This video installation juxtaposes close-up high definition macroscopic video footage of the growth of colonies of bacteria with images of the parts of the human body from which they were sampled. The piece shows the huge diversity of ways in which these bacteria grow and spread across a Petri dish filled with agar jelly (a seaweed based growth medium) and how they compete for ‘territory’, sometimes producing their own antibiotics to ward of other bacteria or producing biofilms which help them to spread. The human microbiome is a complex ecosystem that actually forms part of our immune system as our normal flora can prevent the growth of other more dangerous, pathogenic bacteria. However in certain circumstances our normal bacterial flora can cause disease and drug-resistant strains of bacteria, which exist in healthy people in the community, such as MRSA, can be a particular problem if they spread in a healthcare setting.
Anna Dumitriu is an artist working with bacteria and bioart. She is artist in residence on the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project (a partnership between Oxford University and Public Health England). Her Wellcome Trust funded project “The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis” is currently on show at Art Laboratory Berlin. normalflora.co.uk
Alex May is an artist working with digital technologies and video. He is artist in residence in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Hertfordshire. He has exhibited and performed internationally including Tate Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, Caracas and The Science Gallery in Dublin. alexmayarts.co.uk