Technical considerations referred to:
Diatom cultivation and biotechnologically relevant products. Part I: Cultivation at various scales
Publisher: Springer Berlin / Heidelberg
Issue: Volume 60, Number 6 / February, 2003
ISSN: 0175-7598 (Print) 1432-0614 (Online)
Human has created such a huge archive of technologies which are arguably a trigger for Anthopocene epoch. However, without breakthroughs in nanotechnology and biotech which again initiated by military and astronomical purposes, we are not able realize the dogmatic solution that nature has been providing us. Architects and inventors are constantly looking for morphological solution from the nature. We could now manipulate biotech at nano level and trigger a series of events that might create vast changes in every aspect of life. Understanding how nature works at complexity science level as described by Rachel Armstrong is promising enough to ensure our creations blend into the whole ecosystem without creating rejection by nature. By taking the environment as a body system, putting up any man-made creation should be taking as transplanting a new organ to a body. We desperately need a paradigm shift from the current technological ambience.
The arrival of Anthropocene epoch also means the end of Darwinian Age as described by Freeman Dyson. Genomic breakthrough of Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomic Institution by creating an organism out of four basic chemicals in his laboratory marked a significant footstep on Post-Darwinian Age where life is no longer being created by nature or evolution but could be created artificially by human being. Biomimicry movements in robotic, computer science as well as architecture show that human is finally accepting rules and picking up wisdoms by nature that has been ignored. Therefore, applying biological understanding or mimicking behaviors from nature is not a trend but a necessity to create a more sustainable environment with the principles that have been forgotten. It is an act of atonement.
The project is being developed in the Post-Darwinian atmosphere where artificial evolution is possible and cybernetic principles as its ground. Choosing a potential biological material out of the ‘toolbox’ provided by nature that could be manipulated it in architectural context is the first stage of the methodology. Understanding its behaviors and giving it a right task to achieve desired result is the next. The research on a particular type of phytoplankton called diatom as an architectural material was inspired by its natural behaviors and biological characteristics. It is the only creature on earth that uses silicon to build its silica skeleton (frustules), the primary constituent of glass. Silicon is also found in human connective tissues, bones, teeth, skin, eyes, glands and organs. Therefore it is not surprising that the initial studies on creating artificial human bones as structural material leads to the studies on diatom. Apart from the fact that diatoms around the world carry out photosynthesis and produce 23% of oxygen in the atmosphere, it has approximately 40% of genetic structure that is shared by bacteria, which makes diatoms highly compatible and exists in almost all the aqueous mediums on earth. Not to mentioned their beautiful and complicated structural morphology at nano-scale that has been adored by artists and architects. German biologist, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) had produced large amount of illustrations on different kind of diatoms through his microscope. However, the existence of diatoms as suggested by fossil diatoms dates from the early Jurassic period.
Casa diatom which acts as a ‘diatomarium’ demonstrates and simplifies the methodology to grow diatoms thus manipulates its biological behaviors to find out the potential and limitation for architectural application. It is as straight forward as experimenting the hybridization of raw materials like limestone, calcium, silicon, iron and aluminum in creating a man-made binder called cement, then with right mixture of sand, gravel and water it becomes concrete that provides certain characteristics that could be manipulated in construction. Similarly, it is just the matter of time to domesticate this organism as a material that might be acting like living circuits which could be “grew” into different forms of appearance in architecture.
However, the project was not intended to create a perfect model or system but rather in searching of right ingredients from the nature palette and putting them into relevant positions to generate sustainable role in architectural environment. It is a very small step towards how architecture should be responding in the context of Post-Darwinian Age. The project is being positioned within presumably ethical parameters where the material is born out of nature with cybernetic hybridization or artificial evolution, then symbiosis into a controlled architectural environment, even though the realization might be limited by the scale and growing time of the organism, breakthroughs in genetic technology is constantly providing optimistic motivation in design with the use of living materials as an initial design consideration.
The inscription reads Ab Intra, "from within".
Biojewellery is a collaborative project involving Tobie Kerridge and Nikki Stott, design researchers at the Royal College of Art, and Ian Thompson, a bioengineer at Kings College London, its aim is to bring the medical and technical processes of bioengineering out of the lab and into the public arena. Funding totaling approximately £60,000 has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Science Council as a part of their Partnership for Public Awareness initiative.
"Hospitals need to follow strict guidelines when working with human cells and patient consent is a key part of this. It is important to us and our couples that when we design the rings we are using their cells." http://www.biojewellery.com/
There are 2 sources for the cell, 1. Harvesting cells from a biopsy, 2. Collecting chip bone cells from wisdom teeth extraction. Of course, the consent by the volunteered participants is fairly important in this project. To find out more on the process of growing cells into bone, click here.
Specimen of Secrecy About Marvelous Discoveries by EDUARDO KAC
"Specimen of Secrecy about Marvelous Discoveries" is a series of works comprised of what Kac calls "biotopes", that is, living pieces that change during the exhibition in response to internal metabolism and environmental conditions. Each of Kac's biotopes is literally a self-sustaining ecology comprised of thousands of very small living beings in a medium of earth, water, and other materials. The artist orchestrates the metabolism of these organisms in order to produce his constantly-evolving living works.
The biotopes are a discrete ecology because within their world the microorganisms interact with and support each other (that is, the activities of one organism enable another to grow, and vice-versa). However, they are not entirely secluded from the outside world : the aerobic organisms within the biotope absorb oxygen from outside (while the anaerobic ones comfortably migrate to regions where air cannot reach). A complex set of relationships emerge as the work unfolds, bringing together the internal dialogical interactions among the microorganisms in the biotope and the interaction of the biotope as a discrete unit with the external world. The biotope is affected by several factors, including the very presence of viewers, which can increase the temperature in the room (warm bodies) and release other microorganisms in the air (breathing, sneezing).
The biotope is what Kac calls a "nomad ecology", that is, an ecological system that interacts with its surroundings as it travels around the world. Every time a biotope migrates from one location to another, the very act of transporting it causes an unpredictable redistribution of the microorganisms inside it (due to the constant physical agitation inherent in the course of a trip). Once in place, the biotope self-regulates with internal migrations, metabolic exchanges, and material settling.
Each of Kac’s “biotopes” has a cycle, which starts when the artist produces the self-contained world by integrating microorganisms and nutrient-rich media. In the next step, Kac controls the amount of energy the microorganisms receive in order to keep some of them active and others in suspended animation. This results in what the viewer may momentarily perceive as a still image. However, even if the image seems "still" the work is constantly evolving and is never physically the same. Only time lapse video can reveal the transformation undergone by a given biotope in the course of its slow change and evolution. Once an exhibition begins, in the third phase of the cycle the artist allows the microorganisms in suspended animation to become active again. The work becomes progressively different, changing every day, every week, every month. This process continuously transforms the image and may, depending of factors such as lighting conditions and exhibition length, result in its effacement — until the cycle begins again.
To find out more about Kac and his projects, click here.