Bioluminescent bacteria are widely used in scientific research, usually as internal markers. By inverting this practice and employing bacteria as an external light source, objects and bodies, surfaces and skin are exposed to the soft ethereal glow of the bacteria, establishing new points of contact and visual punctures. What is usually seen under the lens of the microscope is here the source of light that reveals the features of human bodies and enters the world of domesticity.
Anne Brodie's unique live installation and exhibition called Exploring the Invisible displays people and objects photographed using bioluminecence emitted by certain strains of bacteria.
In the midst of the old operating theater, photos taken using bioluminscent bacteria are projected onto a coffin like table.
It resonates our changing relationship with bacteria. When the operating theater was active bacteria would be invisible organism leading to infection and death. Today their role have been extended to benefit us. Brodie plays with old and new metaphors.
A second area of the old operating theater had been made into a small tent. Inside we find Brodie's collaborator Dr Simon Park, microbiologist at the University of Surrey, and a table full of antique crystals filled with bioluminscent bacteria (Vibrio Fischeri). As these bacteria reach a criticial point of growth, a quorum starts and the bioluminsence light gives the room an airy feeling.
With the flash on (accidently) the crystal appears filled with agar. These bacteria like colder temperature, so this show will only last a night.
The old operating theater is a fascinating place riddled with instrumental relics from a long gone medical practice.
There is a lovely herbal smell in the space, and baskets are laden with plant spices of all sorts used to make medicine. Down the tiny stairs we exit. Brodie provides a short and joyful event to make us think about the little fellas in a new light...
The project is funded by an Engaging Science Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust.