Right now, the design of the future appears to be determined by completely new creative processes that are grouped together as synthetic biology. This scientific field is based on the principles of biology and molecular biology, chemistry, biotechnology, genetic, nano and information technology and engineering. It provides an opportunity to combine natural processes in new organisms and equip them with exceptional, new properties that they have never had. Anna Schröder initially approached these developments through fictive prose that plays with scenarios from the experimental field of synthetic biology and are as visionary as they are alarming. She supplemented them with encyclopaedic explanations of the relevant terms. Her texts treat themes such as environmental restoration, medical research by means of gene analysis, the search for new raw materials and the food situation. An imposing spectrum of technologies that are already usable or will become so in the near future unfolds. Of course responsibility for these actions is an accompanying aspect, since many of these opportunities – genetic engineering in particular –still lack unambiguous legal definitions.

Inspired by visions of the future and equipped with respect for the indeterminate intervention in life and its inner structures, Anna Schröder began to experiment with fungi in the practical section. In comparison to many of the other material developments she researched, they are a manageable, relatively safe subject matter. This species possesses properties such as resistance to water and fire, thermal insulation, lightness and high stability. In various test series, she examined the question of the artistic relevance of the fungi to textile design. Combining the disciplines of textile design and synthetic biology permits and promotes the integration of new ways of thinking and strategies into the design process.


vorher nachherpicture: Jakob Adolphi

Her thesis focuses on the oyster mushroom mycelium, which primarily feeds on cellulosic materials. The active principle is interlacing via the mycelia. Anna Schröder's first test series examined mycelium growth in dark, moist environments on various yarns: silk, wool, linen, cotton and hemp. Silk becomes brittle and similar to paper; mycelia hardly take to wool, which means it can take on a resist function in a textile. The fungus flourished on cellulose fibres and it is the stablest on cotton. The second test series explored the fungus' growth with regard to technique, pattern and material combinations with surfaces Schröder produced especially for this purpose. The result: the mycelia grow the best on material mixtures. They even grow on polyester, which leads to the conclusion that this substance is also biodegradable.

5dayspicture: Jakob Adolphi bleachpicture: Jakob Adolphi bleach2

She next subjected the growth phases of the oyster mushroom on different textile environments to a test series. In a further study, she determined that under certain conditions, the cultures absorb the colour from the fibres – a natural bleaching process that could be used as a design medium. In her final experiment, she tested whether or not the fungus can grow in a pattern. To do this, she used the screen-printing technique to apply lower forms of fungus to fabric. The evidence mounted that, in certain situations, fungi produce colour. This opened up the prospect of additional new artistic starting points. In future, she would like to systematically control the fungus' growth. This may or may not be possible. As Anna Schröder noted in her thesis: 'Fungi have anarchistic tendencies'.

Source: Textile design - from eperiment to series; Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle & Bauhausarchiv; Hrsg: Bettina Goettke-Krogmann, Halle -Berlin 2015; S. 177

picture: Jakob Adolphi picture: Jakob Adolphi picture: Jakob Adolphi