Tarsh Bates

I am formed from the exhalation of cyanobacteria and millennia of evolution. I was born in Mununjali/Beaudesert, Yugambeh/Queensland, grew up in Matamata, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and have lived for the last 35 years in Boorloo/Perth, Nyungar Boodja/South-Western Australia. I pay my respects to the Whadjuk people of the Nyungar nation and the Sami people of Sápmi Ubmeje, the lands on which I live and practice and their Elders past, present and emerging.

I have worked as a pizza delivery driver, a fruit and vegetable stacker, a toilet-paper packer, a compost researcher, a honeybee ejaculator, a gallery invigilator, a raspberry picker, an academic, an editor, a bookkeeper, a car detailer, and a life drawing model. I hold a Masters & PhD in Biological Art from SymbioticA, UWA and now work as a postdoctoral research fellow in design and molecular biology at Umeå University.

I am enamoured with Candida albicans and fascinated by odorants as interspecies communication devices: chemicals that are ingested, digested, excreted between the living, semi- and non-living. My current projects include: Scents of Solastalgia (SoS) examines the role of olfaction in rapidly changing, multi-species experiences of place; Scents of Dis-ease (SoD) explores the role of olfaction in disease; aesthetic, social and biocultural significance of smell loss; and the interspecies entanglements involved in these phenomena; and Scents of Consumption (SoC) traces odours through multispecies food webs in the Arctic, exploring how they are affected by climate change, pollution and bioengineering and implicated in food insecurity. My work weaves together Paxson’s microbiopolitics, Barad’s queer performativity, Landecker, Hird and Bakke’s understandings of metabolism as transformative matter, and Irigaray’s eros through these olfactory performances, microbes and humans become sense-able to and of each other, an erotic inter and intra-species communication, a queer metabolic intra-activity that transverses spacetimematter.

Selected publications

Bates, T. 2022. Queer Microbiopolitics. In Sex Ecologies, edited by S. Hessler, pp. 65–69. MIT Press.

Bates, T. 2019. The Queer Temporality of Candidahomo BiotechnoculturesAustralian Feminist Studies 34(99), 25–45.

Bates, T. 2019. The Unsettling Eros of Contact Zones: Queering Evolution in the Candidahomo Ecology. PhD thesis. The University of Western Australia.

Bates, T. (ed.) 2018. Queer Ecologies Vol. 19Quarterly: Journal of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts.

Bates, T. 2017. Queer Affordances: The Human as Trans*EcologyAngelaki 22(2), 151–154.

A More-than-Human Humanities Research Group