Thanks to their genetic closeness to humans and to advances in biomedical technologies, pigs could one day become precious repositories of body parts for transplantation to humans. Since 1996, The Tissue Culture & Art Project—Catts, Zurr, and Ben-Ary—has used tissue engineering as a medium for artistic expression. The artists create what they call semi-living entities, a new type of object/being designed using living and nonliving biological materials—cells or tissues from a complex organism grown onto synthetic scaffolds and kept alive through technological intervention. Using tissue engineering and stem-cell technologies, the trio grew pig bone tissue in the shapes of wings. They chose to emulate the wings of the pterosaur (the first vertebrate to evolve for flight), those of a bat, and those of an (imaginary) angel.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014.