Friday, July 10, 2015

3D printing enables wearable micro-organisms

After Lucy McRae paved the way for wearable liquids with a low-tech implementation in Robyn's Indestructable music video, MITs Mediated Matter professor Neri Oxman has created a similar concept with her piece 'Mushtari' using a state-of-the-art multimaterial 3d printer.

She devised transparent hollow channels that are grown in the digital design space, as seen in the video below. These are then 3d printed, with the hollow spaces filled with support material for which she had to devise a specific method in order to be able to remove it completely.

The idea here is that new materials can be created on the body, such as fuels, yeast, food and medicine, by having microorganisms in the channels react to sunlight. For future developments I think it is important to place the wearer central in the design process - how will the wearable fit the wearer's dynamic identity, what qualities and values should it strengthen? I can imagine this to be useful for chefs who prepare special sauces, gravies, ragus, juices, marinades or creams and would like to carry their ongoing creation along with them through the restaurant to be able to show customers, taste and influence it on-the-fly. I can also imagine it to be useful for medical professionals such as doctors or holistic therapists who can then show their medicinal prowess with their own body and establish a sense of authority in a futuristic, estranging and possibly quirky way. Most important is that in the end, the human being has to be wearing the wearable, not the other way around.