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Yoko Shimizu at work

Curious, Yoko sought a balanced fusion of the two fields of Bio-chemistry and art.

The Biocellulose installation & exhibition

Lab +1E expresses natural and scientific phenomenons, in the form of art.

Biocellulose cultivation

Biocellulose is a series of installations that are created with the cellulose generated by microbes cultivated in a water tank.

The water tank, a live installation

The environment for the installation is created to be optimal for the procedure to stay bacteria-free and for the fibre network to be pure and fine.

The Biocellulose exhibition

For the exhibition, the generated cellulose is pressed, dried and processed for art.

Biocellulose on display

Yoko’s artistic inspiration lies in the mechanism of nature, life and the universe.

Pressed, dried and proceeded Biocellulose

“I’ve created various coloured materials that resemble paper and textile. They are cut and engraved with laser. I also like to create speaker cones that plays organic sounds like speaker cones.”

Up close

Cultivated to varying thickness, strength, size and form, the cellulose can be used to create various design products.

An amalgamation of art and science

The installations and artworks showcase delicate natural processes, that implies the infinite possibilities for both, technological advancement and artistic expressions.

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Lab 25 Jun 2018

How does Yoko Shimizu, an artist and biotechnologist, make art from microbes?

Science is defined as the study of the behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. While art, is expression through the physical and natural worlds. So how intertwined are the two fields? To find out, CQ speaks to Yoko Shimizu, an artist and a biotechnologist, whose Lab is also her studio.

Born in Kyoto, the ancient cultural capital of Japan and growing up in New York, art has always been a crucial influence in Yoko’s life. But science wasn’t far from her thoughts either, “I wanted to learn the beautiful mechanisms of life, nature and the universe, so I studied Biology and Chemistry as a university student,” she explains. Curious, she sought a balanced fusion of the two fields.

While she worked as  a creative director and consultant at an advertising company, she continued to experiment with expressions that combined art and science. What started out as a small lab in her grandfather’s warehouse, eventually earned Yoko the reception and appreciation that helped her launch her own lab-cum-studio in Tokyo.

Yoko Shimizu at work

Curious, Yoko sought a balanced fusion of the two fields of Bio-chemistry and art.

About her artistic science

Yoko’s artistic inspiration lies in the science of nature, life and the universe. “I like to study and experiment with natural and scientific phenomenon that are timeless, limitless and filled with inspiration. I think we have yet to learn so much about the universe, there are still many more beautiful things beyond our imagination,” she elaborates.

“I wanted to learn the beautiful mechanism of life, nature and the universe, so I studied Biology and Chemistry as a university student.”

Her lab expresses natural and scientific phenomenons in the form of art. The installations and artworks showcase delicate natural processes that implies the infinite possibilities for both, technological advancement and artistic expressions.

The Biocellulose installation & exhibition

Lab +1E expresses natural and scientific phenomenons, in the form of art.

Biocellulose

Microbes are used in various scientific and industrial processes, to create pharmaceutical drugs, food (like cheese, yogurt, bread), biofuel and so on. In the future they can enable plants, food, meat, etc. to be cultivated and 3D printed in homes. “So I thought microbes could be used to cultivate art and design materials, like paper and textile as well,” Yoko explains. It led her to experiment and create ‘Biocellulose’.

Biocellulose cultivation

Biocellulose is a series of installations that are created with the cellulose generated by microbes cultivated in a water tank.

The water tank, a live installation

The environment for the installation is created to be optimal for the procedure to stay bacteria-free and for the fibre network to be pure and fine.

Biocellulose is a series of installations that are created with the cellulose generated by microbes cultivated in a water tank. A thin membrane floats quietly on the surface of the biocellulose culture solution. The translucent fibres created by the biological activities of the microbes, emerge slowly and expand gradually to fill the tank.

The environment for the installation is created to be optimal to create pure and fine fibre network. The cultivated cellulose being of high mechanical strength and water absorption capacity, is a versatile material that can be shaped to accommodate various uses.

Pressed, dried and proceeded Biocellulose

“I’ve created various coloured materials that resemble paper and textile. They are cut and engraved with laser. I also like to create speaker cones that plays organic sounds like speaker cones.”

“It has always been a dream of mine to create an ecosystem of creative geniuses and collaboration.”

The installation has a water tank placed for live cultivation. Whereas for the exhibition, the generated cellulose is pressed, dried and processed for art. “I’ve created various coloured materials that resemble paper and textile. They are cut and engraved with laser. I also like to create speaker cones that plays organic sounds like wooden cones.”

The Biocellulose exhibition

For the exhibition, the generated cellulose is pressed, dried and processed for art.

Biocellulose on display

Yoko’s artistic inspiration lies in the mechanism of nature, life and the universe.

Cultivated to varying thickness, strength, size and form, the cellulose can be used to create various design products. “In the future, each household may have 3D printers , bio printers, and cultivation pods, so perhaps we can cultivate many more things at home,” Yoko says, asserting on the future of Biocellulose.

Up close

Cultivated to varying thickness, strength, size and form, the cellulose can be used to create various design products.

A look at the futuristic possibilities

Besides working with galleries, art festivals, museums, corporations and local governments in the greater Tokyo area, Yoko has recently launched a science and labware design service with a labware manufacturer and a design company. “It has always been a dream of mine to create an ecosystem of creative geniuses and collaboration. I’m currently working with municipal governments in the greater Tokyo area to turn cities into creative hubs,” she says.

An amalgamation of art and science

The installations and artworks showcase delicate natural processes, that implies the infinite possibilities for both, technological advancement and artistic expressions.

With the advances in space explorations, NASA and other space businesses are working on colonization of planets like Mars. Yoko looks forward to working on interplanetary biological research and design – to maintain life and harvest food and material – in the future.

Learn about the audio-visual installation inside the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway Tunnel, that connects nature and wildlife with AI and IoT – an effort by Yoko Shimizu and the University of Tokyo – here.
Uncover more of her astonishing discoveries and bio-artistic endeavours on her website.