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Hybrid Art – cellF

Credit: Rafaela Pandolfini

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

There is a surprising similarity in the way neural networks and analogue synthesizers work: both receive signals and process them through components to generate data or sound.

cellF combines these two systems. The “brain” of this new creation consists of a biological neural network grown in a petri dish, which controls analogue modular synthesizers in real time. The living part of this completely autonomous and analogue instrument is composed of nerve cells. These were taken from Guy Ben-Ary’s fibroblasts (cells in connective tissue), which were programmed back into stem cells. Guy Ben-Ary then artificially further developed these stem cells into neural stem cells, which can become differentiated into nerve cells under certain conditions in the laboratory and form a neural network – Ben-Ary’s “external brain.”

The activity of this brain can be influenced by the input from other, human musicians and made audible through the analogue synthesizer. Human and instrument become a unit – a “cybernetic rock star” from the petri dish.

The project will be presented during the Ars Electronica Festival in the POSTCITY.