Saturn’s Wonderer

By Neri Oxman
2014, 3D Print
Euromold, Frankfurt, Germany

Saturn is known for its vortex storms forming where there is a steep latitudinal gradient in the speed of winds blowing across the planet’s atmosphere. Named after the Roman god of agriculture, its Arabic name - Zuhal (زحل) - reflects the planet and the mythology, representing fertility and growth. The wearable is covered with a dense hairy texture responding to Saturn’s vortex winds with intricate structures characterised by high surface area to volume ratio. It is designed as a wearable vortex field, varying in size, density and organization to accommodate for local wind variation. Saturn’s moon Titan has been known to include hydrocarbons in its upper atmosphere as a possible precursor for life. Its other moon Enceladus with is ocean like composition has been often regarded as a potential base for microbial life. The hairy fiberous surface is designed to contain bacteria that can convert hydrocarbons to edible matter that can be safely consumed by humans.

Production: Stratasys
3D printed with Stratasys multi-material 3D printing technology
In collaboration with Christoph Bader and Dominik Kolb
Photos: Yoram Reshef

About the Collection

Wanderers, An Astrobiological Exploration

Traveling to destinations beyond planet Earth involves voyages to hostile landscapes and deadly environments. Crushing gravity, amonious air, prolonged darkness, and temperatures that would boil glass or freeze carbon dioxide, all but eliminate the likelihood of human visitation. Wanderers explores the possibility of voyaging to the worlds beyond by visiting the worlds within. 3D printed wearable capillaries designed for interplanetary pilgrims are infused with synthetically engineered microorganisms to make the hostile habitable and the deadly alive. Each design is a codex of the animate and inanimate with an origin and a destination: the origin being engineered organisms, which multiply to create the wearable within a 3D printed skins; and the destination being a unique planet in the solar system. The setting for this exploration is the solar system where, with the exception of planet Earth, no life can exist. The series represents the classical elements understood by the ancients to sustain life (earth, water, air and fire), and offers their biological counterpart in the form of microorganisms engineered to produce life-sustaining elements. The wearables are designed to interact with a specific environment characteristic of their destination and generate sufficient quantities of biomass, water, air and light necessary for sustaining life: some photosynthesize converting daylight into energy, others bio-mineralize to strengthen and augment human bone, and some fluoresce to light the way in pitch darkness. Each wearable is designed for a specific extreme environment where it transforms elements that are found in the atmosphere to one of the classical elements supporting life: oxygen for breathing, photons for seeing, biomass for eating, biofuels for moving, and calcium for building. Design research at the core of this collection lies at the intersection of multi-material 3D printing and Synthetic Biology. The medieval Arabs are known for their fascination with astronomy. They took a keen interest in the study of celestial bodies; motivated to better comprehend the divine creation, they also appreciated the knowledge of the constellations as guidance in their journeys. In honor of these early contributions to the science of astronomy the Wonderers in this collection are named in Arabic after their respective destination planets: Mushtari (a wearable for Jupiter), Zuhal (a wearable for Saturn), Otaared (a wearable for Mercury); and Qumar (a wearable for the Moon). The word "planet" comes from the Greek term planets meaning "wanderer".

The Wanderers series was unveiled as part of Stratasys' collection ‘The Sixth Element: Exploring the Natural Beauty of 3D Printing' on display at EuroMold, 25-28 November, Frankfurt, Germany, Hall 11, Booth FN01 organized by Naomi Kaempfer.

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