Half Life Lamp (2010)

At the dawn of a new technological wave that will rapidly change our world, we think it is crucial for artists and designers to embrace the very promising but sometimes controversial opportunities offered by science. We need to make them visible to the public so they can be discussed. Inspired by groundbreaking works that balance 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 genetically modified material that was created in 2010 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 the presence of an enzyme called luciferine.

The lamp is a reaction to the upcoming wave of biotechnology and its intrinsic consequences. It addresses the twilight zone between an inexhaustible harmless utopia, the fear of creating a monster of Frankenstein, and our often-romanticized idea about what is natural. No animal has suffered for this lamp, it doesn’t need electricity to generate light, and it is biodegradable. With the right ethical guidance, biotechnology could revolutionize the way we manufacture things, making use of the beauty and efficiency of biological growth. Imagine how we would take care of products if they were actually alive.

(photocredit: JL, Thijs Wolzak)