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Return of the Teratoma

Lyndsey Walsh

Return of the Teratoma:
There’s something lurking in the shadows. It knows where you work. It knows where you live. It’s even gotten inside your house. Don’t close your eyes. Don’t look away. The Teratoma is back! The monster mass of cells with teeth and hair has made it out of the human body, and it’s coming for you.

With recent advancements in science, the teratoma, a cancerous mass of mixed tissues, can now be grown in the laboratory. As a creature displaced from its context, it now haunts the human bodies that it no longer inhabits. Return of the Teratoma is a fictional horror film featuring a monster that is very real. The film’s main character, the teratoma, is a laboratory grown Retinal Organoid made from Human Embryonic Stem Cells specially fitted with laboratory grown “teeth” made from Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Adopting the visual narrative of CCTV footage, Return of the Teratoma calls into question emerging visions of the future of laboratory grown life and technology’s turbulent relationship with society and culture. Stem cells featured were obtained from the company WiCell, as well as the tissue culture laboratory facilities of the Spinal Cord Repair Lab at the University of Western Australia.

This work was made in collaboration with Dr. Stuart Hodgetts (UWA Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory and Perron Institute), Dr. Carla Mellough (Lion’s Eye Research Institute and Perkins Research Institute), and Mark Depasquale (video producer and editor) with the support of SymbioticA Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts and the University of Western Australia. Featuring original soundscape by Braden Bjella.

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