3SDC project (Sunlight, Soil & Shit (De)Cycle) / Oron Catts (AU), Ionat Zurr (AU), Steve Berrick (AU), Photo: tom mesic

3SDC project (Sunlight, Soil & Shit (De)Cycle)

Oron Catts (AU), Ionat Zurr (AU), Steve Berrick (AU)

Artificial Intelligence & Life Art

Award of Distinction

Sunlight, Soil & Shit (De)Cycle-3SDC project is a durational performative experiment dealing with contestable food system futures. (…)

In the name of sustainability, many new food production and agricultural ventures, such as cellular agriculture, propose systems that remove natural elements from the process of production. To automate and control food production, non-standardized elements such as sunlight, soil, and shit are removed in favor of artificial light, substrates, and fertilizers. The ideas of tech food systems presented as having less (or no) impact on the environment. We call these “Metabolic Rift Technologies.” These approaches call for a separation from nature following a similar mind-set that has led tech companies to promote the metaverse as a nature-free site for human habitation, obscuring the environmental (as well as physiological and psychological) costs of such existence. 3SDC was devised to explore Metabolic Rift Technologies. Bringing the farm to the lab and the lab to the farm, this project considers whether the means of production will decouple from nature. Will this metabolic rift be the precursor to open sustainable food systems?

Jury Statement

In times of hyperbolic promises of so-called ‘precision farming’ powered by ‘artificial intelligence’ and big data, soilless farming techniques such as hydroponic systems and vertical gardens to ‘green’

urban spaces, the 3SDC (Sunlight, Soil & Shit (De)Cycle) project stages a functional and monitored, yet voluntarily contestable circular food system. As a weeks-long durational performative set-up involving a series of interconnected processes—controlled growth of plant and animal tissues, optimized environment agriculture, composting, and alkaline hydrolysis biocremation—Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, and Steve Berrick point to the failure to acknowledge so-called ‘ecosystem services’ and biodiversity concerns in innovative and abstract agricultural ventures, often even in the name of sustainability. Here, ‘cellular agriculture’—growing animal cell tissue outside an actual animal to produce allegedly ‘victimless meat’—is carried out not to be consumed but to be turned into fertilizer, thus ironically reversing the paradoxes inherent in animal protein production. (…)

Excerpt from the jury statement


Lead artists: Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr

Lead media artist/tech director: Steve Berrick

This project was researched, developed and produced at SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia.

Video installation and promo video by: Kenta McGrath & Joseph London.

With support from: DLGSC, Western Australia; The Seed Box, Linköping University Sweden; The Australia Council.

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr (AU)

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr artists, researchers, and curators, formed the Tissue Culture & Art Project in 1996. Catts is the cofounder and director of SymbioticA (UWA) and was a Professor of Contestable Design at RCA, London. Dr Zurr is the Fine Arts discipline chair at the School of Design UWA and SymbioticA’s academic coordinator. They publish widely and exhibit internationally.

Steve Berrick (AU)

Steve Berrick works with code, specializing in designing highly technical interactive systems for performance and installation. His works place the audience as the centerpiece of the interaction, often facilitating a tactile creative process that is fed into a collaborative digital playground and he presents his work in theatres, galleries, museums, public spaces, and app stores. Steve has received awards for robot & technology design and software enabling crowd sourced place activation.