FORMATA: Bioreactor Refill


Today, at a time when our anthropogenic impact is expanding beyond Earth, what would it mean to experience alien material assemblages as active and performative? FORMATA is a hybrid installation that stages lively, autonomous blobs inside an experimental reactor emulating the conditions of an extraterrestrial planet with liquid formamide. Composed of substances similar to those found in meteorites and comets, these vibrant blobs defy stasis: they deform, actively move and self-divide.

The bodily encounter between the audience and alien active matter is critical to our project. It is important not only in the way that these entities help us to materialize the other and the unknown, but also for the way in which they compel us to re-evaluate our place in an active cosmos. Through these encounters, FORMATA challenges our current relationship with matter, deconstructing the human/non-human hierarchy and replacing it with an “unscaled agency” of living, partially alive and non-living entities.


Experimental laboratory–Gifu Prefectural Industrial Technology Center

Rock Design–Yasushi Inoue

Support–The Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS); Department of Information Design, Tama Art University; and The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo.

This project is presented in the context of the More-than-Planet project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


The PЯОТO-ALIEИ PЯOJECT is a multidisciplinary laboratory of ideas and experiments at the intersection of media art, chemistry and astrobiology. Founded in 2019, the project team is made up of Juan M. Castro, Akihiro Kubota and Taro Toyota. Through this project, they explore the use of extraterrestrial organic matter (ETOM) as an active medium for artistic purposes. Their works have been presented internationally in various exhibitions, festivals and galleries.