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SPARE PARTS: RETHINKING HUMAN REPAIR

A free exhibition and events programme at Science Gallery London exploring the art, science, ethics and technology of organ transplants and tissue regeneration.

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Spare Parts

SPARE PARTS, from 28 February to 12 May, is the second exhibition season from the new Science Gallery London at King’s College London in London Bridge. The free exhibition and accompanying events programme will explore the art, science, ethics and technology that enables human repair and alteration.

Drawing on the latest research from the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine and the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences at King’s, the exhibition examines organ transplantation and tissue regeneration through the creative responses of world-renowned artists and designers.

The distinctive new season considers the emotional and psychological aspects of living with a replacement organ or limb; organic or engineered. Developed alongside scientists from King’s College London and the gallery’s Young Leaders – 15-25 year-olds from   neighbouring boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark – the exhibition will invite visitors to question whether ‘spare parts’ can exist outside the biological body, or whether our bodies can be a sum of independent parts that are regenerated, enhanced, donated or altered.

Exhibition highlights include experimental incubators hosting cellular life from Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, auditory prosthetics from sculptor Tabatha Andrews, body parts crafted from fabrics created by textile designer Amy Congdon and 3D-printed models of hearts designed by Salomé Bazin, founder of Cellule, a collaborative design studio for healthcare innovation. Video and sound installations describing the impact of organ donation are also showcased alongside the voices of patients, artists, and scientists from the Biomedical Engineering Department, the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine and the Centre for Oral, Clinical & Translational Sciences at King’s.

Curatorial Advisor, Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Senior Vice President/Provost (Health) at King’s College London and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners, says “SPARE PARTS presents a fantastic opportunity for scientists at King’s to engage the communities in London and beyond with their research in novel and surprising ways.”

Stéphanie Delcroix, curator-producer for SPARE PARTS says, “The thought-provoking artworks featured within SPARE PARTS attempt to challenge preconceptions around the repair of the human body. This distinctive exhibition offers unexpected perspectives and striking visual metaphors that describe the technological and scientific advances that can restore our bodies and sustain human life”.

At the centre of the exhibition, immersive experience ‘The Gut’ offers an interactive space to explore the art and science of human repair first hand. Visitors can splice cacti to help them understand issues surrounding human tissue grafting, stitch together electrodes while considering innovations in biotechnology, thumb reading materials gathered for the Foreign Bodies Reading Group and exchange bacteria via the SuperTurd Card Game.

Students from King’s College London’s Synthetic Anatomy & Biotechnology will also host a 3D print open source body parts workshop within the gallery, while independent magazine, OUTLND, will take over the space during their SPARE PARTS residency. This comes ahead of the season’s first Friday Late on 15 March, featuring events curated by the gallery’s Young Leaders. The full events programme will be announced in February.

Science Gallery London is a distinctive new cultural landmark at King’s College London’s Guy’s campus in London Bridge, just moments from Borough Market and the Shard. The innovative new gallery examines the great challenges of our time and brings to life new research from King’s through the lens of science and art.

Artists featured in SPARE PARTS include:
Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, world-renowned artists and curators exploring the ethics behind regenerative biology technologies. Vessels of Care & Control: Compostcubator 2.0, consists of a low-tech incubator, engineered to be heated by compost and decomposing mulch. This installation, situated in the newly-renovated Guy’s Courtyard, harnesses the power of living microbes to support the development of cellular life.

In an era where the lifestyle of humans is threatening extinction of the honey bee, Hivecubator 3.0, by artist and beekeeper Michael Bianco, highlights our human interdependence with bees. This DIY incubator is designed to care for living tissues grown in-vitro with the survival of the cells reliant on the health of the bee colony that lives within the incubator.

Australian interdisciplinary artist John A Douglas’ video installation Circles of Fire,is an allegorical retelling of the artist’s physical and emotional journey through his real-life experience of receiving a donated kidney.

