ALGAE RESEARCH

The STARTS Residencies programme aims to support and fund artistic residencies that bring original artistic contributions to technology-based projects.

Hybrid Forms Lab: Applied Photosynthesis
Photosynthetic organisms and their molecular machinery are being probed for solar fuels and solar electricity generation in a sustainable, and circular technology. A plethora of techniques, from biochemistry, light spectroscopy to electrochemistry is being applied to elucidate the possibilities and to construct devices.
The project technology includes microbial fuel cells, living photosynthetic colonies that produce electricity and can power small devices.
The objectives are to investigate speculative designs or proof of principle designs of biosolar cells, microbial fuel cells, or applied photosynthesis in general. These futuristic machines take the science of bioelectronics, artificial intelligence, quantum biology and solar energy to a far extreme allowing speculations on newest scientific insights, the interactions between fundamental science and society, the role of humans as biological species in preserving other species, or any other intellectual drive artists may have.

Sensorial Skin (for an Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive)
Sensorial Skin is a long-term artistic project that started in 2017. It focuses on working with smart, organic, everyday materials that are used to create biosensors. The proof of concept is deployed with ‘the Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive’. This is a custommade bee house that supports honeybee swarms in their fight for survival. At the outside, the Intelligent Beehive is a biosensor where pollution-sensing bacteria visualize the health status of the environment by color indication; at the inside the smart materials from which the hive is made support the bees in keeping up thermoregulation at the core of their nest. Temperature and Humidity are monitored with a sensor, and in the present project we will try to power this sensor with a microbial fuel cell running on algae. The present project focuses thus on making the hive self-sufficient in terms of the electric energy that powers the sensors and built-in electronics, using a radically innovative power source in the form of photosynthetic bacteria and microbial fuel cells. The project pursues radical innovation by using an integrated organic approach based on biophysics and molecular biology and by exploiting the possibilities for 3d printing and digital fabrication.

the artist: AnneMarie Maes
As an artist, I am absolutely fascinated by the fact how Nature stands as an example for Science. Nature is my main source of inspiration, and I want to make the invisible visible. My research practice combines art and science, with a keen interest in DIY technologies, material science and biotechnology. My artworks/devices draw upon elements of these 3 scientific fields. I create techno-organic works with a range of digital and traditional media, including live organisms as honeybees and bacteria. My works are contextualized by factual/fictional stories that reflect both the problem and the (possible) solution.
I expect from this residency to learn about and experiment with the versatile possibilities of algae and especially their applications to generate energy in a DIY micobial fuel cell to possibly power a temperature and humidity sensor used for monitoring in the beehive. I also want to research the use of algae as a smart material in art and design in general, and study the possibilities to make fabrics with algae. From the Hybrid Forms Lab I expect technical and biological support in this artistic research, transfer of knowledge and and a fine and fruitful art/science collaboration.

Vertigo/STARTS residencies:
https://vertigo.starts.eu/calls/starts-residencies-call-3/residencies/sensorial-skin/detail/


Together with the biophysics lab at VU Amsterdam, AnneMarie Maes will develop a biotech/artistic device that is producing algal biomass and that will power sensors to monitor bee colony development inside the Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive. The hybrid device will be experimental, a proof of concept, and its organic design will become an integral part of the Intelligent Guerrilla Beehive installation. During the R&D a range of objects and artifacts based upon qualities of algae will be produced.