Vincent Van Gogh’s Ear Printed Using Living Tissue

3d printing, van gogh, bioprinting, medicine, art,

Diemut Strebe, together with scientists, has regrown Vincent van Gogh’s ear in an art piece he calls Sugababe.

Vincent van Gogh probably represents more than any other artist the stereotypical romantic image of the artist as a genius. Even some positions in theory of art tend to a certain mystification of artistic creativity compared to any other form of human innovations.

The ear is grown from tissue engineered cartilage and is “identical” in shape to van Gogh’s ear by using computer imaging technology. It is composed of living cells that contain natural genetic information about him as well as engineered components, replicating in the ear as a “living art-piece”.

The philosophical Theseus’ paradox forms the literary basis of the scientific approaches used in this art-project, that is the replacement of the genetic code at the molecular level, the cellular organization at the microscopic level and the composition of tissues and organs at the anatomic level. In the late 1st century Plutarch asked in The Life of Theseus whether a ship, which was restored by replacing all its parts, remained the same ship. In the course of time many variations of the principle have been described. One of these variations refers to the title of the project. The famous paradox is carried out with biological material making a particular form of human replication, from historical or synthesized material, a central focus of this project. The ear is one of a series of a limited edition, made of different scientific components referring in various way to the same principle of replacement.

You can talk to the ear. The input sound is processed by a computer using software that converts it to simulate nerve impulses in real time. The speaker remains in soliloquy. The crackling sound that is produced is used to outline absence instead of presence.

Due to the preservability of the nutrient solution the work Sugababe will be on display until July 6th, 2014 on the ground floor of the ZKM | Media Museum. Diemut Strebe is represented by the Feldman Gallery, which will present her work in New York in spring 2015.

Source: ZKM Media Museum