• 25 October 2021 9:42

Interspecies collaboration for woven, living megastructures and fibre-based composites in Katya Bryskina’s research

Version: Italian

Katya Bryskina is an artist and an architect with a focus on computational design, robotic fabrication, sustainability and material research. She takes her inspiration from biology and nature. Her practice touches upon a wide span of disciplines, escaping definitions and labels. 

That is what makes her approach to creation so inspiring and fertile.

“I have a strong interest where art, technology and biology meet. What kind of future can we build by combining natural and artificial?”

LIFORM: Living Megastructures, Orekhov Gallery, 2020
Picture credit: Katya Bryskina&Orekhov Gallery

Katya’s work and her understanding of fibres, weaving and folds are unconventional and extremely innovative. She merges disciplines, slightly shifts meanings while stretching and expanding on the possibility of matter. She always tries to think towards innovation, always questioning.

She says: “If you want to try and innovate, you need to accept the fact that you can fail or succeed at the same time, that you need to test everything and jump into the unknown”.

LIFORM Installation at Orekhov Gallery, Moscow, 2020

In her work, the dynamism of natural processes and methods are combined with the defined world of numbers, coding and simulations.

“We still have so many questions about how things work on our planet, how nature works. It’s an unlimited source of inspiration, something much bigger than us, as the Universe. You draw inspiration from nature, ask questions and then combining research, technological possibilities, you start co-creating something in a new form. The goal is to form environments finding a balance between analogue and computation, natural and artificial leads to the creation of a balanced environment, where we can collaborate with nature and let its intelligence fully unfold”

LIFORM: Living Megastructures, Orekhov Gallery, 2020. Picture credit: Katya Bryskina

In her project LIFORM, she utilizes mycelium and weaving techniques intending to grow new types of complex morphologies in this case defined as Living  MEGASTRUCTURES. 

 She creates an ecosystem, a living harmony, by generating a suitable growth environment inside an incubator, which is only a fragment of much bigger elements. The process itself is considered to be the art object, in this case.

Looking at nature she finds inspiring examples of soft systems constructing dynamic environments: spider nets, silkworms weaving and of course mycelium networks. They are all extremely connected and related to each other even they have different functions.

LIFORM: Living Megastructures, Mycelium network study, 2021
Mycelium is not just overtaking premade woven paths, it creates completely new bridges in the air and forms unique patterns. These elements consist of a pure vegetative part of a fungus without substrate.
Picture credit: Katya Bryskina

Mycelium is the vegetative apparatus of fungi and it is formed by an intertwining of filaments. It usually lives and branches about 50 cm below the ground, or in the case of a woody substrate under the bark or deep in the wood.

 

In her projects, the artist creates a specific and protected environment that allows mycelium to grow in the air, forming in a completely new way and making its developments visible to humans. 

Inside the incubator, mycelium acts as a bonding agent that penetrates in fibres and closes gaps of woven structures with new patterns.

 

The natural growth of mycelium can be altered by introducing new conditions, unfamiliar to the subject. The change of parameters like light or the amount of air, affects its structure, growing speed, direction and colour. Unique structures can be created by navigating the organism with different types of food or physically leading its growth. 

“Moreover, you choose your collaborators as different types of fungi species, nutrition substrates and methods of interaction.”

By changing the condition of growth, Katya is questioning the way we can push further our collaboration with other species. 

How far can we go in changing ecosystems? 

How can we co-create and co-live together? 

The structure and substrate of growth are made out of knitted natural fibres and can be shaped in unlimited patterns, combinations and applications.

LIFORM: Living Megastructures, Mycelium Bridges Formation,  Day 5 and 15, 2021
Picture credit: Katya Bryskina

“Like many other processes in our life, the analogue processes of weaving may be automated to be more continuous and efficient. However, automation challenges our human biochemical nature, it becomes harder for humanity to accept nature’s imperfections. The modern world tries to balance between artificial and natural aesthetics shifting more towards the synthetic. This experiment intends to combine analogue and computational methods with bio-organisms to retain a higher level of creativity found in human craft and digital efficiency.”

Bio fabrication incubators are designed to form artificial environments that support the megastructure’s growth. Bringing together craft techniques, technology and living organisms they allow novel symbiotic outcomes, which would never occur naturally, without human participation. Human and natural systems engage in an interspecies learning process, constantly pushing boundaries and adjusting to each other.

FURTHER STEPS:

LIFORM: Living Megastructures – Digital experiments, 2021 – Visuals:Katya Bryskina

Like every living organism, mycelium has its speed of growth that is extremely different from a human. Currently, Bryskina is looking into ways of automating the process to make the incubator’s environment independent from human actions, where the mycelium will be directed by a robot. The idea is to provide mycelium with fibres, create the right environment and let it do the weaving.

LIFORM: Living Megastructures – Structural formation visualisation, 2020 – Visuals: Katya Bryskina

Bio-Fold

“Bio-Fold is a method for homegrown circular fabrication. It allows anyone to grow, cast and shape their furniture from waste, and then fully recycle it after use.” SPACE10

Bio-Fold – Project team: Katya Bryskina, Tomás Clavijo and SPACE10 – Visuals: Kühl & Han

When it comes to new and sustainable materials, agricultural waste fibres play a crucial role because they are available locally and in a vast amount.
Katya and Tomás Clavijo together with SPACE10, IKEA’s Innovation Lab, designed the Bio-Fold project. By combining the vacuum technology to compress fibres with a binder and origami techniques, a whole new set of sustainable solutions opens up! Thanks to the clever use of a reusable plastic bag — IKEA’s versatile FRAKTA bag — this project allows anyone to create a mould for casting biocomposite materials, attempt to create sustainable furniture and rethink a supply chain.

Bio-Fold – Project team: Katya Bryskina, Tomás Clavijo and SPACE10 – Photo: Katya Bryskina, Tomás Clavijo 

The way Katya and Tomas work with agricultural waste can be compared to the process of felting and demonstrates a different approach to combining and shaping fibres. 

Wool felt is considered a non-woven fabric: there is no thread or weaving involved in its production. It originates from raw wool’s fibres which are compacted together tightly by adding heat, moisture and agitation to form the fabric. Nonwoven fabrics are neither woven nor knitted. They are fabric-like materials made from short or long fibres bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or perhaps a natural binder.

Bio-Fold – Project team: Katya Bryskina, Tomás Clavijo and SPACE10 – Visuals: Kühl & Han

“It is challenging to shape a bunch of dry fibres, that’s why it is necessary to add a binder and compress them so that they stick together. The use of different fibres will generate unique visual aesthetics and slightly change mechanical properties. This process allows unlimited geometrical possibilities like origami to fold a variety of objects and play with the method. The goal is to empower people to create and do it sustainably, using local materials. For example, if corn agriculture is popular in your area it’s reasonable to use its waste as source material and help farmers to recycle leftovers. The world’s population is expected to dramatically increase in the next 30 years, this means that the amount of food we’ll have to produce has to grow proportionally. It means we’ll have more and more agricultural waste as a resource to use. “

In Bio-Fold, traditional textile techniques are pushed forward to merge with the concept of biocomposite material towards sustainability. At https://space10.com/project/bio-fold/ Katya and Tomas present their democratic design project which empowers anyone to grow, cast and shape their sustainable and easy to recycle objects (or artworks) out of agricultural waste.