Lend me an ear

The Tissue Culture & Art Project used human cells to grow this quarter-scale replica of performance artist Stelarc's ear. In October, I posted about a tiny skin jacket they produced in vitro.

"The ear is cultured in a rotating micro-gravity bioreactor which allows the cells to grow in three dimensions. Stelarc's recent projects and performances are concerned with the prosthetic. The prosthesis is seen not as a sign of lack, but as a symptom of excess. Rather than replacing a missing or malfunctioning part of the body, these artifacts are alternate additions to the body's form and function.

Extra Ear 1/4 Scale is about two collaborative concerns. The project represents a recognisable human part. However, it is being presented as partial life and brings into question the notions of the wholeness of the body. It is also confronts broader cultural perceptions of 'life' given our increasing ability to manipulate living systems. TC&A are dealing with the ethical and perceptual issues stemming from the realization that living tissue can be sustained, grown, and is able to function outside the body. Stelarc, ultimately, is concerned with the attachment of the ear to the body as a soft prosthesis. Extra Ear 1/4 Scale is partial life form – partly constructed and partly grown – waiting to become a soft prosthesis."