Rendering by Matthew Kulp

Leslie Birch Eyebeam Workshp
Biosensor in Action – Image by Leslie Birch

M(y)Crobes, a project by The Cotard Syndicate (a collaboration between Neuroscientist Siddharth Ramakrishnan and Media Artists Stefani Bardin + Toby Heys + Engineer Eric Rosenthal + Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Jonathan Eisen) explores our cohabitation with microbes that live within, on and around us. Bacteria communicate with and influence each other with recent evidence pointing toward a contiguous network of filaments allowing for long-range communication of bacteria that use human forms as hosts. They have developed a wearable biosensor for the neck or wrist comprised of a disk of agar that is laid into a 3D printed bezel of recyclable ABS plastic that is exposed to the elements. Seeds will be implanted into the agar medium to track the microbial growth through the sprouting of these small plants. Thus, the wearer will see, in real time, the effects of their own biotic micro-ecosystem in concert with the macro-ecosystem of the environment.

We share our regular world with billions of bacteria and fungi, but are for the most part unaware of how they shape our world, unless we get sick. The project aims to bring these organisms to the forefront by culturing them, allowing us to see how they directly impact a living being like a small plant, while also showcasing the variety of microbial cultures that we may encounter/host in our everyday wandering. These cultured microbes will actively affect the growth of seedlings placed in the agar-wearable, thereby allowing us to observe how these ubiquitous life forms actively affect life and growth by altering environments

Stefani is in residence at ITP at NYU for Spring 2015 and while there she is teaching a class on Microbes and working with Engineer Eric Rosenthal to create new iterations for the biosensor and tools to measure the results.

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