'Skin Lab' draws attention to recent
cutting-edge research and technological developments in skin
science from the mid-20th century onwards. Concentrating on
advances and innovations within the realms of plastic surgery,
artificial skin and regenerative medicine, Skin Lab provides an
opportunity for extended enquiry into the science and physiology of
our largest organ, which is explored through the work of five
contemporary artists: from Marta Lwin's biological skin jewellery
cultured from epithelial cells to Rhian Solomon's sculptural
re-interpretation of skin-flap diagrams. Also featured is a
selection of medical films from the Wellcome Library archives that
examines some of the unique properties and diverse pathologies that
characterise the human skin.
'Lessons on Limberg', 2010/'Bodycloth',
Inspired by a revolutionary text by pioneering
Russian plastic surgeon AA Limberg ('The Planning of Local
Plastic Operations on the Body Surface: Theory and practice',
1963), this newly commissioned work reveals the ongoing application
in contemporary medical practice of Limberg's technique of
constructing geometric paper models of skin flaps, which he used in
the planning of surgical procedures in the 1960s.
'Against Nature', 2010
This new commission reflects on epidermolysis bullosa (EB) - a
genetic skin disorder that causes the skin and internal
body-linings to blister with the slightest physical contact. Having
worked closely with an EB patient, the artist Gemma Anderson has
produced a series of intricate drawings (accompanied by an audio
interview) that together provide a poignant and personal insight
into the daily life and treatment experiences of a person
with EB. At the same time, she also explores a host of
metaphors and analogies, such as the parallels that exist between
the deterioration of the skin and the decomposition process of
plants and other organic forms, and finding beauty in decay.
Cultured in a lab, epiSkin is
biological jewellery made from epithelia cells, which are cultured
to create an artificial skin. The cells are grown into designed
forms controlled by the artist. The cells are incubated for a
period of time, following which they are stained with a custom dye.
The skin is then visibly sealed into a wearable object. The process
of creating these pieces includes human tissue culturing as well as
a computer-generated form on which the cells are cultured and then
transplanted into adaptive jewellery.
'SkinBag' garments, 2004
Oliver Goulet's SkinBag
designer clothing range includes a variety of garments and
accessories created from synthetic skin. They have a distinctive
folded texture and seamless organic appearance and flexibility, all
of which mimic the qualities of real skin. They are intended as
bodily extensions that symbolise the ambivalence between the
natural and the artificial, and the ongoing aspiration for perfect
bodies, in particular perfect skin.
'e-Skin' is an ongoing project that aims to
develop a novel type of wearable and interactive interface which
mimics the sensory capabilities of the human skin. The e-Skin lab
in Zurich combines research expertise from the fields of human
computer interaction, wearable computing, biomimetic robotics and
ergonomic design. One of the intended applications for e-Skin is as
an aid for the visually impaired to provide tactile and acoustic
cues to help them to navigate complex environments.
Image credit: 'epiSkin' by Marta Lwin.
Courtesy of Kate Kunath