CHRYSALIS

2017

RESEARCH | SIMULATION | BIOLAB

A simulation experiment exploring the concept of chrysalis through a series of speculative visualisations that seeks to explore the in-betweenness of spaces. By re-imagining the boundaries between interior and exterior, skin and flesh, through an organismic way of thinking about matter as always on the verge of becoming. 

 

Chrysalis acts as a hard protective outer-layer during the growth development of insects before entering the mature stage into a moth or butterfly. After they complete this pathway, the sloughed remains from the old skin disembodies itself into the exuviae, referring to "that which is stripped, drawn or taken off from the body." The series, intended to be seen as a triptych, presents the idea of chrysalis as a container for the yet to come. This starts from algorithmic growth simulations emitted from thousands of particles which are meshed, distorted, and particularised into new growth formations, orbiting around the cycle of

birth and rebirth. 

 

Chrysalis questions when does life stop being life? It seeks to traverse the boundaries between interiority and exteriority, organic and inorganic, to envision the possibilities of other life forms to emerge. The protective shield of the chrysalis can be thought as the metamorphic event that fleshes the body with ongoing becomings, as it stretches the limitations of its own body towards self-destruction, death, and decay, in order to unfold or rediscover the xeno (the unexpected, or the alien) origins of life. 

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Following the idea from the previous experiment on Chrysalis, the computationally simulated objects were 3D printed and scanned back into its virtual state using photogrammetry. Capturing the objects through the different density explorations generated by the point-cloud, led to rethinking the state of objects and the spaces they inhabit, in a more dynamic way. The objects were seen as permeable sites of intervention acting like a threshold between the real and the imaginary. This was further explored through laboratory practices as a creative catalyser, providing an alternative lens to think about matter beyond or outside its surrounding conditions. 

The experiments which took place at ASCUS Lab, shows the inoculation of two types of pigmented bacteria onto home-grown biomaterial samples developed over the course of two weeks. The results exhibit discoloured and spotty growth morphologies as a result of contamination, which was used as a speculative backdrop to inform alternative computational formations. The visualisations produced, refilled the void of the points with an imagined species richness, occurring in the hybrid manifestation between the creation of computational and biological realm of spaces, blurring and reconfiguring the perception of materiality. 

"The alien origins of life cannot be unearthed since such alien depths have always been nested within life itself."

 

Reza Negarestani, 2014, 'Architecture Xenoculture.'