MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
 

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology

the museum of modern art presents neri oxman: material ecology, an exhibition featuring the work of architect, designer, and inventor neri oxman. the exhibition includes seven major projects that oxman has created in the course of her 20-year career. through her work, oxman has pioneered not only new ideas for materials, objects, buildings, and construction processes, but also frameworks for both interdisciplinary and interspecies collaborations.

 

the exhibition is organized by paola antonelli — senior curator, department of architecture and design, and director, research & development; and anna burckhardt — curatorial assistant, department of architecture and design. material ecologies is on view from february 22 through may 25, 2020. 

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
aguahoja I, 2018
the aguahoja artifacts display: a catalog of material experiments spanning four years of research shows the range of aesthetics and behaviors we have been able to elicit in medium-to-large-scale prints via performative geometric toolpaths, generative design, bio-composite distributions, and variable fabrication parameters
image by the mediated matter group, courtesy the mediated matter group

 

 

founder and director of the mediated matter group at the MIT media lab, architect and designer neri oxman has coined the term ‘material ecology.’ the terms serves to describe her process of integrating materials science, digital fabrication technologies, and organic design to produce techniques and objects informed by the structural, systemic, and aesthetic wisdom of nature. incorporating computational form-generation with in-depth research of natural phenomena and behaviors, ‘material ecology’ operates at the intersection of biology, engineering, materials and computer science.

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
silk pavilion, 2013
view through silk pavilion apertures as the silk worms skin the structure
image by the mediated matter group, courtesy the mediated matter group

 

 

through the ‘material ecology’ methodology, oxman investigates natural processes, which constitute a new philosophy of designing and making — and even unmaking — the world around us. the observation of, for example, the configuration of the bark of birch trees, the characteristics of crustaceans’ shells, the behavior of silkworms, the expressions of melanin, or the flow of human breath have generated new design and production processes.

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
silk pavilion, 2013
a bombyx mori silkworm deposits silk fiber on a digitally fabricated scaffolding structure
image by the mediated matter group, courtesy the mediated matter group

 

 

at the heart of the exhibition is oxman’s silk pavilion II, a site-specific commission, which continues oxman’s research on the relationship between digital and biological fabrication at the architectural scale initiated in 2013. harnessing the ability of silkworms to generate a 3D cocoon out of a single silk thread, oxman and her research group created the overall geometry of a geodesic dome by using an algorithm that assigns a single continuous thread across patches providing various degrees of density. a swarm of 6,500 silkworms were positioned at the bottom rim of the robotically manufactured initial structure, composed of non-woven silk patches, and were tasked with filling the gaps.

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
glass I, 2015
image courtesy the mediated matter group

 

 

further projects in the exhibition include aguahoja, which deploys some of the most abundant biomaterials on our planet — cellulose, chitin, calcium carbonate, cornstarch, and pectin. these materials are 3D printed by a robot, shaped by water and augmented with natural pigments to create bio-compatible composites with functional mechanical, chemical and optical property gradients. aguahoja aims to subvert the industrial cycle of material extraction through the creation of objects that exhibit tunable mechanical and optical properties, and respond to their environments in ways otherwise impossible with synthetic materials.

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
totems, 2018
melanins are a group of pigments ranging in color from yellow to brown. the term ‘melanin’ often refers to eumelanin, a particular type that is brown-black in color. however, other types, such as pheomelanin (yellow-red in color), also exist. this ‘library’ represents the diversity of melanin, and includes constituent components of the reaction as well as melanin-containing natural materials, such as feathers and cuttlefish ink.
image courtesy neri oxman and the mediated matter group

 

 

among the other projects in the exhibition are glass I and II, and totems. glass I and II have been created through a high-fidelity, large-scale, additive manufacturing technology for 3D printing optically transparent glass structures at architectural dimensions — essentially a 3D printer for the type of glass usually employed to harness solar energy.

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
totems, 2018 | produced by stratasys, ltd.
totems has been 3D printed to include six distinct liquid channels and pockets. each pocket contains melanin from a different species, from bird to cuttlefish.
image courtesy neri oxman and the mediated matter group

 

 

meanwhile, totems speculates designers’ abilities to chemically synthesize melanin — the pigment of life — and program its interaction across scales and species. the first prototype, commissioned as part of the XXII triennale di milano broken nature: design takes on human survival, also curated by paola antonelli (read designboom’s interview here), demonstrates melanin production at an architectural scale for specific environmental contexts.

 

each individually groundbreaking, the museum of modern art celebrates a comprehensive collection of these research projects with the exhibition neri oxman: material ecology.

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
totems, 2018: architectural proposal for an environmentally responsive melanin infused structure
created for design indaba, rendering by eric de broche des combes, luxigon
the glass structure is designed to contain multiple strains of melanin, naturally obtained on site and biologically synthesized at the lab. it provides uv protection during the day, while enabling stargazing upon sunset. a first-of-its-kind biologically augmented facade, the structure is designed to protect endangered species on site and to celebrate the diversity of life on our planet.
image courtesy neri oxman and the mediated matter group

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
vespers, 2018, series 1, mask 5, front view
designed for the new ancient collection
curated and 3D printed by stratasys
image by yoram reshef

MoMA exhibits organic design and digital fabrication with neri oxman: material ecology
lazarus, 2016, produced by, and in collaboration with, stratasys, ltd
image courtesy the mediated matter group

 

 

project info:

 

exhibition title: neri oxman: material ecology

architect/designer: neri oxman

location: museum of modern art, floor 1

exhibition dates: february 22, 2020 — may 25, 2020

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