Helion 15, is a unique and living biomaterial made from little more than sunlight and air. Its basis is a type of autotrophic photosynthetic bacterium called a Cyanophyte. This particular type of cyanobacterium grows in the form of filaments which have a unique and “intelligent” self-weaving activity (see the video below), so as the organism grows, it automatically self-assembles into a mat .
In liquid cultures, the biomaterial forms complex floating mats of interwoven filaments (see images below)
One of the remarkable properties of this biomaterial is that it is able to repair itself when damaged. In the videos below, dress-like mats of Helion 15 are shaken and dispersed, and then over a period of around 10 minutes real-time, they reassemble to re-generate the original forms.
When grown on solid surfaces Helion 15 forms elaborate and green curved tendrils (see images below)
I am currently exploring Helion 15 with conceptual women’s wear designer Victoria Geaney (Royal College of Art). Entitled Oscillatoria Sutured, our work will be in an exhibition curated by Biofaction called Possible Tomorrows which will take place at Vienna Design Week (30 Sept-09 Oct).
We are currently characterising this exciting and unique biomaterial as it forms symbiotic relationships with traditional textiles. As it grows on these textiles. the organism not only infiltrates the fabric fibres but it also moves beyond the material onto the surface that holds it making it difficult to determine where the manmade material ends and the purely biological organism begins (see images below).
When the same biomaterial is viewed under the microscope, it can be seen that the cyanobacterium has also filled in some of the minute holes in the textile, adding its own designs, functions, and embellishments to the material (see below).
When cotton is used as a substrate for the Cyanophyte similar activity is seen (seen images below)