Synthesis Partners

The Arts Catalyst
The Arts Catalyst is one of the UK’s leading commissioning and producing arts organisations, specialising in new artists’ projects that experimentally and critically engage with science. It brings together people across the art/science divide and beyond to explore science in its wider social, political and cultural contexts. The Arts Catalyst has commissioned more than 80 artists’ projects, including major new works by Tomas Saraceno, Ashok Sukumaran, Stefan Gec, Jan Fabre, Marko Peljhan, Critical Art Ensemble, N55, Marcelli Antunez Roca, Otolith Group, Yuri Leiderman, Kira O’Reilly, London Fieldworks, Gina Czarnecki, Simon Faithfull, Beatriz da Costa and Aleksandra Mir, and has worked with partners including Tate, Barbican, BALTIC and the Roundhouse. The Arts Catalyst has run a number of workshops. In 2011, with Lighthouse Arts, Brighton, it organised a 9-day art-science production workshop. In 2005, it ran an intensive 5-day workshop for artists at Kings College Hospital, in partnership with SymbioticA. The Arts Catalyst recently opened a new interdisciplinary arts space in Clerkenwell, London, from where it runs a programme of film screenings, live events, discussions, talks, work sharings, and workshops.


University College London
The Ward Lab & Synbion Network
UCL is a world-leading university in research and teaching, based in Bloomsbury, central London. Its Department of Structural and Molecular Biology is taking the lead in a multi-university network, SynBion, funded by the EPSRC, which brings together scientists, engineers and social scientists to develop new research in synthetic biology. Network members’ interests include protein structure, molecular biology, fermentation scale-up, chemistry, electronic engineering, biophysics, and the social and ethical dimensions of emerging technologies. SynBion has been working on self-assembling structures that could conduct electrons, absorb and emit light and respond to electric and magnetic fields. The researchers have incorporated metabolic pathway design and construction as a theme for the network, and are designing and constructing completely synthetic pathways in E. coli for the synthesis of novel compounds.


Synthetic Aesthetics
Synthetic Aesthetics is an international research project run by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Stanford University, California, and led by Drew Endy, Alistair Elfick and Jane Calvert, with Research Fellows Pablo Schyfter and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. By instigating new collaborations between synthetic biologists, designers, artists, and social scientists, Synthetic Aesthetics is exploring the shared territory between synthetic biology and creative practice. At the core of the project has been a residency programme, bringing together six synthetic biologists and six artists and designers to help with the work of designing, understanding and building the living world. Each pair spent two weeks in a laboratory and two weeks in the art or design studio, sharing practice, knowledge and skills and developing new project ideas together. These exchanges are informing our research and establishing a continuing network of collaborations. Synthetic Aesthetics is jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (USA) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK)


The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia
SymbioticA is the first research laboratory of its kind, enabling artists and researchers to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department. It also hosts residents, workshops, exhibitions and symposia. With an emphasis on experimental practice, SymbioticA encourages better understanding and articulation of cultural ideas around scientific knowledge and informed critique of the ethical and cultural issues around life manipulation. The Centre offers a new means of artistic enquiry where artists actively use the tools and technologies of science, not just to comment about them but also to explore their possibilities.



Synthesis Sponsors


Wellcome Trust – Arts Award, UK


Royal Academy of Engineering, UK

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK


National Science Foundation, USA


With support from

The Arts Catalyst
Synthetic Aesthetics
University of Edinburgh
Stanford University
University of Western Australia
Government of Western Australia Department of Culture & The Arts