Category Archives: living fashion

Spidergoats?

By Carmen Rivera

Scientists hope to soon be able to spin spider silk without the aid of spiders, achieving this task would not only be an amazing technological breakthrough in the field of genetic manipulation, but also in the development of new and exciting fibers. Randy Lewis, a professor of molecular biology in the University of Wyoming, who’s been experimenting with the genetic manipulation of the spider’s silk producing protein. The development of the spider’s silk fiber would be an amazing advancement in the fiber sciences field by being an organic material that is not only elastic, but also quite possibly the strongest man-made fiber. But where do goats come into the mix? Well, spiders being the territorial and aggressive creatures they are make it impossible to farm, unlike goats that are accustomed to such. Because of that Prof. Lewis started working on implanting the spider’s silk producing gene into the goat’s genetic structure. The results were unbelievable, it worked! Goats could now produce the same protein that allowed their milk to be spun from liquid to solid. Such amazing results caught the Army’s attention. They now plan to use the goat’s milk fibers in their bulletproof vests, which are now 100% effective. After the development of the “Biosteel”, or what the spider silk is now referred to as, scientist researched into even further possibilities like bulletproof skin. Scientists took the genetically modified silk and cultured it with human skin cells that, after about five weeks, created a tough, flexible, living material that is calculated to make a slow bullet ricochet from skin. Scientists hope to further refine the discovery into cells that can actually stop any type of bullet as consistently as bulletproof vest. And so the spider gave the goat genetic properties that made silk as strong as iron that then made skin as strong as Superman’s.  Science will never cease to amaze us.

Photo Source:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/11/30/spider-goats-and-other-genetically-engineered-nightmares

Sources:

Handwerk, Brian. “Artificial Spider Silk Could Be Used for Armor, More.” Daily Nature and Science News and Headlines | National Geographic News. National Geographic Channel, 14 Jan. 2005. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_tv_spider.html>.

“Military Breakthrough: ‘Bulletproof’ Skin Made from Spider Silk.” The Week – Science+Tech. The Week, 19 Aug. 2011. Web. <http://theweek.com/article/index/218433/military-breakthrough-bulletproof-skin-made-from-spider-silk>.

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Victimless Leather and the Promise of a Victimless Utopia

by Chelsea Franklin

In the Museum of Modern Art in New York City a project titled ‘Victimless Leather” was displayed as a small portion of a larger series known as the Tissue Culture and Art (TC&A) Project. The piece is described as being a prototype for a stitch-less jacket, grown in a techno scientific ‘body’. According to an article by the artists themselves, titled “Growing Semi-Living Sculptures: The Tissue Culture & Art Project” the core of the project functioned as an artistic manipulation of living materials, a way to challenge human reaction and prevailing western views of nature-culture dualism. The project operated out of the University of Western Australia, and was lead by artist/scientists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr. Catts and Zurr argue that the piece appears to be a part of the slowly manifesting obsession with the genetic code that has presented itself as a current trend within contemporary art. “Victimless Leather” has focused primarily on the cell, communities of cells and the forming of tissue grown from immortalized cell lines harvested from both humans and mice. In the exhibit the piece appears as a small, grown, outer garment living within a type of incubator, confronting people with the concept and moral implications of wearing previously living material. According to the project’s website, it is apart of the series that functions as the promise of a victimless utopia, combating how western culture appears to have difficulty stomaching images of real violence, but willingly views synthetic or simulated images of gore and violence. In another article by the artists titled, “Are the Semi-Living Semi-Good or Semi-Evil?” Catts and Zurr explore the “language used to describe life and evolutionary processes; from bacteria to collections of cells.” They discuss semi-living entities created by the Tissue Culture and Art Project, and investigate different notions of life “in the context of current rhetoric used in our pre-war global society”. The project has successfully challenged established ideas on the wearing of previously living substances, and provoked interesting thoughts as to the connections made here between art and science. As a whole, the potential of developing a substance that replaces leather is insightful and manages to initiate further investigation into the morality of wearing animal remains.

Photo:

Sources:

Catts, Oron, and Ionat Zurr. “Growing Semi-Living Sculptures: The Tissue Culture & Art Project.” Leonardo 35.4 (2002): 365-70. JSTOR. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://0-www.jstor.org.librarycat.risd.edu/stable/1577394&gt;.

Hemmings, Jessica, and Caryn Simonson. “Grown Fashion: Animal, Vegetable or Plastic?” Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture 6.3 (2008): 262-73. Textile Technology Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

Schwartz, John. “Museum Kills Live Exhibit – New York Times.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/science/13coat.html&gt;.

“The Tissue Culture and Art Project – The Victimless Utopia.” The Tissue Culture and Art Project – Home. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://tcaproject.org/projects/victimless&gt;.

Zurr, Ionat, and Oron Catts. “Are the Semi-Living Semi-good or Semi-evil?” Technoetic Arts: a Journal of Speculative Research 1.1 (2003): 47-60. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.