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Collaboration with Natalie Nicolaides

MLitt Curatorial Practice, Glasgow School of Art

&

technical support from Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez,

Head of Bioengineering, University of Glasgow

Harvest: 

sustaining nature BY EASING human's self-appointed entitlement to it

06   /   2020

The black market of rhino horns has skyrocketed in the past few years as the authorities protecting the species lack in means and resources to successfully stop the poaching. There have been several attempts in the past aimed at providing a sustainable solution, which aimed to produce alternatives to the original material with similar material and structural characteristics. Unfortunately, this failed to meet the actual demands of the customers searching the black market.

The project introduces a keratin-based material that is biologically identical to the substance which makes up the entirety of the rhino horn. Because of the amazing thermoplastic characteristics of this material and its ability to be used as a base for vacuum-forming and 3D printing, the material can be manipulated into products fit for our commercial market.

The aim of the project is to analyze the potential implications that the possibility of providing an overabundance of this currently scarce resource can have on its market value. By suggesting to implement the engineered keratin into both the legal and the black market of animal memorabilia, the project tackles the mainstream ethical boundaries and mindset of producing counterfeit objects.

Illustration by Dionne Kitching © 2019

Illustration by Dionne Kitching © 2019

The project acknowledges the work already carried out by the American-based company called Pembient who is in the process of manufacturing synthetic horns for the commercial market and is set to be releasing the first batches in 2022. Where the two projects distanced one from another is the holistic approach that the Harvest one employs as it gains ground of the overarching problem of animal poaching - the psychological and sociological factors associated with the ownership of rare artefacts.

Click on the cover to view the full publication.

Publication by Natalie Nicolaides, MLitt Curatorial Practice, Glasgow School of Art, 2019

Instead of proposing purely a material alternative, the project aims to redesign the validation system surrounding rhino memorabilia. By mapping out chemical and environmental factors that differentiate different keratin materials and establish a deeper connection between the material owner and the source, the Harvest project aims to shift the negative connotation associated with the terminology of synthetic engineering and biomimicry.

African White Rhino Horn Product,

3D modelling and rendering by Katja Gorjanc, 2020

Indian Greater One-horned Rhino Horn Product,

3D modelling and rendering by Katja Gorjanc, 2020

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Indonesian Sumatran Rhino Horn Product,

3D modelling and rendering by Katja Gorjanc, 2020

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