For this Looking Outwards assignment, I chose to focus on the bioLogic project from the MIT Tangible Media Group. Hiroshi Ishii discussed it in his lecture, but I didn’t understand it the first time around, and I wanted to research it because I am very interested in the idea of biological entities that play an active role in art, and especially in new media, which is often regarded as an art form that is often associated with tech more than anything else.
Essentially, bioLogic was an investigation into programming “living organisms and invent responsive and transformable interfaces of the future.” The group focused on the Bacillus subtilis natto, which expands and contracts in response to atmospheric moisture. The group utilized this property of the bacteria to make several products including little synthetic flowers, but most notably, a garment that ventilates based on the sweat coming off of the body.
Their process documentation is very helpful in understanding how their project actually works:
Finally, their project webpage contains a couple of interviews — one with a representative of New Balance, who talks about the importance of bioLogic to the atheltic industry, highlighting the success of the team in making an interesting and useful product.