After visiting the 3D Medical Expo in Maastricht last week, this journalist made her way to Eindhoven’s Strijp S – The Netherlands’ equivalent of Silicon Valley. In addition to being home to some of the world’s biggest tech brands like Bosch and Philips (and also incidentally the metal 3D printing company Additive Industries), Strijp S houses the MU Artspace – a gallery on the cutting edge of the art scene.
MU’s current exhibit, Fluid Matter: Liquid and Life in Motion, is a tech lover’s dream as it combines science with an artistic license, in thought provoking and interactive exhibits.
The Bio Art & Design Awards
Fluid Matter is a brief set by the Dutch Bio Art & Design (BAD) Award. The BAD Award is an annual prize from the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the Medical Research Council (ZonMW) and BioArt Laboratories in Eindhoven.
As its third year under this name, BAD sees partnerships forming between artists and some of the world’s biggest scientific institutions like the Wellcome Trust, and Kings College in London.
In Dynamorphosis Lilian van Daal and Roos Meerman use 3D printing to investigate the ‘hidden’ biological processes of the body. In total, their exhibit is composed of 3 pieces: breast tissue, the intestines and the lungs. Each one incorporates 3D printing techniques that allow the object to expand and contract or, as in the case of these glowing blue alveoli, channel water.
Upended in a dark tank, microfluidic channels in the alveoli are active with a UV liquid mimicking the flow of oxygen in our lungs. Each sac bubbles with the liquid, looking like tadpoles about to hatch from the frogspawn.
Hanging from the ceiling is the second piece that looks at breast tissue. As the environment around the coral-like sculpture changes, it’s 3D printed construction allows it to expands and contract.
The environmental impact of plastic
As plastic in the world’s oceans becomes a growing concern, often at the heart of 3D printing materials research, artist Thijs Biersteker explores this idea in the interactive Plastic Reflective.
When standing in front of a bath of murky black liquid, a visitor’s shadow is reflected by bits of broken plastic. Moving an arm, or stepping to the side, more bits of plastic pop up from the dark water.
Blood, sweat, and tears
Another interactive exhibit is BS&T (Blood, Sweat & Tears) by Tarah Rodah. A teardrop shaped phial of water sits on a desk and on first glance doesn’t seem to show much. In front of the phial is a box of salt – still it doesn’t seem all that exciting. But this box of salt is the Arduino powered switch for the glass teardrop.
In touching the salt, visitors complete a hidden electric circuit and fill the phial with an explosion of red and white molecular spheres. Each sphere is made with samples taken from the artist’s body, representing the blood and sweat of the title.
van Daal and Meerman’s Dynamorphosis is one of the winners of the 2016 BAD Award, alongside Cecilia Jonsson’s Haem; that uses iron in the blood to fashion the needle of a compass and Pei-Ying Lin Tame is to Tame; a performance piece interacting with wireframe body parts to communicate the body’s reaction to viruses and antibiotics. Each artwork is awarded €25,000 (Over $26,000 USD) in prize money and is judged by an international jury.
A full progam of the exhibiting artists can be found at the MU website here. This year’s exhibition runs until 26 February 2017, and the next will open on 2 December 2017.
Featured image shows 3D printed microfluidic alveoli in Dynamorphosis by Lilian van Daal and Roos Meerman Photo by Beau Jackson