‘Bricolage’ (temporary name) is a research and development project into the production of a new work that centres around the process of growing artistic, microscopic, autonomous and living biological robots that during their exhibition self-assemble into one, large scale (can be seen with the naked eye) biobot or a living kinetic sculpture. We propose to implement (grow) heart muscle cells (Biological motors) deep inside and onto silk structure (Biobot’s body) to produce predictable, repeatable contractions with the intent to propel a biological kinetic micro-artwork.

Please find below images and videos that demonstrate the huge potential of the project  and the current state of our research that highlights the feasibility of such a complex and ambitious proposal

Guy Ben-Ary and Nathan Thompson working in SymbioticA Labs.


 Stem cells growing in tissue culture conditions

Stem Cells

Heart Muscle Cells beating/twitching in a Petri dish. 

The following movie was taken in real time. It demonstrates the incredible properties of the heart muscle cells and their potential to be used as bio-motors or actuators. This movie was magnified x100 via a microscope.

Movie 1

Bodies made of silk

The process of printing silk with light on a motorized microscope is unique. The innovative printing process we developed uses aqueous silk,  that is treated with a photosensitive compound inducing hardening when exposed to light, thus the tiny light beam from the microscope is momentarily shone onto the silk in the pattern I have designed on screen, then what results is a silk structure ready for seeding with twitching cells.

Silk Lith Res test




Bricolage Prototypes – Heart Muscle cells moving bodies of silk

At first we grew the heart muscle cells over silk fibers. This video clearly shows how the heart muscle cells bend the fiber. This was our first step in the making of an animated robotic body.

The movie shows how heart muscle cells grow in masses (They are the dark opaque flash on the left hand side) onto the silk structure and bends the silk (the clear, structure with the rough surface).

This movie represents our best trial. The movie shows the silk scaffolds ‘swimming’ in media solution. This could be seen with the naked eye !! and not via a microscope.