Pale Pathogenic Blue: new explorations in bacterial bioluminescence II

IMG_0959

Bioluminescence is the remarkable ability of living organisms to emit light and occurs widely in nature including in some fungi and bacteria.  Bacterial bioluminescence gave rise to some earliest insights in medical microbiology when it was first observed in 1825 on two discarded corpses at The Anatomy School in London. When the luminous
microorganisms were scraped from the corpses it was found that they could make
others glow providing one of the very first practical demonstrations of the
role of microorganisms and their transmission.   This is an image of an agar plate culture of Photorhabdus asymbiotica a bioluminescent bacterium that kills insects, and causes them to glow in the process, and which is  also a human pathogen, causing glow-in-the dark wound infections. A another new adventure begins…..

The Angels Glow: new explorations in bacterial bioluminescence I

IMG_0961

Bioluminescence is the remarkable ability of living organisms to emit light and occurs widely in nature including in some fungi and bacteria.  Bacterial bioluminescence gave rise to some earliest insights in medical microbiology when it was first observed in 1825 on two discarded corpses at The Anatomy School in London. When the luminous microorganisms were scraped from the corpses it was found that they could make
others glow providing one of the very first practical demonstrations of the
role of microorganisms and their transmission. More recently, in the First World War, it was noticed amongst soldiers with serious wound infections that those who survived, frequently had a feature in common, wounds that glowed in the dark. Because this
mysterious phenomenon was associated with better survival prospects it became known as the “Angel’s Glow”.  We know today that this effect was most likely to have been caused by the bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens which is bioluminescent and produces a variety of antibiotics. This is an image of an agar plate culture of the aforementioned bacterium showing bioluminescence. A new adventure begins…..

Ice-Nine

IMG_0921 IMG_0920 IMG_0919

Inspired by Ballard’s “The Crystal World”, Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle”  and Hiorn’s “Seizure” this is the beginning of a new  project to make a form of “ice” that doesn’t melt. So that I might transpose a winter phenomenon, to make “Summer Frosts”.

The Ergotamine Mutoscope

 

The sealed viewing portal

The sealed viewing portal

 

Ergot is the dried sclerotium of the fungus, Claviceps purpurea  and these  arise  on the grains of various  cereal plants. The sclerotium contains high concentrations of various highly toxic alkaloids which possess a range of  biological activities, including effects on circulation and neurotransmission. Consumption of flour contaminated with Ergot results in St. Anthony’s fire or Ergotism, the symptoms of which include hallucinations, sensations of severe burning and gangrene. Ergotism  resulted in the death of 40,000 people in AD 944 in Southern France. In this work the medium is ergot sclerotia and consequently  it is quite possibly one of the  most toxic forms of art ever produced.  Here  ergots, the compact dark and toxic masses, are held  in an impermeable safety cabinet and are only  visible only through a sealed  viewing portal,  so that their threat is ever present,  but in that moment  of viewing,  their highly  disruptive biochemical  potential is contained.