Year: 2010

Material: glass, cobalt chrome, genetically modified CHO cells

As the dawn of a new technological wave will change our world rapidly, it is crucial for artists and designers to embrace these very promising but sometimes controversial opportunities of science and enrich them with cultural value that makes them meaningful and understandable to people. Inspired by groundbreaking artworks on the edge of arts and genomics the motivation behind this project is to study in vitro manufacturable products in collaboration with scientists, artists and designers.

Halflife is a bioluminescent lamp made of genetic modied material that was created last year with the faculty of tissue regeneration of the University of Twente in The Netherlands. Its CHO cell line, genetically enriched with the firefly’s luciferase gene, glows in the dark in presence of an enzyme called luciferine.

The lamp reacts on the upcoming wave of biotechnology and its intrinsic ethical consequences. It addresses the twilight between an inexhaustible harmless utopia, the fear of a monster of Frankenstein and our often romanticized idea about nature that colors our moral. For this lamp no animal has suffered, in principle it doesn't need electricity to generate light and it is biodegradable. With the right ethical guidance biotechnology might revolutionize the way we manufacture things, making use of the beauty and efficiency of biological growth. Imagine how we would take care of products when they would actually be alive. Halife is exhibited dead in a preserved state joined by alm of the process.

Exhibition History

Armory show, New York, NY, USA

Joris Laarman Lab, Friedmanbenda, New York, NY, USA

Grenswerk art Festival, Enschede, NL

New Energy in Art and Design, Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, NL


Joris Laarman Lab:

Anita Star

Tim Geurtjens

Tjeerd van Waaijenburg

University of Twente:

Dr. Ing. Aart van Apeldoorn

Prof. Clemens van Blitterswijk

Jason Doppenberg

Marja ter Meer

Lorenzo Moroni

University of Wageningen:

Dr.Ir. Sander van de Krol

Special thanks to:

Arts and Genomics Centre

Ellen ter Gast

Rob Zwijnenberg

Project information