Bulletproof skin, Exploring Boundaries by Piercing Barriers,
a beautiful book of art & writing about project2.6g 329m/s.
“We humans are living beings; we are fragile, irrational and unpredictable- just like life itself; though, we sometimes need to remind ourselves that this is the case.
This is particularly true at a time when life is going through radical changes; when the engineers’ attention is drawn to the living; when life becomes a raw material, commodity, tool, instrument; when goats are said to produce spider silk in their milk, mice are sprouting human ears from their backs and technologists claim to create a life-form whose parent is a computer. Thinking about ourselves while also thinking about what we do to life, can make us feel vulnerable, frail and open to manipulation. Or, alternatively, give us a false sense of control and power; use technology for life like we use technology for war – violent, detached and abstract (not counting the victims). We might want to engineer a tougher skin to prevent our living bodies from the penetrating tools of technology.”
The paradox embedded in the above paragraph is Oron Catts’ reading of project ’2.6g 329m/s’, a BioArt project by Artist Jalila Essaidi. The goal of this art project was to create a bullet-resistant human skin through the fusion of human cells and spider silk proteins. Spider silk is “stronger” than steel, providing the ideal concept material for making light bulletproof armor or, in this case – bulletproof skin. The spider silk proteins employed originated from genetically modified organisms, including goats and silkworms. The skin, tested at the Forensic Genomics Consortium Netherlands / the Netherlands Forensic Institute at the ballistics department, successfully warded off bullets fired at reduced speed. The project received the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award conceived by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative and the CSG Centre for Society and the Life Sciences as well as an honorary mention in the Hybrid Art category of Prix Ars Electronica 2012. This was truly a “bullet heard round the world”— Jalila’s story was immediately picked up by the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, CNN,EuroNews and the BBC, among numerous others, and she has subsequently given interviews throughout the world.