Saturday, March 10, 2007

Catts: response to Artist's Residencies at Symbiotica

From: Oron Catts
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 20:51:28 +0900

Dear people

Sorry for the long delay in posting my response.

As I told you I am currently presenting one of our living installations Victimless Leather as part of the show Free Radicals at the Israeli Centre for Digital Art. Showing something living is somewhat different that visualising it… and requires quite a lot of time tending to it. That said, the tissue seems to grow well and I now have time to finally focus on this very interesting exchange, I would like to comment in a later stage on some of the points raised in session one. But now I will concentrate on Suzan’s request to describe SymbioticA and our residency program.

First, I would urge you to check our website <>

As for the residency program – maybe the best way to introduce it is to take some passages form an introductory document we prepared for potential residents (not currently on the website). If you read between the lines you will most probably realise that we needed to address some issues that were raised in our seven years of hosting artists in biological labs, and our attempts to maintain the type of research culture we developed:

SymbioticA is a unique organisation that has developed many programs, one of which is to provide great opportunities for local, national and international artists to work in a scientific setting. We have regular queries from potential residents every week and this is set to increase given the growing profile of SymbioticA.

Ideally we would like potential residents to visit SymbioticA for a short period to see what facilities are available. The first short visit is intended for artists to refine their project after assessment of the availability of local resources and discussion with scientists and artists in SymbioticA. If this is not possible, please research the web to familiarise yourself with the University.

SymbioticA realises that a Science Faculty may be a foreign environment for most artists. The School of Anatomy and Human Biology has numerous possibilities and potentials for collaboration. We recommend you look at <> and the University of Western Australia site <> to familiarise yourself with the experts you may wish to collaborate with.

A search for special research interests can be done at:

A residency at SymbioticA should be for a period of at least 3 months and can be up to one year in length. Projects can take on a variety of forms; it is important to remember that SymbioticA is a research laboratory and not a production studio. This, however, does not exclude you from developing a finished work as part of your residency. Whilst Directors like the initial project proposal to be researched regarding its feasibility - there is the expectation that the time in SymbioticA may result in the project diverting from its original course.

SymbioticA is a small organization and is able to provide working space, access to resources and other laboratories within UWA, introductions to UWA staff and WA organizations relevant to your project, but much of what you do as resident must be self motivated. While we support your project with as much “in kind” support as we can, SymbioticA cannot subsidise your project in any financial capacity. We request you ensure that you have adequate funds to cover your project and your own living expenses during the residency. For the ongoing funding of laboratory activities, expensive laboratory consumables must have been budgeted for. Please consult with SymbioticA regarding the preparation of your budget for funding bodies.

Every Friday at 3pm SymbioticA has open discussions on various relevant topics around the science, arts and humanities. The forums are open to anyone interested. As a SymbioticA Resident you would be expected to attend as your perspective and participation would be beneficial to other residents and visitors.

There are safety rules that must also be followed within a science department. Information on this is found within the student guide at

Whilst SymbioticA is able to give our support towards applications, this does not automatically mean the University of Western Australia Ethics Committee will grant approval to your project. SymbioticA Directors will guide you in applying for ethics clearance for your project. This must be sought prior to commencing your residency and information about this can be found at:

Human ethics:

Animal ethics:>

SymbioticA aims to foster collaboration and to facilitate unhindered exchange and developments of ideas. We advocate the ethos of Open Source and Creative Commons.

As part of the University of Western Australia, SymbioticA follows the University IP guidelines as found at> . SymbioticA has adopted the Creative Commons ethos of the accumulated knowledge generated in SymbioticA being shared and credited amongst researchers and residents. The copyright on the artwork is retained by the artist; however, there are still some uncertainties in the legal and artistic communities in regard to whether the outcomes of some artistic biological processes can be copyrighted. Projects researched and developed during a residency should acknowledge scientific and artistic collaborators and SymbioticA. As a new resident you will have access to the cumulative knowledge already gathered by SymbioticA researchers. You are expected to contribute to this common knowledge pool by providing an acquittal which includes documentation (of protocols, procedures, lab book), an artistic report on your project, financial summary and any comments about difficulties and suggestions for SymbioticA’s future residents. SymbioticA perceive this as an important aspect of your residency as we are regularly approached by academics, journalists and other artists regarding our programme of activities and this acquittal ensures you are represented in our archive. It also ensures other artists coming into the space become aware of the process other residents go through. We request that the acquittal is received within 3 months of completion of the project.Applications are assessed quarterly by the Directors of SymbioticA. Specialists and appropriate SymbioticA artists in residence are called on should their expertise be required in the assessment. Should you become a Resident you may be called on to assess, in confidence, other applications. There are no deadlines for application but please note that it may take up to three months to process your application. This is in order to ascertain each applicant’s project and feasibility in relation to all the other applicants for this period. In many cases the application will be returned for revision based on the comments of the directors and external advisors.

Send your application including all of the above to email:

Or mail to the address below:
SymbioticA Residency
School of Anatomy and Human Biology
Mailbag M309
The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling HighwayCrawley. Western Australia, 6009.T

he projects are assessed quarterly and are selected based on:
  • Quality of concept
  • Quality of past work· I
  • nnovative nature of the project·
  • SymbioticA’s ability to contribute to the project.·
  • Suitable funding being sourced by applicant.

More soon


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