Communicating Bacteria Dress, bacterial social design

Communicating Bacteria

“Communicating Bacteria” is an installation inspired by biological research on the flow of communication between bacteria. It is the result of a collaboration between the artist Anna Domitriu, (for a long time engaged in research on microbiology and collaborative practices) the microbiologists Paul Simon and John Park, and the video artist Alex May. The communication within the bacterial colonies is critical for the survival of the species and it is realized through specific biochemical processes that occur both within the colonies themselves and externally. In the case of the Chromobacterium violaceum CV026 bacterium, for example, this exchange of information has a clearly visible consequence: in fact this bacterium is white in its inactive state, but turns purple when it receives a communication from peers. This specific phenomenon was the aesthetic start of the installation “Communicating Bacteria”: Chromobacterium violaceum colonies were used as a (living) dye for textiles. These bacteria were instilled in a finely embroidered tissue and well-soaked in a broth. Here the spread of communication between bacteria (with its typical and colorful wake) has created an elegant decorative pattern over the entire dress, turning it into an original and unique map of the complex flows of communication. The final result is an installation made from the dress with its sinuous purple decorations, placed on a mannequin and caressed by the 3D video projections that redesign the paths followed by the organic motifs. The choice of the dress as a support for the design of the bacteria is significant. It is in fact a very strong representation of the concept of convention on which our society is founded, which distinguishes us from animals and to which we are all more or less subjected. The installation protagonist is the dress, which is so finely embroidered and elegantly enlightened by the ever-changing trails; lit, like a living microcosm. Translated in this delightful and charming aesthetic form, the dress seems to have a life of its own, which you can enjoy undisturbed, discovering the scintillating beauty that the communication flows can create.

Chiara Ciociola