The Microbiomal Technicolour Dreamcoat

Before incubation

Before incubation

Before incubation

Before incubation

Before incubation

Before incubation

After incubation

After incubation

After incubation

After incubation

After incubation

After incubation

The dyes on these textile samples have been generated by the activity of the bacteria from my own microbiome. The process involves the use of chromogens which are commonly used in bacteriology for the convenient identification of bacteria. Essentially, chromogens are colourless compounds which become brightly coloured (here, blue, pink, black and purple) when certain types of bacteria interact with them.

The idea behind this project is to highlight the importance of the human microbiome, a massively complex microbial ecosystem of some 100 trillion or so microorganisms that live on the body and which has recently been shown to have profound influence on our health and even mental well-being. These are test swatches and the final outcome will be a brightly coloured and wearable garment in which the colours and designs are a result of the activities of my own microbiome.

I like the fact that I only have limited control over the final design,  as the bacteria used impart their own and usually hidden narrative to the work, as they move through the fabric and interact with it, and each other.

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