As a person seemingly born with a missing coolness gene, a big part of the appeal of cyberpunk was its visual aesthetic – why stick to a baseline body when you can bolt stuff on to make it look more interesting? And while I’m getting too old to care much about impressing people with the way I look, it’s fun to see those technofashions slowly seeping out from the pages of much-loved novels and into reality.
Exhibit one: EpiSkin, described by its creator as jewellery which “extends biological identity by combining technology and design into a new decorative body surface. This project is an exploration into the decorative technological control over biology to create an artifact which is a hybrid of both.”
Cultured in a lab, this biological jewelry is made of epithelia cells which grow to create an artificial skin. The cells are grown into custom designed forms, controlled by the artist. The cells are incubated for a period of time, following which they are stained with a custom dye. The skin is then visibly sealed into a wearable object. The process in creating these pieces includes human tissue culturing as well as computer generated form on which the cells are cultured and then transplanted into adaptive jewelry. The jewelry is worn on the body, completing the relationship of biological cells mediated by technology.
Exhibit two: Bare, a skin-safe conductive ink…
… that is applied directly onto the skin allowing the creation of custom electronic circuitry. This innovative material allows users to interact with electronics through gesture, movement, and touch. Bare can be applied with a brush, stamp or spray and is non-toxic and temporary. Application areas include dance, music, computer interfaces, communication and medical devices. Bare is an intuitive and non-invasive technology which will allow users to bridge the gap between electronics and the body.
By the time the children of my contemporaries start choosing their own fashions, there’s going to be some wild stuff to see on the mean streets of style. [EpiSkin story via PosthumanBlues; Bare Conductive Ink via Bruce Sterling]