Microbial Art- Combining Science and Art
by Lucy Hagger
As a biologists I have spent too many hours than I’d care to admit in the lab. For a lot of that time I was trying to think of ways to find some fun in the rather dull and controlled environment. If only I had found these amazing pieces of art sooner.
A lot of work I have done has dealt with growing cells on petri dishes. This is not the most exciting of activities, but some very talented artists and scientists have found a way to make art from growing cell cultures.
The work is know as Microbial art and has been put together by Dr. T. Ryan Gregory. It is a collection of various artists and scientists’ works brought together to show the beauty that is present in a normally “invisible” world.
I love this idea of using pretty dull lab procedures to make really individual pieces of art. Here’s a few I found when looking around the website.
This and the photo at the top of this post are by Dr Ben Jacob and you can see all of his work here. These pictures may look like paint or ink, but it is in fact made up of billions of living bacterial cells.
This picture is great as it shows the art within the petri dish itself rather than snapshots of portions of the dish like Dr Ben Jacobs and the below Erno-Erik Raitanen’s work. This piece is one of a collection of works done by the iGEM team in Osaka using Salmonella Typhimurium bacteria that are expressing proteins that lead to fluorescence.
This piece is by a Finnish artist called Erno-Erik Raitanen. This is another great piece of work using bacteria and growing them on a film negative with gelatin on the surface. The bacteria eat the gelatin and that leads to the amazing patterns seen in the photos. The film negatives are then developed and the beautiful results can be seen here.
These are only a few pictures from a huge collection that can all be found of the microbial art website. Have a browse about, some of the results are incredible. These pieces are bridging the gap that exists between science and art, and have really opened my eyes to the beauty that is hidden away from us normally.