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Neri Oxman and the Mediated Matter Group at MIT have designed a 3D printed installation promoting biodiversity. Made for the ‘Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival’ exhibition at the XXII Triennale di Milano in Milan Totems aims to explore how melanin can be generated on demand.
The installation forms part of the grander goal of the project from the Mediated Matter Group to search for “materials and chemical substances that can sustain and enhance biodiversity across living systems, and which have thus far endured the perils of climate change,” due to the current threat to biodiversity on Earth. Identifying melanin as one such substance, the project’s overview further explains:
IT - IS - ONE - THE - MOST
“IT IS ONE OF THE MOST RESISTANT, HETEROGENEOUS, AND PERVASIVE PIGMENTS FOUND ACROSS THE KINGDOMS OF LIFE […] MELANIN’S VALUE FOR HUMAN HEALTH IS PRICELESS. AN INTRIGUING VEHICLE FOR THE EXPLORATION OF HUMAN HEALTH AND CULTURE ACROSS REGIONS AND ENVIRONMENTS, MELANIN REMAINS AN IDENTIFYING FEATURE OF ALL LIVING ORGANISMS AND IS CLEARLY LINKED TO BIOLOGICAL SURVIVAL THROUGHOUT THE AGES.”
The Totems installation was first introduced by Neri Oxman at the Design Indaba conference in February 2018, and is part of a long-term project initiated by Ravi Naidoo, founder of Design Indaba.
Orbs - Melanin - Image - Neri - Oxman
3D printed orbs containing liquid melanin. Image via Neri Oxman and the Mediated Matter Group.
As part of the exhibition, the Mediated Matter Group researched and developed methods to house liquid melanin across scales (from micro to macro) and phases (solids and liquids) within 3D printed structures. The structures researched came in the form of spherical objects that contained a varying amount of connected internal channels filled with the liquid melanin.
Printing - Channels - Order - Pockets - Millimeter
3D printing was used to produce these channels in order to create pockets from the millimeter to centimeter scale. The intricacy of the cavities, patterns, and channels within the internal geometry of the...
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