Daisy Ginsberg, The Synthetic Kingdom
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is a postmodern Michelangelo — equal parts designer and researcher. Her magnum opus, The Synthetic Kingdom, is a collection of prints, animations and objects that suggest how synthetic biology might add to the tree of life. Each of its sculptures represents a speculative syn-bio curiosity, from a new strain of light-emitting bacteria that evolved from a hairball found in a patient’s stomach, to bioluminescent kidney stones in bioelectronics-factory workers.
“Synthetic biology is promising to change the world, from sustainable fuel to tumour-killing bacteria,” says Ginsberg, 28. “But personally I’m sceptical about how we should use it — just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should.” She employs these fictional objects to raise questions such as “where do we draw the line?” and “what’s natural, and what’s synthetic?”
1. COLONIC ALCHEMY
Perhaps the ultimate pathology: the patient’s waste material turned to gold. It had always been thought that gold was impossible to synthesise. Genetic testing failed to reveal the origins of these prized alchemical bacteria. Previously uncelebrated, the colon is now a place of manufacture and our most precious organ.
2. MATERIALS: DISPOSABLE CUP
Triggered by light, engineered bacteria secrete the fibrous protein KERATIN, producing a biodegradable material to replace petroleum-derived plastics.
Inside this resin “kidney” are large glow-in-the dark “stones”