Tame is to Tame


Collaboration with Miranda de Graaf, Viroscience Lab, Erasmus MC

Can we tame the viruses? Can viruses tame us?

Viruses, semi-living entities that not just affect human health, but also evolve via the medium of the human body. Throughout history viruses have integrated themselves into our genome and became a part of the ‘human’. They evolve, and we evolve with them. Our immune system as well as our technology evolves and they evolve with us. This deeply intertwined relationship between humans and viruses, and the blurred line of living and non-living is one of the deepest driving forces of evolution.

Meanwhile, mankind treats viruses as enemies. The language of virology and public health is the language of warfare. Individuals who carry the virus are considered the vehicle of the enemy and should be quarantined. Our sole goal is to eradicate the viruses. Smallpox and Rinderpest are the only viruses that were successfully eradicated, but not without risks. Viruses remain present in the storage of some labs and represent a potential threat because we no longer vaccinate ourselves and nobody in the world has immunity towards it.

Within this project the artist and the scientist try to find out if we can treat the viruses, that are not likely to be eradicated, as if they are wild animals and build a controllable bond with them. In other words - to tame them. Domestication of wild animals not only changed the animals, but also human culture. Is it possible to befriend/observe viruses that remain dangerous from a safe distance, like the virologists have been doing for decades? Can this relationship be extended to the general public?

‘Tame is to Tame’ is a conceptual dance between viruses and human beings manifested through the fictional training program that trains human beings to be rigorous virus-tamers. These tamers will learn to build a relationship with viruses, rather than combatting them.

The artist and scientist join force to become the very first two virus-tamers in the world to embark a thought experiment through this fictional program to explore an alternative human-to-virus, human-to-human relationship. This project borrows the framework of fiction to initiate a discussion between the east and the west, the ignorant and the professional, where the artist and scientist go through stages of speculative and imaginative thought experiments, each stage proposes a novel idea for exploration as a trigger to re-adjust our attitude towards viruses.

Tame is to Tame Installation

Tame is to Tame Installation

The manifesto proposes each individual should have his/her own stand for the relationship with the virus, through making decisions on the following 5 topics: 1) Human as a part of the nature / Human as separated from Nature, 2) Viruses as wild animals or as enemies, 3) Individuality v.s. Humans as a herd, 4) Individual before the whole species or vice versa, 4) Human as the habitats of Viruses.

Tamer's Exercise Practicing Frame

The Norovirus Doll, as a common stuff animal for young tamers. It is designed based on the scientific structure of the protein capsid structure of Noroviruses, which consists of 90 subunits forming 60 spikes with icosahedral symmetry.

The Norovirus Lamp is also designed based on the structure of actual Norovirus which demonstrate the quaternary protein structure of Norovirus capsids.

Tea for the tamers, which consists of 4 different chinese medicine that will induce vomiting and diarrhea. The tea is for tamers to drink as a way to actively engage themselves in the physicality of Norovirus symptoms, in order to be mentally prepared for the forth coming encounter with Noroviruses.

Tamer’s board game. The board game invites audience to role play with actual biological data of anonymous patients and their chosen tamer’s type. The game is designed for 2-6 people to play, which also function as a strategy simulation training for virus tamers.


Dance Film Director: Yen-An Chen
Choreographer & Dancer: Hsin Yu Chang
Sound: Po-Hao Chi
3D Modeling: MinShu Huang
Associate Designer: Rachel Jui Chi Chang
Virus Doll Production: Ling-Li Chen
Model: Yi-Ling Wu
Lighting: Li-Wei Chen
Photo Studio: FrenchFries.tw
Game Design: MinShu Huang

Sponsor By

Viroscience Lab, Erasmus MC
De Ontdekfabriek

Facilitate By

MU ArtSpace

As a part of the BADAward 2016 winner

Special Thanks

Paul Huber, Chia-Lin He, William Myers, Jasper van Es, Cheng Guo, Paul Gong, Chun-Chi Lin, Kaung-Yi Ku, Spela Petric, Mike Thompson, Susana Camara Leret, Waag Society, 光點工坊, 立祥彫刻工藝社