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SymbioticA, The Art and Science Collaborative Research Laboratory

“An artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences”

SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory within the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia. It is dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences. It is the first research laboratory of its kind, in that it enables artists to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department. SymbioticA hosts residents, runs workshops, produces exhibitions and organises symposiums as part of the core activities.

SymbioticA was established to provide a situation where interdisciplinary research and other knowledge and concept generating activities can take place. SymbioticA offers a new means of artistic inquiry, one in which artists actively use the tools and technologies of science - not just to comment about them - but also to explore their possibilities. It also 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 represents an outstanding example of how an artistic research community effectively identifies new fields of engagement towards systemically meaningful art forms.

As a mark of international recognition of its activities SymbioticA was awarded the inaugural Golden Nica for Hybrid Arts in the Prix Ars Electronica. An international jury chose SymbioticA from more than 400 entrants as the organisation that epitomised a space that transgresses boundaries and disciplines, describing it as an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences.

Designed as an evolving place of artistic investigation, SymbioticA welcomes undergraduate and postgraduate students, artists and scholars from all disciplines, to work in interdisplinary research teams exploring innovative directions for new technologies and the effects on society that they might have.

A residency programme opens the School of Anatomy and Human Biology to artists, writers and researchers in interested in exploring the potential of scientific techniques in their work.

SymbioticA runs a Master of Science (Biological Arts) and two undergraduate elective units at The University of Western Australia for students from any discipline and institution. Emphasis is placed on developing critical thought, ethical and cultural issues and cross-disciplinary experimentation in art and science with an access scientific laboratories, techniques and expertise.

Aesthetic Crossovers of Art and Science 252.214/314
A practical and theoretical investigation, through critical engagement of the nexus and differences of the art and science cultures through the use of the technologies of life science/biotechnology as an art-form.

Art and Life Manipulation 252.249/349
An introduction to biological lab practices and techniques within the context of contemporary arts practices dealing with the manipulation of living biological systems.

Master of Science (Biological Arts) 51530
A course designed for art practitioners, scientists and humanities scholars who wish to engage with creative bioresearch. The focus is on recent advances in the life sciences, both in theory and practice. It requires students to take both pre-existing Art and Science units and will consist of an equal content/discourse/methodology from the two disciplines. A true collaborative approach should reflect a rigorous artistic and scientific inquiry. The conflicts and differences that may occur will be fertile ground for further discussions.

The laboratories focus on learning scientific techniques in a meaningful way for both the artist and scientist and using scientific techniques for creative output in order to create a true hybrid unit of Art and Science that is multidisciplinary in nature as well as in title. Students who have previously majored in arts will be required to take science units and science graduates will be required to enrol in art units. Students would then join together in the SymbioticA units.


Two workshops are run by SymbioticA to introduce artists and other interested people to the techniques of and exploring issues stemming from biological technologies.

SymbioticA BioTech Art Workshop
A five day workshop with activities including DNA extraction and fingerprinting, genetic engineering, selective breeding, plant and animal tissue culture and basic tissue engineering techniques.

SymbioticA Tissue Engineering Workshop
This two-day intensive workshop where the basic principals of animal tissue culture and tissue engineering are taught, as well as the history and the different artistic projects using animal-tissue techniques.

SymbioticA- The Art & Science Collaborative Research Laboratory.
School of Anatomy & Human Biology.
University of Western Australia

[email protected]

+61 (0)8 6488 7116

+61 (0)8 6488 1051


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