Interview: Amy Karle

Amy Karle interview series

Amy Karle is an artist who explores what it means to be human through a unique mergence of art, design, science and technology. She creates sculptures, wearables, garments, experiences and performances to create representations of our internal states and processes so that we may study the mind and body and even learn to reprogram it. Her bioart work has established a new discipline in the art world. 

As an artist and designer, Karle is also a provocateur and a futurist, leveraging new technologies to create art and design that catalytically examines material and spiritual aspects of life and open minds to future visions of how technology could be utilized to support and enhance humanity.

Amy Karleis co-founder of Conceptual Art Technologies and has shown work in 46 exhibitions worldwide. She is the developer and owner of registered active patents, servicemarks and trademarks in medical and technology categories for enhancing the body and self.

Q: What is your vision on the intersection of 3D Printing and healthcare?

A: I believe 3D printing for healthcare is the most disruptive use of 3D printing — the area that I believethis technologycan make the largest positive impact on humanity.My vision for additive manufacture in healthcareis a future factory where a few patient’s cells could be expanded into blood, bones, tissue, organs, even implantable technologies and augmentations out of their own genetic material to heal, extend and enhance their body.

Q: What do you specialize in? What is your passion?

I specialize in creating fine art and design about and for the human body, it is my passion and has been since I was a young child. Although I often rely on my classical training in Art and Design and Philosophy, over the past 18 years my expertise has developed in the conceptual development and execution of creating art and design through new media and digital technologies. Fond of challenging myself, I find working with new technologies and digital manufacturing encourages new ways of thinking. I love the idea that using different technologies can reshape our thinking, and even reshape our brains and our bodies. It keeps me coming back for more… to keep growing as a professional and as a person. I also like to challenge the tools that I work with, so we can develop together to create things that couldn’t be made in another other way. It’s a passion and drive to contribute to our progression.

Q: What inspired you to do what you do?

A: I have always been fascinated by the human body and the mysteries of life, a compelling and constant curiosity about why we are here, how our bodies work, the mystery of life and the human condition — why we experience pain and suffering as well as love and elation. I was born with a life threatening birth defect and from that experience grew up with the interest in healing and augmenting the body, starting with my own. My parents were both pharmacists and biochemists, and I grew up in the lab and pharmacy with them. They had a lot to do with inspiring me and supporting me on my path as well.

Q: What is the biggest potential impact you see 3D printing having on the healthcare industry?

A: The biggest potential impact that I see 3D printing, including bioprinting can have on the healthcare industry is to heal and augment our bodies,for life extension and creating new life forms and systems to enhance our society, lives and well being.

Q: What challenges do you see arising in implementing 3D printing in healthcare sector in the next 5 years?

A: As we move into the 4th industrial revolution, customization and automatization are affecting almost every industry, healthcare included. It’s easy to foresee many challenges in integrating new paradigms and tools into previously established systems. Time, cost and process, including thought processes are big ones, as well aschallenges arising in ethics and lawmaking, speed of being able to use the technologies and apply them to patients/industry, approval and standard systems (ie FDA approval), cost and integration for ease of usability.The biggest challenge I see is one of a paradigm shift: implementing a new way of thinking about what is possible to create with new tools and technologies, including how to innovate in one’s own work.I believe questions and answers and overcoming these challenges are in how we encourage new ways of thinking and innovating with digital manufacturing to help solve our healthcare problems. When we can envision how these technologies can benefit and serve more people, even increase the bottom line, there becomes more energy and resources to face challenges.

I believe that once the technologies and their potentials are understood and embraced by healthcare sector, the path will be paved for restructuring established systems to accommodate and fund.Poignant discussions and problem solving in how to overcome those challenges can offer innovations in itself. To overcome challenges, I strongly believe in the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration to benefit all fields involved. For example, I created my piece “Regenerative Reliquary”, 2016 as a piece of artwork and speculative design, however, collaborating with scientists to achieve the requirements of the art piece bypassed obstacles that would have been present if this was created as scientific research, advanced the technology, made scientific achievements and told stories about otherwise complex science and medical futuring to a larger audience.

Q: What is the best business lesson you have learned?

A: To be a professional and businessperson in totality of what you do, whatever field you are in. Regardless of if you work for yourself or someone else, back up your passion with strategy. Continually push and challenge yourself to identify and fulfill needs.When a project seems improbable, it doesn’t mean that it is. It’s up to you to believe in it, believe in yourself and keep going.It’s important to know your “why” and share that with others, even if you don’t know “how; when you are passionate it is magnetic and attracts the support to resolve the “how”. Have the inner confidence to ask for the expertise and support of others. Do not fear success or failure, do your best to be emotionally detached to the outcome in this way — keep going and keep working.

Q: What is the biggest business risk you have taken?

A: Starting my own business working as a full time professional artist and designer.Some projects are total risks: I put in so much energy, time and resources and I don’t know if they will work or what will come of them. When I feel concerned I reassure myself that if nothing else, I will learn and grow in the process, so something will come out of the effort and investment even if I don’t deem the outcome otherwise successful.

Q: What do you think the biggest difference between an artist and a scientist is?

A: As I see it, artists, designers and scientists all have this shared desire to make sense of nature and our world, we just study, execute and share it in different ways. Scientists tend to perform research towards understanding; artists create work on their perception or to support understanding; and designers create products to support others’ understanding and utilization of understanding; which quickly comes full circle to applied science. The biggest differences are in the execution and methods, need for replicable results and aesthetics. Its really how one practices that defines art and science as the same or different.In my opinion, there is an opportunity to develop both the art and the scienceof every profession, and that is the key to differentiating oneself and achieving success no matter what field you are in.

Q: How does it feel to be a scientific artist?

A: Very natural and very dynamic at the same time. It is instinctive for me to contemplate the body, nature, philosophy and science and express those questions and reflections in my work.I identify as an artist; artwork is how I express myself best and the language I speak most fluently but I’ve have always had a flirtation with science, so to be interested in science and want to explore and express that in my work feels very natural. It also feels very dynamic because I often find myself so focused on learning from the science and technology, while trying to push it and utilize it in a way to create cutting edge artwork that there becomes a dynamic tension between creating the work and the work itself.Those boundaries dissolve when you get so good at the tools or the medium that you can express yourself and your work through it without thinking about it — completely from an intuitive place. That’s when it will all feel natural. I’m not there yet. In the meantime, it’s a challenging momentum pushing me forward.

Q: What is your hope for the scientific community to contribute to the 3DP community/technology in general? And vice versa?

A: I hope the scientific community contributes new ways of using 3D technology and new ways of thinking about how to use it. I hope they provide visions and innovations of new tools, processes and technologies based on their needs, hopes and goals. My hope is that the technology community collaborates with scientists and other fields alike to develop and create new tools.