In my IDM Masters thesis, I set out to design and fabricate a truly personalized, data driven power object through the use of genetic data in collaboration with additive manufacturing.
Designed objects play an active role in the lives of humans, particularly in the construction and reinforcement of human belief. This is most easily observed in the relationships that humans have with sacred objects. Religion often guides human behavior, and a special relationship develops between people and objects that carry religious relevance. As science is more able to address topics traditionally in the realm of religion, power objects are taking less conventional forms. If power objects can be created outside of a religious faith, what process would be used to design them?
I began the project by creating a survey to assess the general understanding of and beliefs surrounding genetic information. Users consistently asked questions of their genome that would have traditionally been answered by religion, such as reasons for hardship and requests for guidance. Questions received from the survey were sorted into three primary subjects – health, identity, and heritage. Many could not be answered with genetic information.
I chose the archetype of the prayer beads as a base form for the new power objects. I researched genes that could be associated with health, identity, or heritage and modeled the prayer beads after sequences from these genes. Each bead represents a base in the sequence, each base bead has a unique shape or texture.
It is difficult to conclude whether the representation of genetic data in an object changes the way it is perceived, as I do not have access to the genetic information of my target audience.
Rhinoceros, Formlabs Form2, Stratasys Objet30