering & Organ Fabrication Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School (2000-2001). She exhibited in places such as the MoMA NY, Mori Museum Tokyo, Ars Electronica, Linz, GOMA Brisbane and more.
Chris Salter is Concordia University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses, Co-Director of the Hexagram network, Director of the Hexagram Concordia Centre for Research and Creation in Media Art and Technology and Associate Professor, Computation Arts in the Department of Design and Computation Art at Concordia University, Montreal. Salter studied economics and philosophy at Emory University and received his Ph.D. in theater directing and criticism with a second concentration in computer-generated sound at Stanford University where he worked with former Brecht assistant Carl Weber as well as pioneers of digital synthesis John Chowning, Max Matthews and Chris Chafe at the Center for Research in Computer Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He was visiting professor in music, graduate studies and digital media at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) before joining Concordia University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 2005. He was also Guest Professor at the KhM in Cologne in 2010 and Guest Faculty at the Masters program in Media Arts History. Institute für Bildwissenschaften. Donau University. Krems, Austria. October 2011. He was appointed Director of Hexagram-Concordia in 2011.
His artistic and research interests revolve around the development and production of real time, computationally-augmented responsive performance environments fusing space, sound, image, architectural material and sensor-based technologies. Such projects range from small and large scale, public driven installations where the line between spectators and performers is blurred to traditional performance environments with trained performers that are augmented with computational and media systems.
After collaborating with Peter Sellars and William Forsythe/Ballett Frankfurt, he co-founded the art and research organization Sponge, whose works have stretched between the arenas of performance, installation, scientific research and publications and have toured internationally to festivals, exhibitions and venues. His artistic research with Sponge as well as solo projects has been seen at major international exhibitions and presentation venues in over a dozen countries including the Venice Architecture Biennale (Venice), National Art Museum of China (Beijing), Laboral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industriel (Gijon, Spain), Vitra Design Museum (Germany), Ars Electronica (Linz), CTM (Berlin), Villette Numerique (Paris), Todays Art (the Hague), Meta.Morf (Norway), Mois Multi (Quebec), Transmediale (Berlin), EXIT Festival (Maison des Arts, Creteil-Paris), Place des Arts (Montréal), Venice Biennale, Elektra (Montréal), Shanghai Dance Festival (Shanghai), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), the Banff Center (Banff), Dance Theater Workshop (New York), V2 (Rotterdam), SIGGRAPH 2001 (New Orleans), Mediaterra (Athens) and the Exploratorium (San Francisco), among others.
Salter’s work have been written about in the New York Times, We Make Money Not Art, Design Boom, ID Magazine, The Wire, Leonardo and Decouvrir and received major grants from SSHRC, FQRSC, Hexagram, CINQ, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Daniel Langlois Foundation, the Creative Work Fund/San Francisco and the LEF Foundation, among others. He is a regular presenter at national and international conferences, has given invited talks at universities and festivals worldwide and has sat on numerous juries including NIME, ISEA and the Prix Ars Electronica.
In addition to his artistic work, Dr. Salter is the author of numerous publications in the areas of technology and performance, real time responsive environments, mobile real time media and cultural politics. His book Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance was published by MIT Press in 2010 and his new book Alien Agency: Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making, will be published by MIT Press in March 2015.
Oron Catts is an artist, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia. 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.
In 2009 Catts was recognised by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”.
Catts interest is Life; more 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.
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. He recently 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’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.
Devon Ward is an interdiscplinary artist and designer investigating how information and biotechnologies intervene on living bodies, materials and processes in order to explore notions of the place, scale and the posthuman. His work takes the form of multimedia videos that include video, sound, print and sculpture.
Working with Dr. Ionat Zurr, as part of her Australian Research Council grant, Ward was involved in the research, design and laboratory experiments required to grow and maintain a 3D tissue-engineered muscle composed of C2C12 myoblasts. Ward designed the final bioreactor, Prototype [0.1.0], for the exhibition of Futile Labor at the John Curtin Gallery. In 2014, Ward received a Master of Biological Arts from SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Florida in 2010. In 2014, he was awarded an American-Australian Grant for Visual Arts. He has exhibited with Design Festa Gallery (JP), Focus Gallery (US), WARPhaus (US), John Curtin Gallery (AU), Paper Mountain Gallery (AU), and the City of Perth’s Light Locker (AU).
Ward teaches Integrated Design at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at The University of Western Australia and a casual lecturer at the School of Design and Art at Curtin University.
