anatomy; selfhood; dissection; posthumanism

Dr. Oron Catts

Dr. Michal Gavish

Dr. François-Joseph LaPointe

Dr. Jill Scott

Renetta Sitoy

Andrew Watts


1) AURAL ROOTS [sound environment] audio art composition by Andrew Watts, 2018. Based on sounds heard by the uterus, from the project AURALROOTS by Jill Scott.

Hearing is the first sense to develop in an embryo, as the Stereocilia are fully developed by the 10-week stage. For Aural Roots, sounds from scientific recordings using contact microphones inside the womb were mixed with filtered sounds from outside the body to construct a unique composition. The research and interactive development of the project-Auralroots was inspired by a residency SymbioticA University of Western Australia and at the Auditory Laboratory at the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, with Professor Don Robertson and Dr. Helmy Mulders. AURALROOTS sheds light on the physiology, morphology and function of human hearing.

2) THE SLEEP single channel video with sound by Renetta Sitoy, 6:40, 2018. Music: Ex Silentio by Andrew Watts, 2015.

Although science and technology provide a false sense of control of the world we inhabit, the earth is a living, breathing creature, marked by both quietude and violence. The Sleep explores the human ego as it ultimately submits to the whims and mutability of nature.

3) PULLDOWN (2:15), DOTPLOT (2:27) by Michal Gavish. Music by Dr. Onn Brandman.

Michal Gavish created Dotplot and Pulldown, two animation videos based on imagery from Professor Onn Brandman’s laboratory at the biology department in Stanford University. The videos are construct of layered imagery of microscopy, X ray models and electrophoresis of proteins and DNA. With an original soundtrack composed by Brandman, she creates moving portraits of the minute molecules that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

4) MICROBIAL ATTRACTION/REPULSION video by Dr. François-Joseph Lapointe, 2018. Based on relational performance 1000 Handshakes, 2014—. Music by Dr. Onn Brandman.

Microbial attraction/repulsion presents the relationships among bacteria collected from Dr. Lapointe’s skin microbiome after shaking hands with 1001 persons. Like stellar objects floating in space, different strains of bacteria come and go to form clusters of microbes with similar properties. This bacterial network is continuously evolving as his microbial identity is constantly changing in relation with the people he meets. Lapointe’s professional research, which is directly informed by his performance art salutations, contributes to the ongoing ‘genome revolution’. Most of our bodies is not human, but microbial: 50% of our bodies’ cells are not human, nor are 90% of the genes on our body…

5) [CROSS-KINGDOM CELL FUSION] video by Dr. Oron Catts, in collaboration with Ionat Zurr, Tarsh Bates, and SynthSys (University of Edinburgh), 2018. Music: A Dialogue in Absentia by Andrew Watts, 14:43, 2016.

This video documents ongoing research attempts to achieve the first ever cross-kingdom cell fusion in an in vitro setting between a yeast cell and a human cell. The team pursues ‘artifical endosymbiogenesis’; by opening membranes of mammalian and yeast cells in a micro-fluidic system, the cells can fuse and hopefully replicate. The project was presented at the Edinburgh Internaional Science Festival (March-April, 2018) and will be presented at the Western Australia Art Gallery in September. Poetic coincidence exists in the Scottish location of the research—the fictional Victor Frankenstein created his notorious monster two centuries ago on the Orkney Islands.

6) SOMABOOK video by Jill Scott, 6:44, 2018. Based on excerpts from a Neural Development and Media Art collaboration between Jill Scott and The Institute of Molecular Life Sciences, University of Zurich.

Today life is created and manipulated in vivo, in vitro and in ovo. This project focuses on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the establishment of neuronal circuits. The artwork, Somabook is about the complexity and wonder of the development of neuronal circuits in the human body. The sculpture itself is based on a scaled-up model of our own neural tube or spinal cord and through interaction; the viewers can discover how the network for incoming sensory perception and outgoing motor coordination has been developed. As can be shown in ovo and in vitro, before we are born, thousands of molecules work with proteins to guide our axons to grow from this central neural system into the correlating locations so that we can feel, smell, taste, hear, see and move normally. This embryonic development is best studied inside fertilized chicken eggs, using what is called “an open book” method of dissection and there it can be shown that inappropriate connections and influences not only result in loss of functions, causing various problems in growth patterns, movement and coordination, but also distortions of perception. Here the viewers can touch science, in order to learn more about the life of molecular and neural research in a novel way.

7) WHAT IT MEANS TO BE POST HUMAN audio art composition by Andrew Watts, 10:01, 2017-8.

The works presented here address an individual's communicative transformation, moving along a gradient from the performer channeling their expressivity through the medium of his or her instrument to utilizing inherent musicality through fragmented speech. For instance, What is means to be post human (2017-18) takes the physical concept of the human as acoustical body for machines to resonante in (first outlined in A Dialogue, In Absentia) and re-imagines it in a futuristic, hive-mind scenario. A Dialogue uses implanted bluetooth speakers to playback sounds through each trombone, having the performer actively modify the sound through mouthshapes and slide movements. For post human, rather than a dialogue between two forces, a hocket is the primary compositional structure, whereby the audio (this time played back into each singer's mouth through a headset) is a singularity among the group. The text-to-speech procedure used before now is virtuosically allocated to the different singers. Together the two works seek to explore how technology can utilize the human body as an acoustical space, with live performers modifying the playback environment while philosophizing on the most profound tenets of humanism.