Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr at the Tissue Culture & Art Project are attempting to grow a semi-living jacket in an effort to create "victimless leather." Hoping to highlight the possibility of wearing leather without killing an animal, the duo is presently focused on growing living tissue into a leather-like material and having it mature in the form of a miniature, stitchless, coat-like shape.
Cells used in the project so far have come from so-called immortalized cell lines, or cells that divide and multiply forever once they are removed from an animal or human host, essentially forming a renewable resource.
"The interesting thing about cell lines is that in most cases once a cell line has been developed there is much more of that than the original organism from which it was taken," said Catts. "For example, the 3T3 mouse cells which are very common in scientific research centers around the globe can be weighed in tons or even tens of tons and they all came from one mouse in the 1970s."
"One of the most common and somewhat surprising comments we heard was that people were disturbed by our ethics of using living cells to grow living fabric," said Zurr, "while the use of leather obtained from animals seems to be accepted without any concern for the well-being of the animals from which the skin has been removed."
See also: LoveLump.