Pigs Bladder Football launched one year ago by setting out a remarkable challenge: By August 2012, artist John O'Shea would culture the world’s first bio-engineered football, grown from living cells.
For six months now he has been artist in residence at the University of Liverpool's Clinical Engineering Unit, collaborating with Prof John Hunt and Theun Van Veen and developing his own bespoke protocols for harvesting animal tissue. Through biological experimentation, rapid prototyping and an iterative design process, this work has been an exercise of precise tissue engineering.
The final ball, which will produced by replicating the same techniques used to create artificial human organs, encourages us to consider the role life sciences will have in our daily lives today and in the future. It is also a reference to the colliding worlds of human enhancement, the bio-technology industry and the global capitalization of sport, which have become highly contested areas.
This new commission by Abandon Normal Devices and is made possible through the Wellcome Trust Arts Award scheme and the collaboration of Prof. John Hunt at Liverpool University's Clinical Engineering Unit. Pigs Bladder Football has been awarded the London 2012 Inspire Mark.
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Abandon Normal Devices is an innovative public art festival happening across England’s North West and is part of We Play the North West cultural legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Legacy Trust UK.) The Wellcome Trust public engagement Arts Award scheme supports imaginative and experimental arts projects that investigate biomedical science.