“The Living Language Project” Project is a linguistic research project that utilizes scientific methods and explores the boundaries between culture and nature. It proposes a new possible evolution process for the Hebrew alphabet that may have occurred during the 2,000 years the language was considered dead. The core element of the project is “Bio-ink,” a type of ink the artist created with a bacteria called Paenibacillus vortex. With this ink, old Hebrew characters were written in petri dishes, where an additional layer of protein or food in the shape of contemporary Hebrew characters was superimposed on them. As the bacteria move toward the food, the entire colony of the bacteria gradually grow or “evolve” into the shape of the new character. Bacterial growth is affected by environmental conditions such as food availability and temperature. This project deals with the tension between the desire of humans to control the behavior of living organisms and the forces of nature running their own course. It is also an attempt to propose a possible process by which a living language can gradually evolve. The artist combines research, experiments, and results with his original theories to reexamine nature, culture, and language including the letters. He also investigates to what extent technology and nature’s designs can coexist and interact with each other in the field of synthetic biology.
Excellence Award in Art Division, 20th Japan Media Arts Festival