“Growables” presented by Smith

  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Erin Smith, Growables
  • photo from growableresearch.weebly.com


Presentation Title:

  • Growables



  • The Design is Speculative, the Debate is Real. _Koert van Mensvoort

    This artwork is a speculative design study into the future of bio integrated wearable devices. The ultimate goal is to provoke conversation around this speculative future in terms of design, use, and possible implications. Current innovations in the field of health and biofabrication have seen new abilities to 3D print skin and bone grafts from our own cells, record glucose levels through our contact lenses, and implant circuitry in our bodies using dissolvable silk. Bacterial microbes outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1 – meaning that our survival is already dependent on our internal relationships with other organisms. It’s therefore not impossible to imagine organic living matter integrating into our wearable devices.
    So how can we improve our health through bio-integrated wearables? By facilitating symbiotic relationships with organisms known to contain medicinal properties, we could effectively enhance our own body’s ability to self-heal. Creating a symbiotic relationship with our medicine could effectively remove the uncertainty and difficulties that come with appropriate dosing, and encourage our treatment to have an invested interest in our recovery. This piece invites discussion around curated symbiosis and bio-design’s place in modern health care.
    Each piece addresses a significant health problem and proposes an integration between emerging bio-technology futures, and existing research in mycological remedies. For the physical showcase, I’ve created a series of three custom displays paired with 3D-printed wooden wearables. Each display highlights the potential for physical growth of the pieces into the wearer. The design of these devices plays off the patterns of mycelial growth structures, and the current tropes of wearables in the health industry.
    [Cancer] Taxcidum Growable – a living wearable grown from known cancer fighting mushrooms releases medication as needed into the body. A decorative wooden amulet worn around the neck [Diabetes] Glucocylium – a living wearable that makes use of the nutrient sharing capacity of mycelial networks. The symbiant monitors sugar levels within the wearer, and either delivers, or removes excess glucose, which can be stored in a nutrient pack outside of the body. Visually similar to a modern wristwatch or health tracker with a glowing screen.
    [PTSD/Chronic Depression] Psilocybisol – a wearable paired with a home growth kit that provides relief from chronic depression, PSTD, and OCD through an enhanced psilocybin spore release. The user can find a calming practice in the care and growth of their enhanced medicinals, and use the wearable as a delivery device when needed.

    My previous work as an artist exploring the potentials of biofabrication included the synthesis of a wedding dress made from mushroom mycelium. A talk given in support of this project is on video.