We woke up really early for this. After running around in panic, pouring coffee down our throats to wake up and almost sprinting for the tube we made it, surprisingly before anyone else. Science Gallery London has invited the Nucleus Team for a press preview of their new exhibition Spare Parts, something you simply don’t miss out on.
The Monument of Immortality
As one walks onto the exhibition floor an ominous monument emerges, its lights gently pulsating with monotonous sound completing the feeling of mystery. It’s The Monument of Immortality, created by Svenja Kratz, Bill Hart and Dietmar W. Hutmacher, guarding the entrance to the exhibition. It combines alchemical, cultural symbols and modern science, and at the top of the structure, the visitors can observe a 3D printed representation of real cells growing in the Gallery. The artwork is accompanied by another piece by the same authors, The Ghost Writer – a machine running on a programmed neural network re-writing and re-interpreting text created by the author. It works continuously so after a while the original text will disappear having taken up an entirely new form. The machine however is not perfect, sometimes it slows down, it changes handwriting styles or even gets sloppy almost as if it was… getting tired.
The Ghost Writer
Those two pieces are capturing the theme of the exhibition flawlessly, they represent the future of bioengineering but also remind us of the inherent human component, putting a little bit more soul into the scientific research.     Further into the exhibition I was awed by Nitta Burton’s New Organs of Creation project created in collaboration with Professor Lucy Di-Silvio and Trevor Coward from King’s. The installation touches again on tissue engineering techniques with 3D printed variations of human larynx that could hypothetically extend the range of human voice. It was inspired by voice apparatus of humans, koalas and cats and strongly reminded me of the concept of sensory addition – the idea that humans could improve their senses using engineering techniques to go beyond any known sensory thresholds and even create new ones.
New Organs of Creation
The whole installation is completed by an audio recording of a performer singing in the frequencies between 50Hz and 100Hz that have been scientifically shown to induce stem cells differentiating specifically into bone cells. The authors almost seem to be suggesting that perhaps one day we could develop an ability to talk to each other on a cellular level and with that entirely change our reality. Another piece that stayed with me for a long time after seeing the exhibition was Salomé Bazin’s Big Heart Data – a collection of 3D printed hearts modeled off real patient’s data. It emphasizes how different every individual is, their hearts included and refers to the big potential of individually tailored treatments. The project was collaborated with King’s own Pablo Lamata.
Big Heart Data
There is much more to the Spare Parts exhibition than those four pieces. It touches on multiple topics, combines art with cutting-edge scientific research happening right now, under our noses at King’s and all around the world. It talks about a broad range of topics from fragility of human life, organ transplants, uniqueness of human body and future directions in life-sciences. It’s thought provoking, honest, empathetic and inspiring. And most importantly – it’s completely free for anyone who wishes to spare few hours of their day to visit it. Whether they are science students, artists or responsible adults carrying on with their lives, The Science Gallery is for and welcomes everybody. Go see it.
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