This is a work from a new series of explorations that continue my fascination with purely biogenic designs. The colours and patterns derive directly from nature, and explore its complexity, natural laws, and inherent creativity. Each design also reflects, and is generated by a story, much like a traditional tapestry might be. In this work though, the colours and designs are generated solely by naturally pigmented bacteria, as they move through a silk fabric and interact with each other.
Here is the story of this particular design. Three cultures of pigmented bacteria have been inoculated onto silk. These living bacterial cultures are Serratia marcescens (red), Chromobacterium violaceum (purple) and Arthrobacter polychromogenes (blue). The red and purple bacterial strains are motile, and thus the bacteria begin to move and swarm through the textile colouring it with their corresponding pigments wherever they are present. The blue living pigment, however, is not motile however, and thus can only remain where it was inoculated. After 24 hours of incubation red and purple have moved, but whilst blue has also grown it has remained at its site of inoculation.
After 60 hours of incubation red has begun to overcome blue, but the purple pigmented bacterium cannot approach it. It’s thus likely that blue produces an antibiotic the red is resistant to, but that purple isn’t.