Boston March Fellow: DIY Bioengineered Inks

March 18, 2010

Things have been quiet from Boston for a little bit: we’ve been swamped readying the new, improved, and expanded Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences website — and been repping it up at conferences and the like. But, to all those who have been asking, yes, yes, we’re still in business.

Extremely proud today to announce that our March Awesome Fellow is Charles Fracchia (that guy above). His idea? To create pens that draw from actually living, growing ink cartridges. Excerpting from his proposal:

“I want to develop a set of bioengineered inks to be used with various pen types ranging from gel pens to fountain pens. As an intern at ginkgo bioworks and avid DIYbiologist, I have access to a number of bugs engineered with proteins that result in colour production. I want to make special cultures that can then be packaged as ink cartridges to be used with ordinary pens.”

For all you science dorks out there, there’s some neat little possibilities when you start growing your own ink:

“This would allow artists and enthusiasts to draw with awesome engineered inks. The great thing about using bioengineering to produce the colour, is that you can engineer them in circuits so to create “conditional inks”. For example, using a promoter activated by high temperature in front of the colour producing gene, we can create a colour that will only be expressed when the temperature reaches 35 degrees centigrade. Besides creating different conditional inks (temperature, presence of heavy metals, milk …), I would like to use the money to make different viscosity inks. I want to make the ink using a mix of glycerol and culture media.”

Best of all, this method will be DIY and accessible, so you’ll be able to make these pens all own your lonesome, if you’re so inclined. 

And THAT, my friends, is how we do some awesome. We’re planning to put together an event in Boston on April 23rd for Charles to exhibit his work and for everyone to play around with drawing with real living ink. If you’re interested, stay tuned to our Twitter account for more details!