DiSCARD (Death in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Related Dilemmas

Exhibit by Bates, Tarsh and Ward, Devon; Szymanski, Erika

Artwork: digital printed playing cards, 4,800 cards in deck. This project playfully explores the inefficiency of current synthetic biology techniques. Inspired by the SCRaMBLe method of rapid directed evolution in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the artwork is a card game which can be played by any number of humans. The aim is to combine gene segments to synthesise a genome, but recombination events constantly disrupt these attempts, causing localised or system death. The ultimate outcome is a large discard pile, evidence of the lives and resources exploited by the players. This work reminds us that the rhetoric of efficiency and predictability espoused by synthetic biology is highly speculative.

Title of Journal / Edit Volume, incl. names of editors:
The End of Synthetic Biology? What Future?

Bates, Tarsh

Research Area:
Toxic Embodiment, Multispecies stories


Academic, Citizen Humanities


URL to website/presentation:

Financed by Seed Box
position through postdoctoral research grant at SymbioticA
project developed with funding from Engineering Life, University of Edinburgh