Bio Impressionism
Solar Sonnet
Global Trend Report
Cut Glass Slip Cast
Compound Stool
Woven Textiles: Digital
Festive Storage
Ornament Tea Set
Hub Light

On the cusp of the age of synthetic biology, this installation serves as a platform to reflect and speculate the possible futures, applications and consequences of designing solutions for water contamination. With this installation we hope to portray the recurring desire to paint romanticized images of the sacred landscape, however the pigments are only expressed in vivid purple and orange as a consequence of contaminated water.

Using transgenic technology two new species of Lemna minor, Lemna Orange and Lemna Purple, have been synthetically engineered to visually communicate the measurement of heavy metal contaminates in fresh bodies of water. A triptych of three pools are painted with these new species, that change color from green to orange or green to purple when growing in water that is polluted with traces of lead.

Lemna minor is a free-floating aquatic plant species of the Lemna (Duckweed) family that grows throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. It is a natural hyperaccumulator of metal content, which inspired the genetic modification of it to serve as a visibly recognizable bioindicator. Researchers at Duke University built a system that successfully detects for the presence of TNT, which then follows a signal transduction pathway, and eventually calls for the transcription of a specific gene. This research served as a guide for the adaptation of Duckweed to detect for the presence of heavy metal content and upon detection, activate either a gene responsible for the production of beta carotene in the species Lemna Orange, or anthocyanins in Lemna Purple.The lines of what is and is not natural have been blurred in the anthropocene by the massive impact of humans on the earth’s processes and will only continue to exacerbated by advances in synthetic biology. How we have exploited resources and fundamentally modified our environment should inform how similar concerns should be faced.

Though not meant as a functional design solution, this technology could have the potential to be used for bioindication and phytoremediation in bodies of water where esting is scarce and accountability is needed. Releasing a genetically modified organism into the environment would have a significant and potentially unpredictable effect on other species and surrounding ecosystem. Our intention was to draw into question the use of such technology and the fundamental implications of introducing a new species into the world. Though the risks of this bio- technology is no greater than the research currently being conducted in genetic engineering, to further mitigate the potential for risk this genetic sequence will be made open source and published to self policing communities that are aware of the ethical implications of synthetically engineered plants.

Collaborators : Alex Exum & Joyce Lee

和木 Hé Mù
Material Manipulation
Matrix Jig
Wood Reduction
Suspension Molding
Woven Textiles: Hand