Stir Fly: The Nutrient Bug 1.0

The Tissue Culture & Art Project (Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr) in collaboration with Robert Foster (AU)

Stir Fly is a contestable domestic appliance that could be used in the kitchen of every home: a prototype of a domestic bioreactor designed to culture and farm in vitro insect meat. A bioreactor is a device that supports a biologically active environment — in this case, a vessel to grow cells taken from a fly. Unlike warm blooded animal cells and tissues that need to be kept at 37 degrees Celsius, insect cells grow at room temperature which makes the process effective and readily available to the domestic environment.

However, note the bag above, it holds nutrient fluid, consisting of all the food the cells need to grow. It includes animal derived substances such as fetal calf serum. The nutrient fluid is fed into the sterilised device that contains the fly cells; a magnetic stirrer agitates the fluid so that the cells can maximise their nutrient uptake. This work takes the idea of in vitro meat and animal protein production, and translates it into an absurd conclusion — and in the process unveils the nutritional requirements of the cells.


Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr form the Tissue Culture & Art Project. Oron is the Co-Founder and Director of SymbioticA: the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia and is a Professor of Contestable Design at the Royal College for the Arts in London. Ionat Zurr is a researcher and SymbioticA’s Academic Co-ordinator. Both are visiting professors at Biofilia — Base for Biological Arts at the Aalto University Finland. They are considered pioneers in the field of biological arts and publish widely, exhibit internationally and their work has been collected by Museum of Modern Art New York. Robert Foster initially trained as a silversmith at the Australian National University School of Art. He founded Fink and Co, a leading design and production house. His creative practice spans across many fields, from art, craft and design to architecture, engineering and manufacturing. He has chaired on boards, taught, lectured and exhibited internationally. Robert and Oron exhibited together in Israel in 2014 and in 2015 at The University of Western Australia with DeMonstrable.

Grow House collects a number of projects which propose to bring agriculture out of the fields at the periphery of town and into the centre of our houses, cities and factories.