Ever thought to yourself “hey, I think I’m going to make art out of bacteria and have it grow on petri dishes and glow in the dark’? Most likely not, but this is exactly what former microbiologist Zachary Copfer has done.
To bring the idea of art and science together, he developed a new photographic printing technique he calls bacteriography.
First, he genetically alters his medium (the bacteria) by giving it a sequenceof genes that is originally found in jellyfish, coding it for a fluorescent protein called GFP or green fluorescent protein. Under ultraviolet light this protein emits light at a longer wavelength that is visible to the human eye.
After spreading the genetically modified microbes in a Petri dish, he then exposes them to a short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation. By doing this, it kills off microbes living in certain patches that will become the dark spots in the images. Time is needed for the bacteria to grow and spread and when he wants to stop the growing, he refrigerates the dish and gives it another radiation treatment, then covers the bacteria up with a layer of acrylic.– Live Science
What particularly caught my attention was the portraits Copfer created of artists and scientists who inspired him. To do this, he uses a variation on the technique above but uses red-coloured bacterium, Serratia marcescens.
“Picasso and Einstein were working with the same idea, looking at three-dimensional space from different perspectives, Einstein from the Theory of Relativity and Picasso with cubism,” –Copfer
You can find more on Zachary Copfer and his awesome work here.