The Select Ten
Design’s leading voices help us identify the next wave of burgeoning talent.
(page 11 of 11)
Art / Design / Biosynthetics
Selected by Paola Antonelli
Ginsberg’s hypothetical explorations in the world of biosynthetics are aided by beautifully rendered models. Above: Seasons of the Void
courtesy Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
“We think it’s kind of squishy,” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg of her theoretical space food, a fruit that could be grown from yeast engineered to photosynthesize electricity. “You could take a cheese wire and cut a slice off of it.” It’s not a very appetizing suggestion on Earth, but on a two-to-three-year mission to Mars, organisms that can be farmed aboard a shuttle might provide physical and emotional sustenance. “It’s a small provocation,” says the artist and designer of Seasons of the Void, which she created, along with two collaborators, for the recent Alive: New Design Frontiers show at Paris’s Espace Foundation. The project was inspired by a NASA job listing for someone to develop “novel organisms to use in food for a Mars mission.”
E. chromi (top) and Synthetic Kingdom
Portrait courtesy Harry Borden; others courtesy Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Ginsberg’s work is full of such provocations. She teases out the implications of complex science in projects like the Supertask—a work in progress that attempts to construct a model of the whole world, which simultaneously probes the ways in which models affect the thing that they’re modeling. Though the 31-year-old’s background is not in the hard sciences—she studied architecture at Cambridge University and design at both Harvard and The Royal College of Art—her work often achieves its goal of spurring scientists into unexpected avenues of research. In her 2009 project, E. chromi, done in collaboration with James King, London-based Ginsberg worked with a team of Cambridge students who had created bacteria that could secrete different colors—she helped them imagine future applications for their creation, and later met scientists who were trying to replicate their hypothetical scenarios. Her new book, Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature (MIT Press), appears in March. —JC
“Daisy Ginsberg represents a new generation of designers who are forging tighter connections between design and science, plotting new biological entities with elegance, wisdom, empathy, and responsibility,” says Paola Antonelli of MoMA.