Our Artist-in-Residence program invites artists and designers to create with inspiration from our Organ-Chips
Worn to promote health or bring good luck, jewelry has been important to human societies for thousands of years.
Today, Alexandra Hakim, an artist based in London, is continuing the ancient practice of jewelry-making with a futuristic twist — ornaments based on our Organ-Chips.
Alexandra has joined us as a member of our Artist-in-Residence program, an initiative that invites artists and designers to create with inspiration from our Organs-on-Chips technology.
Designing the current collection, Alexandra was guided by the concept of the amulet, an accessory worn to bring health and safety to the person who carries it.
“People have worn stones and metals to help them feel secure throughout history,” she explained. “With this project I want to design pieces that sustain the connection between health and jewelry and to make pieces that help people feel protected.”
Alexandra started her residency in October 2015, and her first collection, aptly called Amulets, is fashioned in silver and gold and adorned with semiprecious stones.
Her creative philosophy is informed by the long history of jewelry-making and the training she received at Central Saint Martins in London and the Rhode Island School of Design. Her focus is jewelry’s form and how it relates to the human body, rather than in rare stones and expensive metals.
“For me, the Organ-Chip is like the precious stone in this collection and replaces the traditional diamond, creating jewelry that is more human,” she said.
Art Meets Science
When Alexandra visited our lab, she recognized similarities in the ways jewelry and Organ-Chips are constructed. “The method of creating the chip,” she noted, “reminded me of the process of lost wax casting, which is thousands of years old but is still used to make jewelry and sculpture.
“It’s fascinating to see artists and scientists exploiting very similar tools in completely different environments.”
She began experimenting by running metals through the microchannels that pass through the center of the Organ-Chips. After a year in the studio, the collection is ready for release, and features several pieces that trace the lines inside the chip, forming abstractly figurative designs that bring to mind ancient drawings of humans.
“My initial ideas are always based on the relationship between human form and object, between the body and the piece,” she said. “So I extracted what was visible from the chip, which were the microchannels, and I found that they looked human taken out of the chip.”
“Emulate takes organs from the body and makes them alive outside of it,” she added. “I wanted to take that one step further and put the chip back on the body to see the relationship between the chip and flesh. This constant back and forth between human and object, and also between artist and wearer, is what guides me.”
With Alexandra’s Amulets, you can feel protected by wearing an Organ-Chip. Another goal of ours is the Patient-on-a-Chip program, which will allow us to configure individual humans on our system to help them better understand their own health. This data will be used for developing tailored wellness programs and diets, diagnosing diseases, and creating preventative medicine regimens.
“There’s an art to designing a system that emulates the human body,” said Lewis Rowe, our Chief Strategy Officer. “We need creativity to blend art and science, and we believe that these artist residency programs will help humanize our technology.”
One day we will be able to take your cells, put them on our Organ-Chips, and recreate how your body responds to foods, drugs, and chemicals — without ever having to test on you.
Our hope is that our Human Emulation System will help usher in a new phase of personalized medicine that can directly respond to your individuality. And we believe that our Artist-in-Residence program will remind us that even with fantastic advances in science and technology, in the end, we’re still human.