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Insight: A tale of stem cells & sound art, CellF in Sydney

Text by CLOT Magazine

Guy Ben-Ary’s dream was to become a rock star. How he found his path to stardom? He decided to build the world’s first neural synthesiser built with his own cells. Using his skin stem cells he transformed them into neurons and “plugged” these living cells into a synthesiser interface built specially for them.

A “narcissistic” disembodiment project raises many questions: Are these semi-living entities a musician or an instrument? Can art help us to understand the shifting perceptions between the materiality of humanness and “life” that new biotechnologies are posing? You can judge for yourself in this series of new performances we are presenting.

CellF premiered in Perth in October 2015 performing a live set with Tokyo-based Australian musician Darren Moore. In June 2016 the show was brought to Sydney, as part of The Patient exhibition, curated and produced by Bec Dean, to perform for 3 nights at Cellblock Theatre at the National Art School.

For the first performance acclaimed Australian musician Chris Abrahams, a founding member of the renowned experimental jazz band The Necks was the one selected to play along with the cells.

The second night saw Claire Edwardes and Jason Noble from Ensemble Offspring, Australia’s pre-eminent new music ensemble, dedicated to the performance of innovative new music.

And for the last show, the pioneering experimentalist Australian violinist Jon Rose, one of Australia’s most challenging and groundbreaking improvisers, Clayton Thomas, a double bassist well known in the experimental field and drummer Darren Moore, musician and music technologist, one of the artists that make possible CellF.

CellF is a collaboration between Guy Ben-Ary, Nathan Thompson, Andrew Fitch, Darren Moore, Douglas Bakkum, Stuart Hodgetts and Mike Edel. Produced by Bec Dean, Guy Ben-Ary. Sound Production by: Marshall Cullen of Foghorn and Damien Gerard Studios. Lighting by: Richard Manner. Laboratory Support by: Brooke Farrugia at UNSW Biomedicine. Videography by: Dara Gill.

(Media courtesy of the artists)
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