‘Bricolage’ 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.
Guy Ben-Ary and Nathan Thompson working in SymbioticA Labs.
Stem cells growing in tissue culture conditions
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.
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.
The Biological Alchemy and the Materiality of the work
The video below shows 2 sets of materials we are working with. On the left hand side a drop of blood falling on sheets made of silk. The video on the right demonstrates what happens to these materials after applying Biological Alchemy. layers of heart cells twitching and banding a printed silk scaffold to create our Bio-robots.
We believe that the biological sorcery, or alchemy, that enables the conversion of a drop of blood into a living animated entity is something that needs to be explored from a cultural perspective. This is an intriguing, challenging and frankly, quite disturbing prospect.
Bricolage Prototypes –
Biological Robotic Entities
These videos shows our bio-robotic prototypes. They are approximately 7mm square. An achievement that to our knowledge was never done before in an art context. We work on increasing their size and their self assembly module to create 2-3 cm square robotic entities.