a future scenario between human, nature and technology

This project explores the fluid borders between human, nature and technology, between natural and artificial. To what extent do we live in symbiotic relationships with our environment? How do microorganisms influence us? How do they interact with us? Does skin represent the border of human beings? And what if we pass on our bacteria? 
I deal with these questions in form of an experimental short film accompanied by an exhibition concept. In my future scenario the earth has become almost uninhabitable. To protect their own, humans need a second skin. This skin consists of bacterial cellulose. Once the skin has dried, it is passed on to humanoid machines. In this scenario our dependence on microorganisms becomes visible and tangible. Also the boundaries between human and machine are questioned. 

video of Elena’s presentation
Elena Bangel
project:full circle
examined bioplastic:
bacterial cellulose
material expert support:

Bernhard Schipper

full concept text

The project „at the border of myself“ explores the fluid borders between human, nature and technology, between natural and artificial. Our body is populated by about 30 billion microorganisms: bacteria, viruses and fungi. That are about as many microorganisms as cells in our body. This so-called microbiome varies from person to person. These tiny creatures influence us and interact with us.

In my future scenario, the earth has become almost uninhabitable. To protect their own skin from the sun, humans need a second skin, which is produced by bacteria. Bacterial cellulose is cultivated in large swimming pools. When swimming through these pools, it wraps itself around the body like a shell. It clings to us, becomes part of us. Also this boundary layer is inhabited by our microbiome. 

The skin is worn until it dries. When the skin is used up, it is stripped off and passed on to humanoid machines. Assuming that our skin has inherent vitality, is this also passed on? Does the transfer of the bacterial cellulose skin also mean a transfer of humanity and our own identity to the machine? Where does the human end and the cyborg begin? Can a machine become a cyborg through human parts?

In form of an experimental short film I illustrate this scenario. The film will be shown within an exhibition. This exhibition approaches bacterial cellulose as a biofabricated material. In the first room of the exhibition bacterial cellulose floats in large, illuminated tanks. The space is warm and embraces the swimming pool atmosphere of the scenario. An audio commentary provides information about Bacterial cellulose as well as about the relationship between humans and microorganisms. Entering the second room one stands in the midst of robots. The robots are waiting to get their skins, which are already hanging above them. Through another audio commentary information about the concept of self is conveyed. At the end of the room the film is projected simultaneously onto several large screens. Thus, the viewer is surrounded by the images. The large projection surface and its arrangement convey closeness and intimacy.