In December 2013, artists Howard Boland and Laura Cinti of C-LAB together with Bela Mulder and Tom Shimizu of FOM Institute AMOLF, a world-class biophysics institute, won the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award (DA4GA) to develop LIVING MIRROR - a bacterial imaging system. This involved the two artists relocating to AMOLF to undertake a five-month residency.
LIVING MIRROR is an interactive art installation that attempts to produce real-time images by taking advantage of magnetic bacteria’s light scattering properties and exposing these to alternating magnetic fields. Unique to these bacteria are their ability to swim along Earth’s magnetic field and when they are introduced to a changing (magnetic) field, they rotate synchronically causing the light to scatter as a visible shimmer inside liquid.
Together with Bela and Tom, who acted as advisors and facilitators in the project, the project benefitted from a fantastic team of engineers - Marco Konijnenburg (Head of Software Engineering), Dirk-Jan Spaanderman (Precision Engineer) and Duncan Verheijde (Head of Electronics Engineering) - who helped realised and build key aspects of the projects by working closely with the artists who undertook research, prototyping and conducting all biological wet laboratory work.
For the first time, the final display of LIVING MIRROR, though incomplete (as culture was being grown in the laboratory), was shown as part of AMOLF's annual Open Day where the public are welcomed into the premier institute to gain an insight to the exciting research being carried out.
FOM Institute AMOLF is one of Europe's most prestigious interdisciplinary research institutes in the field of physics and biological physics focusing on two main research themes: nanophotonics and physics of biomolecular systems.