New organs of creation (2013 )

Sculpture Room 25

With a history of the body being trained to extremes as a tool for artforms such as dance or song, New Organs of Creation proposes, with the use of stem cell technology, we will be able to grow new organs in the lab and remodel the body to have greater abilities within the fields of art.

New Organs of Creation investigates not only what these new enhancements may be, but also the sacrifices artists will be required to make to their normal bodily functions to gain heightened abilities.

Ultimately, the project asks: How will new organs of creation redefine our notion of a bodily enhancement when the desired outcome is not to be faster, stronger or smarter, but as a creative and artistic tool? And what future sacrifices are artists willing to make to step outside of normal life into the extremes of unnaturalness?



The body of the artist is where all great art originates. It is a wondrous tool to observe, think, process, synthesize, sing, perform, construct or manipulate to continually develop the understanding and experience of our world. Future enhancements to the artist’s body will redesign this source of creativity and with it transforms the traditional fields of art & creation.

Presented at the V&A is a scaffold of a redesigned larynx built to support and nurture stem cell growth to create a new biological organ. It is designed to enhance the creative and performance abilities of the artist. Once the stem cells have grown over the sugar and biocompatible scaffold, the sugar structure is dissolved and the synthetic organ is transplanted into the body. The modified voice box is one of a host of new organs of creation that will adapt the human body, in this case to help the singer achieve new vocal sounds.

New Organs of Creation not only investigates the future of growing new organs in the lab to drastically remodel the body for greater abilities, it also presents the implications of these actions.

As the artist develops their body what sacrifices might be required to normal bodily functions as a consequence of the enhancement?

Installation view at V&A



New organs – paradox of loss and gain

The 17th & 18th Century castrato singers inspire our first study of new organs of creation, the extreme phono-organ. The male castrato was castrated when young to create a voice that was prized for its high pitch and power. We believe that the future enhanced singer will similarly be required to make major sacrifices to their natural body processes and normal lifestyle, to achieve an elite creative body. Like the castrati singers, who gave up their ability to reproduce to achieve a voice that was unlike a boy, woman or male falsetto, our enhanced artists or performers will face a similar paradox between loss and gain to achieve an artistic elite.


Portrait of Italian castrato Carlo Scalzi by Joseph Flipart, c. 1737.
Image from Wikipedia Castrato


Image from RSC chemistoryworld
3D printed sugar network to feed engineered organs
1st July 2012

Remake the body

Two advances in the application of stem cell technology lead to a future of new organs to transform the abilities of the body for various artforms. Their use to remodel the body presents sacrifices to our lifestyle and normal bodily function, to move the creative anatomy into extremes of unnaturalness.

The research of Dr Amer Rana at the University of Cambridge presents an insight into the use of stem cells in extending the possibilities of the body. His research into regenerative medicine leads the way in rebuilding damaged hearts using stem cells taken from a simple blood sample. It is the easiness with which he gains the stem cells from blood that moves the potential of harvesting stem cells from donors into the realm of ever cheaper technological systems.

Other new advances in Stem Cell technology make the most of 3D printing and an unlikely material, sugar. The University of Pennsylvania, USA, prints blood vessel systems using sugar, which the stem cells attach themselves to and grow around the printed sugar. Once the stem cells have grown to make the vessel network, the sugar is dissolved to leave the blood transportation network. This process of printing and building vessel networks is crucial in the construction of complicated man-made organs to keep the multi-layers of tissue alive.

The new organs of creation shown at the V&A utilize this technique where sugar forms the scaffold structure, ready to support and grow the stem cells. After the forms are complete the new organ will be transplanted into the body.



Beyond enhancements

The future organs of creation reveal a dilemma for artists and artforms. When the body can be remodeled with extreme results, we are presented with the question:

what are the limits of how a body can be redesigned to keep-up with changing movements and fashions?

How extreme can the plasticity of the body be pushed?

How will new organs of creation redefine our notion of a bodily enhancement, especially when the desired outcome is not to be faster, stronger or smarter?

And what future sacrifices are artists willing to make to develop there bodies as creative tools?




Selected sources:

3D printed sugar network to feed engineered organs, 1 July 2012

Surgeons carry out first synthetic windpipe transplant, 7 July 2011

Singing in the pain, 29 March 2006




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