SymbioticA’s Biotech Art Workshop is an intensive workshop dealing with hands on exploration of biological technologies and issues stemming from their use.

Run over four days, the workshop introduces participants to issues, concepts and techniques relating to contemporary art practices dealing with the manipulation of life. The tools of modern biology are demonstrated and performed through artistic engagement, which in turn opens discussion about the broader philosophical and ethical implications into the extent of human intervention with other living things. Emphasis is placed on developing critical thought, ethical issues and cross-disciplinary experimentation in art.

The workshop empowers participants to not only carry out, but to also critique the manipulation of living systems from an informed practical perspective. Practical components include DNA extraction and fingerprinting, genetic engineering, plant and animal tissue culture and basic tissue engineering techniques.

The workshop is led by SymbioticA’s Director Oron Catts and laboratory research scientist Katharine Adcroft from the School of Anatomy and Human Biology, at The University of Western Australia. SymbioticA has run workshops in Perth, Western Australia; London, and Middlesbrough UK; Wollongong, Australia; Bangalore, India; Barcelona, Spain; California, USA; Israel and Canada.

SymbioticA, through its workshops and other activities, provides an opportunity for researchers to pursue curiosity-based explorations free of the demands and constraints associated with the current culture of scientific research while still complying with regulations. SymbioticA also offers a new means of artistic inquiry, one in which artists actively use the tools and technologies of science, not just to comment on them, but also to explore their possibilities.

SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, is a jointly funded initiative between The University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts.


SymbioticA - Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts

SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences. It is the first research laboratory of its kind, in that it enables artists and researchers to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department.

SymbioticA was established in 2000 and is located within the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia (UWA). SymbioticA sets out to provide a situation where interdisciplinary research and other knowledge and concept generating activities can take place. SymbioticA has hosted over fifty residents and along with the workshops and residencies runs academic courses, exhibitions and symposiums.

SymbioticA was awarded the inaugural Golden Nica in Hybrid Arts at Prix Ars Electronica in 2007 and in 2008 became a Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts as a jointly funded initiative between UWA and the Western Australian Government’s Department of Culture and the Arts.