BioHome: The Chromosome Knitting Project is a hybrid performance/ installation incorporating live ‘wet biology’ practices in a contemporary biotech display home. The installation features video, interactive sound, live
performance and text. ‘Wet biology’ procedures such as plant DNA extraction and live insect cell culturing are used to explore reproductive futures and biotechnologies.
Before entering the installation space audience members
are introduced to laboratory safety procedures and biohazards, and they are invited to undertake safety training and wear ‘PC2’ lab safety clothing. Upon entering the gallery the audience sees several domestic spaces: a kitchen tabletop, a bassinette, a chair with knitting and a bed with a screen. It is only when they inspect more closely that this domesticity is disrupted by the intriguing and uncomfortable presence of biotech products, including live caterpillar cell cultures, salmon DNA fibres, pea seedling DNA and IVF hormone products.
The blurring of lines between laboratory and domestic procedures aims to heighten the awareness and discomfort the audience may feel about incorporation of biotech products in our daily lives. They are encouraged to investigate and interrogate these technologies and their impact on human, social and environmental futures and contemporary kinship systems.
Knitting is a central metaphor in the performance, highlighting similarities between the use of patterns and stitches in knitting to the basic techniques of
biotechnology or genetic engineering, i.e. working with DNA as the ‘building blocks of life’. Knitting is also a metaphor for human reproduction. The performance includes a demonstration of knitting fibres extracted from salmon DNA.
Writer, performer, devisor, producer: Catherine Fargher
Sound design: Terumi Narushima
Direction and corporeal dramaturgy: Nikki Heywood
Textual dramaturgy: Noelle Janascewska, Merlinda Bobis
Visual dramaturgy: Brogan Bunt, Virginia Hilyard
Plasma screen performers: Catherine Fargher, Dennise Cepeda, Terumi Narushima
Composition: Terumi Narushima, Matthew Fargher, Ian Moorehead, Catherine Oates
Video footage: Catherine Fargher, Virginia Hilyard, Cominos Zervos, Tim Watts
Live camera operation: Jessica Ellis
Sound recording and editing: Catherine Fargher
Video editing: Catherine Fargher, Virginia Hilyard, Peter Oldham
Video documentation: Peter Oldham
Stills photography: Russell Emerson
Web design, plasma screen design, branding: Jessica Ellis, Vincent Bicego, Greg Clout, Robert Dinnerville
Design and technical support: Russell Emerson (University of Sydney, Centre for Performance Studies), Didier Balez, Alistair Davies, Aaron Hull, Virginia Hilyard, Brogan Bunt
Installation space design: Greg Clout, Jessica Ellis
Knitted elements: Pamela Drysdale
Production management: Jessica Ellis
Biological elements and collaborations:
SymbioticA, University of Western Australia: Gary Cass, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Guy Ben-Ary, Jane Coakley
University of Wollongong, School of Biological Sciences: Dr Ren Zhang, Suresh Bhat, Sharon Robinson (Plant Biology), Associate Professor Mark Wilson (cell culturing) Pamela Morgan, Marie Dwarte; School of Biomedical Science: Melissa Errey
University of Sydney, School of Agricultural Science: Pia Smith, Ivan Desailly, Colin Bailey
Technical and academic assistance: Faculty of Creative Arts, University
of Wollongong: Brogan Bunt, Merlinda Bobis, Aaron Hull, Dale Dumpleton,Olena Cullen, Craig O'Brien, Marius Foley, Grant Ellmers, Didier Balez, Jacqui
Redgate, Alistair Davies
Sponsorship: John Lee - Eppendorf, Hanna Lampinen - Invitrogen, Sigma Aldrich, Playworks Writers Workshop