body/art/bioethics Kira O’Reilly inthewrongplaceness

A symposium exploring the culture and ethics of the use and ownership of living material, from the cell to the whole body, in art, science, law and philosophy.

The body is increasingly being transformed into commodity and media, put on display, fragmented, manipulated, preserved and rearranged. Scientists, artists, lawyers, historians and social scientists will come together to trace the radical shifts in our understanding of the body - and life itself - and investigate how these emergent realities influence our notion of being human while simultaneously challenging the relationship to the ‘Other’ that is living or semi-living.

Symposium Details
Date: 6 August 2010
Location: William Lambden Owen Room, Moot Court, Law Building
The University of Western Australia (View Map)
Registration: $110 (including GST) registration. Students and unwaged free
Refreshments included. Download Registration Form
More Information: e-mail: | telephone: + 61 8 6488 7116

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List of Speakers
Tarsh Bates | Artist
Lyn Beazley | Chief Scientist of Western Australia
Ethan Blue | Historian
Oron Catts | SymbioticA Director
Elizabeth Costello | Writer
Kathy High | Artist
Stuart Hodgetts | Scientist
Darren Jorgensen | Art Theorist
David Khang | Artist
Luigi Palombi | Lawyer
Ionat Zurr | Tissue Culture and Art Project

Verena Kaminiarz may the mice bite me if it is not true

The notion as well as the practical use of the “body” is increasingly changing and transforming in the light of new knowledge and new technological capabilities. The body is no longer perceived strictly as a unified whole let alone as solely human and bodies and parts of bodies are being traded and manipulated as part of the global economy. “New” bodies are being formed and assembled; from the cellular body; the chimeric body; the transgenic body – to the extent of creating “new kinds of bodies”, technological and synthetic - as hinted at by the case of Synthia – the first cell with a so called artificial genome.
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Discussions will include

These perspectives explore the current phenomenon in which life (consisting of varied, diverse and contested bodies) is increasingly treated as malleable raw material to be engineered. At the same time, new and recurring mindsets regarding what a body is and in what ways and by whom it can be put into use, compete for consensus. This transformation should be observed and debated critically; especially in relation to the objectification and instrumentalism of life and the transformation of its different gradients into currency. However this same transformation can create a niche for fresh perceptions of life in which a more post-anthropocentric view of life can flourish.

The Body/Art/Bioethics symposium aspires to explore, from multidisciplinary perspectives, the emerging ethical perplexes and understandings of scientific and artistic uses of bodies as media. Discussions will investigate and problematise the social, legal, philosophical, and aesthetic issues that arise from the concept of a “Body”.

Speaker Bio

Welcome Address
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Lyn Beazley
Chief Scientist of Western Australia
Professor Lyn Beazley was appointed Chief Scientist of Western Australia in 2006 and was re-appointed in 2007 by the current Western Australian government. She is also Professor in Zoology at The University of Western Australia, where her research career has spanned 30 years. She graduated first from Oxford University and then undertook her doctorate at Edinburgh University. Lyn transferred to Perth in 1976 and built up an internationally renowned research team that focused on recovery from brain damage. Her research also changed clinical practice in the treatment of infants at risk from pre-term delivery.

Lyn has served on numerous peak bodies advising State and Federal Governments such as the NH&MRC Fellowships Committee (2006-2009). She is currently a board member of Neurosciences Australia. Internationally she has served on a panel assessing research performance for the Swedish Research Council and is a member of the Education Committee of the International Brain Research Organisation. She was a Trustee of the Western Australian Museum from 1999 until 2007. Lyn was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia in January 2009. She became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in November 2009.


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Catharine Waldby
University of Sydney & King’s College London
Please note, due to the unpredictable body, Keynote speaker Catharine Waldby has caught the flu, and is unable to speak at the Body/Art/Bioethics symposium.

