Monday, November 10, 2008

Microbes and becoming a troglodyte

My recent interest in microbes was a result of going to an event linked to an exhibition at the Royal Institution. It was a science/art crossover thing that consisted of various artists exploring themes in collaboration with scientists from different fields. It was interesting to hear scientists extolling the virtues of bacteria, as I'd never thought about them before, other than in relation to obsessive modern health / disease prevention / sanitary product adverts on the TV / potential OCD scenarios.

I went because there were various people connected with my workplace in the exhibition, but I liked Anne Brodie's work best, although we didn't get to see the whole project. She created photographic portraits by illuminating the faces of her sitters in a darkened photobooth with containers of specially cultivated bioluminsecent bacteria placed near their faces. The bacteria emitted enough light to enable slightly eerie photographs to be taken. These portraits were projected onto the wall of the old lecture theatre when we went to the event, as the photobooth had been dismantled by then. I was disappointed that we couldn't get to see the actual containers of glowing bacteria which sounded fascinating. It was interesting to see something like bacteria used as a tool to create something both commonplace and beautiful like portraits, considering all the really negative connotations popularly attached to microbes. I'd really have liked to have seen stills or film of the interior of the photobooth with the containers of bacteria during her presentation, but maybe they'll appear in a piece of work at a later date.

Other than that, and being in an exhibition for PhD work, having assorted colds and viruses, a few other arty outings and a birthday, I've become a sort of part-time troglodyte for the past few months - defined as someone living in seclusion and unacquainted with the affairs of the world. I think hermit life goes with the territory for PhDs when you get to a certain point.... nearing The End. That rather scary Ultimate Deadline in February 2009 when I have to submit. But hopefully I won't leave the blog so long next time....