Lo Lamento

The last few years have seen a huge increase in designers, artists and architects taking inspiration from nature. But there’s a small group that take it that one step further; actually using and harnessing  nature to create some of the most beautiful objects while shifting from traditional materials.

Victoria Geaney (PhD candidate, Royal College of Art) and Anton Kan and Bernardo Pollak (PhD candidates, University of Cambridge) are part of this group. They are the generation that breaks down the walls between disciplines and merges them to create something completely new; something that would never had happened had it not been for their collaborative spirit.

Lo Lamento was shown as part of The E-Luminate Festival at Jesus College, Cambridge, in February. The group created the dress and glowing orbs which were either entirely covered with or contained flowing tubes of media (agar substrate, and sea water and yeast medium) and used Photobacterium Kishitanni to create the eerie blue glow.

Lo Lamento

In order for the installation, which was set in a dark room, to grow and glow on a large-scale, they used fabrics as a scaffold to grow the bacteria on. For what they believe is the world’s first bioluminescent dress.

Victoria describes this as “an interesting vision for the future and could see fashion becoming biological, where we might one day grow ‘living light’ garments for future fashions, wearing living garments and growing bacteria to make our own clothes”. This is very much along the same lines as Biofabricate, who are building materials using living systems. This push towards a sustainable future where we no longer have to rely on traditional, and quite often very polluting materials, is a very positive step.

Lo Lamento

They produced this installation using the deep ocean glowing bacteria, creating an event centred around this ethereal dress and glowing flasks. Victoria made the dress from natural fibres such as structured wool felt and soft cotton, the dress was cleaned in the laboratory to remove any bacteria acquired during the making process, then covered in the food (agar and media) for the bacteria to grow, and then inoculated the whole dress with bacteria to create the bioluminescence.  The orbs were continuously fed with the media using an arduino regulated system to keep the bacteria alive and glowing.

Lo Lamento

Lo Lamento

This Project was Sponsored by:

Synthetic Biology Fund Grant-

Grant title: Novel bioluminescent reporters, awarded to Bernardo Pollak and Anton Kan in 2015, from the Cambridge Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative.

Words: Josh Plough


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