Crossing Kingdoms Experiments/works in progress

Tarsh Bates (Artist), Oron Catts (Artist), Ionat Zurr (Artist)

Research output: Non-traditional research outputExhibition


Crossing Kingdoms is an ongoing, interdisciplinary research project that poetically explores the implications of yeast-mammalian cell fusion. The fusion of cells from such radically different life forms is an emerging method for transferring large segments of DNA to mammalian cells for therapeutic purposes, a process called transfection. During this process, the rigid cell wall of the yeast is stripped away and chemical fusogens force the cell membranes to fuse together. The membranes slowly merge and cytoplasms, nuclei and organelles flow and mix to form a single hybrid cell that is both and neither yeast or mammalian. These cells are sustained in technological surrogate bodies, incubators designed for maintaining the semi-living.

Through actual manipulation of life forms, Crossing Kingdoms raises questions about the practical and ontological nature and identity of novel organisms that fall outside scientific and cultural classification systems. The hybrid cells produced by cross-kingdom fusions challenge our categories and understandings of life. How can they be classified? What are the impacts on the environment and society? Crossing Kingdoms traverses the tangible and conceptual borders of life and living systems.

This project has been undertaken at SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia in collaboration with the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, University of Edinburgh, the Engineering Life research group (Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, University of Edinburgh) and the Iyer Lab (School of Molecular Biology, The University of Western Australia). The artists also would like to acknowledge the facilities, and the scientific and technical assistance of Paul Rigby of the Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation & Analysis, The University of Western Australia, a facility funded by the University, and State and Commonwealth Governments.

The Crossing Kingdoms project is supported by a Research Collaboration Award from the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Government’s Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the SeedBox Environmental Humanities Collaboratory, Linköping University, Sweden.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFreising, Germany
PublisherShafhof European Center for Art Upper Bavaria
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2019


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