Biophilia — Organ Crafting

If genetically modified silk worms could weave the scaffold for your donor heart instead of a machine — what would you prefer?
The silkworm Bombyx Mori has been domesticated for more than 5000 years, but its genetic code has been fully sequenced since the year 2008. Instead of weaving their cocoons, a genetically re-programmed sericulture could weave biodegradable scaffolds for organs, tissues, biosensors and even products — it could shift our understanding of industrial and biotechnological manufacturing from ‘hardware’ to novel ‘wetware’

As cardiovascular diseases are globally number one cause of death we are facing an increasing scarcity of donor hearts. The current focus on artificial organ technology lies on 3d- printing and machinic production, straight in line with technological determinism. But does dealing with living material not afford a more humane way of production? What options does biotechnological fabrication offer, other than its imminent material qualities? Organ Crafting exemplifies an alternative scenario, built around fears and facts of the patient when awaiting and receiving a donor heart. Branching material properties of silk into the social realm, we can rethink current organ replacement technologies, the crude procedure of surgery and aftercare, as well as the surrounding supply system.

If our very inner would be made by silkworms and skilled biotechnologists, what would be the potential impact on our relationship with the inanimate world? What happens to the self when we begin to perceive ourselves as a system of interchangeable parts?

Artefacts: Hand blown glass, RP Zp150, degummed silk (Small edition of three objects in total)
Photography: Series of three digital C-type prints, mounted on Aluminium 17.5 (w) x 21.5 cm (h)

A patient's visit to the Organ Craftsman's studio allows him to examine the commisioned organ and to get to know the artisan.

A patient's visit to the Organ Craftsman's studio allows him to examine the commisioned organ and to get to know the artisan.

Instead of weaving their individual cocoon, the silkworms are programmed to weave collectively the matrix for a donor heart.

Instead of weaving their individual cocoon, the silkworms are programmed to weave collectively the matrix for a donor heart.

The silken scaffolds are waiting to be brought to life.

The silken scaffolds are waiting to be brought to life.

DESIGNED, DIRECTED, AND PRODUCED
by Veronica Ranner, 2011 (ongoing)

CREDITS
Science advisors: Alexander Kahlig (Phd) Fraunhofer IGB Stuttgart, Dr Suwan N. Jayasinghe, BioPhysics Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCL Dr Julian Jonas at the Department for Biomaterials, Imperial College London, Dr Christopher Hirst at the Synthetic Biology & Bioengineering Department, Imperial College London
Glassblowing: Shen Tsang Chen, Holger Mueller (Dorotheenhuette, Wolfach, Germany)
Photography: Veronica Ranner
Photographic assistance: Diego Trujillo
Actors: Julian Lamoral- Roberts, Christopher Goh, Sylvia Seymour                                                  

With kind support of Prof Dr Anthony Dunne, Prof Fiona Raby, and Dr James Auger 

Appearances

EXHIBITIONS

2015— Domestic Futures, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
2015— Crafting Anatomies, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, UK
2013— (In)Visible Design | Towards a Design Fiction, Ventura Lambrate, Milan, Italy
2013— L'empathie ou l'experience de l'autre, Design Biennale Internationale, Cité du Design, Saint Etienne, France
2012 — MAGICAL MATERIALS — Unleash your Super Powers, Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2012– 16 NANO Supermarket (Small series Nr. 3/3 currently on loan with Koert van Meensvoort, Next Nature, Amsterdam)
2012 — 3rd Int. Art & Science Exhibition & Symposium, China Science and Technology Museum, Beijing
2012 — Curious Minds — New Approaches in Design, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
2011 — Final Show, Royal College of Art, London, UK
2011— WIP, Royal College of Art, London, UK

PRINT, MEDIA & ONLINE                                                                                                                                                                               

Artist interview with Italian SKY ARTE during Milan Design Week, screened 21st April 2013
Growing design, ABITARE Magazine, No. 531, March 2013
Ghost design, ABITARE Magazine, No. 519, February 2012
Presented by Marco Rainò at Giorno per Giorno — From Eternity to Here Turin, Italy
Presented by Prof Anthony Dunne at Tasmeem Doha Design Conference, Qatar
Stylus Vision Thread
RCA Design Interactions Show, Core 77