Dr Luigi Palombi
Australian National University
Read law between 1977 and 1981 and economics between 1982 and 1985 at the University of Adelaide. He practiced law in Australia between 1982 and 1997, specialising in patent law and biotechnology. He led the Australian litigation team that challenged the validity of a patent which claimed isolated hepatitis C virus nucleotides and polypeptides as inventions. Having led several international patent litigation teams involving litigation in the United States as well as in the UK and Europe (including the European Patent Office), between 1997 and 2001 he advised various organisations around the world with regard to human health, biotechnology and gene related patents. Between 2001 and 2004 he undertook his PhD candidature (The Patenting of Biological Materials in the Context of TRIPS) at the University of New South Wales. After he was awarded his doctorate in 2005, he consulted to Minter Ellison, Australia’s largest law firm, in biotechnology patents. Since 2006 he has headed the Genetic Sequence Right Project at the Australian National University and in 2007 he and Prof Peter Drahos, his colleague at the Regulatory Institutions Network at the ANU, were awarded a three year Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant entitled The Sustainable Use of Australia’s Biodiversity: Transfer of Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property. He has delivered invited papers and lectures in patent law at international legal conferences and meetings. He has written on various aspects of patent law and gene patents and Edward Elgar (London, New York) and Scribe (Melbourne) have recently published his first book, Gene Cartels: Biotech Patents in the Age of Free Trade, simultaneously in hardback and paperback.

Elizabeth Costello
is a renowned Australian author. She is the author of The House on Eccles Street (1969) and other novels such as The Fiery Furnace, To the Friendly Isles, Tango with Mr Dunbar, The Roots of Time, and Mannerly. She regularly presents on the lives of animals.

Elizabeth Costello performed by Caroline McKenzie.
With thanks to Tony Bonney and Mel Cantwell from the Perth Theatre Company


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Darren Jorgensen
The University of Western Australia
Darren lectures in art history in the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts. He largely publishes on science fiction, Aboriginal art and critical theory.

Ionat Zurr
The University of Western Australia
Award winning artist and researcher, Ionat Zurr formed, with Oron Catts, the internationally renowned Tissue Culture and Art Project. She has been an artist in residence in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology since 1996 and was central to the establishment of SymbioticA in 2000. Ionat, who received her PhD, titled "Growing Semi-Living Art" in 2009, is a core researcher and academic co-ordinator at SymbioticA. She is considered a pioneer in the field of biological arts and her work has been exhibited locally and

Kathy High
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
KATHY HIGH is a visual/media artist working in the intersections of art and biology. She produces videos and installations posing queer and feminist questions into areas of medicine/bio-science, science fiction, and animal/interspecies collaborations. Her art works have been screened in galleries and museums nationally and internationally, and she has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.
High is an Associate Professor of Video and new Media at the Department of Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, a department specializing in integrated electronic arts practices. She teaches digital video production, contemporary media art history and theory and has been working in the area of documentary and experimental film, video and new media for over twenty years. In the last ten years she has become interested in working with living systems, animals and biology and art. She was a founding member of the BioArt Initiative at RPI <Http://> and is currently an artist resident at SymbioticA.

Stuart Hodgetts
The University of Western Australia
Stuart is currently a Research Assistant Professor at the Eileen Bond Spinal Research Centre in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology. He has extensive knowledge and expertise in cell based transplantation therapies and has been devoted to this area of research for over 10 years. He has considerable expertise in spinal cord injury and a strong interest in the application of stem cell based transplantation therapies as well as immune modulation of the host response to improve donor cell survival in treatments for spinal cord repair. Previously, he worked at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, USA (93-96). In 1998 he began transplantation research as a potential treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy until 2004 when he changed fields to apply his expertise in the repair of spinal cord following injury. He has published 18 peer reviewed papers in high ranking journals and 2 book chapters. He began a long-standing collaboration with SymbioticA around 1998 and has been involved in projects such as “Lifeboat” with Riksutstillinger, SymbioticA, & Sonic Objects, Oslo, Norway (2004), as well as being Scientific Consultant & Adviser to SymbioticA (1998-present). He also lectures in undergraduate courses and supervises many students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and his service to the UWA community includes Chair of the Animal Users Committee, Director of Tissue Culture Facilities at ANHB, Treasurer of the UWA Research Staff Association, Executive Committee Member (ANHB), as well as other committees.

