Victimless Leather Jacket

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr
Victimless Leather- A Prototype of Stitch-less Jacket grown in a Technoscientific “Body”

meat coat Oron Catts Ionat Zurr

Humans, the naked/nude apes, have been covering their fragile bodies/skins to protect themselves from the external environment. This humble act for survival has developed into a complex social ritual which transformed the concept of a “Garment” into an evocative object that cannot be taken on its face value. Garment became an expressive tool to project one’s identity, social class, political stand and so on. Garments are humans’ fabrication and can be explored as a tangible example of humans’ treatment of the Other.

By growing Victimless Leather, the Tissue Culture & Art (TC&A) Project is further problematising the concept of garment by making it Semi-Living. The Victimless Leather is grown out of immortalised cell lines which cultured and form a living layer of tissue supported by a biodegradable polymer matrix in a form of miniature stich-less coat like shape. The Victimless Leather project concerns with growing living tissue into a leather like material.

This artistic grown garment will confront people with the moral implications of wearing parts of dead animals for protective and aesthetic reasons and will further confront notions of relationships with living systems manipulated or otherwise. An actualized possibility of wearing ‘leather’ without killing an animal is offered as a starting point for cultural discussion.

Our intention is not to provide yet another consumer product but rather to raise questions about our exploitation of other living beings. We see our role as artists as one in which we are providing tangible example of possible futures, and research the potential affects of these new forms on our cultural perceptions of life. It is not our role to provide people with goods for their daily use. We would like our work to be seen in this cultural context, and not in a commercial context.

As part of the TC&A project we are artistically exploring and provoking notions relating to human conduct with other living systems, or to the Other. This particular project will deconstruct our cultural meaning of clothes as a second skin by materialsing it and displaying it as an art object.
This piece also presents an ambiguous and somewhat ironic take into the technological price our society will need to pay for achieving “a victimless utopia”.

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The research and development of “Victimless Leather” has been conducted in SymbioticA: the Art and Science Collaborative Research Laboratory, School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia and in consultation with Professor Arunasalam Dharmarajan from the School of Anatomy and Human Biology as well as Verigen, a Perth based company that specializes in tissue engineered cartilage for clinical applications. The State of Western Australia has made an investment in this project through ArtsWA in Association with the Lotteries Commission.