Blueprints for the Unknown


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Recent advances in synthetic biology are making the design of new life forms an increasingly real possibility. Driven by an engineering approach to biology, the future scientist/designer is envisioned as an architect of life, creating living organisms from a library of standardised and replicable parts.

However, life may or may not agree with the industrial paradigm we feel comfortable with. Living organisms are unstable, random and context specific. They are subject to evolution, mutations and symbiosis. Additionally, once science gets out of the lab and into the world it becomes part of much bigger systems such as economics, politics and human beliefs – with surprising outcomes for better or worse.

This project investigates the gap between the promises of engineering biology and the complex and conflicted world we live in. Each scenario is set in a very specific context, ranging from healthcare to green politics and bonzai grooming, and probes the potential impact of biotechnology on society and culture.


The Progress Trap (DEAF Festival 2014)
22/05 to 09/06/2015
V_2 Institute for the Unstable Media Rotterdam, NL
Curator: Michel van Dartel
Production: Wilco Tuinman
Exhibition Design: We Made That
Photos: Simon Scheiber and David Benqué



Future Fictions
05/10/2014 to 04/01/2015
Z33 House for Contemporary Art Hasselt, BE
Curator: Karen Verschoren
Production: Wim De Jaegher
Exhibition Design: We Made That
Photos: Kristof Vrancken / Z33





photo: Kristof Vrancken / Z33


Publication and exhibition

Commissioned by:
Design Interactions Research
Royal College of Art, UK

Funded by:
Studiolab - EU FP7 Programme

Studiolab partners:
Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria
Leonardo OLATS, Paris, France
Le Laboratoire, Paris France

Head of Programme: Anthony Dunne
Research Associate, Curator, Editor: David Benqué

Superflux (Anab Jain & Jon Ardern)
Studio Nand (Steffen Fiedler & Jonas Loh)
Koby Barhad
Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen
Raphael Kim
Tobias Revell

Essays by:
Christina Agapakis
Luis Campos
Cathal Garvey
Thomas Heams
Sascha Pohflepp