This story is over 5 years old.

Artist Makes Synthesizer from His Own Stem Cells

But hey, it's just Guy Ben-Ary’s way of fulfilling a childhood dream to become a rock star.
3/4 View of cellF - The Neurons are located in the top black box (incubator). Images via

As if traditional musical instruments weren’t enough, people keep trying to make sound out of things that aren’t supposed to. The latest innovator in this field is Guy Ben-Ary, who won the Creative Australia Fellowship to develop a biological self-portrait. He was inspired to portray his childhood dream of being a rock star, as well by questions arising from “shifting perceptions surrounding understandings of ‘life’ and the materiality of the human body.”


To do this, Ben-Ary took a biopsy from his arm and used cutting-edge technology to transform the skin cells into stem cells, which he then turned into neural stem cells. The result is what he calls "the world’s first neural synthesizer." NBD.

Human musicians have been invited to perform live with the contraption, now known as cellF. The music is “fed into the neurons as electrical stimulations and the neurons respond by controlling the synthesizer, creating an improvised post-human sound piece.”

Walking around the performance space is thus like walking through Ben-Ary’s brain, externalized, since it was created with the same cells as those in his own personal neural makeup. There is no programming involved, which means cellF is made only of biological matter and analog circuits. Oh, and it exists in a giant chamber shaped like a cornucpia and the Golden Spiral.

Because science.

For more details on Guy Ben-Ary's cellular performance, visit his website.


Dirty Beats: Hear Music Generated from Bacteria

Artist Gives Plants A Voice

Beauty Vs. Functionality? Here's How the Brain Reacts to Each