The text has been published in Socialter magazine (November 2020) in a special issue focusing on the living
But let's start with the begining
because in the begining there was a semi-living pen
At the very beginning (2012) we had the idea of a semi-living pen. A pen containing bacteria that could turn their food (sugar) into ink so that you can directly feed your pen with sugar to get more ink. With such an infinite process, you would suddenly take care of all these billions of bacteria that you can’t see, creating an emotional relationship with your pen because of those living beings that never stops bringing you ink.
At PILI, we develop the process, and the pen is the original fiction that embodies the technology and helps thinking about the new relationships we can create with micro-organisms!
The process we were experiencing in the lab was so magic that we wanted to share it so everyone could experience it. We created a KIT inspired by the beautiful astrophysics tools of the the past centuries. Everything was made to highlight the beauty of the process rather than being as efficient as it would be in the lab. You could see the bacteria grow, the color rising and changing, you could extract the pigment, purify it and then use it to draw.
We extended the idea of making ink by your own to the idea of making it together.
We created workshops to gather people around a table, just like for diner but the recipe was here to guide them through the marvelous process of growing ink and extracting it. Just like in a family diner, the discussions were passionnated and we could discuss all the related subjects and learn from each other. In the end, everyone could draw with the ink they produced.
It was so exciting that we wanted to share this with children. We created a specific workshop with an introduction to bring them in this microscopic world, discussing how bacteria live, reproduce, communicate, our relation to them... In the end, they had to draw a scenario discribing the super-power of a bacteria, wether discovered or created with synthetic biology. Their imagination blew our minds!
// Places We gave workshops in many contexts: Grow Your Own... (Science Gallery, Dublin), Genespace (NewYork), Le Monde Festival (Opéra Bastille, Paris), Capitaine Futur (Gaïté Lyrique, Paris), Fête de la Science (La Paillasse, Paris)
// Team These workshops were created by Marie-Sarah Adenis who invited other designers to join her to create and animate these events : Hélène Gaulier, Gwenolé Gasnier, Annelise Légaré and Raphaël Pluvinage
We also wanted to show the inner life of bacteria which not only happen to create different colors but also different patterns when growing directly on the fabrics. For each bacteria we collaborated with, we created this kind of ID.
Bacteria had a name, they now have a map, a signature, their own design if we can say!
"The exhibition questions the mutations of the concept of nature, in the light of the recent technological production. It traces an archeology of life and artificial life. Mostly prospective, the exhibition also presents some significant creations and innovations in the field of art, design and architecture through the works of fifty creators."
// Set up Marie-Sarah Adenis & Piotr Widelka // Curators Marie-Ange Brayer & Olivier Zeitoun
PILI Pigment Meteor Shower is on display in the entrance hall
The XXII International Exhibition of La Triennale di Milano “Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival” curated by Paola Antonelli, focuses on “creative practices in surveying our species bonds with the complex systems in the world, and designing reparations when necessary, through objects, concepts, and new systems.” PILI is exhibiting in the French section “De la pensée au visible. Design As A Large Ring”. The idea was to underline the conceptual and yet contemplative aspects of the projects: «France, with its applied arts legacy, now has the asset of thought and humanities. In the French section, the large model-surface, surface-landscape, surface-projection has added a bookcase filled with several hundred copies of the same publication. It contains design projects. Readable, these books belong to the surface, they support it. They are the project archive.»
// Texts Marie-Sarah Adenis // Translation Una Dimitrijevic // Video Marie-Sarah Adenis & Paul Bonlarron //Curators Catherine Geel and a young reasearcher commission