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Lecturers : Boo Chapple and Malte Wagenfeld

I think the biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning…’ – Steve Jobs

The next phase of human technology looks likely to be driven by the potential of manipulating biological matter, from growing human body parts to biological machines and bio-computing: a future grown in the test-tube, not made in the factory. This raises many questions, from the ethical concerns arising from being able to manipulate ‘the stuff-of-life’ to more utilitarian questions of the how we will design in this new ‘biological-age’ and how such a future might look: what might a bio-designer create? These are the questions of science fiction and designers have long used this medium to tease out deeply influential ideas about possible futures. The seminal 1986 movie ‘Bladerunner’ for example, with its spectacular dystopian set designed by industrial designer Syd Mead, posed one possible outcome of such a bio-technological trajectory. Now almost 30 years later does this scenario still haunt us, or do we now forecast other, more utopian, possibilities?

Laboratory sessions will give you an insight into current methodologies, technologies and ‘biotech aesthetics’. Presentations and lectures will help to orient you in the field and give you a starting point for your own investigations and one-on-one discussions will help to guide you in your individual research. Research into an existing biotechnology will provide the basis for a speculative prototype explores the ‘what if’ of an imagined biotech future – for example, an explosive embedded with microbes that devours itself over time, a 3D printer that prints living body parts, a gun used by criminals that shoots out random DNA fragments in order to confuse forensic investigators. The prototype will be accompanied by a visual presentation and a written exegesis that explains how your design fits into an imagined future scenario. What new relationships between humans and their world would your design generate?