These biological automata, or living kinetic sculptures, are derived from three main materials: blood, heart, and silk. The nature of and internal relationships to the histories embedded within these materials are the driving force behind the project.
Donated blood cells are transformed into human cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) using cutting-edge stem cell technology to produce motile structures that can live in the public space where they are installed. The biological sorcery, or alchemy that enables the conversion of a drop of blood into a living animated entity is something that we think needs to be explored from a cultural perspective. Bricolage’s automatons have a strong physical presence when shown in real-world gallery spaces, as visitors can easily see them with their naked eye through three overhead viewing ports—no technological mediation, such as cameras, screens or microscopes, are required to experience their vitality. Interaction with the artwork is carefully designed to offer an intuitive transaction. Strangers are able to gather, observe, and ponder together what this work means to them and indeed the future possibilities of this bio-technology. The selection of materials situates the work within ancient traditions, while novel uses of cutting-edge bio-engineering processes posit scenarios of what is now possible and what indeed could come in the years ahead. Bricolage is a disembodied biological performer. It is both the creator and the creation of an ongoing real-time cellular performance.