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Amelogenesis Imperfecta (How deep is the skin of teeth) 2012
grunt gallery Media Lab, Vancouver

installation with shark skin, microscope, laser-engraved skin cells on viewing slide, animation projected on water surface 


Amelogenesis Imperfecta (How deep is the skin of teeth) is an experimental biological project that fuses the disciplines of art and dentistry, conducted during a 6-month residency at SymbioticA Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, University of Western Australia, Perth. By borrowing techniques, technologies, and biomaterials from dental science, Khang explored the possibiities of growing enamel, to produce what are in effect 'enamel sculptures.' Epithelial and mesenchymal cells were harvested from an unerupted porcine enamel organ / tooth bud, and grown in vitro, to be ultimately seeded onto a synthetic collagen-based bioscaffold.

While the project did not meet the objective of growing enamel, the epithelial cells that would have differentiated into ameloblasts (enamel-producing cells) were seeded onto glass slides. These became one-cell layer thick 'canvasses', upon which images and text were engraved with a precise laser under magnification at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterization and Analysis (UWA). The laser engravings, invisible to the naked human eye, become visible mediated through a microscope. Ultimately, what began as an end-oriented project to manufacture enamel in vitro became a meditation on ethical interspecies relations.

Amelogenesis Imperfecta is presented at the grunt gallery Media Lab, concurrent with Beautox Me, at CSA Space.

1-4: installation view, grunt gallery Media Lab
5-7: animation projected onto a pool of water and ink, 4'x3'x6"
8: animation - Skin to Tooth / Tooth to Shark

photo: David Khang
technical advisors (animation): Darren Bereton, Asa Mori

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