JALILA ESSAÏDI, spider silk and human tissue to make bulletproof skin
Bioartist Jalila Essaïdi has always been inspired by stories. Stories about safety, vulnerability and silk spiders. Stories about using silk in combat. Stories about Genghis Khan using silk in battle when he outfitted all of his horsemen with silk vests. Silk has always been an instrument in war.
Jalila Essaïdi —living and working in Eindhoven, The Netherlands— is blurring barriers between art and life science. Using biology and ecology as an artistic medium, she provokes criticism of social, political and ethical issues.
2.6g 329 m/s* —named after the weight and the velocity of a .22 calibre long rifle bullet— is a unique disruptive project which provokes the audience to question ‘Which forms of safety are socially important?’. With 2.6g 329 m/s Essaïdi makes science fiction a reality by combining spider silk and human tissue to make bulletproof skin —a material stronger than steel which can stop even a bullet.
Words by Lula Criado (Twitter @Lula_ClotMag)
What do you most like and dislike about the period we live in?
You are asking me to compare the period I live in with the abstract concept in my mind of many other periods, most of which I didn’t personally experience.
I think this experience is key for this question, and since I lived in the world prior to the Internet my choice would be instant access to information. Passing on information is what shaped our species (and I’m just a knowledge junkie). I can’t make up my mind what I dislike most, there are plenty of things that need change, but all of these aren’t necessarily solely linked to just this period.
What is your chief enemy of creativity?
I am facing one right now, for a grand I need to write my personal development- and multi-year focus plan. In my opinion, nothing is as bad for creativity as structuring it and planning it out ahead of time.
If you would have to give up one of your five senses, which one would it be?
When talking about the five traditional senses it would be the smell, without a doubt. I think it is the easiest one to replace externally. You don’t need all the complex data that this sense provides you, and since you are dealing with gasses which are easily analysed you can just translate these results into a Boolean warning, indicating if something is bad (rotten eggs) for you or not.
If you expand the choice to include all the now known senses I am really wondering what life would be like without thermoception. I guess it is mostly an early warning system for another sense: pain.
What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?
“Don’t do that, it’s too risky”. Living life without taking any risks sounds like boredom.
Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
Without a doubt introvert, just leave me on my own and I’m content. There is nothing more to say about this.
One for the ride… Who or what was the last person, place or thing that fascinated you?
I am not easily fascinated, I can’t remember the last time that this spark of intense interest hit me with its full force. Most of the time the dots are to easy to connect in order to be fascinating. (Either that or I don’t know enough about a topic in order to be fascinated)
Perhaps the working of fascination itself fascinates me, what triggers fascination? I know there are examples in the neuroscience of people with brain damage who are in a constant state of bliss and fascinated by everything around them. Is there a relation to enlightenment here?
(Photos courtesy the artist)