A German museum has just displayed a copy of the great Vincent Van Gogh’s ear, created using a combination of innovative new technologies.

By taking the artist’s DNA, the artists and scientists were able to assemble a copy of the ear using a 3D printer and suspend it in a solution. To obtain the DNA, Lieuwe van Gogh supplied a sample of tissue. Lieuwe is the great-great grandson of Theo, Vincent’s brother.

The ear is created from tissue engineered cartilage, and is identical in shape. The ear contains living cells that contain natural genetic information.

“Vincent van Gogh probably represents more than any other artist the stereotypical romantic image of the artist as a genius. Even some positions in theory of art tend to a certain mystification of artistic creativity compared to any other form of human innovations,” said artist Diemut Strebe.

Viewers of the exhibitions can also talk to the ear, explains Ms Strebe, due to simulation technologies able to determine sounds. Similar technologies will likely be used by robotics technologies in the near future, in order to understand humans.

“The input sound is processed by a computer using software that converts it to simulate nerve impulses in real time,” she said.

“The speaker remains in soliloquy. The crackling sound that is produced is used to outline absence instead of presence.”

The nutrient solution the ear copy is preserved in will be kept on display at the museum until 6 July this year, at which point it will be displayed in New York.

This type of 3D printing and DNA recreating technology could be used to reassemble models of ancient man, as well as creatures from the past. Future museums could be filled with models of the exact creatures that once roamed the Earth, in place of interpretations.

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