3D printing has taken on a whole new and exciting endeavour: Growing a human ear…van Gogh’s ear! In 1888, Vincent van Gogh cut off his own ear when he had a psychotic episode. It has now been recreated for an exhibit in a museum.
Van Gogh suffered from many illnesses, which may have lead up to his mental collapse in 1888. Some of these illnesses included bipolar disorder, temporal lobe epilepsy (can cause one to see in yellow), thujone poisoning (poison found in absinth), lead poisoning (from nibbling paint chips), hypergraphia (condition causing one to have to write continuously), and sunstroke (from painting outside all the time). All of this led to a breakdown whereby he mutilated his own ear attempting to give it to a prostitute.
The Centre for Art and Media in Karlruhe, Germany, has the famous artist’s ear on display. Where did they get the genetic material to re-grow it? The Museum made living cells out of samples given to them by the great-great grandson of the artist’s brother, Theo: quite amazing, really. The ear will also be exhibited in New York, next year. One sixteenth of the genetic information is shared by Lieuwe van Gogh and he “loved the project straight away”, stated the museum.
At a hospital in Boston Massachusetts, the cells were grown then shaped by a 3D printer. Artist Diemut Strebe who has the ear on display stated that she wanted science and art to go hand-in-hand saying: “I use science basically like a type of brush, like Vincent used paint.”
The exhibition in Germany lasts until the 6th July. You can go visit and speak into the ear through a microphone. Maybe van Gogh can hear what you have to say! Where does this leave us? Well, perhaps in the future, 3D printers will be able to bring whole bodies back to life! You never know!
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[Image via cnn]