Personal Germ Factories

Blessed with an abundance of little germ factories in my house, I had options when trying out this recipe for taking a bacterial culture from kids. Ona was quick to volunteer her hands for the experiment, and Dax took notes. Below are the instructions we followed in preparing our agar plates. The results looked like yeast and maybe some kind of slime mold??? We also failed to completely dissolve the beef bouillon cube, so we most certainly skewed our results toward sugar-loving microbes. Try it and share your findings with me, eh?

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Culture Your Biome

Recent scientific studies suggest that for every 10 cells making up the body, nine are beneficial organisms that help the body’s systems, and only one is unique to you. That means that roughly nine tenths of your body weight is non-human. Weird, right? As a species, we behave as though we’re above the rest of the organisms on the tree of life, and here we’re nothing more than a glorified petri dish full of microbes we just happened to pick up along the way.

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Bio Couture

Borrowed imagery from the Center for Disease Control’s catalog of bugs & biopsies (all for use in the public domain), look like they come from another planet, but they are all to be found in, on or around the human body. We have our own clouds of microbes surrounding us, leaving a signature behind, everywhere we go. Our micro-biomes are affected by the biomes of others we spend time with, exchanging microbes, literally culturing friendships. According to a recent National Institutes of Health estimate, 90% of cells in the human body are bacterial, fungal, or otherwise non-human.

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Bio-Art

Seemingly another lifetime ago, back in ’07-09, I focused on exploring the potential for using ‘living’ structures and ‘cultured’ environments in small architecture. I was working on an MFA at Vesper College, and for my thesis exhibition, made a series of miniature sculptures from natural specimens from my private collection. These were presented along with a host of simple ‘cultured objects’, employing small fish, trilobites, snails, brine shrimp, yeast, bread mold, algae, duck weed, moss, Epsom salts, bluing solution and copper crystals to add a dynamism. Strategically placed N scale model figures appeared to be overwhelmed with their surrounding ecology.

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Encrusted Gems

I used to deal in salt accretion as a medium to express the passage of time. While not hardy enough to take the abuse of wear, I had it in mind to construct felt ‘gems’ and use them as an armature for cultivated crystal growth. The results were good and will be honed further. I would like to try this on the inside of something next time, like a glass bubble brooch, maybe that would suffer impact better. Too big for casual wear, these could be painstakingly made just to be destroyed in some ritual use over the course of an evening. That’d be worth the expense.

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Logistically Challenged

Even after all the labor involved in designing and making, you still have to document, inventory, price and post to social media and blogs, send an e-newsletter blast, rework your booth display, physically pack it in and out and then man the event. Before that, you paid for the privilege of being there in the first place, or you paid for the web store that you are now left to drive traffic toward, or you work with a gallerist who always has their own ideas for your work, which you then consign. You need many of these to turn a profit, collecting fees seasonally, ebbing and flowing like like sap from a sugar bush, to be boiled down to a staggeringly small, but sweet, profit.

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