Workshop Description and Rationale

Over the past 20 years, biotechnology has revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry, the agricultural industry and the field of animal and human medicine. As such, its impacts on human life are tremendous and biotechnology implementations direct areas such food production and consumption, global trade agreements, human and animal reproduction, environmental concerns as well as biosecurity and biodefense. The Human Genome Project, as well as other International Genome Initiatives, stimulated the merging of computational research with areas of the life sciences. Simultaneously, a number of artists originating in the field of new media art have shifted their attention from experimenting, hacking and reverse engineering digital code and electronics to similar explorations using micro-organisms and molecular biology. Similar developments also took place amongst artists, designers and other interested individuals originating outside the field of emergent technology art (including biologists bioengineers becoming interested in the usage of living materials within social and artistic contexts).

As an emerging media form, many of the issues are similar: How do we re-imagine cultural production with wetware as a medium and explore its full tactical and signifying potential? However, many of the wetlab procedures needed in order to conduct this type of work remain opaque and abstract to the general public and artists who don’t have access to life science research facilities and expertise. “Wetware Hackers” is a series of hands-on workshops open to ISEA attendees taught by practitioners in the field. Workshops will be conducted in moderately equipped facilities and are designed for motivated non-experts. Rather than promoting only well-established techniques, “Wetware Hackers” encourages modification and play with respect to wetware projects.


Beatriz da Costa (convener), Tau-Mu Yi, Christopher Kim
Oron Catts with Phil Ross
Paul Vanouse (convener)
Natalie Jeremijenko