The Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A) is an ongoing artistic research and development project into the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. Pioneering in the field of biological art (or ‘bio-art’), the TC&A was central to the establishment of SymbioticA – The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia in 2002.
TC&A creates evocative works from biological materials and technologies with a great sense of responsibility. In the early 2000s, bone cells and engineered tissues were created as proxies for animal products like food and clothing. Victimless leather 2004 saw ‘semi-living’ tissue grow over biodegradable armatures to form tiny garments. Other works explore the absurd and whimsical, for example The Pig Wings Project 2003, where the artists grew small prototypes for porcine wings in petrie dishes. TC&A raises important cultural discussions about the ethics and epistemologies of technologically manipulating living systems for human ends. Odd neolifism 2010 in this context explores the field of taxonomy, or the classifying of specimens, as a subject undergoing radical change in the era of genetic engineering. The artists ask what place constructed forms of life can have in this system.