anna paluch

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Fashion 2050: Biolace

Carole Collet is a professor in Design for Sustainable Futures and Director of Design & Living Systems Lab, focusing her research on biodesign, biofacturing, high-tech sustainability. Collet is also a pioneer of the Textile Futures discipline at Central Saint Martins.

What is unique about Collet’s work is that most of her projects are fictional, in the sense that they represent possible products or situations in the year 2050 and beyond.

One such fictional project, is “Biolace” (2010-2012), a series of four plants, Strawberry Noir, Basil n 5, Tomato Factor 60, and GoldNano Spinach, which are presented in a hyper-engineered state. The works are provocative, in the sense that they bring up discussions of the pros and cons of living technologies and genetic engineering. How far is ‘too far’ when it comes to controlling living organisms to our benefit? What happens when these plants become a reality? The main goal is to eliminate chemical-based textile manufacturing while also harvesting food to eat. 

But would you, as the artist states, “eat a vitamin-rich black strawberry from a plant that has also produced your little black dress?”

In the future, plants may become multi-purpose factories, producing both food and fabric. Instead of polluting the air with gas or the water with runoff like in a traditional factory, water and sunlight are the only fuels these ‘factories’ would need. Sustainability has never looked (and tasted!) so good.

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Playing With Our Food

Edible arrangements and fancy chefs turn food into art, but what about food packaging?

Designers are combining culinary arts with food packaging, creating vessels that are safe for the environment and even edible! No need for fancy garnishes, the packaging itself is a work of art. 

Combining biological engineering and design creates new ways of not only using food, but talking about food consumption.

Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine has many creative packaging solutions, but one of the most exciting designs comes from the series “This Too Shall Pass”. The series includes packaging for oil-based products, smoothies and short lifespan liquids, and dry foods, such as rice. The oil package is “made of caramelized sugar, coated with wax”, and to open it you crack it like an egg. The package melts in water after use. The smoothie package is made of “gel of the agar-agar seaweed and water”. As the contents become closer to expiration, the package begins to wither. The rice package uses biodegradable beeswax and to access its contents you peel the package like a fruit!

Another innovative food packaging design is called “Edible Growth”, an ongoing project created by food designer Chloé Rutzerveld. The project combines 3D printing with food management and presentation, as everything, even the dirt, is edible.

These designers are part of a new wave of waste management design, where not only are we thinking about how to cut down waste, but how to make waste management LOOK good. It’s not only an innovation in design, but in biological engineering and sustainability too.

-Anna Paluch

Playing with Perspective

Like the fantastical drawings of early physicists, artist John Chervinsky composes photographs which seem to defy explanation, but also inspire curiosity. The artists’ series, An Experiment in Perspective (2003-2010) re-imagines the space of the still life as one where optics “challenge sensory perception”, similar to the works of graphic artist M.C. Escher

The artists’ background in engineering and applied physics brings another dimension to the series. Our perception of mathematics and the laws of physics become distorted, some elements seeming to float in space. One may begin to wonder if some of the found objects within the photographs have any relation to each other, or is this another layer of perspective play?

Another observable layer is the perspective of medium; are these photographs of still life, or photographs of sculptures, which are themselves works of art. There are more questions than answers in Chervinsky’s work, but that is what seems to be the point. If no one ever asked questions on how things work, we’d have no experiments, scientists, engineers, even artists.

-Anna Paluch

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Nature

There’s a cool record out on the market by Swedish group Shout Out Louds. Why is it so cool? It’s made of ice.

Bad puns aside, the band’s record, “Blue Ice” (2012) defies expectations of audio playing, creating a record that you have to maintain over time, either keeping it in the freezer after one play, or making yourself a whole new one again. When you purchase the record, it comes with a silicon mold and a bottle of distilled water, which apparently is better than regular water as it minimizes the “formation of air bubbles in the ice that made the needle jump”.

If records melting over time aren’t your thing, perhaps a laser-cut wooden record is? Artist Amanda Ghassaei, who previously used a 3-D printer to make her own record, has moved on to laser cutting slices of wood. For “Laser Cut Record” (2013) Ghassaei created a program that is “modified for any song, material, cutting machine, record size, and turntable speed”. The artist even provides instructions on how to make your own laser-cut wooden record.

Artist Bartholomäus Traubeck managed a similar feat, except instead of embedding music onto wood or ice, he uses the already present markings on his material to create music. In “Years” (2011) the artist takes a slice of a tree and through a specially designed machine is able to ‘play’ the tree rings that have naturally formed over time (you can literally say that these records took decades to produce). Instead of using a conventional needle, sensors are used to “gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes”, creating a hauntingly beautiful symphony.

-Anna Paluch