Oxman’s series takes its title from Jorge Luis Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings (1957), a miscellany of over one hundred fantastical beasts from folklore and literature. Borges’s creatures exist on the cusp of the natural and the mythical. Oxman’s beings similarly augment, fuse, and adapt nature, exploring future possibilities for human biology and experience—an area of design practice that Oxman has termed “material ecology.”
The Imaginary Beings series explores the functions of the human body—skeletal, pulmonary, muscular— offering a conceptual proposition for how natural tissues and biological processes might be developed or replicated digitally in the future. In Oxman’s vision, biology enhanced by technology might allow humans to gain abilities possessed by Borges’s imaginary beings, such as flight or underwater breathing. Although this series deals with the human body, these works connect to Oxman’s wider practice, which seeks to strengthen the relationship between man-made and natural environments through digital design principles.
Gallery label from This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good, February 14, 2015–January 31, 2016.