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Artists Envision Human-Algae Symbiosis

Artists Envision Human-Algae Symbiosis

Image source: burtonnitta.co.uk

In the future, humans may be able to enter into a personal symbiotic relationship with algae by using “new bodily organs” that can host living algae systems.

Our booming population and dwindling water and soil resources may cause us to explore extremely different approaches to food, and the design duo of Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton proposes that one answer may lie in the construction of new organs for the body, perhaps containing a culture of algae that we both feed and eat.

Algaculture designs a new symbiotic relationship between humans and algae. It proposes a future where humans will be enhanced with algae living inside new bodily organs, allowing us to be semi-photosynthetic. Almost enabling us to become plant-like by gaining food from light. 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.

Why design new food on what we have now, when we could re-design how we fuel the body altogether?”

In nature, there are life forms that integrate algae into their bodies (such as sea slugs, lichen, and some salamanders), becoming photosynthetic creatures, or what some scientists call “plantimals“. The proposal of Nitta and Burton plays off of that, and suggests that algaculture could become a whole new way of looking at food and sustainability.

Last year, Nitta and Burton presented The Algae Opera, in which algae are fed by the CO2 from an opera singer’s exhalations:

“To increase the growth of the algae the body of the singer is trained to use her extraordinary large lung capacity to produce the highest quality algae-product. The composition of the song and the singer’s vocal technique are redesigned to specifically produce algae and enrich its taste. To do this, the composer and singer use the new science of sonic enhancement of food where different pitches and frequencies make food taste either bitter or sweet.” – The Algae Opera

You probably won’t be seeing wearable personal algaculture units for sale just yet, but if you want to start getting better acquainted with algae, you might start by growing your own spirulina.

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