Published 19 December 2017
Delve into the intriguing possibilities that emerge when art meets biology, as Oron Catts, world-renowned innovator at the intersection of science, nature and art, asks: what is life?
For more than two decades, Catts has been at the forefront of experiments in the manipulation of fragments of living systems for artistic ends. This lecture explores the role that art has played and continues to play in shifting understandings of what life is and does. What are the stakes—social, ethical, ontological— in manipulating living forms for artistic purposes? What are the consequences, both intended and not, of placing artworks/lifeforms into diverse cultural contexts, from the gallery to the museum?
Oron Catts is the Director of SymbioticA, the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia and a Professor at Large in Contestable Design at The Royal College of Arts, London (2015-2017).
About the Series
From climate change and the sixth mass extinction event, to the pronouncement of a new geological epoch—the ‘Anthropocene,’ the age of humanity—we are increasingly being told that our contemporary period is one of incredible environmental change, and at the same time that human activity is playing an increasingly significant role in shaping the earth and its future possibilities.
In addition to being important scientific and technical challenges, these environmental problems are also profoundly and inescapably social: they are about how we organise our societies and our cities, how we approach questions of ethics and justice, how we find meaning and value in the world. In other words, they concern the deepest dimensions of our human nature, and in so doing perhaps call out for a reconsideration of what it might mean to be human in times like these.
Taking up these important themes, this lecture series will offer a series of talks by leading international scholars in the Environmental Humanities. This emerging, interdisciplinary, field of scholarship draws on the insights of history, literature, philosophy, anthropology, and related disciplines to explore the important roles that the humanities might play in addressing some of the most pressing challenges of our day.
The inaugural, 2018, series includes nine esteemed international and domestic speakers. There is one lecture scheduled each month from February through to October. Further information on each of these speakers and their lecture topics is provided below.
This Lecture Series is jointly funded and coordinated by the Australian Museum, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, and the University of Sydney. The organising committee for the series is comprised of Thom van Dooren and Astrida Neimanis (Sydney), Emily O’Gorman (Macquarie), Judy Motion (UNSW), and Juan Francisco Salazar (Western Sydney).
Tickets for lectures in this series are available to staff and students at partner universities at the reduced rate of $8. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Please click on “Enter Promotional Code” to apply the discount.
Promotional Code: ENVHUM18
6:00 – 6:30 Welcome, drinks and refreshments
6:30 – 7:30 Lecture