Bacterial Wargames

The soldiers (different species of pigmented bacteria

The soldiers (different species of pigmented bacteria

The giant Petri dish

The giant Petri dish

Inoculation

Inoculation

Inoculation

Inoculation

Inoculation finished

Inoculation finished

Incubation: Day 1

Incubation: Day 1

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

Incubation: Day 2

In its final setting

In its final setting

In its final setting with human interaction!

In its final setting with human interaction!

Red Wins. Game Over!

Red Wins. Game Over!

Red Wins. Game Over!

Red Wins. Game Over!

“the microscope discovers, what motions, what tumult, what wars, what pursuits, what stratagems”  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A new project inspired by the boardgames of my childhood, Risk, Campaign and Diplomacy and the like,  and also by the inherent properties of bacteria.  Produced in collaboration with Alexander Penn, Clifford Pemberton Kaylee Herbert, Elizabeth Saunders, and Andrew Friend.  Part of the MILES event at the University of Surrey

Billions of microscopic soldiers (bacteria) , take part in a unique and epic battle on the surface of probably the largest  Petri dish in the world. Each colour is a different inoculum of living and pigmented bacteria, with each possessing a different characteristic/ability. The images here are of the initial inoculation (each coloured patch represents a seperate bacterial species), and the map after incubation, and after its nature has been changed dramatically as the bacteria became active, grew,  and interacted with each other. The red and purple pigmented bacteria are aggressive and swarm to infiltrate certain other species. Blue and orange adopt a defensive strategies and produce powerful, and yet uncharacterized antibiotics, that kill red to protect their own territory. I can’t help but feel that this map is a metaphor for our own species and wonder, as bacteria predated us in evolutionary terms, whether the traits that we see here are hardwired into our own biology.

The battle has taken place on a layer of the fabric polycotton and this facilitates their movement through its fibres. I’m also thinking what a fine Summer dress this bacterially stained fabric would make if sterilized and dried!

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