Inspired by ‘plantimals’, photosynthetic organisms like lichen, sea slugs and salamanders that welcome algae into their bodies in order to thrive, the Algaculture Symbiosis Suit aims to enhance humans with new, partially artificial bodily organs. The suit designs a new symbiotic relationship between us and algae, letting us become more plant-like by gaining food from light.
Exploring alternative ways in which we could sustain ourselves in the future, designers Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton propose suits made of plastic tubes that wrap and wind around the body, looking a bit like an artificial exoskeleton.
Essentially, the algae inside the tubes is fed both by sunlight and by the carbon dioxide in the wearer’s breath, and is then consumed by the human wearing the suit. In this way, our own breath is helping to produce the nutrients that we take in. “As such, we will be symbionts (meaning that both entities entirely depend on each other for survival), entering into a mutually beneficial relationship with the algae,” say the designers.
One of the suits was used in The Algae Opera, another project by Nitta and Burton that used the extraordinarily large lung capacity of a professional opera singer to produce the highest quality algae-product possible, enriching its taste. “So in the age of biotechnology not only can the audience listen to her talent but they can also savor her unique blend of algae that are enriched by her song.”