You can expect to marvel at more than Marcel Duchamp’s Fontaine readymade sculpture at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, as a special exhibition, “La fabrique du vivant” (The Fabric of the Living), has just kicked off. The exhibition, which explores the notion of the “living” and the interactions between organic creation and digital era technologies, features two pieces which are of particular interest to us.
The pieces in question, H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g and XenoDerma, both utilize 3D printing in their construction to not only raise questions about the intersections of organic life and digital fabrication but to create a stunning visual and interactive experience.
H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g
H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g was born out of a collaboration between architectural and urban design practice ecoLogicStudio, the Synthetic Landscape Lab from Innsbruck University and the CREATE Group / WASP Hub Denmark from the University of Southern Denmark. The large-scale piece, which towers over museum visitors, consists of a 3D printed structure and a photosynthetic cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) which is injected as a biogel.
“In H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g, a digital algorithm simulates the growth of a substratum inspired by coral morphology,” writes ecoLogicStudio. “This is physically deposited by 3D printing machines in layers of 400 microns, supported by triangular units of 46 mm and divided into hexagonal blocks of 18.5 cm. Photosynthetic cyanobacteria are inoculated on a biogel medium into the individual triangular cells, or bio-pixel, forming the units of biological intelligence of the system.”
The metabolisms of the cyanobacteria are powered by photosynthesis and end up converting radiation into oxygen and biomass. The 3D printed structure also computes the density value of each bio-pixel to arrange the photosynthetic organisms along iso-surfaces of increased radiation. The piece invites museum-goers to inject the cyanobacteria biogel into the structure to form a new bio-digital architecture.
XenoDerma, for its part, was created through a collaboration between ecoLogicStudio, the Bartlett UCL’s Urban Morphogenesis Lab (directed by eLS founder Claudia Pasquero) and, well, spiders. If you have arachnophobia, this may be the time to stop reading!
This installation utilizes 3D printing to create a sort of base structure, specifically, an algorithmically designed spatial scaffolding. The living component of the piece is introduced by Asian Fawn Tarantulas which have spun a complex network of webs in the scaffolding.
As the design studio explains: “Spiders’ minds, in this case Asian Fawn Tarantulas, do not entirely reside in their bodies, as their webs constitute a form of spatial thinking. Information from their webs become an integral part of their cognitive systems. The behaviour of the spiders and the production of silk is re-programmed in XenoDerma through the design of the 3D printed substructure and of its geometrical features.”
The captivating 3D printing-web hybrid structure reveals “an intelligence that resides somewhere at the intersection of the biological, technological and digital realms.”
Both 3D printed installations are considered by ecoLogicStudio founders Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto to be “in-human gardens.” In other words, living structures which are susceptible and receptive to both human and non-human life. The pieces beautifully juxtapose (or perhaps align) the creations of humans (and by extension bio-artificial intelligence) with those of nature, showing how the former mediates the latter.
If you want to see and engage with H.O.R.T.U.S. XL Astaxanthin.g and XenoDerma in person, both installations are being exhibited at the famed Centre Pompidou in Paris until April 15, 2019 as part of the “La fabrique du vivant” show, part of the larger Mutations-Créations series.