Andrew E. Pelling is an associate professor cross-appointed in the Departments of Physics and Biology at the University of Ottawa. He was named a Canada Research Chair in 2008 (renewed in 2013), received an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement Award in 2009, an Ontario Early Researcher Award in 2010 and was elected as a member of the international Global Young Academy in 2013. Andrew also received a Raine Medical Research Foundation Professorship in 2014. Andrew completed his undergraduate studies at University of Toronto, his PhD under the supervision of James K. Gimzewski at the University of California, Los Angeles and his post-doctoral research as a Senior Research Fellow at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London with Michael A. Horton. Andrew leads the Pelling Lab for Biological Physics, which is composed of a diverse group of experimentalists open to the possibilities that occur at the interface between disciplines. The lab is an exploratory space dedicated to understanding the limits of living systems and is generally interested in understanding how living systems can be controlled, manipulated and re-purposed using non-genetic and non-pharmacological approaches. By pushing living systems to artificial limits the lab has discovered surprising behaviours and an astonishing ability of cells to adapt and respond to unusual stimuli.
The Pelling Lab is affiliated with the Department of Physics, Department of Biology, Institute for Science Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. The Lab is also a member of the Fluxmedia Research-Creation Network(Concordia University) and collaborates closely with SymbioticA (University of Western Australia).
The Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Dr. Catherine Sundback is Associate Professor of Surgery and the Director of The Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication at Massachusetts General Hospital with the Harvard Medical School.
The interfaces between human bodies and technology has always been a passion of mine. After receiving a biomedical engineering degree from Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland) I spent several years working as a researcher at the university and at Orton Hospital. The focus of the research was on the use of different types of smart materials to manufacture active implantable medical devices for use in the orthopaedic field.
The research eventually led to the realization of a prototype of an implantable limb lengthening device. In order to develop the device further and to commercialize it I and two of my friends and colleagues established a startup company called Synoste in 2012. Since then we have been pouring our heart and soul into making our dream of more available and patient friendly treatments for skeletal deformity correction a reality.
In the present project I helped with the design of a smart material based actuator that can be used to give mechanical impulses to a cells while they are growing. It has been my pleasure to be able to see some of the very fascinating things created in this project.
Dr. Rubenson works in the Biomechanics Laboratory within the Department of Kinesiology at Penn State, University Park. His aim is to identify the fundamental principles underlying muscle function during locomotion- in particular in vivo function during movement and the relationship between muscle mechanics and locomotor energetics. Dr. Rubenson adopts experimental and modeling approaches in both humans and animal systems, and applies this knowledge to improving human health and performance.
Biofilia – Base for Biological Arts, a biological art unit was launched under the Aalto ARTS in 2012. It offers a platform and infrastructure for trans-disciplinary research and education that aim at creating cultural discussion and innovation around the topics related to the manipulation of life and biological processes at a practical and theoretical level, including philosophical and ethical dimensions.
Aalto Biofilia is unique in the world as it has the only fully equipped biological lab that is operated by an art school and based in an electrical engineering building. It offers unparalled reseach capacity for the growing field of biological art. The programme consist of research projects and a series of courses, lectures and hands-on workshops in the laboratory and natural environments exploring the interfaces between biosciences and art. It provides artists, researchers, students and scholars with the ability to engage with the life sciences and their applications within an artistic and cultural context, thus creating creative and critical links between biosciences, engineering and the arts.
Biofilia laboratory and program was set up during 2011-2013 by a team consisting of professor Helena Sederholm, project manager Ulla Taipale (www.capsula.org.es) and laboratory manager Marika Hellman, in close cooperation with Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts, artists and founders of the SymbioticA – Centre for Excellence for Biological Arts in University of Western Australia. The interiors of the laboratory are designed by Samu Viitanen.
For over 30 years, the research of MG has focussed on factors controlling the damage and repair of skeletal muscle and on potential treatments for muscle diseases such as Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, with a focus on in vivo studies and tissue analyses. Intensive work on cell based therapies (myoblasts and stem cells) developed the Y-chromosome probe for tracking male (donor) nuclei and identified the massive and rapid death of injected donor cells in Myoblast Transfer Therapy. Other projects have investigated stem cell therapies (MG did the first experiments to look for bone-marrow derived muscle stem cells in 1983) and Tissue Engineering. Recent research is focussed on therapies to reduce the severity of muscular dystrophy with a particular interest in IGF-1 and blockade of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFa, in addition to investigating nutrition and metabolism that all have applications to muscular dystrophy and also muscle wasting with ageing.
Miranda graduated from UWA majoring in Zoology and Biochemistry with Honours in Biochemistry and gained a PhD from the University of London in 1978 (on transplantation of muscle cells). From 1980 she was funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia as an independent researcher and Senior Research Fellow and, in 1994, she was appointed to a Professor Chair at UWA.
MG has over 120 research publications and has obtained over $9 million in funding. The achievements of the research group are widely recognized internationally as evidenced by many overseas grants and numerous (over 70) invitations to speak at international and national conferences covering topics ranging from Muscle Regeneration, Cell/Gene and other Therapies for muscle disorders, Cell and Developmental Biology, Cell and Muscle Transplantation, Stem cells, Tissue Engineering, Extracellular Matrix, Translational Medicine and Sports Medicine.
