Oscillatoria Sutured is an evolving body of work, which explores and questions the uneasy human relationship with bacteria through biological design by suggesting bacteria as a future focus for textiles and fashion.
In Oscillatoria Sutured, Simon and Victoria showcase their world-leading and innovative use of Cyanobacterium Oscillatoria as a biomaterial. This bacterium is a photosynthetic autotroph and so materials and designs created from it can be fashioned sustainably using little more than sunlight and air. Moreover, the individual microscopic filaments of the bacterium, which equate to the fibres in textiles made from it, have a unique oscillatory motility meaning that materials created from it are self-weaving and also self-repairing. Finally, as the production of this biomaterial relies on photosynthesis it is oxygenic and liberates oxygen into its environment. Here we explore this exciting and unique biomaterial as it forms symbiotic relationships with traditional and natural textiles.
For their exhibit with BioFaction at Vienna Design Week, the pair have created a unique living and sutured garment made from an Oscillatoria-cotton hybrid. As the bacterium grows, its oscillatory motility will allow it to move over an agar surface to reconnect the separately placed pattern pieces. In a process rather like the opening and closing of a lotus flower, the unique self-assembling and self-repairing of this biomaterial will be revealed.
In this way, Oscillatoria Sutured can be viewed as a metaphor for our wounding of nature, with our view that the bacterial world can aid humans in healing the rifts, cuts and sutures between humanity and nature within the Anthropocene. In this sense we see bacteria as a representation for the natural world – reconnecting humans with bacteria and showing these organisms in their biological and beautiful light.
From a design point of view, the self-repairing and sustainable biomaterial could be interesting to consider as a future solution for seam-free garment production or as a solution for zip replacements, as a way to close garments in order to perfectly fit clothing to the wearer. Though currently in the developmental stage, it is interesting to speculate on whether we might be able to wear this self-oxygenating and self-repairing biomaterial in the future.
Images taken by and copyright of Dr Simon Park. Image above: Microscopic view of Cyanobacterium Oscillatoria and textile samples in which you can view the Oscillatoria filling in the gaps in the material with its own design – a collaboration between Dr Simon Park and Victoria Geaney.
Image top: Images taken by and copyright of Dr Simon Park. Cyanobacterium Oscillatoria biomaterial samples – a collaboration between Dr Simon Park and Victoria Geaney.
Dr Simon Park
Dr Simon F. Park is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he teaches Microbiology and Molecular Biology. For many years now, he has also worked at the fertile intersection between art and science, and here he has been involved in many innovative art and microbiology projects. The outcomes of these projects have been widely disseminated and they have featured at such venues as The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, The Royal Institution, The Science Gallery, The Wellcome Collection, and The Eden Project. He is also the founder and curator of C-MOULD, a unique culture collection of microorganisms with interesting properties, and for use in art and design.
See more: https://exploringtheinvisible.com
Victoria Geaney is an interdisciplinary and conceptual fashion designer and artist whose work explores the intersections and collisions between the microbial, biological and material worlds. Informed by the emerging material turn and a move towards biodesign, Victoria’s PhD at the Royal College of Art theorises her production of multidisciplinary work merging biology and synthetic biology with fashion. An ongoing collaboration with Dr Simon Park, University of Surrey, has seen the production of self-oxygenating biomaterials. Victoria and Simon are delighted to be showcasing their latest vital, self-repairing, self-oxygenating bacterial textiles on the BioFaction stand, during Vienna Design Week.
Other upcoming projects include: Victoria is working with collaborators from Cambridge University, to produce a glowing bioluminescent bacterial artwork for an upcoming Royal College of Art exhibition entitled S:FUTURE, in early October. She will also be showing her latest work in conjunction with CustoMem, an Imperial start-up company, during Imperial Fringe at the end of September. Victoria is currently consulting for the 2016 Imperial College iGEM team.
She has previously sold her designs on ASOS, shown at Milan Fashion Week, the Victoria and Albert Museum and London’s O2, and featured in magazines such as Nylon, U+Mag and Design Exchange.
See more: www.victoriageaney.com