Archive for the ‘fat’ Category

speaking of bioreacters

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

When researching art works that use fat for the previous entry I remembered INCUBRA, and it’s take on creating convivial environments of cell cultures.


INCUBRA, Fiannaca/Versparget, 2007

 INCUBRA exploits the body’s natural 37 degree temperature - which of course in vitro bodies require as much as incorporated ones. I’m not sure how they did the CO2 though. Perhaps they didn’t. It has to be the most glamerous wearable lab kit I’ve ever seen.

Posted in Bioarchitecture, Touch, fat, DIY biotech, cell culture, architecture, tissue culture, Bioart | No Comments »

Fat Chocolate explorations notes (i)

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Mel Grant, ( see some links to her here, here and here) a molecular biologist School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, and I have begun some experiments to see if we can feed chocolate to fat cells in the eventual hope of feeding chocolate to lipsuctioned fat cells.

We also want to embed gold particles into fat cells - however this idea has been adjusted to coating fat cells with gold. Nano sculptures within and with out fat.

The evolved from incidental chats in the tea room of the 5th floor lab at the school of Biosciences. Mel mentioned that she was reading medicinal material from  early books archived online, curious cures of extractions that seem both poetic and whimsical and not remotely similar to the dominant contemporary Western allopathic medicine. (Although Chinese Traditional Medicine and Homeopathic Medicine and no doubt many more, use highly poetic and metaphoric language and remedies. That is not to say that terminology in allopathic medical usage is not metaphoric but it’s relationship to material - pharmaceuticals etc. could be described perhaps as more categorical and reductive). We pondered the possibility that dismissal of these approaches and remedies might mean the loss of remedies that actual worked, that had some discreet active ingredient embedded within a vital but seemingly absurd material/object context that current conventional medicine cannot embrace.  She mentioned chocolate as a cure for something or other and somehow we ended up with the idea of feeding chocolate - or rather it’s cocao solid component, to fat cells.

Mel has a colleague who has been working on obesity and has generously agreed to advise and contribute resources for our research, ie. cells -both primary and cell line, consumables - media, and protocols.  So I’m hooked. Rachael Sammons has agreed to help us with SEM imaging of the gold fat cells.

Our first investigations - when I say “our” I mean that I have significant amounts of enthusiasm and conceptual ideas but little “how to do”, especially with ordinary lab bench work. Mel has significant bioscience research experience but also considerable artistic experience - so it’s an entirely asymmetrical partnership!

 Fat cells lab book entry

a note from my lab book that reads:

subcutaneous obese female 1° Adipocytes

visceral adipo - obese female  1° Adipocytes

These were the labels on the two dishes of human primary cells. The cells were contaminated with a variety of bacteria - filements, rods and cocci,  and so had to be destroyed immediately. The bacteria would of come with the cells - from the donor body perhaps of the someone who’d has the cells removed during an operation of some kind. My first task after looking to them was to sprinkle the wells of infected cells with virkon to kill the bacteria and the cells. Knowing that these had come from a human female, woman, person, individual who I could of passed in Sainsburys, sat on a us beside dramatically altered my viewing of them and positioning. They were far more entering an area of subject as opposed to mere material matter like the 3T3 - L1 cell line we were also given. This ongoing destabilising and recapitulation of bodily matter and it’s circulation within and around institutions, ethics and classifications is one of my ongoing preoccupations. I need to work Butler’s Bodies That Matter into this and my other activities in the lab, and Karen Barad but more on that later. (But do read this if you have time Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter, Karen Barad )

We  grated Green and Black 85% dark chocolate and added the following to about 0.5 ml of chocolate.



DMEM F 12 (a liquid medium used to grow certain types of cells in)

FBS (foetal bovine serum)

Then put it in the 37 degree oven to melt, meld and mix.

FBS container


fat chocolate day 1 01

FBS, DMEM F 12, grater, dish with grated 85%.

More of each was added to make up 5ml and to encourage dissolve.

fat chocolate day 1 03

Chocolate was also added to  DMSO.

A combination of 2:3 ethanol:FBS was also tried.

chocolate solutions day 1 01

Butanol was added to the chocolate H2O - but not alot happened, apart from the suspended chocolate forming a barrier between the butanol and H2O and my getting a little woozy.

Cremofor - a sun flower oil derivative was added to the H2O one as well, I think, and a glutinous mess formed around the stick.

cremefor container

cremofar, H2O and chocolate


More of each was added to make up 5ml and to encourage dissolve.

They were centrtifuged and redissolved to try and get another more lipid extract.

We had discussions about whether the lipids (fat) was the cocoa fat of perhaps lipids for the FBS for example. FBS is also full of albumin, a generic protein that lipids attach to, so it’s a good carries as we want to fat cells to uptake the cocoa solids from the media.

We tried liposomes which are used to deliver material into cells, like DNA, their membrane is bi-lipid so it is not antagonistic to the cell membrane.

Liposomes reminded me of Protocells (it’s a bi-lipid thing) and Rachel Armstrong’s great talk and research on living architecture - she was recently awarded a TED global fellowship.  But that’s an other story.

Add all other links.

Write the plan for the next day.

Ethics of using human primary cells.

Cultural ideas around fat and chocolate

Cite fat as feminist issue etc. Fat is Feminist Issue.

Chocolate and gold.

Precedents for use of fat as an art material.

Elanor Antin, Carving, A Traditional Sculpture, 1972.

Janine Antoni.

Joseph Beuys’ use of fat

Orlan, fat reliqueries.

Stelarc and Nina Sellars, Blender

Adam Fiannaca and Cynthia Verspaget’s INCUBRA held a test tube containing adipose cells from Stelarc and Sellar’s Blender.

Croatian artist Zoran Todorovic, soap made from the artist’s liposuctioned fat. See Suncica Ostoic discuss Todorovic’s work here.





Posted in cooking, Bioarchitecture, fat, Molecular biology, cell culture, Ethics, tissue culture, Bioart | 1 Comment »


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