Calico Human

Kuang-Yi Ku (TW/NL)

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Calico Human is a collaboration with Prof. Chris Marine at the VIB Center for Cancer Biology. It examines the plausibility and desirability of manipulating skin color through the use of new biomedical technologies. This is done by inducing “safe” tanning (by activating the melanin-producing ability of specialized cells — known as melanocytes — without causing skin damage) with the primary goal of decreasing the risk of melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer which is induced by exposure to UV of sunlight. The incidence of melanoma is 10 times higher in Australia and New Zealand. This is because the skin of most Australians and New Zealanders, whose ancestors come from the UK, is not adapted to the “sunny” environment. In order to reduce the risk of melanoma, changing skin color could be one of the crucial roles within this problem. This project aims to explore the complex relationships between race, migration, health, fashion and the future of biomedical services.


Kuang-Yi Ku: lives and works in both Taiwan and the Netherlands. He is doing his Ph.D. research at Sheffield Hallam University, England. He is a former dentist, bio-artist, and speculative designer. He also co-founded TW BioArt to stimulate the fields of BioArt and Science+Art in Taiwan. His works often deal with the human body, sexuality, interspecies interaction, and medical technology, aiming to investigate the relationships among technology, individuals and the environment.


Scientist: Chris Marine – VIB
Cell cultivation: Ewout Landeloos -VIB
3D design: Suzanne Bongers
Introductory video: Berend van Rossum
Graphic design: Yu-Tzu Huang
Concept video: Jian-Da Huang
Costume design: Chia-Wei Tien
Prop design: Hung Lu Chan, Hsin Min Chan
Make-up artist: Leanne van Niekerk
Model: Anna de Charentenay
Calico Human was commissioned by Gluon within the framework of STUDIOTOPIA, a project co-funded by Creative Europe Program of the European Union. With the kind support of VIB and National Culture and Arts Foundation.