Stunning Photographs Made Entirely Of Disease-Causing Bacteria

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During his graduate studies in microbiology, artist Zachary Copfer invented a new type of photography, one grown entirely of living bacteria. By exposing sections of microscopic organisms to radiation, he accelerates their growth, allowing them to multiply and compose vivid photographic portraits. Copfer’s subjects include both artists and scientists who inspire him; famous images Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso are replicated in Serratia marcescens, a human pathogen often associated with infections of the urinary tract and respiratory systems. The portrait of Stephen Fry is made of bacteria found in the actor’s own body.

Copfer’s portraits closely resemble the art of Roy Lichtenstein; his faces bear the same comic book-style polka dots made famous by the legendary pop artist. Also like Lichtenstein’s paintings and prints, they are duplicates of mass-produced, iconic public domain images. But quite unlike the work of Lichenstein and his colleagues, Copfer’s images are imbued with an undeniably unique and human tenor. These bacterial cells, some drawn from the bodies of the subjects they portray, are corporeal and therefore inevitably personal. In contrast the ink used by the pop artists, these cells will someday die. Though iconic, these portraits are ultimately of mortal men, and the fact that they are rendered here in disease-causing bacteria only underscores that fact.

In addition to portraiture, Copfer experiments with photographs of celestial bodies. Here, in glowing green E. coli genetically modified with GFP, the vast cosmos are paradoxically formed from the microscopic, reminding us that in the end, all matter great and small is profoundly interconnected. Take a look. (via Jezebel)

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Gross Yet Beautiful Artworks Made Of Mould And Bacteria

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Yes, you read that right; the artist Antoine Bridier-Nahmias paints with mould, marrying art and science in an unexpectedly delightful way. His strange media include various sets of bacteria and fungi, ranging in color, texture, and density, and a petri dish serves as his canvas. Once a piece is grown to his aesthetic satisfaction, the artist photographs it from above, capturing the nuances of the material in stunning resolution.

Bridier-Nahmias’s images, perhaps revolting if seen inside your fridge, are visually enthralling when viewed in the sterile confines of the dish. Like strange and serendipitous science experiments, the moldy surfaces create ordered geometric patterns found time and again in nature; unlike paint, the bacteria reproduces itself in accordance with complex biological laws, forming perfect circles and straight lines that emanate from their centers.

A gorgeous visual balance is achieved through the artist’s careful and deliberate use of color and form; within the gestalt of the dish, puffy clouds of mould, large as sand dollars, are balanced out perceptually with bright reds; seemingly disparate species of bacteria work together to create a harmonious work.

In these pieces, the chaos of life and bacterial growth exists in continual tension with the neatly ordered aesthetic of the work, inviting views to examine moldy patterns not with disgust but with transfixed delight. When given free reign to multiply within the petri dish, these species create astoundingly formal compositions, flawless patterns that no master artist has come even close to replicating. Take a look. (via Design Boom and It’s Nice That)

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Unnerving Artworks Created With Deadly Disease-Causing Bacteria

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Miniature woven felt lungs injected with sterilized tuberculosis bacteria

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In collaboration with microbiologists, the English artist Anna Dumitriu has honed her unique talent for working with bacteria as a means of staining fabric; her high-art fashions feature organic patterns made by microorganisms. In her most recent installation project, The Romantic Disease, she works with a more dangerous type of bacteria: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the organism responsible for Tuberculosis.

In combining now-killed TB DNA with found and altered relics of late 19th and early 20th century technologies, Dumitriu creates a vivid medicinal—and often foreboding— landscape. Before the invention of antibiotics, TB patients were taken to “sanatoria,” hospitals built at high altitudes (then thought to be beneficial to sufferers), where they were confined to bed and given extreme treatments. For a piece titled “Rest, Rest, and Rest!” Dumitriu constructs a model sanitarium bed; for another piece, she carves the pattern of lung tissue onto an actual Pneumothorax Machine, once used to collapse patients’ lungs.

The Romantic Disease is neither a historical or scientific tour of old hospital machinery; on the contrary, is is an emotionally dangerous and poignantly subjective exploration of the disease. Although the exhibit avoids mention or representation of actual sufferers, individual pieces are imbued with a distinctly human touch. The sanitarium bed and curtain are small and delicate as dollhouse pieces; beside the larger pieces, they appear lonesome and afraid. Similarly, a group of miniature woven felt lungs, each containing sterilized Mycobacterium tuberculosis, appear to flutter like tiny, fragile birds beside the Pneumothorax Machine.

A maternity dress, dyed with supposed TB cures like safflower and madder root, hangs loosely on a dress form; this piece becomes all the more heartbreaking with the knowledge that at a time when the disease was thought to be spread genetically, pregnant women underwent forced abortions. The historical reverence and tender craftsmanship with which Anna Dumitriu presents The Romantic Disease serves to humanize those who suffered at the hands of this politically and socially fraught disease. The work is currently on display at West London’s Waterman’s. (via Smithsonian Magazine and Anna Dumitriu)

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