Polyphonic Futures

"Thinking silkworm-centric futures" by Veronica Ranner
Veronica Ranner, Polyphonic Futures, V&A, 2016
Veronica Ranner, Polyphonic Futures, V&A, 2016
Veronica Ranner, Polyphonic Futures, V&A, 2016
Veronica Ranner, Polyphonic Futures, V&A, 2016

Polyphonic Futures is a participatory research project that investigates the potential of silk in biomedicine and its role in our material future.

 
Led by London-based artist, designer and researcher Veronica Ranner Polyphonic Futures explores the intersecting knowledge and methodologies shared by scientists, artists and designers in relation to biological material and its role within digital technologies and society today. 
 
In Spring 2017 Arts Catalyst will host the symposium Polyphonic Futures: Silk Bio-Digitality and Transience in collaboration with the V&A’s Digital Futures Programme. 
 
Ranner’s work centres around the evolving realm of the bio-digital – a converging knowledge space where digitality and computational thinking meet biological matter. She proposes silk as a material that has the potential to transform our lives; as one of very few biological materials that is not rejected by the human body. It can be manufactured to be as strong as metal and which possesses the potential to redefine how we use electronic devices or distribute medicine in the human body.  

More about this project:

In May 2015, Ranner hosted a two-day workshop, Living Assemblies, where participants were able to design their ‘Silken Selves’. Taking the body as the first site for investigation, participants were asked to consider themselves as ‘living assemblies’ that could be hacked, enhanced and patched into using bio-digital materials.
 
The next stage of the project was the development of an online platform or ‘Digital Silk Library’ which aims to visualise diverse voices from the artistic and scientific community, revealing their explorations into silk as a bio-digital material and showing how, through this collaborative platform, they are able to utilise each others’ ideas about silk and its potential to impact on both society and the self.  
 
Through a process of dissection, Ranner creates tangible and immaterial manifestations addressing these material and technological collisions, thereby examining the polyphonic potential of alternative technological futures. Her current work explores paradigm shifts in reality perception by coupling speculative bio-material silk strategies and information experience through design research. She is currently a visiting artist with SilkLab at Tufts University in Boston (MA), USA, where she is studying reverse engineered silk—a bio-digital enabling material—in greater depth. Researching biomaterials and its networked cycles allows her to articulate how design research can facilitate a meaningful engagement between scientists and non-scientists. 

PARTNERS & SUPPORT

The project is a collaboration between The Creative Exchange Hub at the Royal College of Art,Tufts University (Boston, MA), Arts Catalyst (London), and Imperial College (London), and hosted and in collaboration with Furtherfield (London). The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
 
The Creative Exchange is a national initiative that brings together the best creative and digital minds from leading universities with dynamic and entrepreneurial companies, to create innovative new digital products and services. The Creative Exchange is led by Lancaster University, Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art; funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Find out more at www.thecreativeexchange.org 
 
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