• The University of Western Australia (M309), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • The University of Western Australia (M504), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • 18 Citations
  • 1 h-Index
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Personal profile


Tarsh Bates is an artist/researcher interested in the aesthetics of interspecies relationships and the human as a queer ecology. She has a PhD in Biological Art and is currently a research associate at SymbioticA, UWA and The Seed Box, Linköping University. She has worked variously as a pizza delivery driver, a fruit and vegetable stacker, a toilet paper packer, a researcher in compost science and waste management, a honeybee ejaculator, an art gallery invigilator, a raspberry picker, a lecturer/tutor in art/science, art history, gender & technology, posthumanism, counter realism and popular culture, an editor, a bookkeeper, a car detailer, and a life drawing model. She is particularly enamoured with Candida albicans.

Roles and responsibilities

Postdoctoral Research Associate, SymbioticA and The Seed Box, Linköping University, Sweden

Visual Art Co-Chair Gender Diversity in Music and Art 16-19 July 2019
Co-Convenor Quite Frankly: Its a Monster Conference 18-19 October 2018
Curator This Mess We're In 13 October - 2 November 2018 Unhallowed Arts Festival 2018


Unnatural evolution and microbiopolitics in the CandidaHomo ecology

A SymbioticA and The Seed Box research project, in association with the Hammer laboratory UWA and SynthSys University of Edinburgh

Project Summary

A practice-led exploration of yeast, synthetic biology, microbiopolitics and queer ecologies.

The health industry has been turned on its head by the discovery of the importance of the human microbiome. What is the role of our microbiome in our health? Can we enhance our “good” bacteria and eliminate the “bad”? Probiotic yoghurts and fermented drinks are all the rage. “Poop in a pill” is set to become the newest treatment for those afflicted with irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue and other gastro-intestinal disorders. Synthetic biology research is starting to look to the potential for engineering a healthier human ecology. The biological and cultural implications of this research are rarely considered. Our micro-ecologies are more complex than we ever imagined and are engaged in minute feedback loops with our metabolisms and immune systems. Microorganisms tend to interact and evolve in unanticipated directions and rapidly develop anti-biotic resistance. The composition of a healthy human ecology is far from defined. Synthetic biology may offer possibilities for eliminating disease and improving health. However, it may also stimulate new eugenics based on our microbial fingerprints. Some children are already prevented from receiving public education because their parents do not support vaccination.

Artistic research about contemporary biotechnologies and biosciences provides unique methods for exploring the cultural implications of manipulating life in the twenty first century. Art prompts emotional responses that generate considerations of the ethical, political and social implications of incorporating these technologies in our lives. Some of the questions that need to be asked about the development of genetically engineered health include: What are the consequences of eliminating “bad” organisms whose presence actually stops “good” bacteria from turning “bad”? How might this affect brain development or mental health? What opportunities might we miss by ignoring the adaptations made by people with disease? Who would have access to these new technologies? What might feminist, queer, race or “crip” considerations of synthesising human health reveal? How might these technologies affect the microbes themselves?

This project is hosted by SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia and funded by The Seed Box, Linköping University, Sweden. It is conducted in association with the Hammer lab, The University of Western Australia, the Engineering Life research group, University of Edinburgh and the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology. It comprises three subprojects: DISCARD, Crossing Kingdoms and Olfactories.

Research interests

  • microbiopolitics
  • queer ecologies
  • Candida albicans
  • biological art
  • queer and feminist theory
  • interspecies aesthetics
  • queer evolutionary theory
  • trans* theory

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Tarsh Bates is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Research Output 2010 2019

279 Downloads (Pure)

The unsettling eros of contact zones: queering evolution in the CandidaHomo ecology

Bates, T., 2018, (Unpublished)

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Contact Zone
Evolutionary Theory

This Mess We're In

Bates, T., 2018

Research output: Non-traditional research outputExhibition


The queer temporality of CandidaHomo biotechnocultures

Bates, T., 14 May 2019, In : Australian Feminist Studies. 34, 99, p. 25-45 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

evolutionary theory

About SymbioticA

Bates, T., 2018, (Unpublished).

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera

Scientific Knowledge

Crossing Kingdoms

Zurr, I., Catts, O. & Bates, T., 2018

Research output: Non-traditional research outputExhibition

Synthetic Biology

Activities 2013 2019

Gender Diversity in Music and Arts (Event)

Ionat Zurr (Reviewer), Tarsh Bates (Reviewer)
16 Jul 201919 Jul 2019

Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsPeer review panel

University of Edinburgh

Tarsh Bates (Visiting researcher)
2018 → …

Activity: External visitsVisiting an external academic institution

Taboo‐Transgression‐Transcendence in Art & Science (Event)

Tarsh Bates (Member)

Activity: MembershipsMembership of committee

Quite Frankly

Tarsh Bates (Member of programme committee), Ionat Zurr (Member of programme committee), Oron Catts (Organiser), Christopher Cobilis (Organiser)

Activity: Conferences and workshopsParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

The Unsettling Eros of Contact Zones

Tarsh Bates (Speaker)

Activity: Service and engagementPublic lecture, debate or seminar

Press / Media

Messy Moments

Tarsh Bates


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Beautiful and Bizarre

Tarsh Bates


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media