LASER Talks QLD-NSW: The Art & Science of Synthetic Biology | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

LASER Talks QLD-NSW: The Art & Science of Synthetic Biology

Join us for an evening of discussion on the art and science of Synthetic Biology with internationally acclaimed biological artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr (co-founders of SymbioticA, the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at UWA), and Jestin George, designer-in-residence for the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology and co-founder and editor of SYNTHESIS, Australia’s first synbio-meets-design magazine.

The Art & Scence of Synthetic Biology

With Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, and Jestin George.

>> 5pm (AEST), Thursday September 27th,
>> Institute of Modern Art, 420 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane QLD.

This event is part of the LASER QLD/NSW series. Leonardo Art-Science Evening Rendez-Vous, run under the auspices of Leonardo journal, pair artists and scientists for evening talks on subjects of shared concern. The LASER QLD/NSW series is the first of its kind in Australia, co-hosted by Elizabeth Stephens (UQ) and Grayson Cooke (SCU).

This free event will be followed by a reception. Tickets are free, at the link above or via the IMA website, but registrations are essential for space and catering purposes.

Speakers and Talks

Oron Catts is  co-founder and Director of SymbioticA: The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Together with Ionat Zurr he founded the Tissue Culture & Art Project in 1996. Catts was a Professor at Large in Contestable Design at the Royal College for the Arts UK, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University and a Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki. Catts curated thirteen exhibitions, published/co-edited four books, published more than eighty book chapters and journal articles. His work featured in exhibitions in venues such MoMA NY, Centre Pompidou, Mori art Museum, Science Gallery London and Dublin, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Ars Electronica, National Art Museum of China, and more.

Metabolic Rift Technologies: In the name of sustainability, many ventures propose systems that remove natural elements from the process of production. Synthetic biology solutions are presented as having less (or no) impact on the environment. We call these approaches Metabolic Rift Technologies. Metabolic rift technologies call for separation from nature following a similar mindset that leads digital tech companies to promote the cloud and the Metaverse as a nature free sites for human activities and habitation, obscuring their environmental costs and footprints. This talk will explore and unpack Metabolic Rift Technologies, while highlighting the urgent need to culturally scrutinise Prometheanism with its extractive approaches that considers Earth as a resource for human needs and wants where human innovation and technology will solve environmental problems.

Dr. Ionat Zurr is an artist and academic. She holds a cross position as the Head of the Fine Arts Discipline at the School of Design and SymbioticA, the School of Human Sciences, at the University of Western Australia. Ionat exhibited and published in the area of Biological Arts and beyond in places such as GoMA Brisbane and MoMA NYC.

Ionat will look at how developments in biotechnology, Synthetic Biology and Biological Arts, brought about special environments that have been designed, constructed and curated to care for living and semi-living entities for the production and display of products, processes and artefacts/biofacts. These environments are places of care and control. Ionat will discuss the presentation of artistic and scientific artificial wombs and their feminised labour.

Dr Jestin George is an interdisciplinary researcher working across synthetic biology, biodesign, and design futuring. She is a co-founder and editor of SYNTHESIS, Australia’s first synbio-meets-design magazine and currently works as a designer-in-residence for the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology.

Jestin will be talking about synthetic biology – a sector that depends heavily on automation – and her work guiding scientists through some of the sociotechnical considerations of this ‘futuristic’ and emerging technology in the Australian context.


The Leonardo/ISAST LASERs are a program of international gatherings that bring artists, scientists, humanists and technologists together for informal presentations, performances and conversations with the wider public. The mission of the LASERs is to encourage contribution to the cultural environment of a region by fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and opportunities for community building to over 40 cities around the world. To learn more about how our LASER Hosts and to visit a LASER near you please visit our website. @lasertalks

NOTE: the iCal calendar entries below are incorrect, they are not in Australian time.

September 27th, 2022 5:00 PM through  7:00 PM
The IMA, 420 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley
Brisbane, QLD 4006