Hybrid Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions


Guy Ben-Ary (AU), Bakkum Douglas (US), Mike Edel (AU), Andrew Fitch (AU), Stuart Hodgetts (AU), Darren Moore (AU), Nathan Thompson (AU)


cellF is the world's first neural synthesizer. lt is a real "wet-alogue" synthesizer. cellF's "brain" is made of a biological neural network that grows in a petri dish and controls in real time an array of analogue modular synthesizers that were custom made to work in synergy with the neural network. lt is a completely autonomous, wet, and analogue instrument.

In 2012, Guy Ben-Ary received a fellowship to develop a biological self-portrait, and decided to portray one of his juvenile dreams - to become a rock star.

Guy Ben-Ary had a biopsy taken from his arm, then he cultivated his skin cells in vitro in the labs of SymbioticA at UWA, and using lnduced Pluripotent Stem cell technology, he transformed his skin cells into stem cells. When these stem cells began to differentiate, they were pushed down the neuronal lineage until they became neural stem cells, which were then fully differentiated into neural networks over a Multi-Electrode Array (MEA) dish to become "Ben-Ary's external brain".

The MEA dishes that host Ben-Ary's neural networks consist of a grid of 8x8 electrodes. These electrodes can record the electric signals (action potentials) that the neurons produce and at the same time send stimulations to the neurons - essentially a read-and-write interface to the "brain".

The sound is specialized in the space to 16 speakers. The specialization is controlled by the neural network and reflects the special pockets of activity within the petri dish. Walking around the performance space offers the sensation of walking through Ben-Ary’s external brain in real time.

There is a surprising similarity in the way neural networks and analogue synthesizers work. In both, voltages are passed through components to produce data or sound. cellF's neural interface juxtaposes these two networks to creates a continuum between the networks. With cellF, the musician and musical instrument become one entity to create a cybernetic musician.

Human musicians are invited to play with cellF in special one-off shows. The human-made music is fed to the neurons as stimulation, and the neurons respond by controlling the analogue synthesizers, and together they perform live, reflexive, and improvised post-human sound pieces or "jam sessions" that are not entirely human.


Andrew Fitch

Dr. Andrew Fitch (AU) completed a B.Eng (Hons) in 2010 and his PhD in 2015, at The University of Western Australia. His main research focused on memristor-based chaotic circuits and has published a book, journal articles and book chapters describing the results of this work. He has been building analogue synthesizers since 1998 and currently runs Nonlinearcircuits, producing a wide variety of unique designs intended for use in experimental music. When not building synthesizers, Andrew enjoys bushwalking with his dogs and reading books by A.E. van Vogt. http://nonlinearcircuits.blogspot.com.au/

Michael Edel

Dr. Michael Edel (AU) has specialised his university studies in the basic and fundamental principles of Anatomy (achieving Honours), Embryology and Human Physiology, completing his PhD in Pathology in the year 2000 at the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. He moved to Barcelona in 2004 and works with his wife, Dr. Ana Belen Alvarez Palomo, to develop new clinical grade cell reprogramming technology to make stem cells to study and treat human disease. Dr. Michael Edel is currently a Group Leader/Ramon y Cajal Investigator (RYC-2010-06512) and accredited Associate Professor teaching and research based at the University of Barcelona, Faculty of Medicine. He is a senior researcher in the field of IPSCs, hESC, gene regulation, epigenetics, cell cycle, differentiation to neurons or cardiac muscle cells for the use of such cells as a cell replacement therapy. He has 38 publications to date, a book on the state of the art of iPSC technology (2015), ten years post-doctoral experience and five years as group leader. He is Affiliated as Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, and the University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine, and Visiting International Research Fellow at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia. He has been awarded over 850,000 Euros in project grants the past 8 years as chief investigator and has a NH&MRC UWA near miss grant to develop a project on bioengineering cardiac muscle from iPSC to treat heart disease.. He has been invited as a guest speaker as part of the distinguished faculty or co-chair for over 20 congresses the past ten years. For more information see his Lab Web Page: http://pluripotencylaboratory.wordpress.com/

