Lazarus Web Vimeo Image
MRI-like representation of material distribution inside of the mask

Hybrid living mask prototypes

Research Team: Christoph Bader, Dominik Kolb, James C. Weaver. Prof. Neri Oxman.

Year: 2016

Location: London Design Museum, 2016, London, United Kingdom

Platform: Data-Driven Material Modeling

With every breath, we inhale the story of our ancestors.


They say that in every breath of fresh air we take, there are molecules exhaled by Jesus, Cleopatra, or Julius Caesar in their dying breath. In a very physical way, we live amongst the spirits, and they live amongst us.

Lazarus is a mask designed to contain the wearer’s last breath. This was the precursor—a kernel—for a larger collection of masks, entitled Vespers, speculating on, and offering a new interpretation of, the ancient death mask.

A litre of air represents 0.000000000000000000001% (1e-23) of all the air on Earth.
A single breath contains around 25 sextillion (2.5e22) air molecules, spreading around the globe within a couple of years.
Lazarus Web 05
3D printed death mask. Photo: Yoram Reshef
Lazarus Web 06
Printed from rigid white and transparent materials. Photo: Yoram Reshef


Traditionally made of a single material, such as wax or plaster, the death mask originated as a means of capturing a person’s visage, keeping the deceased "alive" through memory. Lazarus serves as an ‘‘air urn’’ memento that is a new form of 3D printed portraiture, combining the wearer’s facial features while serving as a spatial enclosure for their last breath.

The mask’s surface is modeled after the face of the dying person, and its material composition is informed by the physical flow of air and its distribution across the surface. Unlike its traditional hand-made analogue, the design of Lazarus is entirely data driven, digitally generated, and additively manufactured. It approaches the resolution of the physical phenomenon that it is designed to capture, thereby creating a unique artifact that is perfectly customized to fit the wearer and her last breath.

Lazarus Diagram
Visualization of the design approach for Lazarus
The project points towards an imminent future where wearable interfaces and building skins are customized not only to fit a particular shape, but also a specific material, chemical and even genetic make-up.
02 Lazarus Extended
Child with Lazarus mask. Photo: Danielle van Zadelhoff
04 Lazarus
Child with Lazarus mask. Photo: Danielle van Zadelhoff
01 Lazarus
Child with Lazarus mask. Photo: Danielle van Zadelhoff
Lazarus Neri Art Yoram Reshef Photo 04 Bw Body
Surface area is modeled after the face of the dying. Photo: Danielle van Zadelhoff


Collaborations: Gal Begun, Boris Belocon, Naomi Kaempfer, Danielle van Zadelhoff

All images and videos courtesy Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group, unless indicated otherwise

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