This is a novel process which uses natural waters, sunlight, carbon dioxide, and photosynthetic microorganisms to make sustainable and living pixelated images. These are small scale trials that demonstrate the process and prove its feasibility.
I sat in a dark room with a liquid culture of bioluminescent bacteria. As I watched them, this is what they did. They formed these complex and dynamic glyphs as if they were trying to communicate with me. Were they trying to tell me something important?
In preparation for my upcoming exhibition at Trinity Buoy Wharf, I sampled the finger tip microflora of its human inhabitants, both resident and transient. Here’s what grew. Given the importance of our bacterial microflora, I’m feeling a little like a microbiological palm reader or fortune teller. Beautiful forms and diversity.
Please join me for the “Exploring The Invisible” exhibition. Follow the link below for link below for further details.
If a soil sample is placed onto a receptive surface the vast microbial community within slowly emerges from it to form a complex design that reflects the microbiological properties of the orginal soil. In these particular images the generative form resembles frozen water and seeing such BioCrystaline state emerge in this way reminds me of both Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” and Ballard’s “Crystal World”
The slime mould Physarum polycephalum is an intriguing and striking microorganism that exhibits simple “intelligence”. In this respect, it will move toward favourable, and away from hostile environments, can solve a maze in its search for food, and has a primitive memory. Here is some time-lapse footage which reveals a phenomenon akin to a microbial heartbeat.
Just a straight foward photograph of the common soil bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor, reavealing its inherent complexity and beauty. These bacteria are notable because they have a highly complex secondary metabolism through which they many clinically useful antibiotics and compounds. They are the microbial world’s chemists.
Mycobacterium vaccae (The Golden Bacillus), is a ubiquitous and natural soil bacterium that you are likely to ingest or inhale when you spend time in natural environments. In mice, exposure to this bacterium has been shown to stimulate the growth of certain neurons in the brain, resulting in increased levels of serotonin, and through this decreased anxiety. In addition to this, mice which have been fed live M. vaccae navigate mazes twice as fast as controls suggesting that exposure to this bacteria may also improve the ability to learn new tasks. Here, cultures of M. vaccae have been processed into novel crystalline forms, which are the basis of a novel concept for BioGems. These will later be incorporated into a range of provocative probiotic jewellery, that not only looks attractive, but might also improve the health of the wearer. Other applications might include BioSequins for probiotic attire, and also probiotic body creams and perfumes.
The Gram stain is the most important staining technique used in bacteriology and is almost always the first step in identifying an unknown bacterium. It distinguishes two key types of bacteria, those that are Gram-positive (these stain purple) and those that are Gram-negative bacteria (these stain pink). The stain is usually made on a small section of a glass slide and the bacteria then observed under one 1000-times magnification using a microscope. Here I decided to adapt the Gram staining technique to investigate my own bacterial microflora, that is to use it to reveal my own Dark Biology. I see this process as a form of self-portraiture and thus decided to forego the use of a microscope and to instead increase the size of the area of the stained bacteria so that the art work would be the same size as a more conventional self-portrait. These images then are macroscopic self-portraits made from my own microscopic flora. The swathes of purple, gold, and red are in fact made by the specific staining of billions of individual bacteria cells and when the works are observed under a microscope, this reality is revealed and they are found to comprise of a multitude of microscopic and coloured dots and rods (the shape of the bacterial cells). Being made of an aspect of myself, I find the self-portraits intensely personal and also think of them as a form of microscopic pointillism.