Stuart Hodgetts

Associate Professor Stuart Hodgetts (AU) is currently Director of the Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory in the School of Anatomy, Physiology & Human Biology, at the University of Western Australia (UWA). He has extensive knowledge and expertise in cell based transplantation therapies and has been devoted to this research since 1998. Previously, SH has worked at the University of Essex, UK where he obtained his Ph.D. did his first postdoctoral appointment, before working overseas at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, USA. SH returned to Australia and joined UWA in 1998, conducting research in cell-based transplantation for neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy, and since 2004 in the repair of spinal cord following injury using stem cells. He is developing technologies for the use of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) for use in spinal cord injury, and is also using this in a number of art/science collaborations. In particular as part of a collaboration with Guy Ben Ary (also at UWA). Since 2005, SH has been involved in the generation of nearly $3 million in research funds and has published in many highly ranked peer reviewed journals. As a member of Academic staff he teaches undergraduates and postgraduates (currently supervision of 5 PhD students). SH is an active member of committees at the School and Faculty levels and is also Chair of the Animal Users Group at UWA. In addition, he has had a long standing relationship with Symbiotica (ANHB, UWA), involving collaboration with many artists and residents. A long standing advocate of this cross-disciplinary research, he is currently Symbiotica’s Scientific Consultant and Adviser. Over the years SH has been an invited speaker for his Science/Art work at; ANZCAART, The Body, Art and Bioethics Conference, The 6th European Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, and has conducted a Tissue Engineering workshop in the UK as well as exhibited works in collaboration with Symbiotica at ISEA. SH has also recently been involved in funding successes together with Guy Ben-Ary and Ionat Zurr from Symbiotica.

Darren Moore

Darren Moore (AU) is an Australian drummer, electronic music based in Tokyo, Japan. He performs regularly on drum set and modular synthesizer in predominantly in the fields of jazz, experimental and improvised music styles. Darren has performed extensively in Australia, South-East Asia, Japan and Europe. He completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts at Griffith University in Brisbane Australia in 2013 which looked at the adaptation of Carnatic Indian rhythms to drum set.

Nathan Thompson

Nathan Thompson (AU) is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring the possibilities of man/machine interaction and the hidden corners that arise from this relationship. Mostly he implements machine/robots that play along the blurred edge of the interactive while showing independent thought, only slightly tethered to the audiences actions. His work often questions the role of humans in the natural landscape and through these investigations, builds a greater understanding of our inhabited space. His machines are self built, analogue and lifelike in their behavior, using custom electronic Neural-type networks that are on their own, very simple but when piggybacked, multiplied and fed back into the stream, display behavior remarkably organic. The interpretations of this evolving machine language lead to an installation unique to every setting… the participant, oftentimes, both controls and is controlled by the mechanics of these unique lifelike constructions.

Douglas Bakkum

Douglas Bakkum (US) is a scientist and group leader in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He received a Ph.D. in Neuroengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in Atlanta, GA, USA. His interdisciplinary background includes training in neuroscience, mechanical engineering, robotics, and artificial intelligence. He currently leads projects to find the fundamental rules neurons use to communicate with each other and how such rules can scale to produce learning, memory, and creativity.

Guy Ben-Ary

Guy Ben-Ary (AU), born in Los Angeles, is a Perth based artist and researcher. He currently works at SymbioticA, an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and hands-on engagement with the life sciences, which is located within the University of Western Australia. Recognised internationally as a major artist and innovator working across science and media arts, Guy specialises in biotechnological artwork, which aims to enrich our understanding of what it means to be alive. Guy’s work has been shown across the globe at prestigious venues and festivals from the Beijing National Art Museum to San Paulo Biennale to the Moscow Biennale. His work can also be seen in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2009, his work Silent Barrage was awarded an Honorary Mention in Prix Ars Electronica (Austria) and also won first prize at VIDA, a significant international competition for Art and Artificial Life. Guy specializes in microscopy, biological & digital imaging, tissue engineering. His Main research areas are cybernetics, robotics and the interface of biological material to robotics. Much of Ben-Ary’s work is inspired by science and nature. His artworks utilize motion and growth to investigate technological aspects of today’s culture and the re-use of biological materials and technologies.

cellF is a collaboration between artists Guy Ben-Ary, Darren Moore, Nathan Thompson and Andrew Fitch, and scientists Stuart Hodgetts, Mike Edel and Douglas Bakkum.
The project is hosted by SymbioticA: the center for excellence in biological arts at the University of Western Australia
Support received from:
Creative Australia Fellowship, Australia Council for the Arts
Emerging and Experimental art development grants, Australia Council for the Arts
Development grants, Department of Culture and the arts, WA, Australia
Development Grant, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore