Vespers III by OXMAN is a series of hybrid living masks exploring what it means to design (with) life by templating the gene expression of living microorganisms.
Vespers III features a living mask as an enabling technology. Combined, the three series of the Vespers collection represent the transition from death to life, or from life to death, depending on one’s reading of the collection. The living masks embody habitats that guide, inform, and ‘template’ gene expression of living microorganisms. Such microorganisms have been synthetically engineered to produce pigments and/or otherwise useful chemical substances for human augmentation such as vitamins, antibodies, or antimicrobial drugs.
The masks in Vespers III are habitats for microorganisms and sites for the creation of new life. The third series revolves around death and rebirth, denoting both spiritual incarnation and biological recapitulation. Devoid of cultural expressions and initially nearly colorless, these masks are paradoxically the most ‘alive’ of the three series. They literally ‘re-engineer’ life by guiding living microorganisms using spatial features from the artifacts of the dead. The microorganisms' protein expressions are distributed according to the spatial logic provided by the second series. To create the Vespers III masks, novel tools and techniques were developed that enable tight integration between, and control of, designed and biologically derived properties. Through this process, we have demonstrated a platform to create an entirely new class of materials, termed Hybrid Living Materials.
Computational design is integrated with additive manufacturing and synthetic biology to digitally fabricate objects that direct living microorganisms to produce pigments that emulate the colors of the first series of the collection. The project points towards an imminent future where wearable interfaces and building skins are customized not only to fit a particular shape but also a specific material, chemical, and even genetic make-up, tailoring the wearable to both the body and the environment that it inhabits.
Research at the core of this project offers a new design space for biological augmentation across a wide breadth of application domains, leveraging resolution and scale.
Text provided by the OXMAN website.