Multi-disciplinary designer Salomé Bazin, founder of Cellule, a collaborative design studio for healthcare innovation, and Pablo Lamata from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at King's College London, have devised a system for creating personalised digital and 3D-printed model of hearts that can help doctors plan surgery for transplant patients. Big Heart Data, a Science Gallery London commission, aims to visually render the mathematical modelling of the growth of a given heart to prevent heart disease and ultimately surgery.

Canadian biologist and artist Francois-Joseph Lapointe and art historian Marianne Cloutier of the Department of Biological Science, Université de Montréal have developed the Microbiome Rebirth Incubator, an installation exploring microbiomial transfer between mothers and babies during childbirth. The work examines the possibility of enhancing the microbiome by seeding babies born by caesarean section with the mother’s bacteria.

Listening Objects by sculptor and installation artist Tabatha Andrews are wearable ‘micro installations’ designed to alter our perceptions of sound and space through audio prosthesis. 'Disturbance III' is an acoustic wall of felt that absorbs light and sound, questioning the relationship between sight, hearing and touch. Hum, a musical score composed by Andrews and performed by soprano Victoria Oruwari will be played in the gallery space, temporarily altering the listeners’ hearing ability and the normal functioning of the inner ear.  

Designer Agi Haines The Anatomy Lesson: Dissecting Medical Futures is an interactive visceral voyage into future medicine. Audiences will be able to interact with and probe futuristically modified body parts, created by Haines, to determine the positive and negative effects of technological innovation.

Photographer Tim Wainwright and sound artist John Wynne’s Birds I Wouldn’t Have Heard, conveys the impact of disease and organ transplantation on the daily lives and identity of transplant recipients. These video and audio portraits use materials gathered at transplant wards at the Royal Free and Harefield Hospitals, with insights into individual experience contrasted by photographs of the hospital environment and paraphernalia.

Crafting the Body is a research project and installation from King’s College London that explores the use of traditional textile craft techniques, such as embroidery and lace-making, and applies them to the fields of tissue engineering and body repair. London-based textile designer Amy Congdon worked with the Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics Department at King’s, using her knowledge of textiles to research the making of couture biological body parts.

Four columns of light make up Michael Pinsky’s Life Pulse; registering visitor’s heartbeats to create ever-changing illuminated rhythms and patterns. Through the process of setting their own heartbeat in light the users conjoin with the sculpture to create a kinetic form, part human, part technological.

Burton Nitta’s New Organs of Creation, attempts to heal the divided voice of the British people using tissue engineering techniques. This audio work uses the voices of people from across Britain as they talk about their hopes for the future of the nation. Nitta will create an artificial voice, generated by a bioengineered vocal box, by combining these collective voices with the latest research in stem cell technology. The project is made in collaboration with Professor Lucy Di-Silvio, Professor of Tissue Engineering and her team at the Centre for Oral, Clinical & Translational Sciences, King’s College London.

Tina Gorjanc’s The Self-Donor Workshop, is a factory of the future in the form of a production chain for bioengineered body parts. This participatory installation suggests a future in which everyone would be able to have failing organs replaced by growing cells extracted from their own tissues, thus avoiding the need for donor organs and immunosuppressant drugs.

Antye Guenther’s Prosthesis – Simulation kit of externalised human brain tissue comprises a display case with 12 possible brain prosthetics. A supporting soundtrack plays the recording of the artist's presentation of the fictional future where differently shaped brain extensions boost the performance or regenerate lost functions of our brain.

Svenja Kratz’s Monument to Immortality includes a holographic representation merging time-lapse cell imagery with genetic algorithms, a live feed of the cells growing at Science Gallery London and a 3D-printed structure created by translating the movement of cells into a sculptural form. The Ghost Writer writing machine uses a programmed neural network to produce a narrative based on an original stream-of-consciousness text created by Kratz reflecting on the prospect of separating the mind from the body and being resurrected as an artificial life entity. Over time, the AI engine will re-combine and re-write the original story to produce a new text.