Archive for the ‘tissue’ Category

exhibition at Science Gallery Jan 28-Feb 25, 2011

March 10, 2011

limited edition cryobook series

July 4, 2009


last series of books

July 4, 2009

The last series of books turned out in an unexpected way. The stamp imprints stained white instead of blue! Stuart said it probably had to do with the proportions of chemical mix. So now the imprint designs are white and the background is bluish/brown. In other words, I screwed up on mixing  the 4CN solution. But, I am  happy with the results. The designs on these books are by John Greyson (left) and Vincent Chevalier (middle). This is what the stamps look like.(My design is on the right).


here are the imprints as seen on the book sculptures:


vincentbookClose up of Vincent’s design on front cover. (Imprint on pig skin).

backbookimprint of both designs on back of book. (also imprint on pig skin).

First series of cryobooks

June 28, 2009



The first two cryobooks are finally done after two months of intensive development.

These books feature a custom designed stamp print by myself. (see above).The image imprinted within the skin of the books is a new sign for HIV.  (The red ribbon is in need of an update!). The rendering is not merely a representation, but a bringing into being  living signs.  Each stamped image is made visible by Lentivirus and HaCat cells that have been stained.

The next series will feature new designs for HIV  by Canadian performance artist Vincent Chevalier and Canadian Filmmaker and HIV/AIDS activist John Greyson.

tweeking the recipe and hours of cooking

June 17, 2009


Here is a shot of the new recipe/protocol in process. (Above). The solutions used for the immunohistochemical staining process after the mess has been cleaned up. (Below).


Today was a full day and night in the ‘kitchen’ cooking up the pig skin with virus.
This time I finally figured out how to mix the antibody solutions properly thanks to Stuart (my collaborator for Living Viral Tattoos and  a research scientist based in the Anatomy and Human Biology department). Besides getting the skin stamped, transplanting the viral host cells and incubating them (aka cooking them in the oven), I was measuring and mixing solutions for hours. The non-stop pipetting action and washing the skin with PBS is mindnumbing work.

The kitchen metaphor is fitting for this process. Last week the human skin  puffed out after it had been in the incubator for four hours, losing its stamp shape. Megan, a  SymbioticA regular, saw the  bloated skin pages and commented that they were overflowing souffles.  I’m trying to created more of a ‘pancake’ so that the stamp designs hold in the viral host cells as long as possible.

Here is a short video clip of ‘cooking’ the pig skin with HaCat cells, Lentivirus and primary antobodies in an incubator.

transfectedThis photo is not in focus but here you can see how the skin looks after incubation. The stamp imprint is visible apart from the rest of the skin due to a reaction between the viral Hacat cells and the pig skin’s epidermal cells.  If the immohistochemical staining process works, this area will turn blue in the shape of the stamp design.

The Flu

June 13, 2009

swine flu (from ABC)The last two weeks have been intensive. Besides working in the lab, I’ve been fighting a bad cold. I have also been feeling like a pariah given the current climate of fear around swine flu.Between the lab and my cold, I have had to wash my hands so much that they are blistering.

The hype around the swine flu is excessive. Is this “pandemic” an excuse to detain migrating populations? More people die of malaria and other infectious diseases each year. How many pigs have been slaughtered to “prevent” the possibility of contagion ?

The relationship between the current pandemic of the swine flu and this project is uncanny. I never intended to comment on the current climate of fear and surveillance around the swine flu, however, now that I look at some the images I have produced from sewing my hands into pig skin, I do see a relationship. I posted one of the images on the blog earlier under ‘untitled’ and it will be the featured image for publicity announcing my residency talk at Fremantle Arts Centre next week. The flu hit Australia a couple of weeks ago and last week the first cases were reported in Western Australia. Many schools have been shut down and children quarantined at home. See

As for the process of making the cryobooks—- I had to suspend the process after fixing the skin and did not get a chance to do the staining. The skin is now frozen and I will have to thaw them and continue with the staining process. Theoretically, it should still work, but time will tell. After some trial and error with the first batch of ‘books”, I have changed the protocol slightly. The primary rabbit anti-mouse desmin is not being used since, unlike the Living Viral Tattoos, this project does not use myoblast cells- only human epithelial HaCat cells. We also substituted Thy1.1 for the mouse anti-mouse vimentin. Anyway, a revamped protocol is forthcoming and will be posted.

wetware in process

June 6, 2009

custom designed stamp

It’s been an intensive week of preparing the viral host cells, getting the custom designed stamps ready, and cutting skin. There have been a few hitches along the way..but this first prototype is almost finished. I just have the immuno stains to do and hopefully, if all goes well, there will be distinguishable images on the skins surface and through fluorescent microscopy.  It’s a long shot since there are so many things that can go wrong. Wet media operates on a different time scale that isnt always compatible with production schedules. Scheduling and planning each step is constantly shifting daily.

(Video is shot by Meredith Walsh)

more images of tummy tuck skin

June 2, 2009


Post surgery waste

June 2, 2009

We picked up the post-surgery waste that will form the base of the cryobook archive sculptures. The skin is now being chilled in the fridge so that it has a tougher surface for the leather stamp imprint that will be used to make custom designs.  Tomorrow I will prepare the lentivirus and HaCat cells and if everything goes according to plan, I will be able to make the first cryobook with human and pig skin.

Be assured that all human ethics and biosafety approval forms have been filled out and approved prior to the making of this project. I am grateful to the donor and doctor who helped make this element of the project possible. Thanks to Meredith Walsh for taking this short video document.

human tummy tuck skin

June 2, 2009