Menagerie of Microbes
Crystalised Bacteria © Simon Park
Chek here for information about talks and workshops connected with Menagerie of Microbes
Heather Barnett – The Physarum Experiments
The Physarum Experiments Study: 019 The Maze (film still) © Heather Barnett
For some years Heather Barnett has been working with the true slime mould, Physarum polycephalum, observing and capturing its growth patterns, navigational abilities and seemingly human behaviours. Used as a model organism in diverse scientific studies, the single cell organism is attributed with a primitive form of intelligence, problem solving skills and can anticipate events. It is also quite beautiful, the dendritic patterns reminiscent of forms seen at varying scales within nature, from blood vessels to tree branches, from river deltas to lightning strikes.
Her films, artworks and studies take inspiration from the diverse array of scientific research, which includes city planning, cellular computation and decision-making. As a process of co-creation, The Physarum Experiments is an exploration of the simple yet complex behaviours of this biological and cultural phenomenon.
Heather Barnett is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher and educator interested in collective behaviour and living systems, often working in collaboration with scientists, artists, participants and organisms. Employing a range of imaging technologies and biological materials, projects include microbial portraiture, cellular wallpapers, performing cuttlefish, and an ongoing ‘collaboration’ with an intelligent slime mould, Physarum polycephalum.
ecoLogicStudio – Arthur’s Seat b.I/O. power station
Arthur’s Seat Topographic © ecologicstudio
Formed by the mighty power of a volcanic explosion in the Carboniferous age, then remodelled by the relentless action of glaciers in the Quaternary period, the peaks of Arthur’s seat are now once again transformed, this time by human technology in the new age of the Anthropocene.
While solar and wind energy still sweep across the surface of the peak and marine mist incessantly moistens its bio-diverse organic cover, the Urbansphere of Edinburgh has expanded its bio-digital branches around it. Carving a dense web of redundant energy paths, these new power lines meet in a multiplicity of emergent nodes where the flows of information, matter and energy are at the highest level.
These networks function like distributed autonomous brains, embedded in the landscape that they help reshape, always seeking to optimize their ability to absorb and metabolize the renewable energy that wind, sun and water tirelessly deliver to the most beautiful mountain of Edinburgh. A new kind of urban power station is born.
ecoLogicStudio is an architectural and urban design studio co-founded in London by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto. In recent years the studio has built up an international reputation for its innovative work on ‘systemic’ design – defined by the combination and integration of systemic thinking, bio and socio-logic research, parametric design and prototyping.
Simon Park – C-MOULD: a collection of microorganisms for use in the arts
Bacterial War Games, Incubation Day 2 © Simon Park
C-MOULD is the world’s largest collection of microorganisms for use in the arts, with over 50 different biological specimens. The collection includes bacteria and fungi that glow in ethereal shades of green and blue light, bacteria that make gold and electrically conductive nanowires, and bacteria that produce biotextiles, along with the largest collection of pigmented bacteria.
C-MOULD is created by Dr Simon Park, a molecular microbiologist, who has worked for over a decade at the fertile intersection between art and science. Exploring the aesthetics and processes of the usually invisible microbiological world, highlights from the collection in the exhibition include examples of bacterial experiments, biomaterials, microbiome representations and a bacterial biscuit recipe for good gut health.
Dr Simon Park is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he teaches Microbiology and Molecular Biology, and has been involved in many innovative art and science microbiology projects. He has also been a pioneer of Kitchen Microbiology, and through this, has empowered many enthusiasts and artists to carry out microbiology techniques safely at home, using readily available off-the-shelf ingredients.
Urban Morphogenesis Lab
Bacterial cellulose remetabilizing urban waste © Urban Morphogenesis Lab
The Urban Morphogenesis Lab at The Bartlett School of Architecture engages urban design as a computational practice to prefigure alternative models of the city, represented as a complex dynamic system. The Lab adopts computational, analogue, biological and digital design methods to draw terrains of negotiation between strategic and tactical forms of intervention. Algorithmic coding enables the study of biological models and the testing of iterative, adaptive and resilient design solutions applicable to a broader eco-social domain. It generates a multiplicity of responses and effects at scales ranging from the molecular to the territorial, from the quasi-instantaneous to the geological. The Lab’s current design research focuses on how processes of bio-computation can have a radical effect in the way we can re-conceive contemporary cities.