JOHNNY JIA-Sheng Chen
Industrial / UX / Graphic Designer
SlimeBox(S-Box) is a Bio design/ speculative design project about human collaboration with slime molds through physarum's growth and development. Slime molds have the ability to learn, predict and solve problems in the environment - simple brains. This project consists of a series of experiments by generating a unique environment for observation and speculations of utilizing slime molds' characteristics to create a living data transfer structure.
Dimension / 2"*2"*2"~4"*4"*4"
Designer / Jia-Sheng Chen
Year / 2021
Slime molds are primitive organisms containing true nuclei and resembling protozoa protists and fungi. They are primate species that have been existed on earth for millions of years. Slime molds begin life as amoeba-like cells. These unicellular amoebae are commonly haploid and feed on bacteria. They have the ability to learn and predict periodic unfavorable conditions in laboratory experiments. Some scientists consider they can manage to have various behaviors that are equal to those of animals who possess muscles and nerves with ganglia – simple brains. As a primate life form, their simple body structure is cable to find the most efficient routes, rendering their problem-solving abilities.
The concept of modern electronic devices is all controlled by a circuit board, chipboard, which functions as a brain in every electronic device. The interior of a circuit board contains electronic components in designated locations on the outer layers.
Each structure is provided reliable electrical connections between the component's terminals in a controlled manner. Each conductive layer is designed with an artwork pattern of conductors that provides electrical connections on that conductive layer.
In biology, cell signaling is a cell's ability to receive, process, and transmit signals with its environment and with itself. It is a fundamental property of all living organisms, such as bacteria, plants, and animals. Signals originate from outside a cell can be physical agents like mechanical pressure, voltage, temperature, light, or chemical signals. Chemical signals can be hydrophobic or hydrophilic. Cell signaling can occur over short or long distances. Signaling molecules can be synthesized from various biosynthetic pathways and released through passive or active transports or cell damage.
In this project, I started by researching slime mold as an intelligent organism and what abilities they can achieve. Slime mold is a primate species that have been existed on earth for millions of years. As a primate life form, their simple body structure, like a brain, is cable to solve problems.
Based on the initial stage of research, I speculated that the approaches slime mold develops to find simple routes for food resources are similar to how humans use wires and circuit boars to control electronic devices. Both of them are seeking efficient ways and delivering the information or material they need. What if humans can develop a similar life structure that able humans to create living devices in the future. Additionally, utilizing living organisms might be able to create a more sustainable scenario instead of using plastic and non-degradable materials - A Speculation of Living Organisms as Future Data Transfer Structures.
I began my project by knowing better about slime mold. In the initial stage of the experiment, I imagined making a special shape of agar for slime molds to transfer and earlier for observation. Furthermore, utilizing oatmeal to trigger them to move to a specific destination.
As the speculation project, in this project, my primary goal was to prove and document slime mold can be integrated with a 3D scale environment, which they are able to reach food sources on different sides of the structure.
I started by growing them in Petri dishes. Then I noticed that the limitation of observing them in a 2D scale environment. So, in the second experiment, I used 2” by 2”, 3” by 3”, and 4” by 4” acrylic boxes and applied agar to the wall surface to observe the growth. Furthermore, I also created special molds for agar, which allowed me to stock agar together for a better observation. To make it easier to observe, I also built a photo studio with a black background and set up a camcorder to capture their movement. In this experiment, I want to prove and investigate the approaches of how slime mold reaches food sources and by adding new sources if slime mold is able to move from A point to B point. The result of this experiment is successful to able to see their growing structure and record them.
Slimebox speculates the possibility to use living organisms, physarum, as a data transferring structure. By observing slime mold’s behavior, I imagine people are allowed to create a simple brain with pyhsarum to deliver data in the future. Utilizing its food sources as attractions, which able pyhsarum to move forward and reach data, food, containing information.
This project speculates the aspects of how to place information into their food resources or integrate the approaches of making slime mold into a conductive organism, besides, by using living creatures to transfer data, which might be able to exploit cell signals instead of the analog signal and digital signal.
Furthermore, from the material perspective, people might develop computers with pure organic creatures and substances, which operate by cell signals. The decomposable characters of the material might create a more sustainable future.