This project presents three vases derived from human cells, permanently preserved within glass tubes of chemicals. Developed for the La Fabrique du Vivant exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the work builds upon an earlier iteration, Semi-Human Vase (2015). The vases explore the line between natural and artificial, human and object. They are part of an ongoing investigation into the meaning of the sublime in contemporary society and the potential of technology to disrupt the perceived human-nature divide and create new possibilities.  

Created through a close collaboration with biomedical engineering professor Dr. Patricia Dankers and her PhD candidate Dan Jing Wu at the Technology University Eindhoven, the vases aim to pay tribute to the HeLa cells or ‘immortal cells’ from which they are crafted. Discovered in the 1950s, HeLa cells are used in scientific research and have led to major breakthroughs in the development of cell culture and tissue engineering. Each vase was created using a 3D-printed biodegradable polymer scaffold that was partially induced into human tissue. They were then stained blue with Coomassie protein dye, a commonly used colour in laboratories to give cells visibility. The resulting “Delft blue” appearance references a type of blue-and-white colour pottery produced in the Dutch city of Delft, which was inspired by Chinese porcelain.

TU/eindhovne Press Release

Semi-human Vase (Delft Blue), 2019,
Hela Cells on PCL Scaffolds, 60 x 45 x 10 cm.

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