Selected activities include: Executive Director of the Centre for Cell & Molecular Biology at UWA; President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology; Founder of the Tissue Engineering Research Centre at UWA; Co-founder of the Image Acquisition and Analysis Facility – now CELLCentral; Co-ordinator of a new Developmental Biology course and Conferences at UWA; and Co-founder and Director of SymbioticA a unique collaborative Art & Science Studio/laboratory.
Morgan Rauscher is an interactive creative electronics artist, educator, and CEO of Trigger Shark Business and Technology Consulting Ltd. Morgan is currently a doctoral researcher at the Hexagram ‘A-Lab’ and lecturer at Concordia University in the design and computational arts.
Mr. Rauscher’s artwork has shown in Canadian public and private galleries. His work has also been featured internationally at the New York Science Museum, The Fifth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (Portugal), Technarte International Conference on Art & Technology (Spain), and The 4th International Conference on Electronics, Communications and Networks (China). Morgan has been published in Popular Science magazine, Hamilton Arts & Letters magazine, Make magazine, and on the cover of the 2013 Canadian Journal of Integrated Studies.
In addition to art, Morgan has designed and developed an open-source (Arduino based) creative electronics hardware platform for artists, called Mondomatrix that has become a part of electronic art and design projects all around the world.
Morgan is currently working on merging modern machining technology with haptic force-feedback material interaction to facilitate the communication of touch during what he calls ‘Haptic Transference’. His multidisciplinary research addresses a knowledge deficit in haptic machine assisted object modeling in the field of interactive and generative-kinetic robotic sculptural art.
He is using interdisciplinary art production and research-creation methodologies to observe the functional outcomes between ‘machine-made’ and ‘human-made’ sculptural objects in an attempt to design and build robotics that will facilitate the heuristic teaching of touch for sculptural applications.
His current research-creation project is entitled “Teaching Touch: a new heuristic pedagogical tool for electronic ‘Haptic Transference’ in an age of machine assisted material fabrication”.
After a mechanical engineering degree I was determined not to end up in Mining or Air Conditioning design, the two main careers on offer in 1987, so I traveled in Canada and then started a PhD at UWA in the field of Engineering Tribology. It was a disaster because I could never do an experiment I could repeat. But I learned a lot from it and have few regrets. By 1996 I was teaching engineering dynamics, design and manufacturing at UWA in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering. For a few years 2003-2007 I traveled to Japan for about half the time to work as an instrumentation engineer at U. Kanazawa. That was an amazing though odd experience because the design & build work was related to measuring what ski athletes do as they ski down a hill. No kidding. I also worked for a short time at GENG, a Perth design consultancy. All those experiences were tremendous background for what I am now doing: teaching “Senior Design” meaning the capstone design project in Mechanical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. JHU is famous mainly for its great medical faculty and hospital, but the school of engineering is also first rate. I am slightly embarrassed about even appearing among these other, more sincere or involved people, because I think my contribution to the work was not so important. I claim only some design thought and prototypes related to a small bioreactor; and similar contributions to an art exhibition by Guy Ben-Ary and Phil Gamblen.
The Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Olive (BA) is a Research Technologist at The Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication, MGH Harvard Medical School. You can find out more information here.
Research + Design
The School of Sport Science and Health
The University of Western Australia
As part of his third-year honours thesis for a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Sean Pepper designed the initial bioreactor, Prototype [0.0.3], for Futile Labor. His research was completed in 2011 under Dr. Jonas Rubenson at The School for Sport Science, Exercise and Health at The University of Western Australia.
Dr Stuart Hodgetts is currently a Research Associate Professor at the Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory, within the School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia (UWA).
He was awarded his PhD in 1993 (in immunology, cell biology and molecular biology) at the University of Essex and initially conducted postdoctoral research in the field of autoimmunity/immunobiology, including a 2.5 year post at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, USA, working on immunological gene transcription. Dr Hodgetts then spent seven years with the Muscle Research Team at UWA’s School of Anatomy & Human Biology, studying myoblast transfer therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
In 2003, Dr Hodgetts began collaborating with Dr Giles Plant, changing fields to apply his expertise to spinal cord repair. He is particularly interested in the use of adult mesenchymal human bone marrow stromal stem cells (hBMSC) and also the application of immune modulation of the host response to improve donor cell survival in treatments for spinal cord repair. Recent NRP-funded studies in these techniques have resulted in important advances, impressing external reviewers and attracting a further major NRP grant.
With Dr Plant now based at Stanford University (USA), Dr Hodgetts has taken over at the helm of the Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory. He is now adding immuno-modulation techniques to the suite of combinatorial therapies (including hBMSC transplantation) that are known to trigger neuro-regeneration and functional recovery after SCI.
Dr Hodgetts was awarded the inaugural NRP Mid-Career Research Fellowship to support and enable the expansion of his work in SCI during 2011-2013.
Stuart is working closely with artists in his role as the scientific advisor at SymbioticA , School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, the University of Western Australia.