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Yana Zschiedrich is the winner of the " Artist in Lab 2022" ideas competition

In the Artist in Lab 2022 ideas competition of the Fraunhofer "Science, Art and Design" network, there are again four winning projects this year. First place went to Yana Zschiedrich for her project HYBRIS - Art against Climate Change. In her installation HYBRIS, the artist lets mealworms decompose the building material Styrpor. To do this, she has the mealworms eat along stencils, creating artistic reliefs. In 2020, Yana Zschiedrich graduated with the work in Prof. Joachim Blank's class for installation and space; she is currently a master student in media art. A HYBRIS work can also be seen in the HGB graduate archive tendencies.

Researchers found out that the intestines of mealworms are colonised by bacteria that are able to break down polystyrene. This makes the mealworms' excretions biodegradable even after they have eaten polystyrene. The industrially produced sheet material thus becomes a kind of ephemeral mass whose decomposition process is accelerated by thousands of years. Yana Zschiedrich uses this special ability of mealworms to transform environmentally critical material into organic substance for her art project. She has been researching this project since 2019 and, among other things, designed a semi-automated breeding station in which the larvae can eat under optimal conditions and thus produce reliefs. In the second phase of the project, the artist Yana Zschiedrich and Dr Volker Thome from the Department of Mineral Materials and Building Material Recycling at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP are working with the excretions that are produced on the reliefs during the feeding process. These are collected so that they can subsequently be used as building material for theme-specific sculptures. Together, the scientist and the artist want to create a material that will consist of recycled building rubble components and represent a new kind of building material. By using mealworm excreta, they want to develop a solid building material with high compressive strength out of waste from porous Styrodur sheets. Yana Zschiedrich will use this building material to make her sculptures. The reprocessing of a problematic insulating material, which is hardly recyclable, is thus to be taken out of the waste cycle and fed both into the art market and back into the building material cycle. (Text: Yana Zschiedrich)

With funding of up to 10,000 euros each, the artists can realise their ideas and visions in cooperation with researchers from the Fraunhofer network institutes. This was the conclusion reached by an interdisciplinary jury that met on 23 February 2022. The funded projects include art against climate change, exploring the plant world using sensors, immersing oneself in sensory life with augmented reality and researching self-organising materials.