Imagine that we could extract the biological features of organisms that are luminescent, immortal or metamorphic and use them to utterly redesign our existing natural biological systems. Synthetic Biology is an emerging area of research that can broadly be described as the redesign of existing natural biological systems. This potential to utterly manipulate and transform existing biological systems inspired this project, consisting of an online database and an video-art installation.

The anima factura database is to be found on this website, in which we give you more information on the organisms, which features might be useful for synthesising and why. As the database is made from an open-source point of view, you can suggest new organisms or send in more information for organisms that are already included in our database. We will then upload this in the database and form a more complete database all together!

The anima factura installation selects nine organisms from this database, ranging from micro to macro, that acquire a unique biological feature which (we believe) makes them prime/valuable candidates for use in biological transformation or metamorphosis.  In this installation, we illustrate their unique character through metaphorical interpretations in film, highlight their potential to work as a unit to fabricate what these unique features could do in the emerging field of Synthetic Biology, and invite you to think out of the box for potential applications.

anima factura is an iArts Maastricht project. This installation was invited by Wageningen University’s Systems and Synthetic Biology, Radboud University’s Institute for Science in Society (ISiS) and BioArt Laboratories. It emerged from a collaboration between iArts Maastricht, Laurens Landeweerd, Xandra van der Eijk, Studio Roos Meerman and Sacha van den Haak.

iArts stands for interdisciplinary Arts, an intensive, international higher education art programme located in Maastricht, the Netherlands. For more information on the programme, click here.


We, the iArts students, want to thank all of our collaboration partners for enabling us to do this wonderful project. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything that comes near to what anima factura is now. A very special thanks goes to Vitor Martin dos Santos en Jalida Essaïdi, for inviting us to join in with their plans and all the trust that went along with that. We also want to thank Saskia Valk (iArts), Bettina Graupe (BioArt Laboratories), Milo Kusmic (2K Communicatie), Frank and Roi for all their help!

This project was created by artists that are certainly not synthetic biologists. Although we have read a lot about the field and it’s practices, it is possible that we suggest applications or practices that are not (yet) possible, either practically, scientifically or ethically. This website is intended to help the general public to open up towards synthetic biology and it’s applications, and start the train of thought on the endless possibilities in this field of science. We would therefore appreciate it if you would see this as such. If you see mistakes or have other information for us, please reach out to us via the contact or contribute forms.