Ethan Blue
The University of Western Australia
Ethan is an Assistant Professor of History and received a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. His research focuses on the creation and contest of social inequality across political economic formations, with particular interests in the histories of racism, state violence, and punishment. He is also an award-winning teacher.

Tarsh Bates
Tarsh Bates has a background in biotechnology and environmental science, graduating with honours in 2000. She has also conducted studies in contemporary art, majoring in sculpture and performance, exhibiting both locally and internationally. She has worked variously as a pizza delivery driver, a fruit&  veg stacker, a toilet paper packer, a researcher in compost science and waste management and in honeybee reproduction, an art gallery invigilator, a bookkeeper, a car detailer, and a life drawing model. She is tutors and lectures in art/science, digital identities and art history.
Tarsh is currently undertaking SymbioticA's Master of Science (Biological Art).  She is interested in feminism, autobiography, and the body as material and as a site of intervention, exploring issues of gender and sexuality in relation to corporeality. Her artistic research is concerned with the reproductive Cyborg: the aestheticisation of the reproductive body, our capacity for alternative possibilities for creation and reproduction, an interspecies aesthetics of care, and the ambiguities of reproductivity in a biotechnological era. She has previously explored these concepts through textiles, sculpture, performance and glasswork. She is particularly interested in modes of communication from the nexus of art and biology. Her research/practice is influenced by artists Frida Kahlo, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois and Patricia Piccinini and by cultural theorists Donna Haraway, Elizabeth Grosz and Luce Irigaray.

David Khang
David Khang is a Vancouver-based artist whose practice is informed by multiple educational trajectories. Through the use of languages, prosthetics, and site-specific histories, Khang explores the poetics and politics of global relations. After receiving his BSc (Psychology & Physiology) and DDS (University of Toronto, 1991), Khang received his BFA from Emily Carr Institute (2000), and MFA with Emphasis in Critical Theory at the University of California, Irvine (2004). Khang is an Adjunct Faculty at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Vancouver) and Goddard College (Vermont). He has exhibited and performed nationally and internationally. Khang is a 2007 recipient of the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art (NYC).   David is currently a SymbioticA artist in residence and is funded by The Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council.

Oron Catts
The University of Western Australia
Oron is an artist, researcher and curator whose work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project has won numerous international awards. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, an artistic research laboratory housed within the Anatomy and Human Biology department at The University of Western Australia. Under Oron’s leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the 2007 Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art and became a Centre for Excellence in Biological Art in 2008. In April 2009 Oron (together with Ionat Zurr) was recognised by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of its top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work.” His work is included in the New York MoMA design collection and has been exhibited and presented locally and internationally. He has published 13 book chapters and numerous articles.

Symposium Image Details

Verena Kaminiarz may the mice bite me if it is not true
Verena Kaminiarz
may the mice bite me if it is not true
Original Photograph: Bo Wang

Kaminiarz graduated from a Master of Biological Arts at SymbioticA in 2008. Her project focused on mice used in science to model human diseases. The work consists of four mice positioned as living portraits of people who have died from conditions that these mice were developed to model. The resulting mouse portraits were of: Franz Kafka (tuberculosis), Joseph Beuys (natural causes), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (compromised immune system) and Gilles Deleuze (lung cancer). The work re-contextualized laboratory animals, relocating them into a field of cultural and philosophical study.

body/art/bioethics Kira O’Reilly inthewrongplaceness
Kira O’Reilly
Photographer: Axel Heise

O’Reilly was a SymbioticA resident in 2003/2004. A part of her research involved culturing skin tissue taken from a pig being used for bioscientific research. O’Reilly has since performed a number of performance works for one person at a time, inwhich her body is juxtaposed and interacts with the corpse of a female pig; exploring the complicitness, responsibility and connection with the other animal.

Symposium Postcards and Poster Graphic Design by Paul Rayment.

Initial Research by Cat Hogan

Symposium convened by Jane Coakley, Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts

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