The Art of Science: Biologically-Enhanced Fashion

Mushtari, from the Wanderers project
Mushtari, from the Wanderers project

This is the Björkiest thing I have ever seen.  Wanderers,  a collaborative project to create digitally grown and 3d printed wearables that could embed living matter, looks like a perfect fit for the Icelandic chanteuse, who is famous for her biophilia and wildly adventurous fashion sense.

A team led by Neri Oxman of MIT and Christoph Bader & Dominik Kolb of Deskriptiv is working on a computational growth process which can mimic a wide variety of growing structures.  Based on growth patterns found in nature, computer models create shapes that adapt to their environment.  Once a design is generated, a 3D printer creates a wearable structure.

Filip Visnjic at Creative Applications Network explains: “Starting with a seed, the process simulates growth by continuously expanding and refining its shape. The wearables are designed to interact with a specific environment characteristic of their destination and generate sufficient quantities of biomass, water, air and light necessary for sustaining life: some photosynthesize converting daylight into energy, others bio-mineralize to strengthen and augment human bone, and some fluoresce to light the way in pitch darkness.”

In the long term, the team hopes to produce 3D printed microfluidic devices through which to pump living matter (such as photosynthetic bacteria) to bring the Wanderers to life. In the short term, they’ve created an amazingly hypnotic video showing how the computer simulates growth patterns (watch it here) and some stunning molded plastic breastplates and even a skirt. The pieces, which look a lot like glistening external brains and intestines, are more attractive than I’m making them sound.  And sure, they’re wearable – if you’re Björk.

More photos and information about the Wanderers project are here.


The MIT Museum

I was in Boston a few months ago and managed a visit to the MIT Museum. I found the museum among the geeky travel destinations in the Geek Atlas – very much like my series here, but with more actual science. The Miracle of Science Bar + Grill, which lists its menu on a periodic table behind the bar, is only a few steps away from the MIT Museum, but it wasn’t open when I walked by.


The museum wasn’t open when I got there either. Apparently, getting places early is a thing I do. It was spring break. So, I waited with groups of school kids and their adults. When the doors opened, the groups had to wait to go in. I was able to walk past and immediately went upstairs, where it was still quiet. Upstairs is where you want to go to see the main exhibit. It’s very small, but there are lots of neat things to see. Like Kismet, the robot! (In fact, I just discovered that I saw Kismet on his tenth anniversary of being in the museum!). Continue reading “The MIT Museum”

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