Soil is the matrix upon which our civilization depends and by from a human perspective, the living soil has to be the Earth’s most valuable ecosystem. Without healthy soils, life and human society as we know it would not be able to function.
Much of the activity of soil, and its ability to support life and recycle biological material, depends upon the microorganisms that live here. This microbial community is massively complex, and similar to our relationship with the human microbiome, it serves as a vital symbiotic partner to the many plants that grow upon it. We disturb this complex ecosystem and its myriad associations at our own peril.
To emphasize the importance of soil and its complex and vital microbiology, I have an idea for burying unglazed pottery or ceramics within it and at different locations, and allowing these to be colonized by the microorganisms that live here. When the implanted objects are removed, they will then be stained with a variety of dyes that specifically stain bacteria and other microbes, so that this vital, yet often overlooked microbial ecology is revealed on the ceramics.
Here are the very first tests for this process. I buried some glass microscope slides at a variety of locations, left them for a month, removed them and then stained them to reveal the presence of the microbial community. The slides were viewed both macroscopically and with a microscope.
The process shows great promise. Of course in future it should be possible to treat the ceramics to encourage, or to prevent colonization, to make designs. The process might also work with fabrics, a dress perhaps?