Productive Micro Organisms

Microscopic life forms are usually not the most beloved creatures. Techno-culture produces sanitised environments of gleaming white, metallic and transparent nothingness, desirable as fetishes of material wealth and total control. This lifeless world does not offer any form of sustainability or proximity. Contemporary biology and evolutionary science offers a different perspective. The human body is understood as a symbiotic complex system involving many different bacteria that influence us deeply. Evolution is driven by viral infection and emerging symbiotic behaviour of cells. Christina Agapakis, a biologist, writer and artist, show us this in a provocative project involving bacterial colonies harvested from the human body which are used to produce cheese. This ‘human cheese’ is tested and tasted by a panel of cheese loving culinary specialists. On a more purposeful note she developed cell cultures producing hydrogen, as a potential source for sustainable energy. Biofuels produced with algae are already industrially produced on a considerable scale, but these fuels still contribute to global warming. Bio-hydrogen could take us a step further towards fully sustainable energy production. But even on the other side of the spectrum, in the Chernobyl disaster zone, micro organisms play an unexpected role. In 1991 scientist discovered black molds growing inside the Chernobyl sarcophagus. According to an article published in 2007 by PLOS ONE these radiothrophic fungi successfully use the remaining radiation as a way of capturing energy, instead of photosynthesis.


Inspired by these examples I have embarked on a series of experiments seeking the help of micro-organisms for the production of images. The main component of film emulsion, gelatin, provides a feeding ground. Water and warm temperatures help the creation of a viable environment. The above image is an example of yeast growing on the emulsion, offering a variation of tones and shapes.


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