Regenerative Reliquary: Bringing Bones to Life

The work of new media artist Amy Karle investigates bones and systems that grow. In her latest ground breaking series, she grows bone along a biofriendly 3D printed lattice using medical CAD and human stem cells. The results are incredible and never before seen.

As part of the background to her process, Karle took 3D scan data of bones from the California Academy of Science’s collection and then rendered the data and applied generative algorithms to create sculptures. She also created sculptures growing crystals on 3D printed lattices. This work led her to pursue growing designs in actual bone with actual stem cells.

Regenerative Reliquary is a 3D printed scaffold made of biodegradable hydrogel that disintegrates over time, with the aim that stem cells seeded onto the design will grow tissue and mineralize into bone along the scaffold. To create this work, Karle collaborated with bio/nano and materials scientists at Autodesk. The project is still under development and Karle is seeking scientific and biomedical partners to collaborate on cell culture and establish repeatable successful results for stem cell grown into bone in this or a similar method. She is also seeking sponsors and museums to show this work.

Karle’s work establishes a new discipline in the art world called Bioart, an art form whereby sculptures are grown from living materials.This new art form also has vast potential for healthcare, beauty, fitness and a new way of thinking and making. Karle explains that not only could we in the future fabricate additions to our bodies and restructure and reshape our bodies, totally new objects and products can be made of living cells for use outside the body.

According to Karle, we are at an exciting time where we no longer need to turn inanimate materials like metal or clay into functional objects that mimic the human body. Instead, we can use actual living tissue as a material to build with.

You can see a video of Amy Karle’s process here and find open source instruction for her work here.