The Ethics of the Contestable
As art and design are becoming more and more entangled with the applications of emerging knowledge in fields such as the life sciences, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and artificial life, there is a need to formulate an understanding of the extent of ethical engagement with these fields.
This talk would focus mainly the approaches art and design adopted in regard to the use of living systems within the context of academic research institutes. It would explore the different roles art and design play as the life science technologies traverse the hype cycle, and would suggest that the notion of the contestable might be a useful tool in exposing unintentional ontological breaches that require cultural scrutiny and ethical consideration. The talk would touch in issues concerning institutional ethics committees in the context of art and design research with living systems.
Oron Catts is the Director of SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia and a Professor of Contestable Design at The Royal College of Arts, London.
Oron Catts is an artist, designer, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia. Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008.
In 2009 Catts was recognised by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”.
Catts interest is Life; more specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in the light of new knowledge and it applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists (mainly Dr. Ionat Zurr) and scientists, Catts have developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulation of evolving concepts of life.
Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction, Royal College of Arts, London. In 2012-2013 he set up a biological art lab called Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, where he was a Visiting Professor.
Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.