Narratives of Dust: comparison of the indoor/outdoor environment

Outside dust: spores and microbes

Outside dust: spores and microbes

Outside dust: spores and microbes

Outside dust: spores and microbes

Inside Dust

Inside Dust

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

Inside Dust: human keratinocytes and fabric microfibres

“There shall be in that rich dust a richer dust concealed”

Where it is left to settle and left undisturbed, dust will form an informative yet fragile grey stratum.  If they avoid the gaze of the avid cleaner, these deposits can be ancient and being made mostly of shed human skin, animal dander, and microfabric fibres, a  layer of dust, like sedimentary rock, can hold a fragile record of  life,  passage and occupation. Here I have collected dust samples from neglected and overlooked corners and crannies from buildings and examined these under a microscope so that each sample came to  reveal its own unique story. I like to think of these as microscopic sagas that settled directly from the air itself,  long after their participants had left the scene,  and in the ensuing silence, the  room’s atmosphere had stilled to allow this to happen.

As one might expect there are significant differences between dust collected from indoor environments and that from the outside. Inside dust is mixture of human skin keratinocytes and fabric micro fibres, whereas that collected from the outside is mostly made of microorgansisms, biological debris  and spores.

Ehrlich Staining: a simple off-the-shelf/DIY Bio stain for bacteria, microorganisms, DNA and human nuclei

Gram negative rods stained with the methylene blue stain. 400x

Gram negative rods stained with the methylene blue stain. 400x

Gram negative rods stained with the methylene blue stain. 1000x

Gram negative rods stained with the methylene blue stain. 1000x

Yeast cells purchased from a supermarket and stained with an off-the-shelf/DIY Bio Stain. 1000x

Yeast cells purchased from a supermarket and stained with an off-the-shelf/DIY Bio Stain. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal  buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells  with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached to the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal  buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells  with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached to the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. This is cluster of cocci shaped bacteria from my mouth . 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. This is cluster of cocci shaped bacteria from my mouth . 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal  buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells  with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached to the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal  buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells  with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached to the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal  buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells  with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

My own saliva stained with methylene blue. Personal buccal epithelial cells are visible as large pale blue cells with a dark staining nucleus. Numerous bacteria are visible either attached to the cells or in other parts of the stained sample. 1000x

Paul Ehrlich’ made countless contributions to science,  in fields as diverse as histology, haematology, immunology, oncology, microbiology and pharmacology. His discovery of arsphenamine (Salvarsan) for the treatment of syphilis, and which was the first modern antibiotic, won him wide international acclaim. His early contributions in the field of antibiotic therapy were decisive in initiating the wider development of antibiotics decades later.

In the course of his investigations Ehrlich came across methylene blue, which he regarded as particularly suitable dye  for staining bacteria (later, Robert Koch also used methylene blue as a dye in his research on the tuberculosis pathogen). In particular in stained preparations, Ehrlich noted that bacteria,  and the nucleus of human cells which contains the cell’s DNA, both stained blue, but not other parts of the human cell.

Here I have drawn upon Ehrlich’s early studies on staining bacteria and developed a simple off-the shelf/ DIYBio-staining procedure for bacteria, yeast and human cells. It is based on methylene blue which is readily available as a “fish medicine”. The brand I used here is King British Methylene Blue. It works very well as it comes in the bottle, and without the need for any messy preparation.

C-MOULD UPDATE: NEW IMAGING FACILITIES

C-MOULD is the world’s largest collection of microorganisms for use in art and design. We are pleased to announce that we have just acquired a Nikon Eclipse Ni-U Differential Interference Contrast  Microscope with 10x, 20x. 40x and 100x DIC objectives and a D5100 camera system. This amazing microscope is now available for the use of collaborating artists.

” So in a single drop of water the microscope discovers, what motions, what tumult, what wars, what pursuits, what stratagems, what a circle-dance of Death & Life, Death hunting Life & Life renewed and invigorated by Death … a many meaning cypher” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Narratives Of Dust

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“There shall be in that rich dust a richer dust concealed”

Where it is left to settle and left undisturbed, dust will form an informative yet fragile grey stratum.  If they avoid the gaze of the avid cleaner, these deposits can be ancient and being made mostly of shed human skin, animal dander, and microfabric fibres, a  layer of dust, like sedimentary rock, can hold a fragile record of  life,  passage and occupation. Here I have collected dust samples from neglected and overlooked corners and crannies from buildings and examined these under a microscope so that each sample came to  reveal its own unique story. I like to think of these as microscopic sagas that settled directly from the air itself,  long after their participants had left the scene,  and in the ensuing silence, the  room’s atmosphere had stilled to allow this to happen.