The biofabricate summit was the first conference of its kind: bringing together the worlds of synthetic biology and design, and focusing on biofabrication as it related to industrial and consumer products. It was an incredibly inspiring day, and I was very happy to have my work on display in the design lab. A collection of growth samples and visual displays were present. and represented the first chapter in what will be a three part collection on display in January.
Taxcidum Growable is a living wearable necklace grown from known cancer fighting mushrooms. This growable is able to monitor and release medication as needed into the body, eliminating negative side effects caused by incorrectly dosing an individual patient’s needs. Developed using a combination of Ganoderma lucidum, Trametes verisolor, and a Taxol enhanced substrate of Yew sawdust, this wearable device provides medical treatment for the cancer patient, and ideal growing temperatures for the fungal symbiant. A variable initial size/food supply is designed with the patient’s needs in mind. This piece is intended for long term, but not permanent, use – with a maximum life span of 6 months before replacement.
Panellus Stipticus, commonly known as Bitter oyster, is one of a number of fungi that demonstrate bioluminescence. This fungus is particularly interesting as it's one of very few that display bioluminescence through their mycelium rather than solely the fruiting body (mushroom). In an exploration around the use of bioluminescence in bio-wearable technology, this panellus was grown in our lab on a number of substrates and photographed using long exposure.
When looking at current trends in wearable technology, it's clear that certain places on the body have become the most common recipients of this new attention. In exploring what the future of these wearables might look like, I decided to work within these specific sites, and focus on the strengths, weaknesses, and inherent meanings these locations provided.
A device worn around the wrist, while benefiting from attractive design, is often designed around a classic and simplistic wristwatch form. This wearable is primarily a visual communication tool with the wearer.
A health device worn around the neck is primarily visible to others, and not the wearer themselves. This physical location is commonly adorned with jewelry, and therefore must address aesthetic desires. The emotional significance of an object placed over a user's heart can perhaps explain why the necklace/pendant is commonly seen in health wearables.
A device worn on the face can quickly dominate the wearer’s physical appearance and ability to effectively communicate with others. Visually minimizing this wearable is of particular importance.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Mushroom and Lichen Dye workshop being held as a part of this year's NAMA foray. Taught by Alissa Allen, the Mycopigments class charged though 40 different color samples achieved through variations in pH levels, mordant, and mushroom combinations. Our samples were dyed on wool, although similar, more muted, colors were also effective on cotton. By using dried mushrooms, the weight ratio of mushroom to wool can be more easily controlled, and the colors produced are more consistent.
The second portion of the workshop gave us the chance to create block printed silk scarves with textile designer Liann Finnerty. Using a combination of iron mordant, gum Tragacanth, and mycopigment, we could apply the thickened dye with a brush to add prints to our scarves.