In this work a page from a book has been deliberately wounded, and then infected with bacteria. In this context, it was cut with a scalpel, then inoculated at the site of the lesion with the blood red pigmented bacterium Serratia marcescens, and finally placed onto bacteriological growth media. The bacteria used here are able to communicate with each other, collaborate in numbers to overcome obstacles to great for the few, and can swarm and move together in a coordinated manner through the paper of the page. The spreading lesion thus reveals an uncomfortable reality, that our world is dominated by invisible microbiological life. Moreover, the bacterium used here produces haemoglobin, the same oxygen transporting mammalian protein that colours blood red, and it thus harbours the evolutionary origin of our own blood.
In the works here, the contents of my gut microbiota have been separated away from other faecal material by filtration in order to purify its bacteria. To reveal the bacteria the samples are staining using the Gram stain which reveals the bacteria of my microbiome. The works invite the observer to consider the human microbiome as a complex and integrated human body tissue. Each tiny speck is a bacterial cell and one of the multitudes that I share my body with.
We accidentally left some spent wine bottles out in our garden, and through doing this, unintentionally provided a medium for its snails and slugs to modify. In eating the labels on the bottles our garden gastropod molluscs have edited their human narratives to produce there own art but at the same time they have also absorbed the anthropogenic materials present in the label’s inks. Do these human made materials persist in the faeces of the creatures or even colour it. The major source of nutrition in the paper of the labels will be cellulose, and to gain sustenance from it, the slugs and snails must degrade this resilient biopolymer. However, on their own they cannot do this and thus have to rely on symbiotic and cellulytic bacteria present in their guts. How do these react to the presence of the human made inks?
Just one damp night later the label on one of the bottles has been edited further and one of the “artists” is present (image below).
Water covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and is the solvent of life. The chemical properties of pure water however, are universal, defining, and unchanging. What then gives different natural water courses their unique identities, exists within water, and in-between the spaces of its polar molecules. This work explores these defining elemental signatures through a process that colorimetrically reveals one of the most important of these, the concentration of hydrogen ions present. When a pH indicator is added to the water samples, its colour changes according to concentration of hydrogen ions, and thus reveals this otherwise invisible yet defining chemical signature. The nine water samples in the image here range from those taken from Surrey’s acidic and tannic marsh waters (red), through neutral river waters (green), to the alkaline and clear waters of Hampshire’s famous chalk rivers (blue).
Of note here, there is also one seawater sample present which at the moment is distinctly alkaline (blue). However, with the oceanic acidification brought on by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration this water will become more acidic and its influence on sea-life and the pH indicator will inevitably change.