FOUNDING LAB Fall Term Projects
Photo: Dimitris Mertzos



Dimitris Mertzos


Όσιο is a project at the intersection of the digital and biological realms, delving into the process of generating and nurturing a hybrid creature. By merging the digital and biological, it strives to depict the peculiarity of existence within an exclusionary landscape and ultimately creating an entirely new sacred realm where the hybrid can live and thrive.

An allegory of self-discovery and healing, this project serves as an exploration undertaken during the FoundingLab Fall Term. Central to my process was the profound shaping of the creature, a transformative process that allowed me to redefine the familiar—my own body—and perceive myself as an entirely distinct entity within the spatial context.

Within my broader artistic practice, I consistently delve into materiality and explore innovative approaches to digital and physical transformation through transmedia installations. I work with a diverse array of mediums, including sculpture in both analog and digital formats, 3D generative programs, video, photography, artificial intelligence, and data collection/processing—spanning the physical, digital, and bodily realms. Specifically within the scope of this project, my objective was to seamlessly merge my cultural traditions, steeped in traditional craft, rituals, and landscapes, with the technological tools offered by the FoundingLab, thereby creating a novel reality.

This endeavor saw the convergence of digital generative tools like photogrammetry and digital fabrication processes, such as 3D printing, with bio-materials like animal gelatine, beeswax, dried flowers, and bio-technological techniques that focused on cell collection from my own body. The synthesis of these seemingly disparate elements resulted in an odd but harmonious blend, a manifestation of the union between tradition and technology, giving birth to the unique reality of Όσιο.

An integral facet of this project involved an in-depth exploration of traditional rituals and customs, particularly those characterized by normative and binary nature. I embarked on a journey of performative research, immersing myself in rituals that felt forbidden, seeking to reshape them through my own experiences. The outcomes were hybrid acts and products, each contributing to the creation of the envisioned new land for the creature—a landscape rich in symbolic significance, a testament to the transformative power of merging tradition and innovation.

With this project, I am questioning of the agency I hold over my own body and contemplate the potential for self-healing and nourishment through the integration of technological tools. The Founding Lab provided an incredible platform for this exploration. While the final outcome deviated from the initial concept, the beauty of performative research lies in its dynamic evolution—from attempting to 3D print a life-sized creature to ethically collecting and processing my own blood. Despite the obstacles faced, we successfully birthed the creature into space, sculpting a world where it could thrive. I view the audience as integral to this creation, hoping that Όσιο transcends boundaries, inviting everyone to see themselves within its unique essence. I extend a heartfelt invitation to explore the realms I’ve crafted, encouraging each individual to embark on a journey of self-healing within this sacred space.


Process Reflection

The process of Creating Όσιο involves careful rituals which combine digital and physical elements. I start by 3d scanning discarded bodies, capturing their unique features digitally and blending them into one form. Using 3D printing, these digital shapes become physical molds.These molds are coated with melted animal (goat) gelatine creating a new protective skin. Gelatine is a material that symbolizes discarded bodies and acts as a connecting tissue for the new creature. In a symbolic act of care and sacrifice.I then infuse the creature with my own Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, drawn from my blood. This simple yet powerful process establishes a deep connection between me and the emerging being. Creating a bond of rebirth and decay.

This project thrived on collaboration, with performative research serving as the catalyst for numerous partnerships. Initially immersing myself in the new Austrian landscape, I sought inspiration for fresh narratives and discerned patterns. My collaboration with nature proved fruitful as I collected materials, identifying familiar aspects within them. Engaging in discussions with fellow fall term students, particularly Amanda Bennetts and Mar Osés nurtured a circle of opinions and feedback that significantly enriched all our projects. Sharing a Fine Arts background facilitated a common vocabulary, paving the way for fruitful collaborations. Notably, teaming up with Chiara Croci, we digitally fabricated the body, navigating practical challenges that intricately intertwined with the project’s conceptual depth. Maintaining a vital link to Greece, I kept those back home in the loop, their insights integral to the project’s progression. My master thesis supervisor, Fani Boudouroglou, played a pivotal role in shaping the project conceptually, leading a research trajectory that seamlessly intertwined materials and narrative. Lastly, collaboration with Anastasia Bragina from the Ars Electronica bio lab provided invaluable scientific perspectives, guiding decisions on how to seamlessly integrate bio elements into the project.

These collaborations formed the backbone of an interdisciplinary research. The exchange within a space teeming with diverse experts, coupled with connections to familiar faces, crafted a hybrid process that boosted both my artistic practice and project forward. Navigating the intersection of art and technology posed challenges, but the technical environment provided invaluable tools, enriching my artistic toolkit and expanding my narratives.

Developing an art project in this technical setting proved transformative, offering solutions to challenges that were insurmountable back in Greece due to resource limitations. Bridging the gap between the digital and the real world became a tangible reality. Interdisciplinarity, inherent to the core of my work, seamlessly integrated with the entire process.